Carolina Panthers Breakdown

The Carolina Panthers produced a staggering 2011 NFL fantasy football season.  Many expected Cam Newton to be a quality fantasy quarterback, but no one expected 4,000 yards passing, 700 yards rushing and 35 combined touchdowns.  More surprising than Cam’s numbers was the rejuvination of former fantasy stud Steve SmithSmith caught 79 balls for nearly 1,400 yards and 7 scores, even more impressive that that is the 53 catches that resulted in first downs.  The most shocking thing to come out of Carolina is they are no longer a John Fox running team. 

The 2012 Panthers should be much of the same.  The offensive line is no longer the bruisers that allowed DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to run wild over defenses.  Add to that, DeAngelo is no longer the back he once was since the 2010 leg injuries.  Add to those woes the addition of Mike Tolbert from San Diego, a bowling ball of a running back designed to eat up goal line carries.  Going forward the Panthers running game have been reduced to low 2nd tier – high 3rd string running backs for fantasy.

The real fantasy points on this team will come from the passing game.  Steve Smith should have another thousand yard season or two in him and the addition of Louis Murphy from the Oakland Raiders will give them a quality #2 receiver allowing Brandon LaFell to slide into the slot position where he can succeed.  Greg Olsen will have a solid season roaming the middle of the field and the red zone.  Now that Jeremy Shockey is gone, the tight end receptions should be Olsen’s alone allowing him to put up solid fantasy tight end stats.

The Carolina defense and special teams do not have enough weapons or playmakers to make a fantasy impact this season. 

The Panthers should be an exciting NFL club this season, and without a doubt worth watching, but they are a solid group of 2’s and 3’s, with the exception of Cam Newton.  Newton should be expected to go earlier than most qb’s, probably 4th behind Rodgers, Brees and Brady.  This maybe a bit high for his production value, if opposing defenses can adjust to the game tape from last year, but worth the risk if he blows up again.

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