2024 Coaching Changes: The Dynasty Impact of Dave Canales to the Carolina Panthers

Jeff Smith

Savvy fantasy football managers focus on all positions of a football team, including the coaching staff. Off-season changes can hugely impact skill players’ production at certain positions. Each week, we will look at one of the eight coaches who have found new homes and examine the potential dynasty impact on the key members of that team. We have a bonus this season. Our resident IDP expert, Tom Kislingbury, has joined us to cover the defensive impact of the changes.

Carolina Panthers: Dave Canales hired as Head Coach

Our next stop in the coaching series finds us staying in the NFC South with a franchise that cannot seem to get out of its own way. Questionable trades and front office moves have ownership visibly frustrated (David Tepper needs to work on controlling his emotions in the board room and his suite).

Dave Canales is the fourth coach Tepper has hired since acquiring the team six seasons ago. Gone are Ron Rivera, Matt Rhule, and Frank Reich. Can we genuinely say any of them were given ample time to turn around a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2017? Good luck, Mr Canales.

Expected Change in Offensive Philosophy and Approach

Canales brought Brad Idzik to be his offensive coordinator in 2024. Idzik stays inside the division after spending 2023 as the wide receivers coach for the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before that, he spent four seasons coaching various positions for Pete Carroll in Seattle.

Expect the duo of Canales and Idzik to be on the same page from the start. After all, they have served on the same coaching staff for the past five years in Tampa and Seattle. It is hard to peg which tree they will follow. While in Seattle, they served under a trio of offensive coordinators (Darrell Bevell, Brian Schottenheimer, and Shane Waldron).

Core Tenets We Can Expect for the 2024 Panthers Offense Are:

Balanced Attack

Canales doesn’t necessarily have a “tree” he shakes out of like most offensive coaches. As mentioned earlier, he spent time under three different coordinators with vastly different schemes. If we look at Tampa Bay last year, they were in the middle of the pack in both rushing and passing. Not great, not terrible.

Improved QB Play

Canales has extracted production and quality play from journeyman quarterbacks Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. Both saw immediate success under the tutelage of the “QB whisperer.”

Explosive Plays

Mike Evans had a pretty good season in 2023. What did the Panthers just do? Trade for Diontae Johnson. Expect the former Steeler wideout to get separation in 2024 that an aging Adam Theilen could not get in 2023. This should help young signal caller Bryce Young tremendously in his second year in the league.

Offensive Players Most Affected by the Change


Bryce Young

It is definitely too early to label quarterback Young a bust. The rookie had zero chance to succeed in 2023. According to Pro Football Focus, the Panthers’ offensive line ranked 16th in the league—not the worst, but certainly not the best either. The problem mainly stemmed from a below-average rushing game. The stats below show that Carolina was the worst in the league at scoring touchdowns on the ground.

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Data Courtesy of NFL.com.

The team was not much better in terms of yards per carry, either. Carolina ranked tenth in that category, rushing for just four yards each attempt. There wasn’t exactly a plethora of talent for Young to work with at the wideout and tight end positions either. Sure, veteran Adam Thielen was around here and there, but he struggled against zone defenses. DJ Chark was also injured much of the season, leaving only rookie Jonathan Mingo left to coral passes.

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Data Courtesy of DLF Player Splits App.

We can see that the Alabama rookie fared a little better when he had some talent on the field along with Theilen. The addition of Diontae Johnson should do wonders for Young in his second NFL season.

Running Backs

Who had Chuba Hubbard leading the 2023 Panthers in rushing on their bingo card? We sure didn’t. And Miles Sanders, woof. What a disappointment the former Eagle was last season. The duo combined for 1,334 yards on 367 attempts. That breaks down to a 3.63 yards-per-carry average. Had the aforementioned rookie signal-caller not rushed for 6.5 yards per tote, the team would have ranked dead last in rushing yards per attempt.

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Data Courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

Carolina cannot get out from under Sanders’ contract, either. Cutting him would cost them significant money against the cap. Hubbard has a year left on his rookie deal and is affordable. How the backfield fares in 2024 may depend on what type of offense Canales decides to run. If he taps his inner Pete Carroll and Darrel Bevell, we may see a bounce-back season for Sanders. Or they may draft someone they like and just ride out the poor contract. Time will tell.

Wide Receivers

The position should look much better this season. We already mentioned the addition of Johnson. Theilen will be back as well to provide that veteran presence. Chark is a free agent, so the team may choose to rely on another second-year investment in Mingo. But, as with the running back position, the new regime may look to the draft for wideout help.

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Data Courtesy of Fantasy Pros.

If we factor age into the equation with the fantasy finishes, Carolina certainly could be looking to revamp the position. Johnson and Chark are 27, and Thielen is on the wrong side of 30. Mingo and Terrace Marshall are young but also very raw. Canales and company could very well try to infuse that youth into the offense in the future. Those two are fine potential buy-low targets this off-season.

Tight Ends

Nothing to see here. Carry on. The position has been atrocious since Greg Olsen traded in his cleats for a microphone. Hayden Hurst could have been a thing, but a nasty head injury ruined any chances of that happening. The offenses that Canales and Idzik hail from don’t necessarily incorporate the tight end a whole lot, but expect them to have someone more exciting than Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble on the roster come to the opening kickoff.

Three Moves Dynasty Managers Should Think About:

1. Sell Chuba Hubbard

Despite some reasonably heavy usage down the stretch, Hubbard was still “just a guy.” The Oklahoma State grad did manage back-to-back RB1 finishes in weeks 12 and 13 but still ended the season as the RB27. Before last season, he had only accomplished that feat once in 28 games. Had Miles Sanders not struggled, that trend would have continued. Take advantage of the positive vibes. The value will never be higher than it is now.

2. Buy Mingo and Marshall Jr

We mentioned the Panthers may want to focus on their youth in the coming season. Get these two youngsters before the draft. If the Panthers stand pat with only adding Diontae Johnson via trade, then the usage should be there for this pair. They are 22 and 23 years old, respectively, and have much to offer regarding talent (and draft capital). Both were second-round picks, and it is hard to imagine the franchise giving up on them already.

3. Monitor camp closely

The same can be said for the NFL Draft in late April. Pay close attention to what Carolina does. They have needs on both sides of the ball. If a position seems to be neglected in the draft, load up on inexpensive options from the team. Things can only get better from here. A dart throw on one of the young offensive players will likely yield more for you than a fourth-round dynasty draft pick.

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derrick brown | © bob donnan-usa today sports

Expected Change in Defensive Philosophy and Approach

The most significant differences for the Panthers will hopefully be all about attitude and execution rather than schematic. Although they had some serious Achilles heel weaknesses in 2023 (their league-worst pass rush, for instance), they were not a terrible unit in many ways.

After recent failures and alleged trouble appointing their real targets, the Panthers hired Canales and he has retained Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator. Dom Capers is also on the staff as a senior defensive assistant.

Coach Evero is quite exciting. He brings a few influences together, but his use of odd fronts and nickel/dime secondaries is very of the moment.

The Panthers are missing their first-round pick and need to focus on offense, so we’ll likely see more defensive improvements coming from later picks and coaching than impact acquisitions.

Defensive Players Most Affected by the Change

Defensive Line

DJ Wonnum and K’Lavon Chaisson

Last year, their pass rush was embarrassingly awful, and it hasn’t been in good shape for several years. But even the Panthers know that sub-par players like Wonnum and Chaisson cannot be trusted to play serious volume. They’re nowhere near good enough. Even with limited draft capital, the Panthers must be considering extra help at the position in day two picks or veterans.

Derrick Brown

Brown had an absurdly amazing season in 2023 in tackle numbers. Quite often, circumstances combine to deliver one interior lineman head and shoulders above the rest. It was Christian Wilkins in Miami the season before. But almost by definition, those spikes are anomalies, and you should expect regression. Brown is a good player but cannot be expected to deliver far and above all his peers in this metric again. He’s a sell opportunity if you can get a reasonable price.

A’Shawn Robinson

Robinson has been in the NFL since 2016 and has never really played very well. But he’s a big name in NFL and IDP terms, and expectations will be high as a Panther. Ignore them. He’s just a roster clogger who has never managed four or more sacks in a season. Let him be someone else’s mistake.


Shaq Thompson

This defense features only one full-time LB, running single-LB packages about 25% of the time. Last season, Thompson played 51 snaps in week one but got injured in week two after just 17 snaps and missed the rest of the season. With Frankie Luvu departed, Thompson is currently penciled in as the team’s top choice for that one LB gig.


There is nothing to note here until after the NFL Draft.

Three Moves IDP Dynasty Managers Should Think About

1. Sell Derrick Brown

Brown likely just posted the best season of his career as an IDP in 2023. He’s had eight sacks in four years in the NFL, and he’s never going to be a big rusher. And hitting 70+ tackles in a season is amazingly rare for a lineman like him. He’s got a big name, and you might be able to get someone to pay up.

2. Buy Shaq Thompson

I know it’s scary. He’s 30; he hasn’t had very many good recent seasons (and last year, he missed most of the season). But there’s not much competition on the roster, and the Panthers have more urgent holes to fill. You can pick him up for pennies.

3. Buy Josey Jewell

Jewell is the only real competition for Thompson, but he does not have quite the perceived discount. He’s worth a lowball offer but unlikely to be available so cheaply.

* Bonus caveat: Keep a very close eye on edge moves

It’s just not believable that the Panthers can really think Wonnum and Chaisson are acceptable starting options. No one on a professional sports team can be that obtuse. So they must be working on acquiring more talent, given how their lack of pass rush was such a glaring need last season. Keep an eye out and be ready to move fast.


Thanks for reading the second of our eight coaching series recaps. We hope you enjoyed the added defensive content. This Panthers team has many moving parts, and it will look completely different from what it did in 2023 on both sides of the ball. The way we figure it, things cannot be much worse. All signs point to improvements on the offensive side, and it would be disappointing if they weren’t—scenarios like these present prime opportunities to buy low.

jeff smith