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Rapid React: Panthers vs. Buccaneers

Dalton Del Don
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Cam Newton continues to excel (USAT)

The Panthers won this one handily, as the Buccaneers’ apparent tank job continues. Tampa Bay remains one of two winless teams in the league this season, and it’s a question of when, not if coach Greg Schiano will be fired. Although to be fair, both the Texans and Giants have been outscored by more points than the Bucs, with the latter by 27 more. The Panthers ended an NFL-high 70-game streak without being above .500, marking the first time in Cam Newton’s career he’s had a winning record. Carolina hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the first half of a game this season and has yielded just 13.7 ppg, which is the second lowest in the NFL. This is a very good team likely to make the playoffs even with their difficult looking upcoming schedule.

Mike Glennon attempted another 51 passes Thursday night, including a whopping 29 in the fourth quarter (h/t Scott Pianowski). Glennon has now thrown 181 passes over the first four games of his career, which is an NFL record. His 5.5 YPA is pretty discouraging when looking ahead, but of course it’s been a small sample. Still, it sure looks like he’s going to have major competition next year with the team’s bad record and next year’s loaded QB draft class…With such a depleted fantasy RB group right now, I recommended starting Mike James, even if Doug Martin hadn’t been productive in this offense beforehand and facing a tough Carolina front seven. The rookie back totaled just 64 yards from scrimmage without a touchdown, so I was wrong there.

Vincent Jackson was held to a modest 79 yards and out of the end zone after reaching pay dirt four times over the past two games, but he saw another 13 targets. Since Glennon took over QB duties, VJax has now seen 60 targets over four games, a season’s pace of 240, which would shatter the NFL record. He faced a Carolina defense Thursday that has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, which is the second fewest in football. In other words, despite Glennon being an extremely shaky real life QB and playing for a team that might be the worst in its conference, Jackson should be considered a borderline top-five fantasy wide receiver moving forward…Tim Wright is an interesting tight end option for those in need of a thin position, while Mike Williams looks increasingly unworthy of using even in deep leagues.

Cam Newton is the first player with 50 TD passes and 25 TD runs over a three-year span, and his came over just 2.5. He hasn’t committed a turnover over the past three games and sports a career 7.9 YPA, which is tied for sixth-best all time. His game Thursday (in which he totaled 271 yards and three touchdowns) would’ve been even bigger had Ted Ginn not dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a would-be 73-yard touchdown early in the second quarter (right after Ginn fumbled a punt return, although it was overturned via replay). Newton was facing a Tampa Bay defense that decided to finally use Darrelle Revis man-to-man (mostly against Steve Smith, Carolina’s obvious No. 1 option in the passing attack) instead of wasting him in zone. Newton is playing at an extremely high level right now. This TD pass to Greg Olsen was next level.

Tampa Bay allowed its first rushing score to a running back this season, which fittingly also marked DeAngelo Williams’ first touchdown on the year…Those who were using Carolina’s fantasy defense can hardly complain, but they dropped an easy interception late in the fourth quarter, which led to a touchdown against on the very next play. Let’s hope Charles Johnson’s late injury isn’t serious…The Buccaneers are now 1-12 over their past 13 games…On 4th-and-1 midway through the third quarter from the Tampa Bay 29-yard-line, Ron Rivera held up his word and once again went for it, resulting in a first down. I can’t think of a coach going from one extreme to another over a one-year period. So much credit is deserved here. He’s seen the light…Seriously, what was up with the cannon operator?

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