The Carolina Panthers had their season fly off the rails pretty quickly. Superstar quarterback Cam Newton played just two games, and a combination of things called “Kyle Allen” and “Will Grier” took over for the rest of the season. I think we all know how this ended. The Carolina Panthers showed “Riverboat” Ron Rivera the door and showed Christian McCaffrey all the touches he could possibly handle. But what about their fantasy football options for 2019? What should we remember about them as we head into 2020?
What to Remember from the 2019 Carolina Panthers Season
- Cam Newton looked extremely bad in his two games this season. He threw for just one interception in two games but had zero touchdowns. More importantly, he rushed five times for -2 yards. This all stems back to a foot injury he suffered in the preseason. Cam Newton finally underwent surgery in December for the injury and could provide good value come 2020. The Panthers announced they will try to trade Cam this offseason, so look for him to throw balls to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen in 2020…
- Only eleven wide receivers had at least 1,500 air yards. Nobody did less with them than Curtis Samuel. Samuel received plenty of deep targets (105 targets), but did almost nothing with them. Samuel turned his 1,568 air yards into just 627 receiving yards. All other wide receivers with at least 1,500 air yards had at least 1,000 receiving yards. Lots of air yards is a good thing, but lots of air yards from Kyle Allen and Will Grier… not so much.
- It’s hard to chop up Christian McCaffrey’s season into any sort of meaningful chunks. He functioned with Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier. The only thing that slowed him down this season was the Tampa Bay defense. In non-Tampa Bay games, McCaffrey averaged 34 yards on the ground and 3 catches for 21 yards in the air against the Buccaneers. He scored two touchdowns in their second meeting to save his fantasy line. The 55 yards per game are about one-third the yardage he tallied, on average, in his other games.
- J. Moore ended 2019 with 87 catches, 1,175 yards, and four touchdowns. He had a massive breakout campaign, but there are underlying numbers that show he could get even better in 2020. First, he essentially didn’t play in week sixteen with Will Grier. Two targets and a concussion (that kept him out of week seventeen), so let’s throw that game out. He got his numbers in fourteen games. That’s a 1,342-yard, 5 touchdown pace for Moore over his first fourteen games. His target type isn’t unsustainable: his 11-yard average depth of target sits forty-third, around Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin.
- Greg Olsen ended his 2019 campaign ranked seventh in tight end air yards, and he did it while missing two games. And he said that “the writing’s on the wall.” When a guy who will be 35 next season says that, it doesn’t mean he’s coming back. When a guy who will be 35 next season & actively flirts with commentating says it, he really won’t be back. Why does this matter? It clears the deck for Ian Thomas to come in and smash. We don’t know what the Panthers coaching staff will look like in 2020, but that’s been an incredibly fertile position for fantasy football points in the past. Since returning from injury at the end of his rookie year, Thomas has five starts. In those starts, he’s played on a 74-catch, 742-yard pace, on 112 targets. The numbers are roughly Tyler Higbee’s 2019 TE11 campaign.
Check out the rest of the What to Remember series as it develops!
(Header Image Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho)