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Carolina Panthers 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

With Sam Darnold under center, the Panthers passing game offers solid value in 2021. Here's a breakdown of the roster for this fantasy season.

It has been a long time since the Super Bowl, and remembering exactly how things left off last year can be a challenge. So, I’ll be writing up a fantasy preview for each NFL team to give us a quick refresher on what happened last year, and what changes took place in the offseason. All fantasy stats will be in ESPN scoring format unless otherwise noted.

If I missed any change or left out any big notes, throw them down in the comments for me!

What Did They Do Last Year?

The Carolina Panthers moved on from Ron Rivera and Cam Newton in 2020, tabbed Teddy Bridgewater as their starting quarterback, and hired a young and seemingly innovative coaching staff headed by Matt Rhule. 

Christian McCaffrey was injured in Week 2, and he didn’t play again until Week 9, where he picked up another injury and was lost for the season. 

Teddy Bridgewater cemented himself as an outstanding backup quarterback who will no doubt have a long career in that role.

18Teddy Bridgewater153404933,7341511532795239.316
68Tommy Stevens10000042402.42.4
63P.J. Walker43256368155-208.52.1

The Panthers moved on from Teddy after acquiring Sam Darnold from the New York Jets at the cost of a map and a bag of peanuts. 

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady (of LSU fame), in his first year in the NFL, showed he can get guys open. The Panthers receiving corps has immense potential even with the loss of Curtis Samuel, and so this offense is just begging to be set free. 

Will Sam Darnold be the next in a long line of players who, after being freed from the Adam Gase curse, go on to have a breakout season?

Sam Darnold’s ADP is… well he doesn’t have an ADP on FF Calculator. I’ll be taking shots on Darnold as my QB2 in just about every draft, and he is a must draft for me later on in dynasty startups. He’s currently ranked our QB28 in .5PPR.

Wide Receivers
2128Robby Anderson16138951,0973127.28222.213.89
2325Curtis Samuel1597778513135.19212.114.14
2517D.J. Moore15118661,1934145.59.7211.514.1
171172Pharoh Cooper5857307.31.512.32.46
187192Seth Roberts3643103.117.12.37
191189Brandon Zylstra4433503.
209206Keith Kirkwood1211301.

Curtis Samuel is now a Washington Footballist, leaving plenty of targets available for McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, and D.J. Moore. 

Moore is going near the end of the fifth round, and that is a bargain. He’s currently our WR21 for 2021.

Anderson is going at the end of the seventh, and that is highway robbery. He’s currently our WR25 for 2021. It looks like Anderson will be on all my teams again this year.

Related: Breakout Candidates Based on Touchdown Dependency

There will likely be room for a third wide receiver to sneak into the WR3/Flex ranks week to week, but I don’t have any great insight on who that might be at the moment. Long term, I love what second-round rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. may become, but he’s nothing more than on my waiver wire radar for 2021.

Note: Curtis Samuel ran for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Running Backs
1117Mike Davis14165642670593732149.510.7208.514.89
5451Christian McCaffrey35922451917149173.324.490.330.1
8786Rodney Smith741156111959027.53.936.55.21
116108Reggie Bonnafon2126902218114.77.416.78.35
134134Trenton Cannon510330331604.917.91.58
137142Alex Armah12690951802.

Mike Davis had one more rushing touchdown and one more receiving touchdown than Christian McCaffrey in 2020. McCaffrey played in three games. Davis played in 14 games. 

McCaffrey is the absolute 1.01 in every non-2QB format. You could make a good argument for McCaffrey at 1.01 even in 2-QB drafts. 

Playing McCaffrey is like having two dudes in one roster position. I highly recommend not getting cute or worrying about injury carryover if you draw the 1.01. Take the easy win.

Tight End
5460Ian Thomas143120145120.51.540.52.89
9183Colin Thompson221716.
8388Chris Manhertz7865205.20.711.21.6

The Panthers just didn’t target their tight ends in their first year under Joe Brady. With Ian Thomas’s talent available and going unused, I’ll just be passing on the TEs from Carolina in fantasy drafts.

If you do want to take a shot on a Panthers TE, Dan Arnold is that shot.

What Does It All Mean?!?! (AKA – Bold predictions)

I believe the Panthers are a team on the rise, and so they present some outstanding fantasy values. Warren Sharp’s strength of schedule based on opponent’s projected win total has the Panthers with a middle of the road schedule for the season.

Drafters should be cautious, though. The Panthers will face the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints for the fantasy playoffs. 

Big step forward for the Panthers this year as both receivers are weekly WR2 ranks and Sam Darnold ends up as a high-end streamer option.


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Thanks to for their great Coaching Change Tracker

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