The Week 3 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers features two teams that are defensively sound. We've got the fantasy projections courtesy of numberFire.
The Minnesota Vikings opened their new stadium last week with a Sunday night victory over the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Sam Bradford surprised a lot of people and looked great in his first start with the team. His performance rubbed off on wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who had one of the best games of his young career. Diggs caught nine passes for 182 yards and a touchdown vs. the Packers. He looked incredibly athletic, acrobatic, and focused. Those who didn’t know Diggs was a fantasy star before know that he is now — 16 catches for 285 yards and a touchdown after two weeks is not too shabby. Not even a strong defense like the Carolina Panthers is going to prevent Diggs from getting the ball, especially considering Minnesota’s running back situation.
The situation is that Adrian Peterson is expected to miss extensive time with a torn meniscus in his knee. That means backup Jerick McKinnon will take over, with Matt Asiata chipping in for goal line work and the occasional third down. McKinnon has exhibited bursts of freak athleticism, and is the more productive fantasy rusher for the Vikings. Facing Carolina is not an ideal matchup, but in deeper leagues owners who don’t have a choice will take the risk.
After getting outplayed in Denver to open the season, the Carolina Panthers looked a lot more like themselves last week against the San Francisco 49ers. The game was a one-score affair early in the fourth quarter, but the defense was able to force quarterback Blaine Gabbert to turn the ball over. By contrast, Cam Newton put together 353 passing yards and four touchdowns to go with his lone interception. He is going to be hard-pressed to repeat that performance against a much better Minnesota defense this week, but fantasy owners have to be a lot happier with the fact that Newton is looking like his old self again.
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is also looking like his old self. Benjamin caught seven passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. He now has 13 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns through two games. Benjamin is one of the biggest targets in the league and he’s athletically gifted. Tearing his ACL last year doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all. Benjamin should continue to crush it as he now appears to be one of those rare matchup-proof players fantasy owners love.