The Carolina Panthers' No. 1 receiver has a grand total of one touchdown through nine games. It took Steve Smith until Week 9 to visit the end zone officially.
Don't remind you? Don't forget that his suffering second-year signal-caller has thrown just eight touchdown passes this season. It's been a learning experience, to say the least. Four of Carolina's first nine opponents are in the top 10 in pass defense. That group doesn't include the New York Giants, who made Newton's life hell in Week 3, and the Chicago Bears (Week 8).
This isn't seguing into "It gets easier from here." But it gets easier this week: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in town.
They have the last-ranked pass defense in the league. They have allowed the second most PPR points and third most non-PPR points per game to wide receivers.
One of the reasons why NFL teams have so much success through the air against the Bucs is that Tampa Bay is just so damn good against the run. One of the others: It's just so damn easy to pass against them.
It doesn't hurt that Smith shackler Aqib Talib is a member of the New England Patriots now. OK, to be fair, the risk-taking corner's job didn't become difficult until 2011, but he accomplished it nonetheless. This year, Talib has been lost, and the Bucs didn't seem to mind letting the Pats try to find him. In Week 1, Smith reeled in seven of his 11 targets for 106 yards against Tampa Bay.
Anyway, a big day is a long time coming for Smith owners. The 33-year-old wideout has averaged a shade less than 12 PPR points per contest and has registered double-digit points in non-PPR leagues only three times this season. This past Sunday, he caught one pass (on seven looks) for 19 yards against the Denver Broncos.
That three-TD game from Smith you've been hoping for? Yeah, it's probably coming.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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