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Andrew Swanson | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

2019 Player Outlooks: Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton

Cam Newton can turn into a draft day bargain if he's able stay healthy for 16 games.

QB Cam Newton
(2018 QB Rank - No.7, 24.2 FPts/G)

A shoulder injury cut short Cam Newton’s 2018 campaign to just 14 games and limited his ability to throw the ball downfield for most of the season. Newton was clearly not himself in his final few games of action, often missing downfield targets by a large margin and relying on check-downs more than usual.

On a positive note, Newton’s 68% completion percentage was by far the best of his career, and he threw for 90 more yards last season than the season prior, despite missing the final two games of the season.

With his shoulder reportedly doing better and a new throwing motion to help ease the strain on his body, Newton enters the 2019 season as a sneaky mid-to-late round QB with top 5 upside at the position.

The emergence of Christian McCaffrey as a true workhorse back, the development of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, and the return of tight end Greg Olsen give Newton more than enough firepower at the skill positions to be successful.

If he is able to play a full 16-game schedule, throw the ball relatively accurately without pain, and continue to rush for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns, Newton is an absolute bargain based on his ADP.

RB Christian McCaffrey
(2018 RB Rank - No.7, 17.2 FPts/G)

McCaffrey proved his naysayers wrong who doubted his ability to be a workhorse back on the ground and through the air. The former first-round pick from Stanford led on running backs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards while adding just less than 1100 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground on 219 carries. To put into context just how valuable McCaffrey was to fantasy owners last season. Owning CMC was like owning two players in one, with the rushing stats of Marlon Mark or Nick Chubb combined with the receiving stats from Calvin Ridley.

CMC will continue to be a dual-threat running back and a workhorse worthy of a top-five pick in all formats. The false narrative of Cam Newton struggling to throw to running backs was put to rest last season, as was the belief that Newton would take all of the teams' goal line carries. The Panthers boast the 10th-easiest strength of schedule with games against the Rams, Bucs, and Cardinals to kick off the season.

WR D.J. Moore
(2018 WR Rank - No.49, 6.8 FPts/G)

A common narrative in the fantasy community is it takes a year or two for rookie wide receivers and tight ends to get acclimated to the speed and tempo of the NFL. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, like Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas, most wide receivers take a while to find their feet at the next level.

With just two touchdowns and 55 receptions as a rookie last year, D.J. Moore would fit into the category of a young wide receiver who did not break out in his first year in the league. The former first-round pick from Maryland posted just one game of over 100 receiving yards, and his three games out of 16 with double-digit fantasy points was not exactly what his fantasy owners expected when he was drafted in the middle rounds last summer.

Now that Devin Funchess has moved on to the Colts via free agency, Moore assumes the No.1 WR role (although some believe that may be Curtis Samuel) for Cam Newton in the passing game. Newton is reportedly throwing the ball much better after having off-season shoulder surgery, and Moore is looking to take a step up in his sophomore season.

Look for Moore to get closer to 100 targets this season, which based on his catch ratio from last year would give the young wideout closer to 70 catches. If he can improve on his low touchdown rate, Moore could be a viable low-end WR 2 in all formats.

WR Curtis Samuel
(2018 WR Rank - No.34, 8.3 FPts/G)

Samuel, a former second-round pick out of Ohio State in 2017, fell off the fantasy radar for most when the team used a first-round pick on D.J. Moore in 2018. Samuel played sparingly as a rookie, with just 15 receptions for 115 yards and zero touchdowns in 2017.

But he broke out in a big way in 2018, outplaying Moore with seven total touchdowns on just 65 targets in 13 games. Samuel proved to be a big-play guy for Newton and someone who Newton could count on in the red zone. Now that Devin Funchess left the team for the Colts, Samuel should get a full 16-game schedule in and close to 90 targets from Newton.

According to numerous reports out of Panthers camp, Samuel has been the best looking wide receiver on the team and looks primed for a breakout season. Fantasy owners looking for a breakout candidate from the latter rounds should place Samuel high atop their list, as he could be the steal of the draft at his round 10 ADP.

TE Greg Olsen
(2018 TE Rank - No.12, 5.9 FPts/G)

Death, taxes, the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, and Greg Olsen finishing with 38 targets in an injury-shortened season due to a foot issue. These are things we all can count on. Of course, the part about 38 targets is just a joke - but it is a little odd that Olsen hit the 38-target mark for the second season in a row.

In terms of fantasy production, Olsen was about as good as it got prior to his foot issues in 2017 and 2018, with five consecutive seasons of 16-games played and 100-plus targets. Although he has yet to post a double-digit touchdown season in his storied NFL career, Olsen is one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets and is always near the top of the leaderboard among catches at the tight end position.

At age 34 Olsen is no spring chicken, and he does not have the same burst that made him a first-round pick by the Bears back in 2007. But at a position like tight end, where options get pretty slim outside the top three, Olsen could be a nice late round flier who could be a top-10 tight end in 2019.

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