It feels as if it's been weeks since we've seen an exciting match up on Monday Night Football, but we may finally have a good one on our hands in Week 11. The Carolina Panthers will be facing the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina is coming off of a five-game winning streak. They limited the San Francisco 49ers to 151 total yards of offense in Week 10.
The Patriots will have their hands full, but they'll be taking the field with all of their offensive weapons after a myriad of injuries throughout 2013. Before their bye week, the Patriots managed 610 total yards of offense in Week 9. It seems as though both teams make for an interesting match up, and we're here to discuss what fantasy owners can expect from both sides.
Tom Brady: He'll be facing a Carolina defense that has given up the fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks all season. However, Brady has his weapons back, and the passing game will important in overcoming the Panthers defensive front. The game could very well become a defensive battle, which puts Brady on the lower end of the QB1 list. However, his recent success along with the return of Shane Vereen seems promising enough for fantasy owners.
Running backs: Steven Ridley will once again be sharing backfield duties with running back Shane Vereen, making his Week 11 value a bit more cloudy. As daunting as Carolina's defense is against fantasy running backs, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots make the running game a focal point of their offensive attack on Monday. Ridley should be considered a low-end RB2 as he'll likely see the bulk of the workload. Vereen is a risky start in his first game back from injury. He can be gambled in a flex spot if needed, but he's more of a wait-and-see candidate for Week 11.
Wide receivers: Danny Amendola is coming off of a huge game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (4/122/1), but owners are understandably cautious to start him until he can show some consistency. Because of the match up and Amendola's mercurial output, consider him a WR3 in standard scoring formats with much more upside in PPR leagues. As long as Brady has time in the pocket, his receivers should see solid numbers. Aaron Dobson could once again be a beneficiary after his 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers. He has scored three touchdowns in his past two games and is a high upside option as a WR3.
Tight ends: Rob Gronkowski is once again atop the fantasy leaderboards since returning in Week 7. He now has 19 catches, 284 yards and one touchdown through three games. The Panthers will likely make Gronkowski a focal point, but extra attention rarely shuts down Gronk's output. Continue to roll with him as your TE1.
Defense/ Special teams: As shaky as Cam Newton can be at times, the Panthers aren't giving up a lot to fantasy defenses this season. This doesn't necessarily make New England a poor start, but they aren't a great start either. There should be better match ups to take advantage of. However, if you're unwilling to drop the Patriots because of their juicy match ups down the stretch, they likely won't cost you your fantasy match up in Week 11.
Cam Newton: The Patriots will be a challenge at times for Cam, but he should find plenty of opportunities to make plays throughout the evening. Ben Roethlisberger just threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns against New England in Week 9. Newton can still be relied upon as a QB1 on Monday.
Running backs: The return of Jonathan Stewart has resulted in even less clarity in the Carolina backfield. Stewart led the team in carries in Week 10, but DeAngelo Williams saw more yardage with less carries as well as the team's only rushing touchdown against the 49ers. Williams and Stewart should be considered as a flex option and nothing more. Williams may be the better option for now, but that could change any week.
Wide receivers: Assuming Aqib Talib plays on Monday, Steve Smith will be a shaky start. He'll continue to see a healthy share of targets, but Smith should be considered more of a WR3 with Talib focusing on him. Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. could see more targets if Smith is even remotely shut down, but there aren't many reliable receiving options worth starting in Carolina. LaFell and Ginn are just too risky to consider on a weekly basis.
Tight ends: Greg Olsen is the true No. 2 receiver in Carolina. If anyone will directly benefit from a shut down of Steve Smith, it will be Olsen. He doesn't put up enough flashy numbers to demand the attention of defenses, but he can still do damage against opposing defenses on any given Sunday. He's a low-end TE1 for the week.
Defense/ Special teams: They're one of the best fantasy defenses this year, and they tend to put up great numbers no matter who they face. The Patriots could very well be finding an offensive groove heading into Week 11, but that doesn't necessarily make Carolina a defense worth benching. They're a borderline top-10 start simply because Brady can struggle under pressure, and the Panthers have been excellent at dealing pressure all season.