Jesse Pantuosco

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Carolina Cruises on MNF

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


At one point during Monday night’s broadcast, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said, “Miami hasn’t been a primetime team.”

 

You can say that again.

 

At 4-5, the Dolphins are still, at least mathematically, alive in the AFC playoff hunt. But if Monday was any indication, this team doesn’t have much fight left in it. The Dolphins played the role of punching bag in Week 10, absorbing 60 minutes of knockout blows from the Panthers, who succeeded in capturing their seventh win of the season. That number is significant because it’s more wins than Carolina had all of last year (call it a Super Bowl hangover).

 

Inexplicably playing in prime time for the third consecutive week, Miami melted down as only the Dolphins could, showing no resistance as the Panthers erupted for a season-high 45 points. The Vegas over/under for Monday night’s game was 39. The Panthers covered it by themselves.

 

By the end of the evening, Cam Newton was catching a breather on the sideline while Derek Anderson was handing off to third-string running back Cameron Artis-Payne. If Monday were a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round. But hey, at least the ‘Canes beat Notre Dame on Saturday, am I right, Miami?

 

Two weeks ago, the Panthers did something contending teams don’t usually do—they sent their star wide receiver packing. In the blink of an Adam Schefter tweet, Kelvin Benjamin was traded from Carolina to Buffalo, reuniting with former Panthers defensive coordinator and current Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Benjamin’s departure left a hole in the Panthers’ offense so large that it would take two players to fill it. Enter Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess.

 

If you play in a PPR league, you’re no doubt familiar with McCaffrey’s work. The eighth overall pick in this year’s draft has been a prolific pass-catcher, leading all running backs with 57 receptions this season. McCaffrey’s receiving prowess, a trait that made him a Heisman Trophy finalist at Stanford, has obviously been well-documented on the website and elsewhere. However, as a ball-carrier, the rookie has mostly taken a backseat to veteran Jonathan Stewart. That remained the case in Monday night’s rout with McCaffrey seeing just five carries to J-Stew’s 17.

 

But McCaffrey still did plenty to help fantasy owners, delivering 50 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) as Carolina cruised to its third straight victory. Three of McCaffrey’s five end-zone visits this year including both of his rushing touchdowns have come in his last two games. That doesn’t seem like a coincidence, does it?

 

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Funchess showed flashes in his first two years in the league, but heading into the 2017 campaign, the jury was still out on whether he would ever develop into a true go-to receiver. With Benjamin situated in Western New York and Greg Olsen still rehabbing a broken foot, the Panthers decided now was the time to find out.

 

So far Funchess has been up to the challenge. He starred with 86 yards in last week’s win over the Falcons and bettered that total by hanging 92 yards on the Dolphins in Week 10 while also adding a pair of touchdowns to his season tally. The Michigan alum only drew three targets in the second half but knew what to do with them, catching all three for gains of 17, 28 and 32 yards with the latter two going for touchdowns. That gives Funchess five TDs on the season, which matches the career-high he set as a rookie in 2015. Even with Olsen expected back after the Panthers’ upcoming bye week, the ascendant Funchess should remain a key cog in Carolina’s passing attack.

 

It’s been one obstacle after another for Newton this year. There was his offseason shoulder surgery, which delayed his training this summer and may have led to his early struggles. Losing his safety net Olsen was another gut punch while Newton created a PR nightmare for himself by mocking a female reporter during one of his press conferences. The out-of-nowhere Benjamin trade only added to the drama.

 

But none of those roadblocks deterred Newton from having his finest game of the season Monday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. His accolades included 254 passing yards, four touchdowns and a season-high 95 rushing yards including an incredible 69-yard burst in the third quarter. Newton now leads all quarterbacks with 436 rushing yards on the year, which is more than he had all of last season.

 

While Jonathan Stewart was kept out of the end zone against Miami, Monday was certainly the best he’s looked in 2017. The 30-year-old gashed the Dolphins for a season-best 110 rushing yards with 62 coming after halftime. J-Stew’s breakout came on the heels of a forgettable outing against Atlanta in Week 9 when he lost two fumbles while rushing for just 21 yards on 11 carries. Stewart totaled almost as many yards Monday as he had in his previous five games combined (120).

 

Monday marked the Dolphins’ third consecutive loss and their second since trading Jay Ajayi to the Eagles for a fourth-round pick. Miami has been outscored 112-45 during its skid, though Monday did bring a silver lining of sorts as Kenyan Drake finally scored the Dolphins’ first rushing touchdown of the year. It came on a blistering 66-yard dash in the third quarter.

 

Aside from Drake’s heroics, it was slim pickings for the Dolphins’ offense, which was probably to be expected against a stout Carolina defense. Jay Cutler was predictably haphazard, completing under 60 percent of his passes while throwing a tide-changing interception late in the first half. Jarvis Landry matched a career-high by punching in his fifth touchdown of the season deep into garbage time, a result that no doubt shifted the balance in many fantasy leagues.

 

Luckily for the Dolphins and for anyone who enjoys watching smart, inspired football, Miami only has one primetime game left on its schedule. It’s a Monday night matchup against New England in Week 14. Insert thinking face emoji.

 

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Quick Hits: Devonta Freeman is expected to sit out Week 11 after suffering his second concussion of the year in Sunday’s win over Dallas. Tevin Coleman will lead the Falcons’ backfield if Freeman sits against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football … A sprained MCL will sideline Aaron Jones for the next 3-6 weeks. With Ty Montgomery’s status also up in the air—he aggravated a rib injury Sunday against Chicago—Jamaal Williams is a must-add in all formats … Philip Rivers has entered the concussion protocol. If he sits out against the Bills in Week 11, it would end his streak of 185 consecutive regular season starts, the second-longest among active quarterbacks … Already without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys were dealt another blow when Sean Lee went down with a hamstring injury in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. Dallas is reportedly bracing for him to miss up to three weeks. The Cowboys are also uncertain of Tyron Smith’s availability for Week 11. The All-Pro left tackle is still nursing a groin injury … Byron Maxwell is going back to where it all started. An original member of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, the seven-year vet is returning to the Seahawks on a one-year deal. Maxwell should play an immediate role in Seattle’s secondary with star corner Richard Sherman (torn Achilles) out for the year … Earl Thomas is expected to return this week after sitting out the last two games with a pulled hamstring. The five-time Pro Bowler holds PFF’s No. 8 safety grade out of 85 qualifiers this year … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said there’s a chance Chris Carson could return sometime next month. The seventh-round rookie has been out of commission since suffering a fractured leg in Week 4 … Zach Ertz was a full participant at Monday’s practice and should be back in the Eagles’ lineup Sunday at Dallas. Ertz missed Philadelphia’s last game with a minor hamstring injury but had the bye week to rest up … Case Keenum will remain the Vikings’ starter following a dazzling performance Sunday against Washington (304 passing yards, four touchdowns). Keenum is keeping the seat warm for Teddy Bridgewater, who was activated from injured reserve last week … Jamie Collins suffered a torn MCL in Sunday’s loss to Detroit and will now miss the rest of the season. In other Browns injury news, Corey Coleman is expected to return this week after spending the past two months on injured reserve with a fractured hand. Coleman has appeared in just 12-of-25 games since arriving as a first-round pick in 2016 … Rob Kelley has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain as well as a sprained MCL and will miss multiple games, according to Redskins coach Jay Gruden. Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson will share backfield duties during his absence … Danny Woodhead is eligible to return from injured reserve this week, though it’s unclear if he’ll be available for Sunday’s game versus Green Bay. He’s been rehabbing a torn hamstring he suffered in Baltimore’s season opener … The Broncos are sticking with Brock Osweiler at quarterback despite another rocky outing in Sunday night’s loss to New England. Denver has been outscored by an embarrassing 92-39 margin in Osweiler’s two starts this season … Tom Savage will draw another start Sunday versus Arizona. Savage has struggled mightily filling in for Deshaun Watson (torn ACL), completing just 46.3 percent of his passes for 440 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and three lost fumbles over his last two outings … David Johnson had his cast removed on Monday and will now begin rehabbing his injured wrist. Johnson is hoping to return before the end of the season, though he could be shut down if the Cardinals fall out of the playoff race … The Jaguars have already ruled out Allen Hurns for Week 11. Hurns had to crawl off the field after suffering an ankle injury late in Sunday’s win over the Chargers … Giants RT Justin Pugh injured his back in Week 10 and is out indefinitely. It’s another blow to a New York team coming off its worst defeat of the season Sunday against the 1-9 49ers … The Raiders ended Gareon Conley’s season Monday by placing him on injured reserve. A shin injury limited the first-round rookie to just two games in 2017. 



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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