We are continuing the 2018 Fantasy Football team previews with the Carolina Panthers. Keep Pounding!
Vegas has the Panthers wins over/under at eight. Since 2015, the Panthers have alternated good and bad seasons, almost doing the complete opposite of what the projections have been every year. So after an 11 win season last year, when almost nobody expected it, eight wins might be a lot to ask for.
All in all, the offense is one you can rely on for Fantasy purposes. They have a lot of weapons and should be able to put up points as long as Cam stays healthy.
2018 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Preview
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No QB had more runs of 15+ yards than Cam Newton in 2017! pic.twitter.com/24mzKAXRvC
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 7, 2018
I only listed Gilbert and Heinicke because Cam always appears banged up and there is a threat he misses games. Besides that there is no question that this is Cam's job and nobody else's.
The 2015 MVP has seen his overall numbers dip quite a bit since that incredible season. Most notably his total touchdowns, which were a ridiculous 45 (35 passing, 10 rushing). Everybody knew that number was unlikely to repeat, especially since his passing TD rate was at 7.1 percent. However, he has not topped 30 total since, which is quite a bit lower than most thought it would be.
Cam's value in Fantasy Football remains driven mostly by his legs. His rushing yardage was a career high last year, but the touchdown total is not likely to match his 2015 season ever again as he now has very capable running backs. On top of that, the Panthers have to try and protect their 29-year-old quarterback, so I expect to see him run a bit less.
Consistency is an issue that I have with Cam to draft him as high as he goes in fantasy drafts. Too many times do we get underwhelming games from him. Six times last year Cam has 13 points or fewer, but he also has six games of 20 or more. Those blow-up games make his total stat line look good, but he is too frustrating to own for me. Even ESPN agrees as they gave him 0.47 consistency rating among all quarterbacks last season, good for 17th best.
This is, in my opinion, the strength of the Panthers offense. Christian McCaffrey proved to me last year that he is a legit fantasy weapon, especially in PPR leagues. He finished the year as the 10th ranked running back in PPR by catching 80 passes and totaling over 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Some are going to look to the signing of C.J. Anderson and be scared off, but I would not be. Yes, Anderson is good, averaging over four yards-per-carry in the last four years. However, that has dropped from 4.7 in 2015 to 4.1 last season. Anderson will have a role as the replacement for Jonathan Stewart, just how much of one is yet to be known.
The most likely scenario is CMC is the primary back and since he is a huge weapon in the passing game he will not come off the field on third downs. C.J. Anderson is going to work more as a complimentary and short yardage back. The only downside I see here for CMC is it could mean less goalline work.
I would still not shy away from him early in drafts. He finished at the 10th ranked RB last season with Jonathan Stewart getting 46% of the workload. I doubt Anderson takes that much away from CMC. His coach even thinks he can handle the larger workload saying he did it in college more than anyone, so why can't he do it at this level.
The Panthers shocked everybody by trading Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills before the 2017 season. This left the receiving corps with a lot of questions. Devin Funchess was immediately vaulted to the No. 1 receiver and played a lot better than I think a lot of people expected. He is the clear go-to guy from the receiving group, but he did not even lead his team in receptions, that went to McCaffrey. So temper expectations just a bit here.
Torrey Smith is an afterthought, especially in fantasy, as he is a deep threat only guy at this point. Even in Philly last year, with Wentz slinging the ball, Smith only caught 36 for 430 yards.
D.J. Moore interests me to some degree. When you get comparisons to Steve Smith you're doing something right. Now rookie receivers are hard to trust, but this passing attack is desperate for more reliable weapons past Funchess, CMC and the Tight Ends, so I think we could see them using Moore quite a bit if he proves he can handle it.
Greg Olsen is the man and one of the best tight ends in the game. There were rumors that he was going to retire this offseason after he interviewed for a broadcasting job, but he decided not to take it and keep playing. He has battled some injuries the last couple of seasons, even missing nine games last year, but when he is on the field he is a top-notch tight end.
Manhertz carries no value unless Olsen falls to injury. Even then it is unlikely he gets much work. Instead, the Panthers will utilize him more as the blocking tight end and spread Olsen's targets elsewhere.
The Panthers offense will go how Cam goes. If Cam is bad or hurt, the Panthers are bad. That said there is plenty of talent here and they will prove to be very valuable in Fantasy.
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