The Panthers are going into this season ranked as my 27th best team. I have them winning 6 games this year and finishing 4th in the NFC South and 13th in the NFC. Below is my in-depth breakdown of the team by position, staff, and fantasy worth.
Coaching: B-; I really like the hiring of Matt Rhule. He will help Teddy Bridgewater become a great passer, and he should lead the Panthers to greatness in the future.
QB: B; Bridgewater will be a very capable quarterback for the panthers. In his 5 games with the saints, he led them to 5 wins with his 1,384 yards, 9 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. I believe that as a focal point of the panthers offense heading into the season, he will perform even better. He has a fairly underrated arm talent. He was ranked 4th in the NFL last year in deep ball completion percentage with his 46.7% completion percentage. He was incredibly accurate all over the field with the 4th highest true passing percentage of 76.4%.
RB: A; McCaffrey had one of the greatest season performances by any running back ever. He was the first ever player with 1,000 rushing yards and receiving yards. He had 19 total touchdowns last year as practically the whole offense ran through him. He might not be able to keep up that same production this year, but if he gets close to it, he will still be the best back in the league. The main knock on the panthers running back corp is that there is little depth. I bet you’d have to look up the name of their second string running back Reggie Bonnafon no matter how big of a fan you are.
WR: B+; DJ Moore just completed an explosive sophomore year. He finished the season with 1,175 yards and 4 touchdowns in the 15 games that he played. The Panthers even decided to upgrade the position with the key addition of former Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson. Anderson may not light up the stat sheet every week, but he was decently productive for the lackluster Jets. In the slot, Curtis Samuel is a viable option. He had 757 total yards last year alongside 7 touchdowns. Additions of Pharoh Cooper and Seth Roberts create depth for this group, but Cooper will most likely be used on returning. Overall this is an above average group with a lot of speed and potential.
TE: F; I feel for a group where Ian Thomas is the starter. Ever since the loss of Greg Olsen, this tight end group has been one of the worst in the league. Thomas caught 16 passes last year for 136 yards. Need I say more?
O-line: C-; I was very surprised when the Panthers didn’t select an offensive lineman in this year’s draft. The lone stars on this line are center Matt Paradis and tackle Russell Okung. Other than them, this line consists of a bunch of nobodies. Offensive line should have been a need this off-season given how poor Teddy Bridgewater can play under pressure. It is a below average group for sure.
D-line: B-; After very poor defensive line play the year before, it’s no wonder that the Panthers went all-in upgrading it over the off-season. The team added defensive end Stephen Weatherly in free agency, defensive tackle Derrick Brown in the first round of the draft, defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos in the second, and defensive tackle Bravvion Roy in the sixth. Kaawan Short and Brian Burns will also be returning this season. This is a B- line at the moment, but I could easily see it rising to an A in the next year or two.
LB: D; The linebacking group on the Panthers will never be the same without Luke Kuechly. I actually mean NEVER. Luke was a once in a lifetime player, and you’re lucky if you had the chance to see him play. With that said, Shaq Thompson will be returning as an outside linebacker and the Panthers will try to fill the middle linebacker gap with veteran free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead. Though there isn’t much great in this linebacking corp, it is not the worst I have seen. It gets a D not only due to the lack of skill, but the lack of potential. The Panthers definitely need to find better linebacking talent if they want to run as good of a front-seven as they had a few years back.
DB: C-; The loss of young cornerback James Bradberry should hurt this team. The duo of Eli Apple and Donte Jackson is certainly not scaring any opposing quarterbacks. The Panthers did make three notable draft picks at defensive back. They selected safety Jeremy Chinn in the 3rd round, corner Troy Pride Jr in the 4th, and safety Kenny Robinson in the 5th. Usually when a team selects a position back-to-back-to-back in the draft, they are just trying to throw a bunch of hail marys and hoping one or two land. If they do, this secondary could be much better, but for now, it is just below average.
ST: D-; This Panthers team is far below average when it comes to returning and special teams coverage. I’m still unsure as to who will start at place kicker next season. Graham Gano finished the 2019 season on IR, and it seems as though Joey Slye will be the kicker going into this season. Hopefully Gano can recover as that is a major loss for the Panthers.
Overall: C+; The Panthers are pretty underrated. I just think they are one step away from competing. A team like this needs time. They completely revamped their roster and got a new coach. I think that talent-wise; this team is one of the better teams in the NFL. They just haven’t gotten a clear identity yet. They have playmakers all over the offense, but they need work done to the trenches.
Fantasy Value: Obviously McCaffrey has insane fantasy value. Don’t expect him to put up exactly the same numbers as last year, but I really can’t think of a player to pick higher than him. DJ Moore will also be a great pick. The Panthers did add Roby Anderson, but DJ’s role in the passing game will not be lessened. Do not pick up Anderson or Ian Thomas. Anderson will not put up the same numbers as he did with the Jets. He will most likely be used as a second option and a player to stretch the field. I don’t know why anyone would pick Ian Thomas, but if you were thinking about it, don’t.