As part of the premium content package, we’re again unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL leading up to free agency and the NFL Draft. This year, we’re again going to do a follow-up on all the teams after all the free agency and NFL Draft movement to assess the impact of any players teams have gained or lost. Since these capsules are always done as a simple snapshot in time, we figured that was the best way to tackle the off-season and provide ultimate value for our subscribers. All in all, we’ll have close to 500 player profiles found in these capsules over the off-season.
The Panthers will enter the 2014 season looking to continue their surprising success from last season, when they finished at 12-4. Repeating as NFC South champions will not be an easy task, however, as they have a number of holes to fill with very little room salary cap room. With a team built around the defense, finding useful fantasy options is difficult outside of Cam Newton, but that doesn’t mean the Panthers should be ignored.
As one of the premier young quarterbacks in the NFL, the Panthers are set at this position for a number of years, barring injury. He is an elite fantasy option and should be considered a top three quarterback option in dynasty leagues. There really isn’t much more to say.
Anderson is an unrestricted free agent, but is likely to return to his role as backup. Outside of a surprising Pro Bowl season with the Cleveland Browns, he’s proved to be best suited in a backup role. In the event Cam Newton went out with an injury, he would be worth having on a roster, but it’s doubtful that he would be a startable option.
Williams served his role as the starting running back last season, rushing for 843 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, with Newton stealing carries (along with Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart chipping in), Williams rarely received the amount of carries or red zone opportunities needed to produce quality fantasy numbers.
Going into 2014, Williams will remain on the roster due to a horrendous contract put into place by former GM Marty Hurney. If Jonathan Stewart remains healthy, Williams will most likely be relegated to 10-12 carries a game and little chance of scoring. He’s worth having on dynasty rosters, but you should only start him in a desperation situation.
It’s difficult to mention Stewart’s name in fantasy circles without immediately hearing the collective groans of the group. After a promising start to his career, injuries and general disappointment have pushed him from a once coveted piece of a dynasty roster to a player who most people are willing to unload for a late draft pick.
Like Deangelo Williams, Stewart’s contract leaves little room for the Panthers to cut him, so he’s almost guaranteed to be a part of the team for the next two seasons. While there is a chance the Panthers will attempt to make him the centerpiece of the running game, the likelihood of him finally living up to expectations is small. I have been called a Jonathan Stewart apologist in the past, but I think he has the potential to be a value at his current cost. For the price of a late third round rookie pick, I think he’s worth acquiring as a “wait and see” option at the bottom of your roster.
I’ve been quoted in the past as saying Mike Tolbert is the most important offensive skill position player on the Panthers roster outside of Cam Newton and I fully believe that. He very rarely fails to pick up difficult yardage in the redzone or in a third and short situation and he’s a fantastic blocker in all phases of the game.
While Tolbert is officially an Unrestricted Free Agent, it’s unlikely he’ll sign elsewhere. While he is rarely a startable fantasy option due to limited carries, he should be owned in dynasty leagues. In the event he’s ever forced into a starting role (given Williams’ and Stewart’s injury history, it’s not impossible), he could put up very solid numbers.
Barner had little opportunity to prove himself in 2013, battling injuries and being buried on the depth chart. When he did get a chance to carry the ball, he didn’t look particularly impressive. While I have not seen any definitive information about him going into 2014, I suspect the team will attempt to incorporate him into the offensive gameplan, if for no other reason than to see if he’s worth keeping around. He’s worth a stash on a deeper roster, just in case he breaks out.
Going into the season, Smith will be 35 years old. At this point, there are rumors circulating that 2013 may have been his final season with the Panthers. While Carolina is traditionally known as a team that does everything possible to retain players who have performed highly, new GM David Gettleman is handling things a bit differently. He’s recently made public comments suggesting Smith may be cut. There is a chance retirement may be in his future, in addition to the chance of him signing with another team. While there is a chance he’ll remain with the Panthers, the odds at this point are looking like they are less than 50%. At 35 years old, Smith can still produce decent backup level fantasy numbers, but he’s not a player who I’d go out of my way to acquire, unless for some reason he’s sitting on the waiver wire.
Ted Ginn Jr.
Signed to be a return specialist, Ginn shocked many by being a serviceable receiver. After two lackluster stints in Miami and San Francisco, he finally found a quarterback who could take advantage of his speed. While Ginn offered little in the way of fantasy performance given his boom/bust stat-lines, he still was an important piece of the Panthers offense.
Ginn is an unrestricted free agent that may interested in testing the market. Given the fact Carolina was the first place where his skills have been put on display in the offense, I think he’ll re-sign with Carolina. If he does, there is a chance he’ll get an opportunity to be a starter as well, which could boost his numbers. He’s available on many waiver wires, but I think he’s worth owning.
Every year, fantasy owners pick up Brandon Lafell, hoping to acquire a cheap starting receiver. While he has occasionally put up solid numbers, more often than not he dropped passes or simply wasn’t targeted by Newton. LaFell is an extremely talented blocker – that typically isn’t an area that helps fantasy performance. He is now an unrestricted free agent who is unlikely to re-sign with Carolina. While there is a chance he’ll be more productive with a new team, he’s not a player who I would expect to ever put in my lineup. Like Ginn, he’s worth owning, but I wouldn’t attempt to acquire him in a trade.
Signed during the season, McNutt received very little playing time. I was a fan of his coming out of college and I hailed him as a sleeper pick during his stint with the Eagles. He’s worth watching in training camp and the preseason to see how he’s used, but he’s not worth a roster spot at this time.
King is one of the more intriguing players on the Panthers. Last season, as a member of the Broncos practice squad, he received publicity due to Denver effectively blocking him from signing with the Packers by activating him for one day before cutting him in an attempt to put him back on their practice squad. Carolina ended up claiming him off of waivers, however, foiling their plans. While he didn’t get an opportunity to play much last season, he has the skills and speed to possibly turn some heads in training camp. I own him in a few leagues, but it’s simply as a lottery ticket.
Olsen is the kind of player who is going to give you pretty much what you expect from him. He’ll finish the season as a top ten tight end option and give you fairly consistent numbers each with, typically in the range of 4-5 catches for 50-60 yards, with a 50% chance of a touchdown. The cost of acquiring him is fairly cheap given his consistent production, and as such, he tends to be the starting tight end on a majority of my dynasty teams.
Outside of Olsen, Williams is the only other tight end on the Panthers roster who offers the potential of performing in the passing game. A former basketball player who stands 6’6″ and 250 pounds, Williams has the size to be a big tight end target for Carolina. He’s not worth owning on dynasty rosters, but in the event of an injury to Olsen, I’d make an effort to quickly grab him from the waiver wire.
First off kudos for putting together a capsule on an inept off unit (except for Cam) like Carolina.
It is a crime that Cam has not had a legit shot and being the overall QB1, and i don’t even own him.
As was mentioned in the article, RB will remain a gaping pothole for at least another year, so the only position worth discussing is WR.
We can only hope gettleman drafts one of the rookie top 10 WRs in a talent rich WR draft. I would say round 2 or 3, depending on where they fall. I keep hearing about Nicks going there, but not sure based on price unless he does a 1 year deal like Maclin.
Assuming Gettleman drafts a WR, who would be ideal target(s)? I guess they can go BPA since they need both a prototypical WR – something they have not had since Muhsin Muhammad (someone i owned 10 yrs ago!) – and a slot guy…
As a Panthers fan, I agree with you. It’s honestly been remarkable how they’ve managed to be a decent (not great) offensive unit considering the severe lack of playmakers.
I can’t imagine Gettleman not doing something to help Cam this year, especially if Smith is cut. Jordan Gross’ retirement really hurt thing though, because now OT becomes a top priority as well, and the first round is the only place to draft a good one typically.
Nicks has said he’s willing to take a one year deal, so I’m hoping he comes back to his home state to play. On top of that, I’m really hoping to see two receivers drafted in the first 4 rounds, along with another low cost pickup. My favorite option in that respect is Andre Roberts.
You have a good eye for talent and your plan for Carolina improvement is sound.
I like Roberts too and he would be a good fit there. And he should fit their bargain shopping..
Good point on Gross. LT is no joke to fill and they pick late in 1st but they have to go O-line.
2 WRs in 1st 4 rounds is smart.
Bring on FA…
I have targeted Carolina WRs as a buy/draft low, high upside proposition for 2014…
someone has to make the jump!
and of course if/when S. Smith is cut…this makes it official