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Jonathon Brooks Fantasy Football Outlook: The Gem on the Panthers?

Carolina Panthers rookie running back Jonathon Brooks is one of the biggest high-risk, high-reward players in fantasy football.
Jonathon Brooks Fantasy Football

The Carolina Panthers probably won’t have too many fantasy football stars in 2024, but they might have one of the game’s most promising young players in rookie running back Jonathon Brooks. After starting his collegiate career behind future NFL running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, Brooks finally had a chance to show what he could do in 2023. Appearing in 11 games, the running back finished the season with 1,139 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 187 carries before an ACL injury prematurely ended his season.

Despite his injury, Brooks’ impressive season was still enough to make him the first running back selected in an admittedly weak class. Landing with the Carolina Panthers, does Jonathon Brooks have what it takes to win the Day 1 starting job and become a star in fantasy football?

2024 Fantasy Football Outlook: Jonathon Brooks

Rookie Projections

Assuming he’s fully healthy, Jonathon Brooks is easily the most talented running back on the Panthers roster, and that alone should give him some fantasy football value. Miles Sanders crashed and burned last year, looking like one of the league’s worst players before losing the starting job to Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard, meanwhile, is a fine backup, but he’s nothing more than that. Brooks is also the only running back that the current coach and general manager heavily invested in, which shows that first-year head coach Dave Canales believes the former Longhorn can be the featured part of this offense.

Of course, nobody knows for sure when Jonathon Brooks will be up to full speed. This article is coming out in early/mid-July, so you’ll need to monitor training camp reports as we get closer to the start of the season. However, as of this posting, it’s safe to assume Brooks won’t be the Day 1 starter in 2024. The running back tore his ACL on November 11th, giving him 10 months to recover from the injury before the start of the season. Some players can return in this timeframe, but even if Brooks makes it back for Week 1, he’ll still need to knock off the rust and adjust to life in the NFL. Because of this, we can conservatively assume he won’t earn the full-time starting job until around Week 6.

Watch: Jonathon Brooks Film Study

However, once he is the three-down back, volume alone should carry Jonathon Brooks to fantasy football relevance. Carolina probably won’t score too much, which does put a cap on his ceiling. However, Canales wants to run the ball early and often, and Carolina’s revamped offensive line should create rushing lanes. Brooks won’t finish as the RB1 overall, but the combination of talent and workload could easily make Brooks a top 12-15 running back down the stretch.

Average Draft Position

As of this posting, the FantasyPros ADP tracker currently has Jonathon Brooks as the 31st running back off the board in fantasy football drafts. This makes him a mid-round pick and puts him in the same general tier as guys like Raheem Mostert, Austin Ekeler, Jaylen Warren, and Devin Singletary.

Quite frankly, this is an insult to Jonathon Brooks, as he is easily the best fantasy football option of any of the aforementioned backs. Singletary is the only other clear-cut starter of the bunch and while Mostert was fantastic last year, most of his production came from unsustainable touchdown production. Anyone who rostered Jamal Williams last year knows that touchdowns are unstable from year to year, so don’t buy high on last year’s results.

Rookies tend to be the most overlooked players in redraft fantasy football leagues, and Jonathon Brooks could be the next great league-winning steal. You might need to keep him on the bench early in the season, but the late-season upside is easily enough to justify a mid-round selection.

Main Photo: Mikala Compton – USA Today Sports

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