Fantasy owners probably weren't impressed with the statistics that quarterback Cam Newton put up against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago. That said, it did result in a win for the Panthers, who are now officially for real and among the league's elite teams. Newton was huge against the New England Patriots last week, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions, leading his team to an upset victory.
Wide receiver Steve Smith was very vocal in a postgame interview last week and it seems the Panthers have a new swagger and edge they haven't had before. That won't necessarily translate into fantasy numbers for Smith. He only averages 51 yards receiving per game, and has not eclipsed 69 yards in a contest all year long. Although he proved last week that he is not shying away from physical play, he's simply getting older and not as explosive as he used to be.
Rishard Matthews caught four passes for 52 yards against the San Diego Chargers last week. Although it wasn't quite as spectacular as his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10, it's clear that he's a gifted athlete. The Panthers secondary is top-notch but there is no doubt that Matthews will get every opportunity to make an impact on Sunday.
It's a good thing the Dolphins can rely somewhat on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the passing game, because the Dolphins running game has been ineffective most of the year. Lamar Miller started the season as the favorite to carry the load, but now teammate Daniel Thomas has taken over. Thomas rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown last week. That said, neither running back has proven very effective and the Carolina Panthers have one of the best defenses in the league this season.