DAY 23: Carolina Panthers

As we anticipate the start of the 2017 NFL season, the DFF Degenerates (@DFF_Degenerates) are tearing down every team in the NFL – #32Teams32Days. We’re going round-trip to tackle the entire country – AFC East to West, then NFC West to East. We didn’t have to do it, but we did.

Buckle up! It’s a bumpy ride. We’re traveling to another dimension between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… that’s the signpost up ahead – our next stop – the RED ZONE.



Continuing our series, we visit the

Carolina Panthers

Is Cam Newton all pomp and drama? Just a fantasy football creation?

@TravisNFL: He’s a creation of some sort. Dude is a monster. We live/play fantasy in a world of recency-bias. People forget how absolutely dominant Cam was in 2015. He won people championships that year, largely because you could get him in the 10th round. He sucked last year, sure, but now our recency-biased community is forcing his ADP from the #1 QB just a year ago to the #10 QB, available in the 8th round. They added some dynamic weapons this offseason, and Cam Newton is due for some positive TD regression this year. He is absolutely a value in redraft leagues and a buy-low in dynasty.

@DFFMemphis: 3, 4, 3, 17, 1, and 17. Those are Cam’s end of season positional ranks since 2011. He did finish 17th in 2016 but only played 15 games. He easily would have been top-12 at the position had he played all 16 games last year. He now has more dimensions in the passing game with the additions of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Kelvin Benjamin looks much better, a second year removed from knee surgery. Lastly, there will be running lanes with those newly acquired players pulling safeties away from Cam. I don’t like him as a guy, but I love Cam at his current deflated price.

@DynastyGOAT: Cam Newton is entering a transitional phase of his career. Once a great runner, Newton will need to become a great passer to continue his status among the fantasy elite. Enter Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel: two of the top receiving threats in this year’s draft. Cam will rake in the yards and the touchdowns while hitting these two on short crossing routes.

@DiBari22: For fantasy, I’m buying. Depending on where you look, his current ADP has him as the 9th QB off the board, like @DFFMemphis said above. Over the last 6 years, he has four top-4 finishes and an overall QB1 finish. Just like the stock market, buy low and sell high – and I’m buying while the price is depressed after a down-year. He should dramatically outperform his draft position.

@ChristipherBean: People think Cam running “less” is going to hurt him.  Well, Carolina is likely to feature a much higher paced passing attack. They will integrate a short passing game to compliment the run game, increasing passing volume. The Konami Code of Rushing at the QB position is just a cherry on top.  You don’t need a ton for it to pay off in Fantasy – you just need a little.


Christian McCaffrey – going to be a beast?

@TravisNFL: Man, this kid is good. He is versatile, insanely quick, and elusive. He has shown us everything we were hoping to see so far this preseason. He can do it all, but my fear for fantasy this season is that Carolina won’t let him. Jonathan Stewart will be out there plenty, and with JStew and Cam both being higher on the goal-line pecking order, CMC’s upside is unfortunately capped this year.

@DFFMemphis: I see Reggie Bush, but with more pop between the tackles. The kid is a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. Put a safety on McCaffrey and Cam will run wild and free. Put a linebacker on McCaffrey and he’s going to beat him. CMC is a PPR difference-maker, but will have huge swings from game to game. He’ll easily finish as an RB2 or better in PPR, but you’ll have a tough time predicting the RB1 games from the RB4 games. I see his production leveling out more in his second year.

@DynastyGOAT: Caff is more like the beauty to Cam’s beast. The two were meant to live happily ever after.

@ChristipherBean: McCaffrey was my 1.01 this year. He’s Matt Forte reborn – but might be an even better receiver. I have a love for pass-catching agility-RBs – aka the Modern NFL workhorse – and even in a supposedly “loaded” RB draft, nobody touches McCaffrey in overall college production or NFL potential.

Regarding size:

  1. a) BMI matters significantly over Weight. McCaffrey is on the small size but far from “too small for NFL success.”
  2. b) College touches correlate to NFL Touches. McCaffrey averaged *27* Touches per game over the last 2 years. He can carry whatever NFL load you want to give him.

@DiBari22: I like the upside in PPR leagues, and I love the upside in leagues where you get return yardage. And in a best ball league with return points, you might be looking at next years’ 1.01. In standard leagues with no return points… he might be a complete fade for me as a rookie.


JStew – gonna play forever?

@DiBari22: No.

@TravisNFL: Well that’s just silly. But he’ll be involved this year for sure. He’ll have just enough touches to limit CMC’s upside, but it’ll be hard to put Jonathan Stewart in your lineup this year. Even still, Stewart’s value is so depressed by the CMC hype right now that I’m buying. Could be a decent bye-week fill-in, or when everyone remembers he’s still on the team, could be a good flip candidate.

@DFFMemphis: Maybe, it’s a real possibility with his income and modern medicine. Just kidding, but he can certainly do for Carolina what Blount did for New England in 2016. I see the addition of McCaffrey as a help and not a hindrance. Old legs need rest and The Daily Show has real upside in non-PPR and TD-only formats.

@ChristipherBean: CMC shows the approaching end of Jonathan Stewart. He’s a cheap cut next year if they want out, or they’ll just not extend again and let the contract run out after 2018. If you read the #32Teams32Days Jets article the following chart is going to look familiar and similarly distressing.

Now, 31.93% is right at league average for RBs (min 50 carries). So, we can’t quite say he’s dead weight. But it’s certainly not a great trend line, and it’s one likely to continue.

@DynastyGOAT: Call me crazy, but I see Jonathan Stewart having a productive year despite the Christian McCaffrey hype train. He’ll score a decent number of TDs from close range and get just enough carries to position himself as a flex play in standard leagues.


Who are the best WRs to own?

@TravisNFL: Kelvin Benjamin, Kelvin Benjamin, and Kelvin Benjamin. Funchess is on my do-not-draft list, as I just don’t see him being productive at all. I like Curtis Samuel as a dynasty stash to wait-and-see how this offense evolves this year. He could become a useful asset.

@DFFMemphis: This dude gets no respect. He’s another year removed from ACL surgery and won’t see double coverage in the red zone with additions of rookies CMC and Samuel. It’s hard to put a safety over the top of KB when Cam or McCaffrey are just waiting to destroy you if you dare leave them one on one with a linebacker. Defensive coordinators will take their chances one-on-one with KB and he will beat them more often than not. Double digit TDs are almost a given barring injury.

@DynastyGOAT: I was worried about Benjamin’s weight coming into camp, but a solid showing in the preseason quashed any doubts about his ability. With Samuel and McCaffrey around to take off the pressure, Benjamin has a real shot at double digit TDs.

@DiBari22: Let’s make it 4-for-4: I love Benjamin this year. During his two healthy seasons in the NFL, he’s been a top 20 WR both times. He’s an excellent WR2 and you can’t beat the price. Even though his ADP is right around where it should be (WR21) in the mock drafts I’ve done, it feels like nobody wants him and he’s been falling into my lap much later than that. Even coming off what everyone perceives to be a down year, he was still WR17 in standard leagues.

@ChristipherBean: Kelvin Benjamin is one of the worst redzone WRs in the league. He ranked 74 out of 76 Receivers in redzone completion % in 2014 (min 10 tgts), and 51 out of 86 in 2016. Last year, he was decent at Contested Catches (73.7%), but in 2014 he was a mere 43.3% at contested catches – which is awful. The idea that he’s going to hit double digit touchdowns when his target totals are likely going DOWN seems ridiculous. He’s so bad that fantasy football team owners are virtually begging Devin Funchess to be good so we can stop seeing Kelvin Benjamin’s name.

@DFF_Madman: At WR, I’m most interested in Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel. Samuel is better than John Ross… and he seems to be slightly tougher/ more durable as well. Coupled with Christian McCaffrey, Carolina really nailed this draft offensively. Samuel is capable of being an immediate WR2 with big-play ability and a nose for the endzone. He can also back-up CMC or be in the backfield at the same time. Carolina can put Samuel in the slot or even split him out wide. He’s a matchup nightmare who hauled in 74 passes in his final college season from the RB position. He allows the Panthers to remain flexible and dynamic on offense giving them greater means to be strategic in scheming for any defense they face.


Carolina desperately needed reliable weapons for Newton to optimize his prowess and they got them in this draft! If you drafted Samuel in your dynasty leagues, expect some serious ROI in the coming years.


Greg Olsen – Will he ever retire?

@TravisNFL: Well, yeah. I think he’s got another 2-3 years of solid production left, though. However, I never seem to end up with Olsen on any of my teams. He’s going in the beginning of the 5th round in redraft right now and the beginning of the 6th in dynasty startups. I don’t think the upside is there to justify the opportunity cost of missing out on RB/WR in those spots. Sure, he finished as the TE3 in PPR last year, but his point total would have placed him at TE6 in 2015, as we all know 2016 was a down year for TE. I’ll wait 2-1/2 rounds and take Zach Ertz.

DFFMemphis: Another winner in the arrival of those dear, sweet rookies. Again, hard to dedicate a safety to Olsen when one must spy Cam and the other must spy CMC. Olsen will see a look of linebacker coverage and he’s still good to beat it regularly. Will he retire? Sure, they all will, but he’s trying to get one more payday. I see two to three good years left. Antonio Gates remains relevant for the Chargers at age 37.

@DynastyGOAT: I thought Greg Olsen had 2- or 3-years left… about 4-years ago. But here we are in 2017 and Olsen is still producing. I have a feeling the end is closer than we think and when it starts going downhill, it’s going to go down fast. He’s still a TE1 for this year, but I’m selling high in dynasty leagues.

@DiBari22: I like Olsen, but I thought as last season wore on, he started to lose a step. He’s still a top fantasy tight end, but that’s due to a lack of depth at the position. That sure looks like it’s about to change after this most recent rookie class of tight ends gets acclimated to the NFL. In dynasty, I’d be trying to trade Olsen while he still has value, but in redraft, I’ll throw a dart if he slips in drafts a bit.

That’s it for us in the Carolinas. Hang with us as we visit the ATL tomorrow and Julio down by the schoolyard.

Thank you for joining us on our inaugural road trip. We hope this helps you on your quest to find the otherworld of dynasty football.


You can follow us on Twitter: @DFF_Degenerates

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Previous articles in this series are available here.


Co-Host @DynastyTradesHQ / Senior Editor, Writer & Analyst @DFF_Dynasty / Member @FSWA / "Building Dynasties One Player At a Time" #2QB #Superflex #Devy #Cleveland #Buckeyes

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