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Fantasy Football Team Previews: Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey should once again be the focal point of the Carolina Panthers' offense.
Christian McCaffrey should be in store for another phenomenal season. (Twitter // @PFF_Fantasy)
2019 Summary

Record: 5-11 (4th in NFC South)

2019 Offensive Points-Per-Game: 21.2 (20th)

2019 Total Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: -26.9% (31st)

The Carolina Panthers’ offense in 2019 was literally a one-man show, as Christian McCaffrey went absolutely bonkers. He finished with 150 more fantasy points (10 points per game) than the next closest running back, Aaron Jones. He got it done in both the passing and running game, surpassing 1,000 rushing and receiving yards. Despite a passing game that was anything but efficient, the rising D.J. Moore finished with nearly 90 receptions (87) and 1,175 to go along with four touchdowns.

Major additions
  • S, Juston Burris
  • DE, Stephen Weatherly
  • QB, Teddy Bridgewater
  • G, John Miller
  • WR, Seth Roberts
  • LB, Tahir Whitehead
  • WR, Robby Anderson
  • DT, Derrick Brown
  • CB, Eli Apple
  • DE, Yetur Gross-Matos
  • S, Jeremy Chinn
  • LT, Russell Okung
Major subtractions
  • QB, Cam Newton
  • SS, Eric Reid
  • FS, Colin Jones
  • TE, Greg Olsen
  • QB, Kyle Allen
  • G, Trai Turner
  • LB, Luke Kuechly

4 major storylines for 2020

What will offensive coordinator Joe Brady and head coach Matt Rhule’s effect on this offense be?

When reviewing the head coaches in new places earlier this offseason, I looked at how Matt Rhule operated at Baylor. His offense was very balanced, deploying the run and pass on a fairly average basis in college football. The hiring of Joe Brady, Louisiana State University’s former passing game coordinator, as offensive coordinator, suggests that the team will continue leaning on the pass, however. LSU’s passing-game was historic in 2019, and with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, the Panthers have a sizeable upgrade at QB. Carolina threw the football the fourth-most frequently of any team in the NFL last year, but was very ineffective. The frequency may decrease, but the passing game should be much more productive.

What can be expected of Teddy Bridgewater?

Bridgewater filled in admirably for an injured Drew Brees in 2019, compiling a 5-0 record in games he started. He finished the season with a 67.9% completion percentage, an impressive 7.1 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He is by no means a deep-ball QB, ranking last among qualified passers for intended air yards, but he is much more competent than his predecessor, Kyle Allen. Expect all members of the offense to benefit because of his presence.

Can Christian McCaffrey repeat his monstrous 2019?

Allen was a total mess under centre, but his struggles actually helped McCaffrey’s totals. Allen’s 5.3 average completed air yards was the 11th worst of qualified quarterbacks, a number that suggests his preference to dump the ball off. Bridgewater, fortunately for McCaffrey, also likes to dump the ball off. In the four games Alvin Kamara played with Bridgewater in 2019, he averaged 6.25 receptions per game. Extrapolated over a 16-game season, that is 100 receptions. Olsen’s absence opens up 82 vacated targets, but newcomer Robby Anderson will likely eat into that as well. Although repeating a season such as McCaffrey’s 2019 seems daunting for any player, there’s not much that suggests he’s going to regress significantly.

What will the wide receiver depth chart look like?

I expect Carolina’s passing offense to look similarly to Baylor’s from 2019. The addition of Anderson suggests it’s likely Carolina features three wide receivers, with D.J. Moore playing in a similar role to Denzel Mims, who was Baylor’s No. 1 WR in 2019. Mims caught 23.8% of the Bears’ total completions in 2019, while compiling 28.6% of the team’s total receiving yards. Baylor had three wide receivers exceed 40 receptions last season. Anderson and Samuel, both extremely quick receivers with similar skill sets, could finish the season with very similar stat lines.

Sleeper: Ian Thomas

Anderson, Moore and Samuel don’t profile as elite red zone targets. That means Thomas may be the only receiver on the field that can actually develop into a reliable target around the goal line. Thomas, however, has solid speed for his size and a great catch radius. As the TE21 in NFFC drafts, you can really wait before selecting Thomas.

Bust: None

Right now, the Panthers have just two players being selected in the top-150 in NFFC drafts (McCaffrey and Moore), and I like them both. Every other player on the team is being selected too late in drafts to be considered a bust.

Panthers Players in Rally Towel’s Top-200 Fantasy Football Rankings

2. RB, Christian McCaffrey

24. WR, D.J. Moore

121. WR, Curtis Samuel

130. WR, Robby Anderson

132. TE, Ian Thomas

155. QB, Teddy Bridgewater

More from Rally Towel

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