The Carolina Panthers made a poor start to 2013. With a 1-3 start to the season coach Ron Rivera was on the hot seat. However the team turned it around losing only once more on their way to a 12-4 record and 1st place in the NFC South. With free agency and the draft giving the Panthers roster a different look in 2014 it remains to be seen if they can overcome history and be the first team to win back to back NFC South titles since it was formed in 2002
Carolina Panthers Fantasy Outlook
Cam Newton was ranked 3rd in QB’s in 2013 and will again be a strong fantasy QB. His ability to run the football as well as his passing makes him a potent fantasy weapon. However he may regress slightly in 2014 coming off ankle surgery, coupled with the loss of Jordan Gross on the offensive line and a lacklustre receiving corps could affect Newton’s numbers. Despite these challenges Newton is still likely to be a top 10 fantasy QB and will be taken in the early rounds in all formats.
Carolina will again take a backfield by committee approach with three strong backs in Deangelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. Deangelo Williams had a decent 2013 rushing for 843 yards and adding 333 receiving yards, adding 4 touchdowns in the process, however he could see Jonathan Stewart eat into his production in 2014. Stewart only played six games in 2013 as injury curtailed his season. He will be looking to rediscover his 2011 fitness and production where he rushed for over 700 yards and had over 400 yards receiving. The third head in this committee is Mike Tolbert, while he does not put up the same numbers in terms of yardage he is favoured in goal line situations leading the backs with 7 touchdowns in 2013 and is a useful bye week option. A word of warning when drafting Panthers backs is the rushing ability of Quarterback Cam Newton who eats into their production. Newton rush for 585 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2013
Carolina’s receivers have been completely overhauled in the off season. They lost all of last year’s starters, Steve Smith was cut and joined the Ravens, Brandon LaFell joined the Patriots, Ted Ginn went to the Cardinals and Domenik Hixon joined the Bears (although was subsequently injured and released). Coming into replace them are Jericho Cotchery from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jason Avant from the Philadelphia Eagles and 1st round pick Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin is the best option for Fantasy owners either late in the draft or through free agency as he has the most upside and is a good option in dynasty formats.
Greg Olsen has been a solid Tight End for the Carolina Panthers since joining from Chicago Bears in 2011. With over 800 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2013 Olsen is a top 10 Tight End. Olsen could see an increase in production in 2014 with the Panthers depleted receiving corps leading to Olsen being targeted more by Quarterback Cam Newton. Back up Ed Dickson arrives from the Baltimore Ravens and could see some targets in two tight end sets but unlikely enough to be fantasy relevant on any regular basis.
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