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2024 Fantasy Forecast: Carolina Panthers

The Panthers continue to build around second-year QB Bryce Young. How will Young and the Panthers' fantasy assets fare in 2024?

The Panthers drafted Bryce Young with the first overall pick in 2023, which they acquired with a massive trade that included their 2024 first-round pick. A pick that ultimately became the first overall pick in 2024, as the Panthers struggled to a 2-15 record with Young at the helm.   

In the young quarterback’s defense, the Panthers’ offense featured 33-year-old Adam Thielen and a running back platoon of Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders—and not much else. The offense struggled to a paltry 13.6 points a game average, including five games with less than ten points and the final two games scoring zero points. It finished near the bottom in many statistical categories. 

Despite the challenges, the defense showed resilience, keeping the offense in most games. The secondary allowed the fewest pass attempts in the league and the third-fewest passing yards, demonstrating the team’s defensive prowess. However, the rush defense needed improvement.

After adding weapons for Young and attacking the draft and free agency, how does 2024 look for your Carolina Panthers? 

Quarterbacks

Bryce Young

It’s all on Young’s shoulders, and the highly drafted second-year player must show improvement. He was sacked 62 times, losing a league-leading 477 yards on those sacks. He had ten INTs, eleven fumbles, and threw three pick-sixes. The sacks were not entirely on him, but Young often held the ball too long. While this is common for rookie quarterbacks, fellow rookie CJ Stroud dazzled, making Young’s performance appear even more abysmal. 

Photo Courtesy of John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

A few performances inspired hope, including a three-TD game against Detroit and a strong outing against Green Bay later in the season. Those were the only two games where he threw more than one touchdown, and Young also threw a pair of interceptions against the Lions. 

The Panthers made moves to bolster Young’s chances, signing two offensive guards to solidify the interior line, Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis. They signed Diontae Johnson to give Young a second reliable option alongside Thielen. They also added WR Xavier Legette in the first round and selected TE Ja’Tavion Sanders in the fourth round of the draft. 

It’s easy to project a step up in numbers with the additions and the expected progression of having a year in the league under your belt. Young is talented and will now have even more weight on his shoulders as expectations will be cranked up. 

Projection: 61.5% Completion Rate, 3,488 yards, 23 TDs, 10 INTs, 300 yds. Rushing

The Backups

Behind Young, veteran Andy Dalton is one of the league’s most accomplished and solid backups. He’s not going to win games on talent alone, but he could keep the ship sailing in the right direction with a solid team effort around him. 

Rookie Jack Plummer is third on the depth chart and will be a backup in the league for a while, but not a player the team would want to rely on for any time. 

Running Backs

Chuba Hubbard

Currently listed as the starter, Hubbard should start the season but may not finish it if the rookie behind him emerges. Hubbard rushed for 902 yards and five scores but only had a 3.8 YPC average. A retooled offensive line could help, and he did catch 39 passes but only averaged six yards a reception. 

Hubbard has never been a spectacular option as an RB1, but he’s good enough to run with a solid platoon. He will have a game here and there when he’s effective, but then, he will have a game when he reminds you why he shouldn’t be the RB1. 

Projection: 150 carries for 622 yards and 4 TDs, 25 catches for 175 yards and 1 TD

Jonathon Brooks

Enter the former Texas running back, Brooks, who is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in November 2023. Brooks has nearly the same physical profile as Hubbard; both are 6’1” and around 210 pounds. He was selected in the second round and is a much more talented back. 

Photo Courtesy of David Buono/Icon Sportswire

He’s a one-cut-and-go runner but is decisive and has good vision, often seeing the hole as it develops. Brooks makes good decisions, and when he’s in the open field, he’s elusive enough to make guys miss and has good long speed. 

There is a question of how good he will be after recovery, although most backs come through as well as they were eventually. Brooks’ contact balance and power are average, and he’s a solid pass-catching back, but not as polished as Hubbard in that area yet. 

Projection: 125 carries for 715 yards and 6 TDs, 20 catches for 165 yards

The Stable

Veteran Miles Sanders will likely still see a bevy of carries and is one of the better depth backs in the league. He will likely still garner 75 touches and be a player you will want on your bench in case things go sideways. 

Rashaad Penny is the only other back here who could be valuable should the depth chart be decimated. Raheem Blackshear, Mike Boone, and Jaden Shirden shouldn’t be rostered even in the deepest leagues. 

Wide Receivers

Adam Thielen

Photo Courtesy of John Rivera/Icon Sportswire

The veteran leader will turn 34 in the preseason, but Thielen shows no signs of slowing down. He eclipsed 100 receptions and 1,000 yards in his tenth NFL season. He’s as reliable as it gets, catching 102 of 137 targets and scoring four teams. Thielen remains a strong WR2 in fantasy but could see his workload diminish with the new additions. 

Projection: 75 catches for 810 yards and 3 TDs

Diontae Johnson

After five seasons in Pittsburgh, Johnson arrives in Carolina and gives Young another sure-handed target. Thielen is listed as the slot guy, and Johnson is one of the boundary receivers. I could see them moving all over to create mismatches and stress defenses. 

Johnson had a “down” season in 2023, missing time with injuries, and caught 51 passes for 717 yards while scoring five times. He’s been consistently around 1,000 yards and 90 receptions when he plays close to a full schedule. That seems to be his ceiling in this offense, and I project not much of a difference going into 2024.

Projection: 85 catches for 925 yards and 6 TDs

Xavier Legette

The wild card in the receiving group is Legette, a former Gamecock receiver whom the Panthers grabbed at the end of the first round of the draft in April. He’s a traditional boundary receiver type but has a raw, enticing skill set. Legette broke out late but transitioned to receiver in college, so he’s still grasping the game. 

Legette is strong after the catch, has the speed to break away, and excels in contested catch situations. He’s got great body control and shields the ball from defenders. He must work on release and route running, but Legette should compliment Thielen and Johnson well. A few years from now, he should be the WR1 in Carolina, but I don’t see strong enough production to warrant being a WR1 for fantasy from Legette. 

Projection: 45 catches for 575 yards and 3 TDs

The Corps

Former starters Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall Jr. give the Panthers good depth at receiver. Both could still see enough receptions to be a fantasy fill-in, particularly if any of the three starters miss time. 

Ihmir Smith-Marsette and David Moore are depth guys but only rosterable in deep leagues. Rookies Sam Pinckney and Jalen Coker, with veterans Mike Strachan and Cam Sims, fill out the depth chart but should not be found on fantasy rosters. 

Tight Ends

Tommy Tremble

The listed starter, Tremble, is barely rosterable for fantasy. He had 23 receptions for 194 yards and three scores in 2023. I don’t know where that ranks for fantasy, but it doesn’t inspire confidence, even in TE-premium. 

Projection: 25 receptions for 275 yards and 3 TDs

Ja’Tavion Sanders

The second-stringer currently, Sanders will likely be the tight end you want for fantasy. He didn’t test as well as I thought and will present a mismatch for linebackers due to his size and athleticism. Sanders may take time to get to that point, and I doubt he will do much in year one. But he’s the guy I want for fantasy on my rosters. 

The Bench

Former starter Ian Thomas could see time and receptions, but he’s merely a depth tight end in deep leagues. Stephen Sullivan and Jordan Matthews are not rosterable in fantasy. 

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