Carolina's Steve Smith had a useful day on Sunday at Soldier Field, hauling in seven balls for a season-high 118 yards. Smith could have easily had a great day — he was open all afternoon, drawing 16 targets — but too often his quarterback seemed to think he was throwing to a 6-foot-9 receiver, not a 5-foot-9 wideout. Here's a clip of an off-target throw that No. 89 actually managed to catch, but there were several other misfires he couldn't possibly snag.
Smith nearly corralled a late touchdown (pictured above), lunging for a ball that was thrown, again, to Cam Newton's imaginary giant. But he couldn't quite gain control. So it goes. And of course Smith had that disastrous slip-and-fall in the fourth quarter, resulting in a pick-six for Tim Jennings.
No one is trying to convince you that Smith delivered a flawless performance on Sunday. Instead, we'd just like to point out that he didn't struggle to beat coverage against a very good defense in Week 8, and his solid fantasy effort probably should have been a monster fantasy effort.
Even in a messy season, Smith has still topped 80 receiving yards five times. No, he doesn't have a touchdown yet, but that's not all on him. Smith has Washington on the schedule in Week 9, and — assuming he's still a Panther by the weekend (it sounds like he will be, but you never know) — he should produce another quality stat line. The 'Skins defense ranks dead-last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (314.3 YPG), and they've given up the most total fantasy points to wideouts. The match-ups don't get better. If you're a Smith investor, stay the course. At least for another week.
Finally, the new leads...
You'll notice that I've switched to targets-per-game, per your suggestion. No bullets this week, however. Various other fantasy commitments. Please try to entertain yourselves in comments.