The Panthers selected South Carolina WR Shi Smith in Round 6 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Smith was a 4-year starter for the Gamecocks but was stuck behind guys like Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst and Bryan Edwards for his first 3 seasons. He finally emerged as the team’s lead receiver in 2020, snagging a career-high 57 balls for 533 yards and 4 scores. Smith has 4.4 speed and plenty of quickness. But he goes just 5’10, 186 pounds and struggles with contact. He projects as a slot receiver in the NFL without much fantasy upside.
Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard has landed with Panthers in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. Hubbard made himself a household name with 2,094 rushing yards and 21 TDs in 2019. His production slipped quite a bit to his final season, however, including a drop from 6.4 yards per rush to just 4.7. Hubbard brings plenty of speed, but he might not present enough all-around ability to turn into a lead back in the NFL. If he settles in as merely a committee piece, then the fantasy upside will be limited. Carolina's not a bad landing spot. Christian McCaffrey obviously stands to dominate backfield work for as long as he's healthy and with the team. But Hubbard could be the handcuff by the end of summer. He'll compete with Reggie Bonnafon and Rodney Smith for that honor.
The Panthers selected Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Tremble caught just 35 passes across 2 seasons of action with the Fighting Irish, scoring all 4 of his career TDs in 2019. He was a hellacious blocker, though, often lining up at FB and leading run plays. Upon entering the draft early (2 years of eligibility left), Tremble indicated that he believes he brings untapped receiving potential. We’ll see about the plans of Carolina’s staff. As long as he’s not pegged for a Kyle Juszczyk-type role, Tremble presents some upside at the very end of rookie drafts in a TE-premium dynasty format such as the FFPC.
The Panthers added LSU WR Terrace Marshall with the 59th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Marshall brings an elite combination of size and athleticism. He checked into his Pro Day at 6’3, 205 pounds and ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash with a 39-inch vertical. It earned him a 97th percentile Relative Athletic Score. He was stuck behind Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase for his first 2 seasons at LSU but did well to come away with a 46-671-13 line in 12 games as a sophomore in 2019. With Jefferson off to the NFL and Chase opting out this past year, Marshall emerged as the top dog, averaging 6.9 catches, 104 yards and 1.4 TDs per game. (He missed the Alabama game with an injury and opted out of the final 2.) He soaked up 27.6% of LSU’s catches, 33.3% of the receiving yards and 58.8% of the receiving scores in his 7 games. Marshall is a bit raw as a route runner and has some drop issues. But he plays as athletically as he tested, winning downfield and after the catch with speed and out-jumping DBs for 50/50 balls. Marshall also has extensive experience both outside and in the slot. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah reported last week that some concerns popped up for Marshall at the medical check in Indianapolis after he broke his left fibula as a high school senior and suffered a fractured left foot in 2019. There’s plenty of bust potential here. But Marshall has the upside to develop into 1 of the top WRs in this class. “He’s got a chance to be like a Brandon Marshall-type player,” a scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn. This is a sneaky good landing spot in Carolina. There’s a clear path for Marshall to be the #3 WR this year. And WR Robby Anderson will be a free agent next offseason.
The Panthers picked up QB Sam Darnold's 5th-year option on Friday morning. Carolina had a shot at QBs Justin Fields and Mac Jones in last night's 1st round but passed. Darnold is now set to make $18.9 million guaranteed in 2022, so there's a good chance he's the Panthers' guy for the next 2 seasons. Finally out of Adam Gase's shadow -- and with a nice pass-catching corps in Carolina -- Darnold is a good bet for a career-best year in 2021.
CB Jaycee Horn went to the Panthers with the 8th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The son of former NFL WR Joe Horn, Jaycee started 10 of 11 games as a true freshman in 2018. He finished his college career with just 2 INTs across 30 games but defensed 25 total passes -- including 8+ in each season. Horn’s 8 PDs in 2020 came in just 7 games, before he opted out for the final 7. Horn still landed a 2nd-team All-SEC bid for the year. He should quickly grab a starting job in Carolina.
The Jets traded QB Sam Darnold to the Panthers in exchange for a 2021 6th-round pick and 2nd and 4th-rounders next year. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that Carolina was the "sole suitor" for Darnold -- hence the relatively cheap price tag. Darnold, of course, has been largely disappointing since going 3rd overall in 2018, completing 59.8% of his passes, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and tossing 39 INTs vs. 45 TDs. He's gotten little help from his coaches or supporting cast. But Darnold has not fared well in Pro Football Focus' passing grades, ranking 30th, 27th and 35th over the past 3 seasons. He's a fine gamble for the Panthers to make, but Darnold certainly isn't a lock to emerge as the team's long-term starter. In fact, he'll need to beat out QB Teddy Bridgewater for the 2021 starting job -- although we do consider Darnold the favorite there. The Jets, meanwhile, are widely expected to take BYU QB Zach Wilson with the 2nd overall pick later this month.
The Panthers signed TE Dan Arnold to a 2-year, $6 million deal. He's coming off a career-best 31-438-4 line in Arizona last year, ranking 17th among 43 qualifying TEs in yards per route run. Arnold will battle with Ian Thomas for TE targets in Carolina. Panthers TEs TOTALED just 41 targets last year -- although there could be more for the group in 2021 with WR Curtis Samuel gone.
The Panthers signed WR David Moore to a 2-year, $4.75 million deal with $1.25 million guaranteed, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. Although he never earned a consistently prominent role in Seattle, Moore averaged a strong 14.9 yards per catch over the past 3 seasons. Playing with QB Russell Wilson helped, but there's some ability here. And he'd be the favorite for #3 WR duties in Carolina as the depth chart stands now. We'll see if the Panthers make any more moves.
The Panthers have reached a 1-year deal with EDGE Haason Reddick, with $6 million guaranteed and a max value of $8 million. We're a bit surprised that Reddick didn't find more on the open market after more than doubling his career sack total with 12.5 for the Cardinals in 2020. But he lands in Carolina with his college coach (HC Matt Rhule) and likely in an edge rotation with Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos. If this landing spot gives Reddick DE designation for IDP leagues, then it'll be a solid fantasy outcome for him. His arrival can't hurt a defense that posted the 12th-lowest pressure rate in 2020, but Reddick will need to show it was more than a 1-year flash.
Panthers DE Brian Burns (shoulder) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Saints. Marquise Haynes started last week when Burns saw his snaps limited by a knee injury. He figures to see full-time duty this week.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (thigh) won't play in Sunday's finale vs. the Saints, HC Matt Rhule said. The consensus #1 overall pick in 2020 fantasy drafts ends up playing just 3 games. Disaster. The good news is that McCaffrey should be a full-go for the offseason program. And remember that he played all 16 games in each of his first 3 NFL seasons. He's an easy 2021 bounce-back candidate. Mike Davis will close out this season as Carolina's lead back, although he lost 7 carries and 2 targets to RB Rodney Smith last week.
Panthers DE Brian Burns entered Sunday's game with a knee injury that kept him out of the starting lineup and limited his role. He came away from it with a shoulder stinger as well. Burns played 41% of the snaps against Washington and still managed a sack and a pass deflection. We'll see about his outlook for Week 17 against New Orleans.
Panthers DE Brian Burns (knee) is active for today's game against Washington, but Marquis Haynes will start in his place. Limited playing time will obviously lower both the floor and ceiling for Burns. We'd take a shot on Eagles DE Vinny Curry over Burns in IDP lineups. Bills DE Jerry Hughes is another potential alternative.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (thigh) is inactive for today’s game vs. Washington. We’ll see if he can make it back for next week’s finale but wouldn’t bet on it. Mike Davis gets another game as lead back today.
Cardinals OLB Haason Reddick (shoulder) is active for today’s game against the 49ers. He entered the day questionable but out in a pair of limited practices and played 80 snaps in last week’s win over the Eagles. Reddick has delivered 6 sacks and forced 5 fumbles over the past 2 games. He’s probably worth rolling with in IDP leagues where you’re considering him
Panthers DE Brian Burns (knee) is questionable for Sunday's game against Washington. That's seems surprisingly optimistic after Burns missed the entire practice week. HC Matt Rhule said early in the week that he didn't like Burns' chances of playing. We wouldn't bet on him being available, but we'll check Burns' status Sunday morning.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (thigh) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against Washington. Mike Davis gets another game as lead back but is just a lower-end RB2 after disappointing in terms of usage and production last week.
Panthers HC Matt Rhule revealed Sunday that DE Brian Burns came away from Saturday's loss at Green Bay with an MCL injury. Burns had an MRI, whose results we haven't yet seen announced. Rhule told the team website that Burns will likely be questionable for the Week 16 visit to Washington, though. We'll see about the edge rusher's status throughout this week.
Panthers WRs D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are active for tonight's game against the Packers. Moore was activated from the COVID list this week and should be ready for his usual role. Samuel's hamstring tightened up on him in Thursday's practice, so he comes with elevated risk in fantasy lineups.
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