While the bye week may be coming at the perfect time for Panthers players to regroup and recharge in preparation of their 10 remaining regular season games, Carolina fans that stayed loyal to their team with their fantasy rosters may be in a bind for Week 7.
Fortunately for fantasy players, the Dallas Cowboys are the only other team joining the Panthers on their week off, meaning that the remaining 30 teams' players will be available to select from to fill in for a week before Carolina returns to Bank of America Stadium.
QB:Cam Newton is one of only two quarterbacks owned in 100 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues, and for good reason. With 106.64 total points (based on standard NFL.com scoring) in only five games played, he ranks seventh-best in the league.
Fans forced to fill a 6-5, 245 pound-sized hole at quarterback this week might be interested in adding either field general in the Washington at Detroit game.
Washington's Kirk Cousins has scored 94.8 points total in six games played, including 17.32 last week against the Eagles, for an average of 15.8 points per game. While his campaign ranks only 14th-best among quarterbacks, he has a favorable matchup. The Lions have given up an average of 24.11 points per game to quarterbacks, the worst in the league. Cousins is available in 26.2 percent of leagues on NFL.com, and is projected to accumulate 18.58 points this week.
His counterpart could also be a valid substitute for Newton. Detroit's Matthew Stafford has already scored 123.32 points, the second most by a quarterback. What could cause concern with adding Stafford is Washington's defense, which yields only 14.26 points per game to rank 10th-best in the league. Stafford is available in 30.4 percent of NFL.com leagues. According to projections, managers should expect Stafford to score 21.26 points.
TE:Arguably the biggest hole in Panther fans' fantasy lineups is at tight end. Greg Olsen is second in the league in receiving yards, and that success has yielded 75 fantasy points, which leads his position. Because of that, Olsen is on a roster in 99.7 percent of leagues on NFL.com. Replacing number 88 is a tall, but manageable task.
A good choice to replace Olsen could be former Panthers tight end Gary Barnidge. In six games, he has scored 31.5 points for the Browns and faces a Cincinnati defense that allows the fifth-worst average at 10 points per game to the tight end position. The problem with Barnidge is he is not readily available. He is a free agent in only 13.6 percent of leagues.
A more probable situation would involve San Diego's Hunter Henry. In six games, Henry has scored 47 points, including last week's 14.3 against the Broncos. He has a favorable matchup in Atlanta against a Falcons defense that has allowed an average of 12.63 points per game to the tight end position – fourth-worst in the NFL. Henry is a free agent in 56.5 percent of fantasy leagues on NFL.com.
WR:Another prominent Panther in fantasy leagues is Kelvin Benjamin. The wide receiver is on a roster in 99.5 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues and has scored 63.4 points in six games, 12th most among receivers.
Allen Hurns of the Jacksonville Jaguars might be a good stand-in. Hurns, a third-year receiver like Benjamin, has scored 36 points in five games. Although his numbers don't qualify for top 50 among his position group, Hurns is an appealing option based on his opponent. The Oakland Raiders have given up an average of 28.07 points to opposing receivers, the second-worst average in the league. Hurns is unowned in 20.9 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues.
Another wide receiver to fill Benjamin's spot in the lineup could be on the Bears' roster. Cameron Meredith has scored 32.1 points this season. He is going up against a Packers defense that has allowed 28.74 points per game to opposing wideouts – the worst in the league. Managers should move quickly on Meredith, as the Bears take on the Packers on Thursday night. He is unowned in 81.6 percent of NFL.com leagues, and an injury that will sideline fellow receiver Eddie Royal could further increase his appeal.
RB: Jonathan Stewart may have missed time due to injury, but he is still on a roster in 89.9 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues. One running back that jumps off the page as a fill-in is Kansas City's Spencer Ware. He has scored 70.6 points in five games played, including last week's 22.3 points in Oakland. The Chiefs are hosting New Orleans, a team that ranks last in the NFL in run defense, giving up an average of 28.32 points per game to opposing running backs. Ware's biggest detracting factor is the return in Week 4 of fellow running back Jamaal Charles, but if the Chiefs defense is able to prevent the Saints from finding a rhythm, both backs could see considerable playing time. Ware is available in 34.4 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues.
If Ware is unavailable, another option could be Tampa Bay's Jacquizz Rodgers. The Buccaneers' usual starter, Doug Martin, has yet to participate in practice or play since Week 2 when he suffered a hamstring injury. Rodgers rushed for 101 yards against the Panthers in Tampa Bay's last game, and now he faces a San Francisco defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Rodgers is a free agent in 90.7 percent of leagues.
View photos of the Panthers' practice heading into the Bye Week.