For the better part of the past decade, now former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has been a staple in fantasy lineups. While failing to put truly elite numbers year-after-year, he’s simply been a player who dynasty managers could always count on. With the emergence of Justin Jefferson (he’s pretty good), the Vikings just weren’t in position to keep both of them long-term, especially considering Thielen is 32 years old. As such, Thielen signed with the Carolina Panthers and it has some really interest impact on some player values.
Adam Thielen, WR CAR
Over his nine years in the NFL, Thielen has been an absolute warrior in Minnesota, recording 534 career catches for 6,682 yards, and most importantly, scoring a massive 55 touchdowns. In fact, over the past three seasons, he’s been in the end zone 30 times.
The challenge with Thielen is clearly his age. At 32, he doesn’t have same kind of burst and speed he once did. However, he just isn’t a player who was always dependent on his athleticism to make things happen. Thielen is going to be an absolute chain mover in Carolina and immediately give them some legitimacy at the position. Keep in mind his contract was for three years and $25 million, with $14 million guaranteed – that’s not chump change.
At this point, Carolina doesn’t have much talent on their roster. They’ll be drafting a rookie quarterback, traded Christian McCaffrey last season and just sent DJ Moore packing in exchange for the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re in on DJ Chark as well and that would give them a nice speed component, but it sure does look like Thielen won’t be longing for targets. His ranking of WR63 should go up a bit if the Panthers don’t bring in much more talent to compete with him, but his age and the fact he’s going to be catching passes from a rookie is going to keep him down some. At this point, he looks like a low-cost investment for a contending team who believes he still has some good juice left in him,
Terrace Marshall, Shi Smith, Laviska Shenault, WRs CAR
This trio was set to soak up the majority of the targets left by DJ Moore. Alas, it was not to be. However, that does not mean this group should be overlooked at all in dynasty leagues. We’ve seen both Marshall and Smith show some serious flashes and they’re both going to have an extended opportunity next season. As for Shenault, he’s clearly been a disappointment. However, he’s still a young player and he should have his chances as well. These are all back-of-the-roster options for teams in deep dynasty leagues.
Hayden Hurst, TE CAR
The Panthers have been looking for a solid tight end since the days of Greg Olsen and just hasn’t happened as of yet. Hurst is the latest to try to make his mark. He’s been inconsistent, but has also shown the ability to relied upon as a streamer in dynasty leagues. However, a rookie quarterback is hard to trust and Hurst just isn’t the kind of player who is going to command targets and make a young quarterback that much better consistently.
DJ Chark, WR FA
Oddly enough, the unsigned Chark could be the key to this whole thing. The Panthers reportedly want him and he could sign there any day. If he does, it’s clear Thielen and Chark would be the 1-2 punch for Carolina, further pushing down the values of Marshall, Smith, and Shenault. If he doesn’t, that trio is much more intriguing. Regardless, this is a tough time to speculate with free agents in flux and the draft coming soon. We know Chark has talent and would be a WR3-type in dynasty leagues wherever he likely lands.
KJ Osborn, WR MIN
If there’s a winner in this deal right now, it looks like Osborn. His first two years in Minnesota have yielded 110 catches, 1,305 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns – all basically as a backup or rotational receiver. There are still likely going to be moves to make for the Vikings in free agency, but Osborn looks poised to make a third year leap and dynasty manager should respond accordingly.