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They did spend a first-round pick to get Cam Newton a wide receiver. D.J. Moore comes into Carolina with a lot of room to grow but he may already be the team's most complete receiver. Before this addition, Newton's top options in the passing game were as follows:
- A tight end
- A running back
- A tight end who plays receiver
- A deep threat whose best trait is drawing pass interference calls
In Moore, Newton gets a more diverse route runner with good hands and excellent ability after the catch. I would expect Moore will help more in terms of efficiency between the 20s as a rookie, but that could still lead to more Newton touchdowns.
After the draft, the Panthers added C.J. Anderson to complement Christian McCaffrey. This has created a lot of debate over what expectations should be for McCaffrey in 2018. Last year McCaffrey was third on the Panthers in carries, with just 23.8 percent of the carries. I think we can all agree that Anderson is a better running back than Stewart at this stage of their careers. At the same time, it's not unreasonable to think McCaffrey will see a boost in touches from his rookie year to his sophomore year. Let's check out the expectations.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
|PLAYER||EXPECTED FP||POS. RANK||EXPECTED PPR FP||POS. RANK|
Breaking down the touches
Norv Turner has been in the NFL for 26 years, 15 of them as a head coach. This shouldn't be a huge change for Newton, because the team has attempted to run versions of Turner's offense throughout Newton's career. But it could be a big change for Turner, who's never really had a lot of designed quarterback runs. That's mostly because he hasn't had a Cam Newton, but it will be something to watch. Newton has only had fewer than 100 rush attempts once in his career, and he may not be a starting Fantasy quarterback if he runs considerably less.
- I'm trying to be conservative in setting expectations for Moore's volume. But it won't take much at training camp to convince me he's the team's best receiver.
- I settled on a 40/30 split in terms of carries for Anderson and McCaffrey but there is upside for both from these numbers. If McCaffrey continues to struggle between the tackles, Anderson could easily reach 200 carries. Also, Turner could believe in McCaffrey more as a runner, and give him more work there. Finally, if Newton does run less, both running backs could get more touches.
- Smith could become relevant if he just regains his form from three years ago. He has a similar skill set to Ted Ginn, who scored 10 touchdowns in this role in 2016.
Curtis Samuel's recovery has been a long one and he still has a ways to go. The fact that the Panthers used a first round pick on Moore doesn't make me feel any better about his longterm prognosis. But Samuel is just a year removed from being a second round pick and is worth a stash in most Dynasty leagues. the first step is just getting back on the field.
Ian Thomas could be the tight end of the future, but Olsen just signed an extension and it's hard to see Thomas as Fantasy relevant until 2020.