The Carolina Panthers had a bit of a wild offseason, where the big question was at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater failed to make an impact last year, and many thought the team would address this need through the draft. What they did do, however, was turn to the New York Jets and acquired Sam Darnold. That was the most noteworthy move from the offseason, but the Panthers did also lose Mike Davis in free agency. Davis was excellent when taking over for an injured Christian McCaffrey last year and exploded across the fantasy world in 2021. With McCaffery back from injury, the loss of Davis is somewhat expendable but let’s get into how the rest of the team lines up fantasy-wise.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.
Quarterbacks – Sam Darnold
As we mentioned, Darnold is the new starter in town, and his fantasy outlook is a shaky one. Last season, Darnold finished as the QB30, averaging just 11.2 fantasy points per game. Now, he does get a bit of a break here. His weapons were morbid and his line didn’t help much, but he’s still not a good fantasy quarterback. It will be interesting to see how he performs with better weapons this year, but until we really know, you cannot trust Darnold off the bat.
Running backs – Christian McCaffrey, Chuba Hubbard
McCaffery let almost every No. 1 pick holder down last year after only playing in three games, a year after he was the top fantasy player. Obviously, getting hurt in 2020 was not his fault, and we know he’s basically 100 percent coming into this year. McCaffery’s 2019 campaign, on the other hand, was borderline legendary. He averaged 22.2 points per game with a total of 355.2 points and won lots of people in their leagues. He’s still worth the No. 1 pick this year, but there are a lot of stronger contenders than last season.
Hubbard is the other only back that we really know will be on the roster right now. The rookie out of Oklahoma State is would not be the worst player in the world to draft and stash in a standard league in case McCaffery gets hurt. With Davis now a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Hubbard is CMC’s clear backup and one of the top handcuffs in fantasy football.
Wide Receivers – D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr. David Moore
This is a really talented receiving core, but even with their great depth, fantasy production shouldn’t be too much of a concern. After signing Anderson in the 2020 offseason, D.J. Moore‘s average PPR points per game only decreased 1.3 from 15.4 to 14.1. Anderson’s average points per game actually went up from 10.1, with the Jets, to 14 with Carolina last season.
With Moore and Anderson being the top two guys, we look for a battle of who will grab the third spot and eke out some points of their own. Marshall, the rookie out of LSU, is making serious noise at training camp. David Moore is battling Marshall for this third spot, but he isn’t the favorite to win the job. Either way, these two backend receivers are worth a late-round pick in deeper leagues and could make some noise if the injury bug hits.
Tight Ends – Dan Arnold, Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble
It seems Arnold has all but wrapped up the starting spot here, and should see a really nice boost in targets this season. With Arizona last year, Arnold was TE22 and averaged six fantasy points per game. The increase in targets should lead to a solid uptick in points per game, but it’s still pretty questionable if he can be a TE1 for your fantasy team. As for Thomas, he will be Arnold’s backup, and the once mega-hyped tight end will not be worth the pick in any type of league. Tremble, on the other hand, is a solid rookie and could turn into a waiver wire add later in the season.
The Panthers had one of the most inconsistent D/STs last year. They wracked up a total of 80 points across the season and weren’t rostered by many. They did explode for over 15 points in three separate weeks of the season but dipped into the negatives twice and never eclipsed more than eight points in any other week. The outlook for this year is a bit of the same. They’ve added some nice pieces like Haason Reddick, Jaycee Horn, and A.J. Bouye but it shouldn’t really boost them too much for 2021.
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