By Christopher Harris

ESPN.com

(Archive)

Week 17

Carolina Panthers

(2-13)

Atlanta Falcons

(12-3)

Analysis: In Week 17, the Panthers will: wallow around in their own offensive filth. Their defense gave up 31 points at home to the Falcons three weeks ago, and it's tough to imagine their offense scoring half that Sunday. In Week 17, the Falcons will: go all out. They missed out on a chance to clinch the NFC's top seed in a Monday night loss to the Saints that they probably should've won and now need a victory here to secure the NFC South crown and a first-round bye.

Fantasy Up: Michael Turner picked a bad time to fumble Monday. He hadn't lost a single football all season, but he got stuffed on back-to-back, goal-line chances versus the Saints (after Michael Jenkins drew an end zone pass interference flag), losing the ball on the second one. An ugly punctuation mark on an ugly night: 17 carries for 48 yards against a New Orleans defense that had been eviscerated by Ray Rice the week before. But listen, Turner had three scores against the Panthers last month. If you survived Monday night, no way you're benching him for the finale. … I feel the same way about Jonathan Stewart, the red-hot back who might just be making DeAngelo Williams expendable in Carolina. However, Stewart reportedly has a sore foot and has missed some practices this week, so you'll have to make sure he's active. If he is, use him. Versus the Steelers last Thursday, "The Daily Show" produced 80 yards on 19 touches in the worst situation imaginable (on the road against the NFL's best run defense, in the cold and on national TV), and since coming back from injury five weeks ago, his average game is 19.8 touches for 109.8 yards and 10.6 fantasy points. True, the touchdowns haven't been there -- an occupational hazard when you play for the Panthers -- but otherwise he has been a bull. … Matt Ryan occasionally still has that "assassin" piece of his game missing, as he did versus the Saints. He could've put New Orleans away a couple times (especially after John Abraham's amazing fourth-quarter, tip-drill interception), but he kept letting them off the hook. But with other top-10 quarterback options possibly sitting Sunday, Ryan should be a rock-solid start, as should Roddy White.

Fantasy Down: Thanks for playing, Tony Gonzalez. Gonzo was a fantasy-killer for much of the year: up and down and eclipsing 51 yards receiving twice all season. But he saved his worst performance of the year for fantasy-title weekend, with two grabs for 12 yards versus New Orleans. I don't trust him as a top-10 option. … I want to see potential in Jimmy Clausen, if only because I thought he should've been a first-rounder and the second signal-caller off the board in April's draft. That's not looking like a particularly good call right now. In past editions of the Breakdown, I've detailed great quarterbacks who had rookie seasons even more miserable than Clausen's, so I don't think you can point to stats to explain why you find Clausen hopeless. Instead, I think you point to the game tape. He was pretty good at the beginning of the Steelers game last week, hitting Steve Smith, David Gettis and his running backs on a few short passes that moved the sticks. After that, it was a comedy of punts, missed connections and penalties that made you wonder whether Clausen could hit the broad side of a barn or lead a pee wee team. It's not fair, I know. The franchise is moribund. But let's put it this way: I absolutely understand why Carolina is dreaming of Andrew Luck.


Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy and follow him at www.twitter.com/writerboyESPN.

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