Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      

2023 Player Outlooks: Carolina Panthers

By Hunter De Siver | 7/22/23 |

Bryce Young

QB Bryce Young

The Carolina Panthers selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, hoping to find a new leader. Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021, recording 4,872 passing yards and 47 touchdowns. He slightly digressed the following year due to a subpar (for Alabama) receiving corps, but still put up some of the best numbers in college football.

Unfortunately, Young will have to get used to subpar receivers on the Panthers as they don't have a true WR1. However, he has plenty of assets to turn things around in Carolina: pocket awareness, mobility, durability and, best of all, he’s as clutch as they come. Alabama teammate and current Detroit Lions receiver Jameson Williams discussed Young’s abilities when the lights are brightest. "If you were watching the game vs. Auburn, we were down 10-3, 40 seconds left," Williams said. "I would never say I’ve seen him rattled or intimidated by anything. I feel like he has the mindset that he knows he is going to get the job done."

Because he’s a rookie, Young’s fantasy football ranking is in the mid-20s among quarterbacks. This is a fair assessment due to the talent he has around him. However, his skills may not only make him stand out in Carolina, but may improve the receivers’ reputation as well. Until then, Young won’t be selected in redraft leagues, unless he’s taken in the last round.

RB Miles Sanders
(RB Rank – No. 15, 13.0 FPts/G)

Sanders was picked up by the Panthers this offseason after not getting re-signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. The 26-year-old is coming off his best season in the NFL, rushing for career highs in attempts (259), yards (1,269), touchdowns (11) and earned a trip to his first Pro Bowl.

The only reason Sanders didn’t reach the top-10 among running backs in fantasy football was due to his receiving numbers (20 receptions, 78 yards and zero touchdowns). Luckily for Sanders, the Panthers are known to create receiving backs.

Two-time Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey was the heaviest contributor to the Panthers offense, as he got involved in both the run and air attack. However, McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco 49ers midway through last season, leaving Sanders as the RB1.

Young is also a fan of the receiving back role as he often dumped the ball to Detroit Lions first-rounder Jahmyr Gibbs at Alabama last season. If Sanders can find a way to continue his elite rushing, but also incorporate some receptions, he’ll easily be a top-10 running back in fantasy football given his projected rushing volume. Until then, he’s an RB2 and will be drafted somewhere within rounds 4-6.

WR Adam Thielen
(WR Rank – No. 31, 10.5 FPts/G)

Adam Thielen split the WR1 role with Stefon Diggs for several years in Minnesota as they each put up excellent numbers. However, Diggs went to Buffalo in 2020 and instead of making Thielen the official WR1, the Vikings decided to draft someone named Justin Jefferson.

Thielen no longer split the WR1 role as Jefferson took over beginning his rookie season. Thielen's numbers went down significantly, topping out in the 700-yard range each of the last two seasons. He became a free agent this past season allowing the Panthers to pick him up.

As mentioned before, Carolina’s receiving corps is far from the best in the league. As a result, the nearly 33-year-old (Aug. 22) has the opportunity to at least share the WR1 spot. However, his age and lack of productivity since Jefferson arrived are certainly obstacles to fulfilling this opportunity with a new team. With that being said, Thielen will be a late-round selection in fantasy drafts as the de facto No.1 option for Bryce Young.

WR D.J. Chark
(WR Rank – No. 75, 8.9 FPts/G)

Chark has struggled with injuries throughout his five-year career and has yet to play a complete season. However, in 2019, he played 15 games and thrived, hauling in 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Chark hasn’t done much since then and recorded just 30 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games last season for the Lions. His injuries have been a major factor, but he was signed to Carolina this offseason and they’re hoping he returns to his 2019 form. He’ll be competing with Thielen for the WR1 spot and should be locked into a starting role, but unlike Thielen, age isn’t a concern.

If he can stay healthy, the nearly 27-year-old (Sept. 23) has the potential for a 2019 repeat on a team that lacks receiver talent but that feels like his ceiling. He’ll likely be drafted around the same time as Thielen in the later rounds or perhaps go undrafted in shallow leagues.

WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
(WR Rank – No. 88, 6.4 FPts/G)

Marshall likely won’t compete for the WR1 spot in Carolina as he hasn’t really gotten his feet wet in the NFL. Granted, he’s only played two seasons, but he only caught 28 passes for 490 yards and a touchdown in 13 games last year and has found the endzone just once in two years. However, one stat that makes him stand out is his 17.5 yards per reception, the sixth-most in the league.

Based on his yards per reception, he averaged 2.75 points on each catch last season in PPR leagues. If Young somehow manages to target him just as often as Thielen and Chark, Marshall could be a dark horse breakout star but that seems unlikely given the circumstances, leaving Marshall as someone to keep an eye on as a waiver wire add once the season begins.

WR Jonathan Mingo

Ole Miss receiver Jonathan Mingo was one of, if not the most mentioned players in the 2023 NFL Draft given the underrated label. However, the Panthers recognized his talent by drafting him 39th overall.

Mingo recorded 51 receptions for 861 yards (16.9 yards per carry!) and five touchdowns in his final season as a Rebel. He is a big 6-foot-2 receiver who’s fast (4.46-second 40-yard dash) and gets open at all three levels. Mingo is an excellent deep threat as well, who’s capable of “mossing” defenders as you can see in this viral clip of a one-handed snag.

However, even though the Panthers’ receiving corps is subpar, Mingo is unlikely to be a member of the starting trio in Week 1 leaving him to waiver wire status at the beginning of the season. But if he ever enters the starting lineup, he has the talent to thrive and be a priority pickup.

TE Hayden Hurst
(TE Rank – No. 21, 8.1 FPts/G)

Hayden Hurst, like each of the Panthers starting pass-catchers, didn’t produce much last season. The offseason addition from Cincinnati hauled in 52 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns and his 105.4 fantasy points was 21st among tight ends. Hurst averaged just 8.1 fantasy points per game because Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow barely looked his way as he heavily targeted receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

The Panthers haven’t had a solid tight end since Greg Olsen and that trend will likely continue into 2023. Hurst had off-season surgery for a sports hernia but is expected to be participating at camp. Despite being on a new team with significantly worse receivers, those pass catchers will likely earn more targets than Hurst keeping him in the low-end TE2 range for fantasy purposes.

Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet