Fantasy Power Rankings No. 30 — Carolina
The Panthers offer fantasy owners 58.3 percent of the value the average NFL team does, and just 33 percent of the value of the NFL’s best.
We can’t fully judge the Panthers’ 2014 offseason moves until a year or two have passed, but the prevailing assumption is that it was fumbled, mostly because of team’s culling of its wide receiving group and failure to patch it up in free agency.
Steve Smith was unceremoniously dumped and is now in Baltimore, and the underrated Brandon LaFell is now in New England. Ted Ginn is also no longer on the team. Those three players combined for 248 targets, 149 receptions, 1,928 yards and 14 touchdowns. The only receiver the Panthers have retained from 2013 is Marvin McNutt, who played just four snaps all season. Only the Cleveland Browns offer less to fantasy owners at wide receiver, and that’s only because of Josh Gordon’s imprudence. Carolina did draft Kelvin Benjamin, but despite the prevailing argument that he’s not quite NFL ready, he will be thrust into the lead role at receiver.
The team’s dissection of its receiving corps is the number one reason — and perhaps only reason — that Newton isn’t the tantalizing fantasy option he’s been ever since entering the league. However, even if Newton were projected to be the No. 1 fantasy quarterback this season, the Panthers would still be the No. 30 team on the power rankings. That should give you a pretty good idea of how bad the running back and wide receiver situations are in Carolina.
In fact, every other team in the league brings more to the table at the running back position than the Panthers. That’s a sobering fact considering it was only a couple of seasons ago that the Panthers boasted one of the best rushing attacks in the league and multiple fantasy-relevant players.
The names remain the same — DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert — but as we’ve learned in recent seasons, those three don’t play nice from a fantasy perspective. It would not be surprising to see all three end with over 75 carries but no more than 140. So while one of those three may produce a big week here and there, figuring out who and when will be a shot in the dark.
Despite being near the bottom of the power rankings, there is one other bright spot outside of Newton: tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen led the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season and remains on the team. He was the third highest-scoring tight end in fantasy leagues from Weeks 6-17 last season and will be weekly fantasy starter again in 2014.
Thanks to a fearsome front seven, Carolina’s defense is currently the third D/ST being drafted in leagues. However, there’s a sizable gap between the Panthers and the No. 29 team on the power rankings, so the defense’s prowess doesn’t bump the team up.
No. 31 — New York Jets
No. 32 — Oakland Raiders