Shark Bites

Panthers WR Devin Funchess has been placed on IR with the knee injury he suffered in last week's loss to the Falcons. He'll miss Sunday's finale vs. the Bucs. Funchess finishes his 2nd season with a 23-371-4 line in 15 appearances. All 3 marks were down from his 2015 rookie campaign.

Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury. His last carry in Week 16 came late in the 3rd quarter. It looks like he's in danger of missing this weekend's finale -- which, of course, is meaningless to the Panthers. Stewart's absence would leave Carolina's backfield to Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera confirmed Wednesday that MLB Luke Kuechly will sit out Sunday's season finale against the Buccaneers. Kuechly has cleared the concussion protocol, but Carolina has elected to keep him out of the final few games. Two straight seasons of multiple-game absences for concussions raises questions about Kuechly's long-term future, though he has said he's not considering retirement. We'll see what else this story has in the offseason. A.J. Klein will start in his place again, but OLB Shaq Thompson has passed him to sit #2 behind Thomas Davis in playing time among Carolina LBs.

Panthers WR Devin Funchess suffered a knee injury in the 2nd half of Sunday's game against the Falcons and is officially questionable to return. He hauled in just 1 of 5 targets for 9 yards before exiting. The 2nd-year wideout hasn't topped 3 catches in a game all season.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly is inactive for tonight's game against Washington, despite clearing the concussion protocol this week. HC Ron Rivera said previously that didn't necessarily mean Kuechly would play and that he would put the player's future first in making the decision. Carolina's choice to keep Kuechly on the sideline raises the possibility of him sitting out the next 2 games as well. We'll see if/when we get word from the Panthers on that. If you'd been waiting on Kuechly for Week 15, it's time to start someone such as fill-in MLB A.J. Klein or Washington ILB Mason Foster in his place in your IDP lineup.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly has been cleared to return to game action after missing the past 3 weeks with a concussion. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll play Monday night against Washington, though. If you're waiting for him for your IDP lineup, make sure you have insurance. Options in the same game -- for various league sizes -- include Thomas Davis, A.J. Klein and Mason Foster.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly put in a full practice Thursday, the 1st official day of the week since Carolina plays Washington on Monday night. Kuechly didn't make it to "full" status until Friday last week and then fell short of clearance for the game. We'll see if he can make that final step in his progression through the league concussion protocol this time around.

Panthers K Graham Gano has a broken bone in the heel of his plant foot. Gano and team doctors recognized the issue during last week's game against the Chargers. Gano played through it and connected on 4 FGs and 2 XPs. The injury might not be a major issue, but we'd rather roll with a healthy K in your fantasy playoffs.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly couldn't quite gain final clearance to play Sunday against the Chargers, but HC Ron Rivera said plans haven't changed going forward. “No. I’ll go along with what the doctors tell me,” Rivera told the Charlotte Observer. “That’s the truth of the matter.” He was reportedly responding to a question about whether the team would go ahead and shut Kuechly down for the rest of the year even if he clears the concussion protocol. This is the 2nd straight year in which Kuechly has lost 3 games to a concussion. We'll see what the situation means for Kuechly's long-term future. IDP owners can keep him on 2016 rosters, though, in hopes that you'll be able to use him over the final 2-3 fantasy weeks.

Panthers WR Devin Funchess needed stitches for a split lip early in Sunday's win over the Chargers, but he returned to catch a 6-yard TD in the 2nd quarter. His 5 targets ranked 2nd on the team, but he caught just 1 other pass and totaled a mere 33 yards. No Carolina WR looks like a safe bet in fantasy right now in a poorly performing pass offense.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen led the team in targets (7), receptions (4) and yards (87) in Sunday's win over the Chargers. He posted the only meaningful receiving line on a terrible passing day for QB Cam Newton (10-of-27 for 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Olsen remains a weekly fantasy football starter, but Newton's recent struggles have obviously lowered his fantasy ceiling. Newton has completed less than 49% of his passes in 4 straight games.

Panthers QB Cam Newton completed just 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards and 1 TD in Sunday's win over the Chargers. He added 31 rushing yards on 8 attempts, as well as an INT. It was Newton's 4th straight game with fewer than 15 completions and a completion rate of less than 49%. Newton's not playing well. The rushing yards marked his highest total in 4 games, though. That aspect is the only thing keeping Newton in starting contention at all.

Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart rushed for just 66 yards on 24 carries (a 2.8-yard average) in Sunday's win over the Chargers but scored 1 of Carolina's 2 offensive TDs. San Diego presents a solid run D but isn't stellar. Stewart added 0 catches on 2 pass targets, but his fantasy line shows why he's in lineups at this point. We can't count on efficiency from Stewart, but volume and scoring opportunities have often been on Stewart's side.

The Panthers will have DE Mario Addison (foot), S Kurt Coleman (concussion) and CB Daryl Worley (concussion) in the lineup against the Chargers. All 3 are active after entering the day questionable. Addison remains a risky start and is a boom/bust IDP candidate anyway. Coleman and Worley are top fantasy options among DBs for the week.

Panthers S Kurt Coleman cleared the concussion protocol Saturday and is on track to play Sunday against the Chargers. Coleman missed Week 14 with the concussion but should be good to go in IDP lineups if he's active.

Panthers CB Daryl Worley cleared the concussion protocol Saturday and is expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. As long as he's active, Worley will be a top play among fantasy DBs.

The Panthers announced Saturday that MLB Luke Kuechly will miss his 3rd straight game. Kuechly returned to practice this week and was thought to be on track for Sunday's game against the Chargers, but he failed to gain final clearance Saturday. A.J. Klein will start in his place for the 3rd straight week.

The Panthers have ruled DE Charles Johnson out for Sunday's game against the Chargers with a hamstring injury. MLB Luke Kuechly, CB Daryl Worley and S Kurt Coleman are all officially questionable, though each is expected to play barring a setback in their recoveries from concussions. DE Mario Addison (foot) is also questionable. He put in a full practice Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. We'll check on his status Sunday and keep tabs on the concussion crew through the weekend.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly practice in full Friday and is on track to play Sunday against the Chargers, "barring a last-minute setback in the concussion protocol," according to ESPN's David Newton. Kuechly, S Kurt Coleman and CB Daryl Worley were all reportedly due to meet with the medical staff after putting in a full practice Friday, and then meet again early Saturday for final clearance. We'll watch the status for all 3 players, all of whom sit well within starter territory at their positions in our Week 14 rankings.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly returned to practice Wednesday, though he has yet to clear the league concussion protocol. ESPN's David Newton reports that Kuechly will be re-evaluated Thursday. We'll see how he progresses this week, though returning to practice is obviously a big step.


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