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2016 Fantasy Recap
Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. The Carolina Panthers went from a two lose season, including the Super Bowl, to a six win season. Just about every skill position player had a down year, except for Greg Olsen. No player outside of Olsen was startable every week. After an early season injury to Cam Newton, which he only missed one game for, things were not the same for him the rest of the way. He posted a career lows in quarterback rating, completion percentage, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and was only one touchdown over his career low in passing touchdowns. Any way you slice it, it was a bad season for the Panthers it is all started with Cam’s performance.
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Key Additions and Losses
- Chris McCaffrey
- Curtis Samuel
- Julius Peppers
- Charles Johnson
- Mike Tolbert
- Ted Ginn
- Corey Brown
- AJ Klien
Quarterback Fantasy Outlook
To me this one gets a little tricky. Cam Newton has proven when he is on the move he is a far better quarterback than in the pocket. My concern is the Panthers are going to start limiting how often he is on the move. The hits are clearly piling up and it is starting to take its toll on Cam. If Cam does not find a way to become a better pocket passer, which I believe he has the tools to be, his days as a starting quarterback are numbered. This kind of reminds me of Randall Cunningham. He was a great scrambler but as he got older he transitioned into a terrific pocket passer and extended his career. This is exactly what Cam needs to do to get back into the top 15 quarterbacks in the NFL. Until he does I think he will hover around the 20th ranked quarterback in the NFL. So my biggest concern right now with Cam is I don’t think he will do it, at least not this year. At Cam’s current ADP of 77 I am not touching him, that is way to expensive for a guy that might not be using his best assets, running the ball, as much as he used to. That ADP still lists him as a starter and I don’t think Cam will even come close to QB1 status this year.
Running Back Fantasy Outlook
Many people are quick to jump on the Christian McCaffrey train and with good reason. He will be very good running back, especially for fantasy football. I do have one concern regarding McCaffrey though, Jonathan Stewart. I still think this is Stewarts backfield, but he will certainly be giving way to McCaffrey. I can imagine a 60/40 time share for the duo. I see Stewart getting all the goal line and short yardage work and McCaffrey getting all the third down work. I think Stewart will get more touchdowns and McCaffrey will get all the backfield receptions. For Stewart I think we can expect a slash line close to 180/700/8 and very few receptions. Thus making him a RB4 and barely a bye week starter for most people. His current ADP of 125 is probably pretty accurate for his likely production. Despite the likely less use McCaffrey should outscore Stewart, especially in PPR league formats. McCaffrey’s slash line for running the I think will look like 140/680/2 and his receiving line might be around 40/360/2. That should be enough scoring to put him right around low RB2 or flex play. No other running back for the Panthers is worth a roster spot on your team unless Stewart goes down with an injury.
Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook
The weakness in this offense is clearly the wide receivers. Kelvin Benjamin followed up his terrific rookie year with a let down. To be fair he missed an entire year in between because of an injury, but he has not done himself any favors by reporting to camp this year looking more like a linebacker than a wide receiver. Compound that with people thinking the Devin Funchess would build on his promising rookie season, to only take a big step backwards. Despite all of this disappointment these two guys should remain as the starting wide receivers. Benjamin is the guy that will produce the best numbers between the two, but those numbers will at best leave him as a flex play. Current ADP has him going in the sixth round, which is where I would expect to draft a flex player, but I would not go any higher than that for him. My best advice regarding Funchess is just don’t. Last year he put up 23/371/4 and this year might be just about the same. The Panthers second round pick in this years draft was Curtis Samuel. Samuel is not the typical big body wide receiver that the Panthers seem to like, but should be a force from the slot week one. I fully expect Samuel to out perform Funchess and could even possibly out catch Benjamin, but more likely I think his touchdown total will be to low to give him value as a flex play or even by week fill in. I can seem him replacing Ted Ginn’s receptions, but less yards. I think we can expect 50/600/4 from Samuel in his rookie year, and those number can go up if he can pass Funchess on the depth chart. This makes Samuel of possible late round flier in redraft and an early stash in dynasty drafts.
Tight End Fantasy Outlook
Cam’s most consistent and reliable option for the last five years has been Greg Olsen, and as a result Olsen has been a top five if not top three tight end during that span. I do not think that changes at all this year. Olsen will lead the team in receptions and yards. His touchdowns may be lacking, but his receptions and yards will make up for that. I can easily see Olsen producing a slash line of 75/1000/5, putting him right back into the top three tight ends again this year. Currently Olsen is trending as a fifth round pick and the fourth tight end off the board, I am comfortable with this spot, and if he is available in the sixth round and you have no tight end you would be grabbing him no questions asked.
Defensive Fantasy Outlook
The Panthers have been known for the defense and last year was a little down for them yet they still finished in the top 10. The unfortunate thing about the Panthers defense is their own division. Two games each against the high scoring Falcons and Saints, and two against the up and coming Bucs. That is six games that are just not good match ups for them. They do however have some pretty soft match ups in their non division games this year, but that might not be enough to push them back into the top five, but they should maintain a 10 – 14 range in value this coming season.
Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.