At the trade deadline, the Carolina Panthers made the surprising move of trading away No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Nobody expected the Panthers to make this move, and some people highly disagreed with the decision. This left Devin Funchess as the new No. 1 receiver on the roster, but the question for fantasy owners remains: Is Devin Funchess a No. 1 fantasy wide receiver?
The case for Funchess as a No. 1
Fantasy owners who have rostered Funchess saw exactly what they wanted to see Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. In his first game as the top receiver, Funchess had five receptions for 92 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The thing that stands out is the touchdowns that Funchess has.
He’s been consistent all season with his receiving yards, but without Benjamin on the outside, those numbers should increase. He didn’t get as many targets as fantasy owners would’ve liked, but he proved his reliability by catching five of his six targets as Cam Newton looked to spread the ball.
With many unproven receivers on the roster, who have been dropping passes the last few weeks, Newton may look to increase his targets to Funchess to ensure passes are caught. With the probable return of Greg Olsen and emergence of Christian McCaffrey, don’t expect Funchess to et double-teamed too much.
The Panthers may not have many credible receivers on the roster, but they have two tight ends who are very capable of catching passes and a rookie running back who is emerging as one of, if not the best, receiver from his draft class. This is going to draw defenses away from doubling Funchess, which will allow him to flourish to his best capability with a one-on-one matchup along the outside.
The case against Funchess as a no. 1
Now let’s not move to fast and call Funchess a top ten fantasy receiver every week. He had a great game Monday night, but it was against a poor Dolphins secondary.
As the games get harder and the competition increases, these numbers won’t sustain. The Panthers still have to go up against the stout defenses of the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. This may cause matchup problems for Funchess.
Nothing is guaranteed for Funchess, as Benjamin played two and a half seasons as the No. 1 receiver in Carolina and at best was a low-tier WR1. Benjamin never found the fantasy success that fantasy owners hoped he would, but that doesn’t exactly mean the same for Funchess. It seems through one week without Benjamin that Funchess has had great chemistry with Newton and great things may come.
Funchess also requires Newton to be on top of his game to succeed for fantasy owners. If Newton can continue his strong play as of late, then that bodes well for Funchess and fantasy owners. He is always a risky play because of how Newton’s play can fluctuate week to week. Funchess needs to make a name for himself in the red zone to become that No. 1 fantasy receiver. Against the Dolphins, we saw the Panthers utilize Ed Dickson and McCaffrey more than Funchess.
Funchess probably won’t boost right to a No. 1 receiver for fantasy owners quite yet. However, if more targets are sent his way over time, then he’ll be more likely to put up WR1 numbers.
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