The Carolina Panthers had a miserable season last year. They rotated through four quarterbacks, fired their head coach, traded a franchise player in Christian McCaffrey, and traded another franchise player in DJ Moore after the season. There’s no denying that Carolina and their fans went through the wringer en route to finishing somehow in second place in the miserable NFC South. The Panthers ranked 29th in most offensive categories in the NFL while finishing in the bottom third by their defense.
Despite a solid finish to the season under interim head coach Steve Wilks, the Panthers decided to go with an offensive-minded head coach known for developing quarterbacks in Frank Reich after firing the disastrous Matt Rhule. Reich brought in an impressive coaching staff and has set the Panthers up really well to take advantage of an awful NFC South. They are likely the favorites, especially if Bryce Young performs just adequately. Reich has boosted the fantasy stock of many players in the past, like Michael Pittman, Jonathan Taylor, Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz, and numerous others. This team should be fairly kind to fantasy managers, especially Miles Sanders and Adam Thielen. Get your stocks now on this Panthers offense. It should explode next year.
Bryce Young was the number one overall pick for a reason. He’s expected to lead this Panthers’ team to their future success and become the franchise quarterback they’ve been missing for the past half-decade. Young has a ton of arm power and is far more accurate than previously thought. Despite his smaller stature, he’s still very mobile and should hold up well behind the Panthers’ strong offensive line. Young will be a good QB2 in his rookie season, one that, if you’re rebuilding, can begin to rebuild around in superflex leagues. He will be a QB1 in the not-too-distant future and could reach low-end QB1 status by the end of this season. Frank Reich knows how to develop quarterbacks, and they’ve surrounded Young with plenty of talent. Carolina is a strong pick to win the NFC South.
Young isn’t a candidate to buy or sell right now because he’s yet to play a game. There’s zero reason for anyone to sell him, but rebuilding teams should seek to trade for him. My projections for Bryce Young are 3,680 yards on a 65.3% completion rate with 22 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 62 rushes for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Add in a two-point conversion and 7 fumbles, and you get a pretty decent 17.5 ppg. That’s solid for a rookie quarterback and should be a high-end QB2.
Miles Sanders signed the richest running back in free agency among all free-agent running backs. The Panthers gave him that because they knew they needed a sturdy veteran running back that could take a lot of the workload and pressure off of Bryce Young. Sanders will be a three-down back with sneaky RB1-tier potential by the end of the season. If you’re a contending team, you should see if you can acquire Miles for a late-first, early second. He’s going to be a reliable running back for your dynasty team. Miles won’t likely win you weeks, but a reliable 13-16 points per week is a strong asset on your playoff team.
My projections for Miles Sanders is for him to have 241 carries for 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns, 38 targets for 29 receptions for 206 yards, and a touchdown. He will average 14.5 ppg. That’s a solid number for your RB2/3. I’d want him if I were contending.
The Carolina Panthers have two capable backups behind Miles Sanders in Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear. Neither holds much dynasty value beyond being a handcuff. They are arguably worth the most to the Miles Sanders owner, so if you have one, see if you can’t trade either of them to the Sanders owner for a third. That third is worth more. Neither guy is projected to do more than spell Sanders. The Carolina Panthers gave Miles the highest running back contract from free agency for a reason. They plan to use him a ton. That’s why I have Chuba projected for 5.2 ppg on 122 touches. As for Blackshear, he’s projected for 4.3 ppg on 86 touches.
I’m a big Mingo fan. He will be the next Ole Miss wideout to develop into a star. So, if you can trade for him using seconds, do it. I’m all-in on him becoming the WR1 of the Panthers and developing alongside Young. Young’s deep ball is perfect for Mingo, and don’t be shocked if he averages over 14 yards a catch this year. It might be too soon to say Mingo is the WR1, but by the end of the season, I predict many will be crowning him that and trying to acquire him next off-season. So, get in now while it’s still cheap. My projections for Jonathan Mingo are 89 targets, 57 receptions, 785 yards, five touchdowns, and an average of 9.7 ppg. He’s a decent flex play ahead of a breakout sophomore season in a year.
Adam Thielen was signed to a multi-year deal to be a veteran leader on the offense and serve as a strong, reliable receiver to aid in Young’s growth. So long as he is healthy, he will be a decent WR2/3 in fantasy this season. Don’t expect crazy numbers or for him to be a dominant receiver. Those days are gone, but if you’re contending and need a cheap flex play, see if you can trade a second for Thielen. He’ll provide valuable depth and coverage on bye weeks. I project Adam Thielen to have 110 passes thrown his way and accrue 75 receptions for 763 yards, eight touchdowns, and an average of 13.2 ppg. I’ll take that in my flex all day long.
Chark has become a journeyman receiver, but he still has some flex potential for your dynasty squad. He’s a good bye-week fill-in, or if you play with deeper starting lineups, he is a good WR4. Chark is on the Carolina Panthers to provide a deep veteran threat for Bryce Young. Chark is known for being a deep threat; when healthy, he can do well. Alas, this isn’t going to be a high-passing offense, so I’m projecting Chark to lose work to Mingo later in the season. That means he will see 75 targets with 44 receptions for 570 yards and three touchdowns. That’s good enough for 8.5 ppg in PPR scoring. I don’t recommend trading for him.
The Panthers have numerous backups at the wide receiver position, but there are only two you need to know about. Those two are Laviska Shenault Jr. and Terrace Marshall Jr. However, if you have to start one of these guys, you likely don’t care about their results as you’re rebuilding. They have extremely limited value. Don’t expect more than one or two big weeks at most.
Every rookie quarterback loves their veteran tight end. Hayden Hurst will be a valuable weapon for the Carolina Panthers, but he won’t likely produce much for your dynasty squad, even in tight-end premium leagues. Hurst will be a valuable red-zone and third-down target for Young. Just know that he’s strictly a TE2 for your dynasty squad. Start him on the bye week of your TE1, and that’s it. I project Hurst to see 72 targets and catch 54 of them for 442 yards and three touchdowns. That’s good enough for 6.8 ppg.
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As always, May the Force be with You…