Steve Smith looked like his fiery self last week, but from a fantasy perspective, I’m looking to rid my team of the 13-year pro.
I simply don’t trust Cam Newton from a consistency standpoint, meaning that even if Smith puts up good numbers by season’s end, you’ll be forced to roll the dice on a weekly basis. The Carolina Panthers are throwing the ball less this year than in the first two seasons with Newton under center, making the inconsistent efforts that much more frustrating as there are fewer opportunities to be had.
One would assume that Jonathan Stewart being activated (likely to happen next week) will only hurt Smith’s value as he is another running back that’ll get carries and is a reasonable pass catching option out of the back field (47 catches on 61 targets last season). The Panthers have scored at least 30 points in three of their last four games, but they also scored seven or fewer points in two of the first four weeks this season, a roller coaster ride that I expect to continue over the final ten weeks of this season.
Carolina’s offense is one thing, but their opponents are going to make the final 2.5 months of this season a difficult haul for their top pass catcher. Starting tonight, the Panthers face Darrelle Revis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice, Jabari Greer and the New Orleans Saints twice, Aqib Talib and the New England Patriots, as well as two stellar pass defenses in the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.
All of these teams have big, athletic corners that figure to make life difficult on the 5-foot-9, 34-year old Smith. Even if Smith manages to beat these defenses on occasion, it is far from a guarantee that Newton hits him in stride.
Smith has been a very good receiver over his career, and I don’t doubt that he still has some big plays left in him. But, for the rest of this season, I’d rather take my chance on a receiver playing opposite a stud pass catcher (Kris Durham or Marvin Jones), a receiver with an increased role (Harry Douglas), or a wide out with a proven track record and an elite quarterback (Marques Colston).