NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Carolina Panthers roster for fantasy football. The biggest change comes from behind center, as the Panthers released long-time quarterback Cam Newton, replacing him with Teddy Bridgewater. They also added wide receivers Robby Anderson, Seth Roberts, Keith Kirkwood, and Pharoh Cooper. On defense, they lost Luke Kuechly to retirement and James Bradberry, Mario Addison, Gerald McCoy, Bruce Irvin, Vernon Butler, and Dontari Poe among others. It has been an active offseason for the Panthers and their defense surely took a hit.
Starter: Teddy Bridgewater
Backups: P.J. Walker, Will Grier
Cam Newton was hurt all of last season, so the team isn’t going from Newton to Bridgewater, but Kyle Allen to Bridgewater, which is a nice upgrade. Bridgewater won all five of his games last season while Drew Brees was out. Of course, the Saints are stacked with talent, which helped. Bridgewater is a good quarterback, but it has yet to be seen how much he can elevate a team versus manage a team.
Bridgewater does have plenty of weapons to get the ball too though, as Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel and Ian Thomas are a formidable group, giving Bridgewater some easy fantasy points. He has upside to be a useful fantasy quarterback, especially with the Panthers defense likely taking even a further step back this season.
Starter: Christian McCaffrey
Backups: Reggie Bonnafon, Jordan Scarlett
McCaffrey was RB1 in fantasy last season by a wide margin and even was the No. 1 fantasy player overall by a wide margin, outscoring Lamar Jackson as he totaled 403 touches for 2,392 yards and 19 touchdowns. His 116 receptions was second only to Michael Thomas’ record breaking 149 while his 287 carries was fourth in the league. This season he’ll have a new head coach and offensive coordinator, which could cut his massive usage down a bit, but he still has no backup worth taking a big chunk of his work. He remains the No. 1 player in fantasy until further notice.
Starters: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel
Backups: Seth Roberts, Keith Kirkwood, Pharoh Cooper.
The team is flush with receiving talent this season after D.J. Moore broke out last season and acquiring Robby Anderson. Moore should remain the No. 1 target at wide receiver, battling with McCaffrey for the lead. That will hurt Anderson and Samuel’s target numbers, but Anderson should be the deeper threat, giving him more fantasy points per reception.
This group could end up eating into each other’s fantasy stats, but Moore proved himself last season with poor quarterback play and I expect he continues to improve and prove his fantasy worth in 2020.
Starter: Ian Thomas
Backups: Chris Manhertz
Thomas is the No. 1 tight end with Greg Olsen gone, but he also could be the very far down the target depth chart. His fantasy value will likely be spotty at best as long as the top receivers stay healthy. Even if they don’t, the receiving depth is strong, giving Thomas fewer chances to see a big uptick in targets at some point in the season.