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Carolina Panthers Fantasy Football News | Shark Bites

Fantasy Football News 2021

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The Panthers have claimed RB Royce Freeman off waivers from the Broncos. He joins a thin depth chart behind Christian McCaffrey. Freeman's not likely to find fantasy relevance in Carolina, but he could challenge rookie Chuba Hubbard for touches behind McCaffrey.

The Broncos are cutting RB Royce Freeman, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The move follows "a couple of waiver claims and the need for space on the roster." We're a little surprised Denver couldn't find a trade partner here and would bet on Freeman landing somewhere pretty quickly. Atlanta seems like an obvious candidate, while several other teams ended up with shallow RB depth charts after cutting rosters down to 53.

The Lions released Ks Zane Gonzalez and Randy Bullock. They don't have a K on the roster now. We'll see what they do at the position, but it's not a situation to mess with in fantasy drafts.

Panthers QB Sam Darnold opened the final preseason game with 6 straight completions against the Steelers en route to a productive night. He finished 19 of 25 for 162 yards and 2 TDs. Darnold found Terrace Marshall and Robby Anderson for 2nd-quarter red-zone scores, while D.J. Moore led all Panthers with 6 catches and 48 yards on a team-high 6 targets. Carolina opens the season with a favorable schedule, including a home date with the Jets in Week 1 and a Week 3 visit to Houston. Keep Darnold in mind as a late-round fantasy football option -- especially if you wait on addressing QB in your draft. As for the WRs, Anderson and Moore operated as the clear leaders, playing 38 snaps apiece among Darnold's 41, according to Pro Football Focus. Marshall worked in for 23. TE Dan Arnold played 30 snaps, with TE Ian Thomas taking the field for 22.

The Panthers and WR Robby Anderson have agreed to a 2-year, $29.5 million contract extension. Anderson was set to hit free agency next offseason but is now signed in Carolina through the 2023 campaign. It's confirmation that he remains a big part of the Panthers' passing game after ranking 8th among WRs with 138 targets last year.

Panthers WR Robby Anderson is dealing with a hamstring "issue,” per beat writer Steve Reed. That news was passed down from HC Matt Rhule this morning. We’ll keep an eye out for an update on the severity and timetable for return. Anderson, 28, hasn’t missed a game since 2018.

The Lions signed K Zane Gonzalez. He'll duke it out for the starting job with K Randy Bullock over the next few weeks. Avoid the situation in fantasy drafts.

Panthers OC Joe Brady indicated recently that we should expect a lot more from the team's TEs in his 2nd season there. "The tree that I grew up in, the tight ends are the most important position on the field, the matchups that they create, and everything," Brady said in early July, according to the team website. "It's been a point of emphasis this offseason, just trying to get those guys going in the passing game. And I think those guys have kind of taken and ran with it." Ian Thomas led Panthers TEs with just 20 receptions last year, and no team threw a smaller percentage of its targets to the position. Sounds like that should change significantly in 2021. But Carolina signed Dan Arnold in free agency and drafted Tommy Tremble in Round 3. HC Matt Rhule has also said Thomas is having a "tremendous offseason." There's too much going on that the position right now for us to target any Panthers TE in fantasy drafts. We'll see whether Thomas or Arnold can step ahead of the other as an upside option for August drafts.

Panthers HC Matt Rhule is “hoping” to “add some vertical element” to WR Robby Anderson’s game this season. That was Anderson’s forte across 4 years in New York, where his average depth of target ranged between 13.6 and 17.3 yards. Last year in Carolina, his tally stood at only 9.8 yards. “When you look at it, my game in New York was more down the field and vertical, but I didn’t have the intermediate opportunities,” Anderson said via the Charlotte Observer. “I think with Coach Rhule expressing that, and then you mix that with last year, I think that’s something to look forward to.” Anderson, coming off the board deep in WR3 territory, remains a value option in 2021 drafts.

Panthers rookie RB Chuba Hubbard wore a red (non-contact) jersey during May OTAs. The OSU standout had surgeries on his knee and groin before the draft. File this info away as Hubbard battles for the #2 job behind Christian McCaffrey.

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 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.

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