Daily Dr. Roto — July 19, 2018
Carolina Panthers Team Preview
Outlook: Riverboat Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers are yet another team that seems to be at a crossroads. At times the Panthers look like one of the top teams in the league, and at other times, they look perfectly beatable. OC Mike Shula was replaced in the offseason, but the OC they hired, Norv Turner, is the wrong man for the job. Turner was the architect of the Dallas Cowboys great offenses with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin. Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Devin Funchess are a far cry from that Hall of Fame trifecta. It wouldn’t shock me to see Rivera sacked at some point during the season with Turner joining him.
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QB: For those of you who have followed me over the years, you know my hatred for Cam Newton. It’s not that I don’t respect Cam as an athlete (I do), it’s that I don’t think he’s ever taken the time to improve his passing skills. Ask yourself this simple question: if Cam Newton was a drop back passer and couldn’t run at all, would you even want him starting on your team? When Cam throws off his front foot, he has a gun and can make spectacular throws, when he is “Back Foot Cam” he is a train wreck who can get picked off all day. I am interested to see how Norv Turner coaches Cam. Will he let him run and do his thing? If so, Cam is still a top 5 QB in Fantasy. If not, he could be much closer to top 10 or 12.
RB: Christian McCaffrey (Roto) was the first RB member of the Roto family. It just goes to show you how much I love him, and the skill set he brings to the table. Not only is McCaffrey a solid runner, but he is also even better as a receiver. CMC had 80 receptions as a rookie, and he indeed can repeat that number this season. Even better is that talk out of the Panthers camp is that the team expects CMC to have close to 200 carries this season. That would increase his Fantasy value even more. With Jonathan Stewart now in New York, the Panthers brought in C.J. Anderson from Denver to help take the load off CMC. Many of my fellow experts are expecting great things from Anderson, but I have my reservations. I think he is a slow and plodding runner who brings very little to the table. As yourself this question: If the Broncos who are so desperate for a running back and were willing to let Anderson go, how good could he be? Anderson will have his uses: I expect him to be in there on short yardage and goal line situations, but at the same time, Cam loves to keep the football and take it in on those plays. I am alright with drafting Anderson as a RB4, but if you expect much more than that, I think you will be sorely disappointed.
WR: When Kelvin Benjamin was traded, Devin Funchess stepped up to be Cam’s WR1 and did a credible job. That said, Funchess still struggles with his route running and often gets shut down by top defenders. He only had 100+ yards receiving one-time last season, and I expect to see his targets shrink with the arrival of D.J. Moore. Funchess will be drafted as a WR3 in Fantasy circles in 2018, but I think that might be a bit high. Because the Panthers realize that Funchess is not a WR1, they drafted D.J. Moore out of Maryland in the 1st round of this year’s draft. Moore is a sensational talent who has the size and speed to dominate the league for years to come. What is interesting about Moore is that he put up great numbers at Maryland with subpar QB play. He will find those same inconsistencies with Cam throwing him the football. Moore will have to learn to adjust on the fly and make some acrobatic plays to keep drives going. I like Moore in 2018, but I love him in 2019 and beyond as he matures and learns the NFL game. Torrey Smith will be the team’s WR3. He is an excellent blocker and still poses a decent downfield threat. Cam’s propensity to throw high balls will also help Smith who is a leaper who can go up and bring down some of Cam’s deep throws.
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TE: There was no more consistent tight end in Fantasy Football from 2014-2016 than Greg Olsen. Last year, however, Olsen only played in seven games due to a Jones fracture in his foot. He came back and played exceptionally well in the Panthers playoff game, and he was given a new two-year contract in the off-season. He is one of my favorite mid-round picks in Fantasy leagues this season. With Ed Dickson now in Seattle, Carolina drafted Olsen’s heir apparent, Ian Thomas, in the 4th round of this year’s NFL Draft. Thomas was not especially productive in college, but his measurables at the combine were off the charts. If he can use Olsen as a mentor, he might be able to replace him when Olsen’s contract is over at the end of 2019.
K: Graham Gano had one solid year for the Panthers (back in 2015 when the team made the Super Bowl), but outside of that he has been mediocre. The worst part is that he only had one attempt of 50+ yards in 2017.
D: The Panthers front four is super aggressive and is always good for a bunch of sacks, which makes up for their secondary’s lack of interceptions. The Panthers are still a top 12 defense, but I certainly would not reach too early to draft them.
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