At the beginning of the 2019-20 season, we weren’t sure what to expect without Cam Newton at the helm. Teddy Bridgewater some higher expectations but none of which came to fruition. Fast forward to this season and the Panthers will have another different starter at quarterback. Will Christian McCaffrey be healthy and bring back the explosiveness to this offense, which was lackluster at best last season.
Sam Darnold – Since the ending of the last season, one of the biggest questions was what to do at quarterback. The Panthers made a big and shocking trade of former first-round pick Sam Darnold. Incumbent starter Teddy Bridgewater was traded to the Denver Broncos. Darnold is looking to get out of the shadows of Adam Gase and how he used him during his tenure in New York. When it comes to personnel, Darnold has a better supporting cast than in the previous few years. Joe Brady and the offense could bode well for Darnold’s fantasy outlook for the 2021 season. With a solid season, Darnold could finish the season as a top 15 quarterback.
In the past few seasons, Darnold has been lackluster. Was it Adam Gase or was it himself? The Panthers picked up his fifth-year option, which bodes well the confidence the Panthers see in him. He has managed 45 touchdowns and an unimpressive 39 interceptions over his past three seasons, which is rather unimpressive. Darnold could be a late-round or undrafted quarterback that could give you that boost for bye weeks during the season. According to Fantasy Pros ADP, Darnold is going off the board as the 27th quarterback in single quarterback leagues, which is great value given his current opportunity.
Christian McCaffrey – Coming off a season where McCaffrey should have won the NFL MVP, he had almost 1,400 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in one of the best seasons for a running back in history. As the 2020 season approached, McCaffrey was going unanimously as the top player in fantasy drafts. However, injuries to his thigh and shoulder limited him to only three games during the season. The bright spot? In those three games, McCaffrey played like the number one pick in drafts. He accumulated six total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) with 17 receptions for 149 yards and 59 carries for 225 yards. They lost Mike Davis this offseason to the Falcons but did draft former Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Currently, McCaffrey’s ADP according to Fantasy Football Calculator, is 1.01 in PPR leagues. He is falling anywhere from pick 1.01 to 1.04. There are some that are skeptical of his injuries but then there are others, like myself, that are very bullish on him and will ride the wave with him again this year. His trade value, even with his injuries from last year, is still sky-high. McCaffrey, if healthy, should finish in the top five for running backs and possibly top five overall.
D.J. Moore – He is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, however, DJ Moore has only mustered ten touchdowns over the past three seasons. Going from the 2019 season into 2020, Moore saw his targets and receptions drop but still maintaining similar seasons. There are reasons to be excited for Moore and his 2021 season outlook. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady is back again for another season. Brady should be a bit more comfortable leading the offense in his second season and take more chances. McCaffrey being back in the fold should limit some of the attention going in Moore’s direction.
Heading into draft season, Moore is going off the board as WR23, which has been a slight increase over the past few weeks. Moore is going behind wide receivers such as Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay and ahead of wide receivers such as Chase Claypool, Brandon Aiyuk and Diontae Johnson.
Robby Anderson – Finally free from the Gase stronghold, Robby Anderson was reunited with Matt Rhule, his head coach at Temple. Anderson enjoyed his first 1,000-yard season with 95 receptions and three touchdowns. There had been some rumors floating around that Anderson wanted out or just wasn’t happy with what going on, however, that period seems to have passed. He is a free agent after this season which could be a bigger breakout season in a contract year.
As of right now, Anderson is coming off the boards as WR34 around other wide receivers such as Ja’Marr Chase, Brandin Cooks, Courtland Sutton and Jarvis Landry. People are drafting him hoping he will have that contract year breakout season. He is capable of it but let us see it come to fruition.
Terrace Marshall Jr. – There we some surprised people when the Panthers selected the former LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. However, the Panthers got wind that the New Orleans Saints were going to draft Marshall with the next pick. In the end, the Panthers lost Curtis Samuel in free agency to Washington, freeing up a spot for Marshall. If you remember, Marshall teamed up with offensive coordinator Joe Brady during LSU’s historic season. Marshall finished the 2019 season with 46 receptions, 671 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, good enough for third on the team behind Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase. He will be behind Moore and Anderson on the depth chart but he should see a good share of the targets this upcoming season.
Dipping into his fantasy value, Marshall is currently going as WR71 off the board around wide receivers such as Denzel Mims, Sterling Shepard, Allen Lazard and follow rookies Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Taking him a dynasty league this late would be great because who knows if Robby Anderson will be with the team in 2022. For 2021, he may not be in the top 50 but long term he could push as a top 20 wide receiver.
Dan Arnold – There a new tight end in town and another target for Darnold. Greg Olsen has since retired and Ian Thomas hasn’t lived up to his third-round expectations. The Panthers’ tight end situation has not been stable at all since Olsen’s 1,000-yard seasons. In comes Dan Arnold from the Arizona Cardinals. Arnold had a huge year with Kyler Murray last year, posting career highs in all categories.
Arnold has the chance to be that tight end that could push your team to the next level, especially in TE premium leagues. According to Fantasy Pros ADP, Arnold is currently going undrafted, which gives you a great opportunity to get Arnold on the cheap in places like the *cough* *cough* Scott Fish Bowl *cough* *cough*. When it comes to trades, acquiring him could be very cheap like as a throw in piece
Overall, this team has mixed emotions in all aspects. This could end up being a great fantasy season for the Panthers but yet again on the other hand it could go in the other direction if the Sam Darnold experiment goes wrong or even McCaffrey not coming close to what he accomplished in 2019.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. You can find me on Twitter @ejh1528IDP. Feel free to shoot me any draft, IDP (NFL or Devy) questions you may have. You can check out my NFL Draft Content here and my previous Dynasty Nerds articles here. Are you a #NerdHerd member yet? For just $2.99/month, you get access to rankings, extra podcasts, the buy/sell tool, and more on the way.