The Cleveland Browns finally bit the bullet and have traded Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers. Ironically the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft joins the third overall pick in Carolina, Sam Darnold. Mayfield, Darnold, and rookie Matt Corral will compete for the starting job in Carolina.
Mayfield is reportedly healthy after playing most of last year with a torn labrum. He had to wear a harness in all the games as well as deal with the normal ups and downs of an NFL season. The inconsistency, despite the injuries, was too much for the Browns to deal with. Cleveland decided to trade in the injured quarterback for the passer with 24 legally documented off-the-field incidents.
All of that aside, Carolina should be happy to see Baker Mayfield. He will be happy for a change of scenery and glad to have weapons around him too. What does this all mean for the Panthers offense all the way around? Let’s dissect that from a couple of different angles.
Have Low Expectations for Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield should be the answer at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, but he faces an uphill battle. Despite finally getting healthy Mayfield faces several forms of resistance to his development. One is offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. We know what he did to the Giants offense.
Secondly, this will be his fifth offense in five years in the league. Alex Smith had similar problems during his time at San Francisco, but once he got to Kansas City with Andy Reid, everything clicked. The only issue is that Andy Reid and that Kansas City offense is not Carolina’s. That being said, Carolina does have the weapons to help him succeed. I get nervous about whether or not he does that year one under Ben McAdoo and this staff.
Good News for a Healthy Christian McCaffrey
Baker Mayfield always utilized his running backs well in the Browns offense. Whether it was Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt, he always found ways to get them the ball. Both were used a ton in the passing game, Hunt was used primarily in that role, and he has finished as RB10 in his lone, full season with Mayfield. If you have a share of Christian McCaffrey, who has the complete skill set, you should be excited. If he is healthy, you should expect a great season, maybe even an RB1 season.
Does This Mean D.J. Moore will be a WR1?
D.J. Moore has never had a WR1 season despite everyone predicting one every summer. He has four 1,000+ yard seasons, plenty of touchdowns, but no consistency week to week. Could Baker Mayfield finally give him what fantasy players have been dying for? I believe he can.
In Cleveland, Baker’s WR1 averaged about 8 targets per game. In four years as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Ben McAdoo’s WR1 has averaged over 10 targets per game. That wide receiver was Odell Beckham Jr. The opportunity for D.J. Moore to ascend to WR1 status is there. All he needs is the targets, and the results will follow.
Again, I don’t have faith in Mayfield being consistent for fantasy this year. Everyone else around him, though, is a different story. Enjoy this season in Carolina. It is going to be an interesting one.