Shark Bites

Panthers WR Devin Funchess left Sunday's game at Atlanta with a toe injury. We'll see about the severity of the injury, but Funchess has drawn only 13 targets through 4 games, with no more than 4 in any contest. He's not a fantasy factor right now anyway.

Panthers QB Cam Newton is being evaluated for a concussion after he took a big shot to the head on a 2-point conversion. We'll let you know if he passes or fails the concussion test.

The Panthers' official website calls Cameron Artis-Payne the "feature back" while Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) is sidelined. That's probably an exaggeration. Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert will also be involved. Artis-Payne averaged 12.7 touches per game with Stewart out last year. Expect similar volume in Week 3. That makes him just a RB3 or flex option against a stout Vikings defense.

The Charlotte Observer's expects Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne to share the backfield for as long as Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) is out -- with Mike Tolbert also involved. “[Artis-Payne] is a stout inside runner with good vision who makes some good cuts,” HC Ron Rivera said. “Fozzy is niftier, with a little better lateral movement.” Whittaker is the preferred Week 3 fantasy play after his 100-yard outing last Sunday, but he's just a RB3 or flex option. Artis-Payne is worth stashing but shouldn't be in fantasy lineups this week.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (back) returned to practice on Sunday, according to insider Joe Person. Olsen missed about 2 weeks with back spasms but never seemed to be in danger of missing Week 1. He's safe to draft as an upper-end TE1.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen will miss the team's 2nd preseason game with back spasms. HC Ron Rivera said there are "no long-term concerns." This doesn't seem like an issue that will impact Olsen's fantasy value, but we'll keep an eye on him.

ESPN's Michael Wagaman calls WR Torrey Smith the "focal point" of the 49ers' offense. That's an offense that will be led by either Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick. But it's also an offense that will play fast under new HC Chip Kelly and likely be in catch-up mode early and often. There's no legitimate threat to push Smith for the #1 WR gig. He's a safe bet to top 100 targets this season after totaling a career-low 60 last year. That gives Smith a shot to bounce back at least into WR3 territory. He's been the 41st WR off the board in recent MFL10 drafts.

Beat writer Joseph Person called Panthers WR Devin Funchess the “star” of OTAs. The Michigan product has shown “terrific” hands while looking more “fluid” as a route runner. Checking in at 6’4, 225 pounds, there’s plenty of room for the 22-year-old Funchess to grow. He’s an intriguing target in drafts, especially if Kelvin Benjamin (torn ACL) struggles to reach pre-injury form.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera said Tuesday that WR Devin Funchess is "light years" ahead of where he was last season.  That's no big surprise -- Funchess entered the league as a raw rookie after having spent time at Michigan at TE.  He's been a standout at OTAs, per Rivera.  If he can capture the #2 WR job, Funchess could emerge as a WR3 for your fantasy squad.

Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly will have surgery on his left shoulder after playing through a torn labrum this postseason. Kuechly reportedly suffered the injury in the 1st half of the Week 17 win over Tampa Bay yet never missed so much as a practice the rest of the way. The team expects him to be ready in time for training camp, according to

Panthers LB Thomas Davis had surgery Monday to repair the right forearm fracture that knocked him out of Sunday's win over the Cardinals. The doesn't necessarily knock him out for the Super Bowl, though. "My understanding is if everything goes well it is something he can mostly certainly play with," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday, according to The Associated Press. "So we are excited about that possibility." Davis' absence would take away 1 of Carolina's top playmakers, but that didn't seem to hurt the Panthers too much in their NFC title game beatdown.

The Panthers have ruled DE Jared Allen out for Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Cardinals because of the foot fracture he suffered vs. Seattle. That's expected to push Kony Ealy into the starting lineup and gives him some sleeper appeal for those still playing IDP fantasy football leagues. Losing Allen shouldn't deliver too hard a blow to the Panthers D. He hadn't registered a sack since Week 8 and tallied just 2 QB hits over the final 6 regular-season games. But Allen did rack up 3 hits against Russell Wilson last Sunday. Ealy produced 5 sacks and 10 total QB hits as mostly a part-timer in his 2nd season.

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday's loss to the Falcons, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.  He'll miss the season finale, but Carolina is "hopeful" about getting him back for the playoffs.  If RB Jonathan Stewart (foot) remains sidelined this weekend, the Panthers will be down to RBs Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert.

10:34am EST 12/20/15

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (knee) is active for today’s game against the Giants. He put in a full practice on Friday and was listed as probable. That suggests he’s close to 100% for the plus matchup. As usual, Olsen is a high-end TE1.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (knee) is listed as probable for this weekend’s game against the Giants. He sat out on Wednesday, but returned to a limited practice on Thursday and a full workout on Friday. That suggests he’s close to 100% for the plus matchup. As usual, Olsen is a high-end TE1.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (knee) returned to a limited practice on Thursday.  It confirms that he's on track to play against the Giants this weekend.  How close he'll be to 100% remains the question.  We'll see if Olsen remains limited Friday or puts in a full workout.

Panthers insider Joe Person confirms that TE Greg Olsen (knee) is expected to play against the Giants on Sunday.  Olsen didn't return to last week's game after going down and will be limited in practice this week, according to Person.  There's also a chance his snaps are limited this weekend if Carolina gets out to a big lead.  It's a reason to consider fading him in DFS, but Olsen remains a must-start in season-long leagues.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen injured his knee in the 2nd quarter of Sunday's game against the Falcons.  He's officially questionable to return, but with Carolina up 28-0 at half, we'd be surprised if Olsen returned.  We'll update the severity of his injury when we learn more.

According to multiple reports, Colts HC Chuck Pagano on Monday called S Mike Adams day-to-day with his ankle injury. That means we'll need to watch the practice reports this week to see if Adams can return for a Sunday night trip to Pittsburgh. If he doesn't, then rookie Clayton Geathers would start again and be a solid bet for tackles against a busy Pittsburgh offense.

Colts S Mike Adams (ankle) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers. That'll give rookie S Clayton Geathers a 2nd straight start after he tallied 9 tackles (7 solo) in last week's win over the Falcons.


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