Fantasy football preview: Panthers vs. Ravens

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The Ravens and Panthers are among the first to have their preseason "dress rehearsal," and will square-off Thursday night. We break down the fantasy implications.

Week 3 of preseason will provide the most in-depth look of the summer for fantasy-relevant starters among the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have given a glimpse of staples in fantasy football rosters everywhere, and with the possibility of starters lasting past halftime, it makes for a few interesting fantasy football storylines.

More: For more on the Panthers and Ravens, check out Cat Scratch Reader and Baltimore Beatdown

How healthy is Bernard Pierce? Pierce did not play in the team's second preseason game after spraining his knee in the Ravens preseason opener. On Wednesday, the team acquired former fourth-round pick Delone Carter from the Indianapolis Colts to provide depth. Is this an indictment on Pierce? That's extremely doubtful, but it will be interesting to see what duties the coaches feel comfortable giving to Pierce in wake of his injury. He remains one of the top handcuffs to acquire later in drafts.

Will Torrey Smith get more targets? Some have suggested that the speedy, shifty Smith could be in line to be a target monster this season due to the depleted Ravens receiving corps. He doesn't have the mold of the big possession receivers who are typically handed that role, but it will be interesting to see if he gets some volume in this regard. We all know Smith has big-play ability, and you need look no further than his 77-yard touchdown catch and run in last week's preseason game versus the Falcons.

Is DeAngelo Williams ready to shoulder the load? The Panthers backfield has been doom and gloom to fantasy owners over the years with the dreaded timeshare between Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Stewart may begin the season on PUP, which could make Williams a very attractive get for owners who stocked-up on receivers or tight ends in the early rounds of the draft. In Week 2, Williams averaged under three yards per carry on 12 attempts versus a usually porous Eagles defense, so if he wants to instill any confidence in future fantasy owners, he'll need to improve.

How will Greg Olsen factor in? Rod Chudzinksi utilized Olsen heavily in his years with the Panthers, but with him gone, the Panthers tight end has caught just one pass on three targets through two games. It's nothing to fret about if Olsen doesn't produce in the preseason, as coaches tend to hold their cards close to their chests at this time. However, owners would love a heavy dose of targets to boost confidence amidst a shaky tight end position in fantasy football this year.

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