Dynasty Capsule: Carolina Panthers

Peter Howard

Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.

Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”


Cam Newton (JAN ADP: 107.7, QB7.7)

Newton is the only quarterback in the NFL with five top-five fantasy seasons who played under the age of 30 in 2018. In 2018, he finished as the QB13 after sitting out week 16 and 17. He provides a solid rushing and passing floor every year on a week-to-week basis. In 2018, he rushed 101 times. The last time he ran for less than 103 attempts, he also finished outside the top 12. While there is speculation that his shoulder is injured again (from a 2014 Transverse Process Fracture injury – two top-five seasons ago), if healthy, he will offer top five upside with a below top-five ADP.

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His receiving weapons and offense have improved in recent years. This also looks like it should continue in 2019 with D.J. Moore entering his second season.

Quarterbacks’ performances remain stable well into their 30’s. Outside of becoming a doctor, earning a reputation, being employed by the Panthers, and being appointed as Newton’s personal doctor to get more information, I think we should continue to be higher than consensus in dynasty.

Kyle Allen (JAN ADP: N/A, RB N/A)

Allen has little fantasy appeal outside of two-quarterback leagues in case of a Newton injury. Given the concern over the starter’s shoulder, he perhaps has some viable depth value. But I don’t think he should be more than a stash candidate in deeper leagues that place extra value on the position at this point.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey (JAN ADP: 5, RB4.5)

In his second season in the NFL, McCaffrey once again finished inside the top 12. This time he managed a second-place finish behind only Saquon Barkley. Given his age, talent, and consistently high target share (over 20% both years), he is an exciting and valuable dynasty player. Owners should put some thought into the fact his receiving role is actually more valuable in most fantasy formats. It suggests a potential expansion of his window of relevance. Receiving work leads to a slower degenerative effect on a player’s effectiveness.

However, as a rule, once a running back enters the top five, the clock is ticking. Top five running backs are the most valuable week-to-week assets for a fantasy team. But year-to-year, their production, and availability, is volatile. This creates a selling window in dynasty to always consider. Few repeat a top-five season. Since 2000, only four running backs have finished inside the top five four or more times. Since one of them was LaDainian Tomlinson, who breaks every rule ever created, so I think we can safely call it three: Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Ray Rice. Only two sustained a top-five position rank in back-to-back years.

Cameron Artis-Payne (JAN ADP: 237.8, RB N/A)

Artis-Payne is a potential touchdown vulture or replacement rusher in case of injury to McCaffrey but nothing very exciting outside of that. I think the work would shrink and be divided between multiple players if the depth chart remains the same and McCaffrey was injured.

Travaris Cadet (JAN ADP: 233.8, RB N/A)

No thanks.

Wide Receiver

D.J. Moore (JAN ADP: 44.1, WR19.2)

Moore saw an increase in targets and production throughout his rookie season. He finished with 82 targets, 788 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns and a Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR) of 0.97 (which is very, very good efficiency – the wide receiver average is around 0.8.) As a prospect, he profiled as the most likely to produce a fantasy-relevant season and his rookie season was nothing short of further proof. Just in terms of raw receiving yards, his rookie season was the 34th-best since 2000. That is no mean feat in a season that was disappointing outside of McCaffrey.

Moore established himself as the most effective wide receiver on the team. Since wide receivers break into the top 12 as often in their second year as their third, this off-season may well be the last chance dynasty owners have to invest in him at this ADP.

Curtis Samuel (JAN ADP: 116.8, WR58.2)

2018 was, in some ways, a year of vindication for conviction on past draft prospects. As someone who was lower on Samuel then consensus when he was drafted, I feel I should admit that he surprised me last season. He only finished as the WR47 in PPR scoring, but he topped 50 yards four times in 2018 and received over 17% of the team’s targets five times.

While the third target on the depth chart might not seem exciting, Samuel has game-breaking athleticism and a skill set that should definitely continue to make him a viable fantasy asset.

Devin Funchess (JAN ADP: 122.7, WR52.3)

While it’s tempting to blame some of Funchess’ 2018 struggles on his week 11 back strain, he was actually losing targets since week six. Losing targets and opportunity to both Moore and Samuel, it’s hard to see the upside for him in Carolina. But while he didn’t meet the highest of some people’s expectations in his first four years, he also avoided the depths of others pessimism. He managed a top-20 season in 2017 and continued to be a viable weapon for the Panthers on the field. In some ways, his career reminds me of Mohamed Sanu. Facing free agency in 2019, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar career path.

There’s upside still in Funchess’ skill and ability. However, where he plays in 2019 will determine if he can reach fantasy levels of production or relevance again. He’s a worthy hold in dynasty, with potential top-24 upside as a buy if he lands in the right situation.

Torrey Smith (JAN ADP: WR237.8)

Smith continues to be a viable, late flyer, target in best ball. However, I think we have seen the tail end of his dynasty-relevant career. If he carries any name value in dynasty, he could be a viable trade addition to make something else happen.

Tight End

Greg Olsen (JAN ADP: 219.3, TE28)

Tight ends do not struggle to produce well into their 30s, especially ones who have been as productive as Greg Olsen. However, in dynasty, it is hard to ignore his continued foot injuries since 2017. He fractured, and then strained his foot again in 2018.

At a position as unsecured as tight end, I think it would be folly to throw Olsen away or undervalue the potential of his return to health. On the other hand, dynasty is an age-driven market most of the time. So he is a hold with less value for those looking to trade him them those looking to acquire him.

For teams looking to compete in 2019 who are interested in the upside of a return to health for Olsen, he makes an interesting buy low. But considering players value only drops after their age-30 season (even if positions like tight end don’t follow the same diminishing returns after that age), he is a falling value.

Ian Thomas (JAN ADP: 155.5, TE17)

I expect Thomas’ ADP to be higher, but fortunately, our desire for immediate impact continues to create reasonable value at the position. As a 22-year-old entering his second in 2019, I think those buying right now will be disappointed if they expect him to take over as a starting tight end in fantasy. Tight ends take time to develop, even if we “think” opportunity is opening up in front of them. However, he did enough in 2018 to suggest that he could develop into a starting tight end in the future. Form week 13 onwards, he averaged 6.5 targets, five receptions and 49 receiving yards.

He occupies a difficult position for dynasty players in terms of value. He is likely being overvalued for the expectation of immediate production, and yet since he could well become a viable player, this may be a decent ADP to try to add him. I’d be more interested in Chris Herndon drafted five spots higher in ADP at the moment. But his ADP overall seems to represent a fair value for the potential of his upside in the future as well.


peter howard
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