Panthers HC Ron Rivera suggested that he'll consider limiting RB Christian McCaffrey's workload in this weekend's finale, saying "we need to be smart." There was no sign of that in Week 16, with CMC playing 90% of the snaps, carrying 21 times and seeing 13 targets. We'll keep an eye on the situation the rest of the week.
The Panthers are shutting down QB Cam Newton for the rest of the season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It's a smart move by Carolina. Newton's shoulder has obviously become a bigger problem over the past few weeks, and the Panthers are all but eliminated from the playoff picture. We'll see if Newton needs another surgery on that shoulder or if some rest will get him back to 100%. His absence will leave Taylor Heinicke as Carolina's starter for the last 2 weeks. Undrafted out of Old Dominion back in 2015, Heinicke has attempted just 5 regular-season NFL passes. He's not a Week 16 fantasy option and is a downgrade for all of Carolina's skill-position guys. RB Christian McCaffrey is the only reliable fantasy play on the team.
The Panthers released RB C.J. Anderson. After inking a 1-year, $1.75 million deal in May, Anderson carried just 24 times in 9 appearances with Carolina. His departure leaves RB Cameron Artis-Payne as Christian McCaffrey's backup.
The Panthers announced that TE Greg Olsen re-broke his right foot and is considered "month-to-month," although he surprisingly isn't having surgery. Olsen missed 9 total games with the same injury last year -- 8 to start and then 1 more after aggravating the issue. Expect him to be out at least that long this time around. Olsen is droppable in redraft leagues. His absence leaves 4th-round rookie Ian Thomas as Carolina's primary pass-catching TE. The Indiana product boasts a 91st percentile SPARQ score and posted a 3-37-1 line this preseason. He's worth an add in TE-premium leagues like the FFPC. WR Devin Funchess and RB Christian McCaffrey should also see more targets with Olsen sidelined.
For the 2nd straight preseason game, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey saw feature-back usage on Friday night. He handled 10 of the 13 RB opportunities (carries + targets) with QB Cam Newton and the 1st-team offense. The other 3 went to C.J. Anderson. McCaffrey finished with 92 yards on 5 carries -- highlighted by this 71-yard TD -- and 28 more yards on 4 catches. He's now played 28 of 35 first-team snaps (80%) through 2 preseason games. This all follows both HC Ron Rivera and OC Norv Turner talking up McCaffrey's workload this year. While we're not expecting him to be a 300-carry guy, it looks like he's set for a big increase over last year's 117 attempts. We just moved McCaffrey up the RB rankings.
Panthers HC Ron Rivera told ESPN's David Newton that he "wouldn't be surprised" if RB Christian McCaffrey reached 200 carries this season. McCaffrey toted it just 117 times as a rookie last year but still ranked 9th among RBs in PPR points thanks to his 80 receptions. If McCaffrey gets anywhere close to 200 carries this season, he'll be a shoo-in for another top 10 finish. He put on about 5 pounds this offseason to get to 210 in preparation for a bigger workload. Remember that McCaffrey carried 590 times over his final 2 college seasons, so he's proven capable of handling big rushing volume.
The Panthers on Monday signed RB C.J. Anderson to a 1-year deal. The former Bronco obviously didn't live up to the contract he signed in 2016 after Denver matched Miami's offer sheet to the then-restricted free agent. Anderson posted his 1st career 1,000-yard rushing season in 2017 but rated just 30th and 33rd among 47 qualifying RBs in Football Outsiders' main rushing-efficiency metrics. He arrives in Carolina, however, as a likely upgrade over Jonathan Stewart -- whom the Panthers let walk this offseason. For some reason, Stewart carried 81 more times (in 1 fewer game) than Christian McCaffrey last season, despite averaging only 3.4 yards per rush. Anderson's arrival dings the volume upside for McCaffrey a bit, but the 2nd-year back should still be in for a bigger share of the rushing workload. There's also room for Anderson to carry some fantasy value, primarily in non-PPR formats.
The Panthers have fired OC Mike Shula. He's been with the team since 2011, spending the past 5 seasons as OC. Carolina ranked in the top half of the league in total yards in just 2 of those 5 years, including 19th-place finishes the past 2 seasons. We'll see who the Panthers tab to replace Shula. We're especially curious to see what kind of role the new guy envisions for RB Christian McCaffrey, who caught 80 balls but carried just 117 times as a rookie.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) is active for today’s game against the Saints. There's been nothing to suggest that the shoulder will be a factor. Use McCaffrey as you normally would.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Panthers expect RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) to play against the Saints today. McCaffrey is questionable after missing Wednesday's practice but returning for the next 2 days. Use him as you normally would for Week 13.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) is listed as questionable for this weekend’s game against the Saints after putting in limited practices on Thursday and Friday. He hasn’t expressed any concern about the shoulder, and HC Ron Rivera “expressed optimism” about McCaffrey’s availability on Friday, per ESPN’s David Newton. Go ahead and keep the rookie in fantasy lineups for now, despite the 4:25 pm ET kickoff.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) returned to a limited practice on Thursday. He's on track to play against the Saints this weekend, but it'd be nice to see him graduate to a full workout tomorrow.
Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was held out of Wednesday's practice with that HC Ron Rivera deemed a "sore" shoulder. It doesn't sound like the rookie is in danger of missing this weekend's game against the Saints, but we'll continue to keep an eye on him.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen told reporters after Sunday's win over the Bills that he has a broken foot. We should get a timetable for his return sometime over the next 24 hours, but Olsen figures to be sidelined upwards of 8 weeks. He's a candidate for IR-designated-to-return. The injury strips Carolina of its most reliable pass-catcher. Olsen has posted 77+ catches and 1,000+ yards in 3 straight seasons. And he hasn't missed a game since his 2007 rookie year. Ed Dickson will step in as the Panthers' starting TE but won't be much of a fantasy option. Most of Olsen's target figure to go to Kelvin Benjamin, Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess.
Max Henson of the Panthers' official website expects RB Jonathan Stewart to get the "bulk of the carries this season," despite the addition of 1st-round rookie Christian McCaffrey. Media members throw around predictions like this all the time -- and they shouldn't be taken too stringently. We're still betting on McCaffrey out-carrying Stewart this year, but the important takeaway is that the veteran will remain involved. That figures to be especially true near the goal line, where Stewart scored on 9 of 16 carries from inside the opponent's 5-yard line. There's some best-ball appeal here, especially at his recent 12th-round MFL10 ADP. McCaffrey, meanwhile, should settle into the 200-250 touch range. But he's pricey with an ADP at the 3rd/4th-round turn.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman threw out a Curtis Martin comparison when discussing 8th overall pick Christian McCaffrey. “The best tackle-box runner I’ve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him," Gettleman said. "Running in that tackle box takes unique vision and unique quickness, and he’s got it. Curtis Martin had it, and he had a great career – a Hall of Fame career – and this kid’s got those kind of skills.” It's noteworthy that Gettleman praised McCaffrey's inside running ability. We know he's a big threat outside the tackles and in the passing game, but Carolina clearly sees him as a lead ball-carrier. McCaffrey is a good bet to out-touch veteran RB Jonathan Stewart this year.
The Panthers selected Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey with the 8th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. McCaffrey was a do-it-all weapon for the Cardinal, tallying 3,622 yards and 21 TDs on the ground and 955 yards and 8 more scores through the air over the past 2 seasons. His breakout 2015 campaign — as a true sophomore — featured 2,019 rushing yards (2nd most in the country), 45 catches and 645 receiving yards. McCaffrey was the only player in FBS to lead his school in both rushing and receiving. This past year wasn’t quite as productive, but he still totaled 1,913 yards, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored a career-high 16 TDs. He also contributed in the return game, and his 6,191 all-purpose yards over the last 2 years are the most over any 2-year span in FBS history. McCaffrey is lightning-quick on tape and confirmed that with elite 3-cone and shuttle times at the Combine. And despite going just 5’11 and 202 pounds, he proved capable of handling a big workload at Stanford, averaging 23.6 carries per game and missing just 1 contest over the past 2 seasons. McCaffrey figures to share the rushing load with Jonathan Stewart and dominate passing-down work in the short term. Longer term, he’s a guy who could approach or even top 300 total touches.
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