by Andrew Teuscher
Sam Darnold: Darnold was the QB5 through the first 4 weeks of the season in 2021. He flashed some brief upside after leaving the Adam Gase Jets. After that he was, well, painful to watch. He was the QB 32 the rest of the way and quickly looked like he was seeing ghosts again. He averaged 7.5 ppg in that stretch. Sure he missed 5 games from injury but his advanced efficiency stats all agree that he was actually one of the worst QBs in the NFL. Darnold has an alright arm but attempted the 29th fewest yards per throw and ranked 32nd in accuracy rating. The Panthers brought in a debilitated Cam Newton last year and drafted Matt Corral this year in the 3rd round. His own team doesn’t trust him. The hope is that the former 3rd overall pick settles in and taps into the talent that NFL scouts saw in 2018. Darnold has the weapons around him to succeed and can use his legs on occasion to snag a couple rushing TDs. Sure, maybe something clicks in the veteran's 5th year (he is only going to be 25 this season) but don’t bank on it. Darnold is a low-end QB2 at absolute best.
Matt Corral: Corral was drafted by the Panthers who traded up to take the Ole Miss product at the end of the 3rd round. Successful fantasy QBs do not typically get drafted in the 3rd round. A 3rd round pick is a low-level investment so if Corral does not have success almost immediately then the team could very easily move on. The bright side is that Darnold stinks, so if Darnold plays poorly the team may be desperate and give Corral a chance to finish off the season. If Corral takes the job in training camp or at some point during the season, he was enough rushing upside to at least be thought about in fantasy. He matches up well with the Carolina system from last year that wants to get rid of the ball quickly. Carolina recently came out and said off-field issues were the reason Corral fell into the 3rd round, so if the young QB can stay out of trouble there is a slight chance he has a bit of upside with good weapons around him.
Christian McCaffrey: He gets hurt a lot and I understand that, but look at what the man can do in your fantasy lineup when he is healthy. McCaffrey only played 4 games where he was able to get half the snaps and in all four of those games he did not finish worse than the RB4 (ppr). He averaged 25.9 ppg in those four games! You might think that he couldn’t possibly sustain that for a full season right? I mean Jonathan Taylor was the RB1 this year and he only averaged 21.9 pts. Think again, because McCaffrey is built THAT different. The fantasy football alien finished with 24.1 pts in 2018 and 29.3 in 2019. He played 16 games both those seasons. He averaged 30.1 ppg in his abbreviated 2020 season. To put it plainly, the 25 year old RB is the RB1 in fantasy when he is healthy. Obviously, after two injury riddled seasons in a row, concern over McCaffery’s health are absolutely warranted. Regardless, you are going to feel like a moron if he is able to play even 12 games this year. McCaffrey will still likely go in the top 5 picks of redraft leagues. He is a bonafide top-end RB1 in fantasy for 2022 even if Carolina limits his work in order to keep him healthy.
Chuba Hubbard: Chuba was a 4th round pick to the Panthers in 2021 and played a nice handcuff role to the often injured Christian McCaffrey. Hubbard was able to take on the lead role and play over 50% of snaps in 6 games last year. In those six games was perfectly fine and scored a consistent 12.3 ppg. Most of this came from the nice volume he saw. Now that the Panthers brought in veteran back D’onta Foreman, the role of workhorse back while McCaffrey is hurt seems unlikely. Chuba is only a consideration in fantasy lineups when McCaffrey is injured and is not even an elite handcuff anymore with increased competition.
D’Onta Foreman: The former college standout who tore his achilles all the way back in 2017 finally had a bit of a comeback in 2021. The runner took advantage of Derrick Henry missing time in Tennessee over the second half of the season. When given the opportunity to be the lead back in Henry’s absence, Foreman succeeded. He put up 3, 100-yard games and scored 3 TDs when he was given a role after week 12. He has no receiving upside so his potential comes from being a decent handcuff to McCaffrey and maybe a complimentary/goalline back. He would likely be the 1st and 2nd down back if McCaffrey is hurt. View him as a handcuff and nothing more in Carolina.
DJ Moore: Few if any WRs in the league have been plagued with bad QB play as much as DJ Moore. The former 1st round pick has been good every year since coming into the league. Since his rookie year, he has posted over 1,100 receiving yards every year. He ranks top 5 in targets and receiving yards since 2019. In 2021, he received the 5th largest target share last year but ranked 72nd in target quality and 4th in unrealized air yards. This means he’s a large part of the office but his QBs simply can’t get him the ball. We thought the breakout was here through the first 4 weeks when Sam Darnold was playing competent ball because Moore was a dominant WR4 during that stretch. It all tapered off after that however. Still, Moore is a top 10 WR in the real life NFL. Because of the massive volume he should receive and the incredible talent, Moore is a safe WR2 because that’s what he has proven to be his whole career. However, it is hard to see a route for him to be a WR1 with the QBs who are currently in Carolina.
Robby Anderson: Anderson escaped the Adam Gase and Sam Darnold led offense in 2020 and had by far the best year of his career, which resulted in him being the WR24. Sadly for Anderson, Darnold played a sick joke and followed him to the Panthers in 2021 and things went back to their old ways. Anderson finished as the WR50 on the season. He ranked 13th in unrealized air yards and 80th in catchable target percentage. Metrics say Anderson has some talent and a decent amount of volume, but it is hard to see a route for fantasy success for an aging player that is the third best option (behind McCaffery and DJ Moore) in a Sam Darnold led offense.
Terrace Marshall: Marshall was a lot of people's favorite longshot rookie breakout option last year and it…um…did not pan out. The rooks best game was week 3 where he posted 6.8 pts (half-ppr). After week 3 he completely disappeared and did not even get 3 pts in any week. Rookies are supposed to improve as the year goes on and he did the opposite. He is the fourth best passing option on a team led by Sam Darnold. Not much more needs to be said. Barring a major change, he likely has no fantasy value.
Tommy Tremble: Tremble is a second year TE who was drafted in the 3rd round out of Notre Dame. Tremble is a LONG shot at having fantasy relevance but there are just a couple signs on his profile worth noting. Those are that he was able to increase his role over the course of the year. He averaged 2.7 targets over his last 7 games. He also has decent draft capital for a TE and some nice athletic measurables. He will likely have little relevance this year but possibly a name to check in on over this season and next as TEs tend to take much longer to break out.
Andrew Teuscher is a fantasy-football enthusiast and certified fantasy try hard.