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Sleeper Spotlight: Carolina Panthers

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Joe Adams, WR CAR
Age: 22 (11/22/89)

Selected in the fourth round (pick #104 overall), Joe Adams of Arkansas is well known as an ultra-dynamic and tough receiver who excels as a special teams return specialist.

At just under 5’11” and 179 pounds, Adams possesses a thin frame without the strength to beat jams off the line of scrimmage or be overly physical at the point of attack.  In the NFL, Adams will need to excel in the slot and on special teams if he expects to garner any significant playing time.  Adams has fought durability concerns for his entire career, most seriously diagnosed with a minor stroke in 2009 following a bout of severe headaches.  Various other injuries, though none as serious, limited his consistency while in college.

Beyond the durability red flags, Adams has also exhibited a lack of focus at times, often leading to multiple drops as he looks to get up field before securing the reception.  At just 4.55 in the forty, his timed speed is suspect as well.

For all the negatives plaguing Adams, his electric nature with the ball in his hands combined with his toughness make him an intriguing prospect in a system that looks to emphasize quick hits to the slot routes.  Adams will certainly be called upon to increase the productivity in the return game, but his true value will be in the slot as Carolina attempts to create space in the short to intermediate routes.

In open space, Adams has far more dynamic and speed than his timed 4.55 forty would suggest.  He has the ability to reach top speed extremely quickly, can be very good at the top of his breaks to create separation and has the agility to create space after that break.  With the ball in his hands, he’s elusive and shifty. In his four years at Arkansas, he compiled 164 receptions, 2,402 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns.

2012 Outlook

It’s relatively easy to see why Carolina selected Adams.  With Steve Smith clearly the WR1 and both Brandon LaFell and David Gettis fighting for the WR2 role, Adams is seemingly the odds-on favorite for immediately sliding into the slot position.  With Cam Newton’s mobility and a very effective running back tandem of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, expect Carolina to use a lot of three and four receiver sets to create mismatches and defensive space that can be taken advantage of.  With Adams in the slot, misdirection plays and quarterback roll outs will be difficult to defend.  The Panthers simply haven’t had the dynamic speed factor within their offense in some time and Adams gives them that presence.

The key to Adams’ success is space.  He doesn’t possess the strength at any level to step out of or break tackles and can be easily taken out of the play at the line of scrimmage by the NFL’s physical corners.  If Carolina is successful at developing Adams quickly and their three-receiver sets, along with Greg Olsen, are able to get depth and challenge defensive secondaries, Adams has the potential to be very productive as a rookie.  His greatest value will likely be found in PPR leagues as his skill-set shouldn’t produce a significant number of touchdowns.  In return formats, Adams will present yet another value proposition for consideration.

Joe Adams is a raw prospect who will need to find his way in an offense that isn’t mature in its use of slot receivers.  He’ll need to increase his strength, his ability to run block and greatly increase his focus if he expects to see the field for any significant number of snaps.  Success is by no means guaranteed but as a rookie receiver that can be had after the fourth round of rookie drafts, Adams has a chance to drastically outplay his drafted position in his first year in the NFL.

Jeff Haverlack
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CaptiveAssasin
10 years ago

Carolina is pretty devoid of sleeper talent if a guy who is 5′-11″ 179 pounds, an injury risk, and only runs a 4.55 forty is the highest on their list.

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