After a 6-2 start, the 2018 Panthers were looking once again like a playoff team. Then 7 straight losses coupled with a Cam Newton shoulder injury and Carolina had just one more win the rest of the year, finishing 7-9. The silver lining in a disappointing season was Christian McCaffrey, who established himself as a workhorse back and a PPR beast! Luckily, Newton is healthy heading into 2019 and the Panthers are poised to pounce once again. Still, some questions remain for this group. Can CMC have back to back All-Pro seasons? Can the receiving corps step up to to make this offense more well rounded? Will Cam Newton ever regain his 2015 form? That’s a lot of questions! Let’s get some answers.
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2019 Carolina Panthers Fantasy Preview
KEY LOSSES: Thomas Davis OLB, Devin Funchess WR, Matt Kalil LT,
Impact: Thomas Davis and Matt Kalil have had great careers, but letting these veterans walk was wise considering their age and price. Devin Funchess leaving is actually addition by subtraction. The Panthers have two young WR ready to take the next step, and Funchess’ presence would have hindered their development.
KEY ADDITIONS: Matt Paradis C, Gerald McCoy DT, Bruce Irvin DE, Chris Hogan WR
Impact: Matt Paradis was a great acquisition and should help keep Cam Netwon upright in 2019. Gerald McCoy fell in their lap and should help the front line, while Bruce Irvin will aid the pass rush. Chris Hogan was a bust last year for many fantasy owners and analysts (I tried to warn you). You can ignore him again in 2019.
DRAFTED PLAYERS OF FANTASY NOTE: Brian Burns OLB, Greg Little OT, Will Grier QB
Impact: In theory, Brian Burns will add to the Panthers pass rush, but he’s undersized and I would have preferred more O-Line help with their first selection. Still, for a team that finished 27th in sacks, it’s not the worst pick either. Greg Little grades well in the pass blocking area and should be a year one starter. Will Grier was a wise investment should injuries continue to plague Cam Newton the next few years.
Christian McCaffrey rushed for 1,000 yards and caught 100 passes en route to a stellar 2018 campaign. He bulked up this offseason, which is actually slightly concerning for me. Sometimes playing heavier isn’t better for smaller frames and it could impact his burst and/or health. We’ve seen plenty of guys add muscle only to see them snap on them time and time again. He’s obviously a top-four talent in any format and comes with no more or less risk than any running back. Cam Netwon hasn’t thrown for 4K yards since 2011, but he should still remain a solid fantasy QB as long as he keeps running. The tandem of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel could be one of the best values on the fantasy board all year. Moore has #1 talent and Samuel has a nose for the end zone. Gregg Olsen is a shell of his old self and shouldn’t be considered a fantasy asset anymore.
Getting to the QB was a clear issue for this unit, who finished 15th overall in YPG and 19th in PPG allowed. The hope is the offseason acquisitions will put more pressure on opposing QB’s and aid a mediocre secondary. Luke Kuechly will continue to be an IDP stud (130 tackles in ’18), but as a team D, Carolina is a streamer at best and could be in for some long afternoons against their in division offenses.
Panthers 2019 OUTLOOK
Ultimately, I think the defense will hold this team back, but offensively this could be a very exciting unit with some great ROI potential. You’re getting a discount on Cam and the receivers, who have yet to fully breakout. At the end of the day, it’s all about CMC. He seems ready to carry the load once again, but as a long-term investment, one can’t help but wonder for how long.
Joe Pisapia is the author of the #1 best-selling Fantasy Black Book Series and creator of the revolutionary player evaluation tool Relative Position Value (RPV). He’s the host of The Fantasy Black Book Podcast and the LineStar DFS Podcasts. Joe was previously host of the FSTA award-winning On Target Fantasy (2016 Radio Show of the Year), The Fantasy Black Book Show, RotoExperts in the Morning and NFL Game Day for the FNTSY Fantasy Sports Radio Network, as well as RotoWire MLB/NFL DFS Podcasts, and numerous shows for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. You can also see him frequently on CBS TV in New York on The Sports Desk. He’s written for The Sporting News, FanDuel Insider and FantasyAlarm.
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