Fresh off that Super Bowl disappointment, the Carolina Panthers are poised and ready to make another run at it! A 15 – 1 record with the only loss coming at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, most were amazed that what they did last season when you think about their flaws they had going into the season. Then you compound that with the loss of arguably their second best offensive player in Kelvin Benjamin, no way they compete even with Cam Newton and that defense. Yeah… experts were wrong. And they had A HELL of a season statistically last year. Which is GREAT for fantasy football.
QB Cam Newton aka “The Real Black Panther”
No Benjamin! No problem! Newton just threw 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Oh yeah, he ran for 10 more. For those of us who struggle with math that is 45 touchdowns! Yes, he was the number one QB last year the next closest was Tom Brady who was about 30 or so points away. Now let us fast forward to this season and lets add a Kelvin Benjamin back into the equation. This only increases his production in the passing game in my opinion with Benjamin’s big play ability. Now with Benjamin out there the offense won’t have to count on Newton to wait on a receiver to get open because he’ll have the option to throw Benjamin open because of his catch radius. All the wideouts are back from last year and that’s another year for that core of: Philly Brown, Ted Ginn, Greg Olsen, and Devin Funchess. I think this will be a more conventional offense, I don’t think you will see all the taking off you saw last year from Newton because of this. I also think that that Panthers defense wont be as good as it was last year. Losing Josh Norman isn’t something to just brush off. I am aware of the vaunted front seven they possess, but I am also aware of the glaring weakness at cornerback. This puts more pressure on the offense to put up more points to keep up the pace at times. Increasing the likelihood of Cam having to be “Superman”.
TE Greg Olsen
He had a career year last year. Lead all receivers on the team in yards (1104), receptions (77), and yards per reception (14.3). The stat that stood out most to me was that he had 20, twenty plus yard plays, that was goof for best on the team and damn near double of any other year he’s had. It stands to say Olsen is a “big play player” for this offense. As good as this season was this is the one player that will be hurt by the return of Benjamin, the addition of Funchess not to mention Olsen is a year older. But the other side of the argument is if any of those wideouts go down he is back in business. And he is Newton’s most reliable target and the security blanket as most tight ends are for their quarterbacks.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
The Florida State product had a fantastic rookie season posting a 1000 yards with 73 receptions and 9 touchdowns. It really doesn’t get better than that when you think about the knocks that were attach to him when he was coming out of college. He looked like a true number one wideout. With just him and Olsen that year he started to dictate coverage his way and Olsen caught the most passes in his career. Losing his second year to an ACL tear in the off-season I can only imagine he is chomping at the bit to show everyone his rookie year was legit. The height, the hand size, and arm length makes him an elite redzone target and a big play threat down the field. Benjamin may not have the speed to get down the field in a moments notice but he makes that up for it with that catch radius. Benjamin for me is a Top 20 wideout easily. Think Mike Evans without the dropsies.
Others of Note:
- RB Jonathan Stewart
- WR Devin Funchess
- WR Tedd Ginn