2021 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Preview

by Desrick Rhooms Jr.

Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Preview. The Fantasy Football season will be here before you know it and our team is rolling out team previews for each NFL offense.

In this article, I will go over the Carolina Panthers offense and the players you should look out for in this upcoming season. The Panthers had another bad season last year, ending the season at 5-11. While the young defense made strides and showed potential, the offense left a lot to be desired and there were many opportunities missed on the field.

Obviously, the injury of Christian McCaffery hampered the offense but the lack of arm strength from Teddy Bridgewater also hurt as well.

Finishing third in the NFC South, Matt Rhule will continue to rebuild and will do so with newly acquired quarterback Sam Darnold leading the way. The Panthers have yet to find someone to replace franchise icon Cam Newton, and Panthers fans are hoping Darnold is that guy.

While the Panthers aren't expected to be realistic contenders, their offense has weapons that could help you this year in Fantasy.

2021 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Preview

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As of right now, Sam Darnold is known for losing in New York and seeing ghosts against Bill Belicheck’s defense on Monday night. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady will look to turn that around and I expect Darnold to have the best season of his career, which honestly isn't saying much now. To be fair he was stuck on the worst roster and worst coach in the league with the New York Jets.

He ended the 2020 season with 9 TD, 11 INT and averaged about 184 yards per game with the Jets in 12 games. Darnold has a nice arm and is pretty mobile in the pocket and I'm excited to see him with Joe Brady, who helped Joe Burrow have that incredible season at LSU. This will be his best offensive core with McCaffery, DJ Moore, and Robbie Anderson at his disposal. With Darnold’s contract expiring next season, he has a lot at stake and will need to have a great season in order to stay and justify the Panthers trading three draft picks for him.

Darnold isn't a QB you should draft but you should keep an eye out on the former top five pick on your waiver wire and dynasty leagues. Former undrafted free agent PJ Walker will only play if Darnold gets hurt and shouldn't be on any rosters.

Running Backs

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The Panthers are one of the few teams that have a bell-cow type back which makes things much easier for fantasy lineups. Run CMC is back and look for him to get the majority of touches, however, I wouldn't be surprised if they featured 4th round draft pick Hubbard as well to take the load off, McCaffery. CMC is coming off a shoulder injury and should pick up where he left off, arguably the best running back in the league. In 2019, he finished the season with over 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 rushing yards.

Mike Davis left in free agency and signed with division rival Atlanta Falcons, leaving Hubbard the opportunity to get some snaps. While Hubbard will give him an occasional breather, CMC is undoubtedly the feature back and should finish as a top 3 back in fantasy. It will be hard to find a site that doesn't have his ADP at 1, because of his versatility.

Wide Receivers

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The Panthers have one of the most underrated receiver groups in the NFL and should only get better as they get more comfortable with Joe Brady’s system and arguably a better quarterback.

DJ Moore has been slighted by the mainstream media and I think this year he gets the recognition he deserves and I wouldn't be surprised if he finally got his first Pro Bowl nod. He’s had at least 1,100 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, with quarterbacks such as Kyle Allen, Will Grier, Teddy Bridgewater, P.J Walker, and Taylor Heinicke. The one gripe against Moore is that he only has 10 touchdowns over three seasons, I expect that number to increase. Playing with Bridgewater hampered Moore some because of Bridgewater not being comfortable throwing deep, as well as Robbie Anderson. I view Moore as a low-tier WR1 and he is ranked as WR16 in our PPR rankings.

Anderson will have a familiar face with Sam Darnold, as the two played in New York in 2019, ending the season with 779 yards and 5 touchdowns. He followed that up with his first 1,000-yard season in his career this past season with Carolina. I expect Anderson's numbers to go down a little with CMC coming back but he can still be a WR3/Flex on your team. Our rankings have him at WR36 and he has a high ceiling if he and Darnold can connect on the long ball.

Marshall will probably have a few breakout games but I wouldn't roster him unless it's in a dynasty league or due to injury, the second-round pick has a bright future at 6’3 and a 4.4 40 yard dash. The former LSU Tiger should be familiar with Brady’s system.

Tight Ends

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STAY AWAY!!! The Panthers haven't found the next tight end after Greg Olsen and I would stay far away from this group. This is easily the worst group on the offense and I wouldn't roster either tight end if you paid me. Our rankings have Arnold at TE32, you can do better. Arnold ended the season with 432 yards last season with the Cardinals.

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Final Verdict

The Panthers have the pieces to have a sneaky explosive offense in both the run and passing game. CMC is arguably the best running back in fantasy football and he should see fewer eight-man boxes with Moore and Anderson on the outside.

I expect Darnold to have a great season in real life, but average in the fantasy world. Anderson, Moore, and McCaffery are must-haves on your roster and their success depends on if Darnold will showcase the talent that got him drafted third in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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