2022 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Team Preview

by Davis Peng

Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Team Preview!

With mandatory minicamps officially over, it will be Fantasy Football season before you know it. We at Fantasy Six Pack provide our team previews to make you as prepared as possible for your draft and the upcoming season.

The Carolina Panthers were pretty abysmal in 2021. They were starting their season 3-0 to eventually dumpster dive and finish as 5-12.

None of the Panther's off-season moves went their way. The Sam Darnold experiment didn't pan out as they thought it would; Christian McCaffrey has gone back to back with disappointing seasons, and wide receivers Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall thoroughly disappointed fans and fantasy managers.

The Carolina Panthers, at this point, have practically hit rock bottom. So what is the 2022 season outlook? Who knows at this point, but I don't believe it can be as bad as 2021.

2022 Fantasy Football Carolina Panthers Preview

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Sam Darnold is likely the starting quarterback this season until the Panthers are out of the playoff run. I want to give Darnold the benefit of the doubt, but he performed this previous year worst than any of his Jets seasons. 

He threw more interceptions than his previous season, had his lowest passer rating, and didn't even breach 2,600 yards passing due to injury. Darnold, at best, was on pace for 3,200 passing yards. Unfortunately, Darnold looks to be actively regressing, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him being benched for Corral at some point.

Outside of Superflex or 2QB leagues, I find Sam Darnold irrelevant in fantasy football for fantasy purposes. Darnold will be a dart throw QB3 in 2022 as he does have a starting role. Not much more to say than that but draft at your own risk.

Running backs

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Christian McCaffrey is entering his sixth season as the lead back for the Panthers, disappointing football fans everywhere by repeating his 2020 glass cannon season. So, where is McCaffrey currently ranked on fantasy consensus?

Based on current off-season rankings, McCaffrey's injuries haven't scared off as many fantasy managers as one would think. However, it looks as if people are ready to be hurt again as he is currently being drafted as RB2 right behind Jonathan Taylor. Who can blame anybody for taking the risk?

McCaffrey has shown he is the best dual-threat running back in the league. Anytime he was on the field, he got you 100 yards from scrimmage. In the last two seasons, McCaffrey broke 100 yards from scrimmage in every game he finished. McCaffrey is a risky pick due to health concerns but is the true league RB1 if he can survive the season.

Based on the depth ESPN depth chart, Chuba Hubbard is the next man up in case McCaffrey happens to miss time. Hubbard was underwhelming as the lead back for the Panthers. Something that veteran running back Mike Davis thrived at the previous season. It could be the rookie jitters, or it could be that he isn't able to fill the role as a lead back.

Based on last year's production, I won't be heavily relying on Hubbard if something happens to McCaffrey. Hubbard averaged 3.6 YPC, had an abysmal catch percentage of 67.6%, and according to PFF, graded out as RB48 on the season.

If there were to be a successor to McCaffrey this season, I am placing my waiver on comeback kid D'Onta Foreman. Foreman did a respectable job in 2021, filling in for star running back Derrick Henry when he was out.

In addition, Foreman was strong on the ground, proving that he could get 100 rushing yards on the ground if given a chance. Foreman accomplished this three times in his four games where he got 20 or more touches. Averaging 4.2 yards per carrying, 81% catch rate, and PFF grade of RB24 tied amongst running backs such as Nyheim Hines.

Wide Receivers

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The 2021 Carolina Panthers wide receivers outside of D.J Moore were one of the most disappointing groups in the league. With Robby Anderson threatening retirement, it might even be worst this year.

D.J Moore has broken 1,100 yards for the third season in a row. He has finished in the WR2 territory each year, with the questionable QB play coming this season. We should expect that Moore will do it again. The one thing this proves is that Moore is QB proof.

Having five rotational starting quarterbacks and being able to put up the numbers he has is remarkable and should be praised. However, the one thing that has eluded Moore from fantasy stardom is his touchdowns. Not once has he broken four touchdowns in a season. However, I believe this year will be the year he accomplishes it, making him a WR2 with upside.

Other Receivers

With Robby Anderson tweeting that he has contemplated retirement this season before deciding to delete it. It isn't something that instills confidence into Panthers fans or fantasy managers. People expected Darnold and Anderson to capitalize on their previous chemistry together. That didn't happen; both players had their worst seasons in years. 

Anderson is still a dart throw, as he is currently going in the final rounds of drafts, we know he has the talent to be fantasy relevant, but we have to hope that he even wants to be on the field this year. We have repeatedly seen players give up on their team mid-season, and you're left holding a dead pick (Cough cough, Allen Robinson). Luckily this season, Anderson doesn't cost you anything to draft.

Second-round draft pick Terrace Marshall couldn't get it together last season. He was considered a raw prospect coming into the season, but people hoped his athleticism and height would be enough to carry him as a WR3 for the team. Instead, Marshall fell completely short of it all expectations. Having zero games over 50 yards and finishing with a remarkable low 138 yards and zero touchdowns on the season. 

Marshall's rookie year was terrible, but to be fair, the Panther's offense as a whole was awful. I am willing to call a mulligan on the season in hopes that he can get it together. With Anderson possibly not in the right state of mind, this could be what lights a fire in Marshall, and he shows that he was worth the second round draft pick. Let's all hope he doesn't become the next Denzel Mims.

Rashard Higgins is a dark horse play this season; if both Anderson and Marshall both fail to meet expectations, there is a chance that Higgins will be able to become fantasy relevant. He has generally been the WR3/4 for the Browns and has found success in filling that role. He is a veteran wide receiver who is still in the prime of his career and may not be buried down in the depth chart for once. It wouldn't surprise me if things swung in his favor and he has a career year. 

Tight Ends

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For fantasy football production, second-year player Tommy Tremble is the most likely candidate to be the receiving leader for the Panthers. He had the highest draft pedigree of the tight-end group and performed admirably in his rookie year. Although mainly used as a blocker, Trembles does have the capabilities to be a receiver. He isn't prolific, but his ability to do both will keep him on the field and give him opportunities.

Unless Tremble was to go down, Ian Thomas and Stephen Sullivan are irrelevant as fantasy options. At that point, I would be looking elsewhere for a fantasy-relevant tight-end. I expect both to be mainly used as blockers if they are in the lineup.

Final Verdict

The Panthers have a very top-heavy team in terms of fantasy. We know who the two prime targets are for this team. The rest are all crapshoots, but at least for the 2021 seasons, they are priced rather well and may be worth looking at. One bad season doesn't define a career. With an entire season under their belt and another year under the same coaching staff, things could look up.

I expect the Panthers to not be a complete black hole for fantasy. McCaffrey plays most of the season, Moore gets 5+ touchdowns, and there is a surprising 3rd fantasy-relevant player. Put me down for an 8-9 record with the Panthers rebounding from last year's setbacks

Check out the rest of our 2022 Fantasy Football Team Previews!

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