The Panthers finished 2019 with a (5-11) finishing last in the NFC South. The team was ranked 20th in points scored during the campaign. With this poor showing in 2019 it should be no surprise the organization decided to let long time Coach Ron Rivera go. The team went out and brought in Matt Rhule to be the team’s new leader. Rhule brings along Joe Brady who helped put together one of the best offenses in college football last season, the LSU Tigers. Brady has worked in the NFL before, for two years under Sean Payton, and will look to run a lot of shotgun and spread concepts. Brady last year in LSU ran a lot of 5 wide, utilizing the running back in the passing attack, which they just so happen to have one of, if not the best pass catching backs in the league, in Christian McCaffrey. This will be interesting because Matt Rhule is an old school coach in the sense that he wants to line up and pound the rock. So this offense should be a blend or marriage of each style. However, Rhule isn’t one to micromanage his play callers so the offense could be more in the line of what Brady wants to run, making this offense tough to project until games actually start being played.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB) – when looking at the two styles mentioned above the best fit for Teddy would be the Matt Rhule old school approach. Teddy excels at handing the ball off and using the play action with more designed throws. Brady will look to get a rhythm based offense going, meaning short to intermediate throws that gets the ball out of his hands quickly, with a combination of scripted deep vertical schemes. Teddy can move in the pocket decently, but has shown at times that he goes down rather easily when being pressured. With a below average offensive line if front of him this could be problematic for Teddy. Bridgewater undoubtedly earned this starting role due to the fact that he filled in adequately for an injured Drew Brees last season, going (5-0) as the starter. Teddy proved to be an effective game manager as he averaged 288 yards a game. A big game against a bad Bucs defense skew Teddy’s numbers as he threw for 314 yards in that contest adding 4 touchdowns. Over his last three starts in 2019 he failed to throw for over 200 yards, averaging 6.1 yards an attempt, he was sacked 7 times, and threw only one touchdown. This is who Teddy is as a starter at this point in his career. We would not be surprised if he is benched at some point this season so the team can get a look at the XFL’s would have been MVP PJ Walker, who has history with Rhule.
Fantasy Spin: Teddy Bridgewater is a tough call because we just really don’t know what he is as a 16 game full season quarterback. We have a tough time viewing Teddy as a starting quarterback in this league. Teddy too us is best utilized as a fill in or backup quarterback. With this in mind it should be no surprise that we view him as a QB3 in all formats. Teddy comes is ranked as our 27th QB in redraft and 32nd ranked QB in dynasty entering the 2020 season.
Christian McCaffrey (RB) – will look to get a lot of work again in 2020, but not just in the passing game. With Rhule having that old school mindset we project CMC to have in the neighborhood of 300 carries this season. The Panthers are not just going to line up and throw it all over the field. This offense will have a blend of old school ground and pound and spread concepts. CMC does have a big glaring concern in terms of the ground game and that is the big men up front. This offensive line was terrible last season and will be again in 2020, as we have them ranked as a bottom ten unit. The biggest weakness in this unit is offensive guard, and may prove problematic at times for CMC in 2020. Also the Panthers don’t have a true handcuff or viable backup for CMC in the event he goes down with injury in 2020, which has to be a concern for the team.
Fantasy Spin: CMC has been this offenses foundation over the past two seasons and will again be in 2020. The team knows they have arguably the best back in the league and they will utilize him, especially after just signing him to that lucrative deal this offseason. CMC is an Elite option at the position going as the 1st or 2nd pick in all drafts. We have him entering 2020 as our 2nd running back just behind Barkley in redraft. In dynasty leagues we give CMC the nod over Barkley and have him ranked as our highest ranked running back entering 2020.
DJ Moore/Robby Anderson/Curtis Samuel (WR) – looking at this group the Panthers have every dimension you want in a receiving corps. Anderson is a big 6’3 speedster who offers a big frame for Teddy to target. Robby Anderson is the deep threat in this offense, which the deficiencies at quarterback could limit his upside, as Teddy will have to have these vertical routes scripted. Anderson has played for Matt Rhule before when the two were at Temple. DJ Moore is a more complete receiver. Moore is big and physical who can run but isn’t viewed as a true burner. In 2019 Moore was 14th in fantasy points per game (PPR) out of all wide receivers. Moore is a floor wide receiver two, meaning his floor is high, but lacks that true WR1 upside, as he only scored more than 19 points four times in 2019. DJ Moore was a target monster last season, and we may see those targets regress a bit, as Joe Brady may more effectively use Curtis Samuel, which in turn would give him more looks. Curtis Samuel is that joker, or moveable chess piece the coaching staff can move around the formation. Last season Kyle Allen was very inefficient which hurt Samuel. This season Bridgewater will be better in that category which should help Samuel’s value climb a bit in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: DJ Moore is the top projected receiver in this passing attack. He meshes best with what Teddy brings to the table. The knock on Moore is his lack of touchdowns. In 2019 Moore scored only 4 touchdowns. We view Moore as a mid-range WR2 in redraft as our 16th ranked wide receiver. In dynasty leagues Moore ranks as our 8th wide receiver, putting him in that WR1 territory. The problem with Moore is he is going in a range that better options are going such as OBJ, JuJu, and Thielen. We would rather have all these guys over Moore in redraft. We don’t view Anderson as a volume receiver but more of a deep threat in this passing attack. With that being said his upside is severely capped as Teddy Bridgewater is more of a captain check down quarterback. With that being said we have Anderson ranked as our 63rd wide receiver in redraft and 59th ranked in dynasty entering 2020. We are confident Brady will be able to scheme Curtis Samuel better hence utilizing him more in this offense. Samuel comes in as our 60th wide receiver in redraft and 55th wide receiver in dynasty leagues entering 2020.
Ian Thomas (TE) – is a tight end that the team will look to flex out and detach from the line. Thomas has great speed for a big bodied player, and Brady likely will look to utilize this speed through different looks and schemes this season. Ian Thomas was loved by the old coaching staff, especially offensive coordinator Norv Turner. This should carry over to the new coaching staff as well, as Thomas gives this passing attack a solid option at a position that is typically one of the toughest to fill effectively for teams at this level.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas will be involved in this passing attack and should offer weeks of good production. The problem with Thomas is going to be consistency week to week. Thomas has proven in the past that when the starter he can disappear completely at times, leaving fantasy owners frustrated. We think the future can be bright for the young tight end but we are still a bit skeptical for the 2020 season. For this reason we have him entering 2020 ranked only as our 25th tight end in redraft, making him a borderline TE2. In dynasty leagues he moves into the TE2 territory as our 22nd tight end.
Defense – this unit was not very good in 2019 and was second to last in points allowed, allowing 470 points, which is roughly 29.4 points a game. This unit really struggled against the run last season, and ranked towards the bottom of this category as well in 2019. This unit will run a base 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Phil Snow. This team focused on defense only in the draft this past spring, signaling they knew changes needed to be made to this unit. They have players that have flashed potential such as Brian Burns, who looked good before going down with injury last season. Shaq Thompson is a solid player who is effective, so there are some pieces in place to build off of. The struggle this season may be more prevalent in the secondary, as their corners are very underwhelming, and is why the pass rush is so critical to this team being able to compete in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: This unit was basement dwellers in 2019 and we project will be bottom ten again in 2020. It is best to look elsewhere for a viable/useable fantasy defense in 2020. This unit doesn’t even appeal as a streamer at this point. We have the Panthers defense ranked 25th entering 2020.
Strength of Schedule
The Panthers wide receiver corps will face the 3rd easiest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule will be the 2nd easiest during weeks 14-16. McCaffrey will be looking at the 4th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The back will then have the 12th easiest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Bridgewater will face the 16th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 13th easiest during weeks 14-16. Thomas will face the 7th toughest fantasy regular season schedule and will face the 5th toughest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.