Shark Bites

According to Jim Szoke of WBT and WFNZ Radio in North Carolina, Panthers HC Matt Rhule "loves" the versatility of WR Curtis Samuel "at RB, slot, outside" and wants to use the young receiver "like he was at Ohio State." That's what we've been hoping to hear. That would mark a significant change from Samuel's 2019 role, which found him tied for 10th among wideouts in deep targets. Blame Kyle Allen more than Samuel for the WR catching just 5 of those 27 tries, but working shorter would also put him in line with Teddy Bridgewater's strength: short-range accuracy. Samuel began his college career as a RB and still carried 97 times vs. 74 receptions in his final season at Ohio State. In a Carolina offense with little behind Christian McCaffrey in the backfield, there's plenty of room for Samuel to take on a decent-to-significant rushing role. He's an intriguing shot to take around his ADP.

ESPN's David Newton believes RB Mike Davis "might have the edge" for the Panthers' #2 RB job. His competition is Reggie Bonnafon and Jordan Scarlett. The battle is irrelevant as long as RB Christian McCaffrey is healthy, of course. We wouldn't bother spending a pick to "handcuff" CMC at this point.

The Panthers closed out Round 2 of the NFL Draft by trading up to select S Jeremy Chinn. The 6'3, 221-pounder racked up big numbers across 4 seasons at Southern Illinois: 243 tackles, 13 INTs, 31 passes defensed and 6 forced fumbles. He faces an immediate opening at SS in Carolina, which let Eric Reid walk while retaining FS Tre Boston.

The Panthers selected EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos early in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. The DE racked up 34.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks over 2 seasons as a starter for Penn State. He ranked 7th in this EDGE class in tackles for loss per game. Gross-Matos could wind up a DE or LB for fantasy purposes, depending on what new Carolina DC Phil Snow decides to do with his base alignment. As a DE, Gross-Matos would present intriguing upside in IDP leagues. He follows 1st-round DT Derrick Brown to give much needed help to the Panthers' front.

The Panthers grabbed Auburn DT Derrick Brown with the 7th pick in the NFL Draft. Brown delivered 9.5+ tackles for loss each of the past 3 seasons, adding 7 pass deflections and 5 forced fumbles. Brown is good enough to prove relevant for DT-required IDP leagues. But as a bigger, slower lineman, he doesn’t look like a high-upside fantasy asset even in that format. He could help the production of DT Kawann Short. We'll see what Carolina's new coaching staff reveals about the defensive scheme and what else the Panthers add in the draft. They still have weaknesses at LB and in the secondary.

The Panthers and RB Christian McCaffrey have agreed to a 4-year, $64 million extension. That $16 million average annual salary makes CMC the league's highest-paid RB, edging out Ezekiel Elliott by a mill. Analytics folks will tell you Carolina is over-paying here (and they might be right). But at least McCaffrey is the rare RB that's dominant in both the running and passing games. He's now signed with the Panthers through the 2025 season, when he'll be 29 years old.

The Panthers have agreed to a 2-year deal with WR Robby Anderson, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Anderson -- who played under new HC Matt Rhule at Temple -- figures to start opposite D.J. Moore in Carolina's renovated offense. Curtis Samuel, meanwhile, could fit in the slot. Although Samuel spent a lot of time running downfield routes last season, he was a short-range playmaker as a RB/WR in college. He doesn't look like a top-36 fantasy WR heading into the season but has some upside. We'll be interested to see how the offense shakes out under Rhule and OC Joe Brady. Anderson leaves behind 96 targets (an 18.4% share) for the Jets to disperse.

The Panthers made a couple of QB moves on Monday, signing P.J. Walker and trading Kyle Allen to Washington. Walker was arguably the MVP of the 5-week XFL season, completing 65% of his passes for 1,338 yards, 15 TDs and 4 INTs. He added 99 yards and a score on the ground. Walker will duke it out with Will Grier to back up Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina. Allen, meanwhile, will sit behind Dwayne Haskins after a mostly ugly 2019 that saw him finish with a 62.0% completion rate, 6.8 yards-per-attempt average and 17 TDs vs. 16 INTs.

The Panthers are finalizing a deal with QB Teddy Bridgewater, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Bridgewater made himself some money last year by completing 69.7% of his passes with 9 TDs and 2 INTs while leading the Saints to a 5-0 record in place of QB Drew Brees. Over that stretch, Bridgewater ranked 6th in Pro Football Focus' passing grades and 4th in adjusted completion rate among 29 QBs with 100+ attempts. He's also familiar with new Panthers OC Joe Brady from their time together in New Orleans in 2018, when Brady was an offensive assistant for the Saints. This move would seem to signal the end of QB Cam Newton's time in Carolina.

Update: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Bridgewater is expected to sign a 3-year, $60 million deal.

The Panthers have named Joe Brady their new OC. It's been a rapid rise for the 30-year-old, who spent 2017 and 2018 as an offensive assistant under Sean Payton in New Orleans and this past year as LSU's passing game coordinator. Brady won the 2019 Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in college football and was given a lot of credit for QB Joe Burrow's massive 5,671-yard, 60-TD campaign. It's an exciting -- albeit risky -- hire by the Panthers.

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly has announced his retirement. Kuechly just finished his age-28 season and 8th NFL campaign. He hasn't missed a game since 2017 and has missed just 1 game over the past 3 seasons. Kuechly famously lost the ends of his 2015 and 2016 seasons to concussions, and those issues likely factored into this decision. Kuechly has reportedly played through other issues even while not missing games the past 2 years. His departure leaves Carolina likely looking for a replacement this offseason. Shaq Thompson just signed a 4-year extension in December and will continue to start. Jermaine Carter looks like the best bet for a replacement on the current roster. The 2nd-year, former 5th-round pick played full time in the final 2 regular-season games with Thompson out.

2:12pm EST 12/29/19

Panthers QB Will Grier was benched in the 2nd quarter of Sunday's game against the Saints after completing 1 of 8 passes for 4 yards and an INT. It was a truly pathetic performance. Between the preseason and his 2 regular-season starts, Grier has shown nothing to suggest that he has much of an NFL future. QB Kyle Allen will close out the season for Carolina.

Jets WR Robby Anderson (calf) is active for today’s game against the Bills. He was limited in practice all week, so don’t expect him to be operating at 100% today. Anderson’s matchup did get a boost, though, with CB Tre’Davious White deactivated.

Jets WR Robby Anderson (calf) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills after a limited week of practice. We’ve heard nothing to suggest the injury is serious, but it’s possible Anderson is held out of this meaningless finale. We’ll get his official status by noon ET on Sunday.

The Panthers have ruled LB Shaq Thompson (foot) out for Sunday's finale against the Saints. Jermaine Carter started and played every snap in place of Thompson last week but tallied just 2 tackles against the Colts. He's not a strong option for your Week 17 IDP lineup.

Panthers WR D.J. Moore (concussion) is out for Sunday's finale against the Saints. That leaves Carolina with Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright and Chris Hogan atop the depth chart. We'd still try to avoid all 3 guys with Will Grier under center.

Panthers WR D.J. Moore (concussion) remained sidelined on Thursday. He's looking like a long shot to play in this weekend's finale against the Saints. Moore averaged 9.5 targets over his first 14 games, so he leaves behind a lot of volume for guys like Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel and Greg Olsen.

Panthers WR D.J. Moore sustained a concussion in the 1st half of Sunday's game against the Colts and is done for the day. We'll see if he can get cleared for Week 17.

11:12am EST 12/22/19

Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (knee) is active for today’s game against the Colts. He was added to the injury report on Thursday and didn’t practice on Friday, so the ankle is a real concern. So is QB play in rookie Will Grier’s 1st start. Samuel isn’t a recommended Week 16 fantasy play.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Panthers WR Curtis Samuel is expected to play today against the Colts. Samuel is officially questionable with a knee injury that arose during the practice week. It limited his Thursday participation and then kept him out Friday. Combine that with Carolina giving rookie QB Will Grier his 1st pro start in this road game, and Samuel looks like a guy you should try to avoid for fantasy football lineups.

 
 
 

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