Carolina Panthers 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup

The Carolina Panthers did a factory reset on the franchise this offseason, moving Teddy Bridgewater to Denver and trading for much-maligned Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold. They also moved on from gadget player plus Curtis Samuel, who made his way to Washington. It seems like the Carolina Panthers have everything in place to take a big step forward in 2021.

The Carolina Panthers took four fantasy football-eligible guys in the 2021 NFL Draft. What can we expect from the players the Panthers drafted for 2021 fantasy football?

FULL CAROLINA PANTHERS DRAFT RESULTS
Rd Pick Player Pos. College
1 8 Jaycee Horn CB South Carolina
2 59 Terrace Marshall Jr.  WR LSU
3 70 Brady Christensen OT BYU
3 83 Tommy Tremble  TE Notre Dame
4 126 Chuba Hubbard  RB Oklahoma State
5 158 Daviyon Nixon DT Iowa
5 166 Keith Taylor CB Washington
6 193 Deonte Brown OG Alabama
6 204 Shi Smith  WR South Carolina
6 222 Thomas Fletcher LS Alabama
7 232 Phil Hoskins DT Kentucky

 

Round 2, Pick 59: Terrace Marshall Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU (6’3” 200 pounds)
Depth Chart
WR1:     D.J. Moore
WR2:     Robby Anderson
WR3:     Terrace Marshall Jr.
WR4:     David Moore
WR5:     Brandon Zylstra
WR?:     Shi Smith
TALENT

I didn’t like Terrace Marshall as much as other people coming into the NFL Draft, but I still liked him quite a bit. But, he needs to rein in his focus issues. That will make him much better in my eyes and will propel him to superstardom. Marshall is great in short areas and has flashes of technician brilliance with his footwork, but then he’ll just let balls clang right off of his hands. He’s great before and after the catch point, but that catch point is, well… the catch. But, drops aren’t real and he could easily fix the problem and become a huge fantasy football boon.

Marshall is big, physical and fast, but doesn’t do much to blow me away. He could be more the type of guy that helps Sam Darnold than provides consistent production his rookie year. Marshall is destined to have at least one double-digit touchdown season if he gets volume.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

The Carolina Panthers will likely have an all-new look in year two under the Matt Rhule regime. Last year flew off the rails thanks to injuries to superstar running back Christian McCaffrey. But, at the same time, they lost a ton of targets with Curtis Samuel’s departure. I like Terrace Marshall as a sneaky PPR play this season, with him taking the underneath stuff while Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore do their magic downfield. No matter how they decide to use him, I think they will use him. After all, his offensive coordinator orchestrated the 2019 LSU team where Terrace Marshall had 13 touchdowns and a 75% catch rate in 12 games at age 19.

2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK

Marshall slides in as a “guy I should probably keep an eye on” for 2021 fantasy football. He has some depth chart issues to sort out ahead of him, and we need to know the quarterback is good. But, once we get those questions answered, Marshall should have a nice little fantasy football season for himself. Think about how Tee Higgins evolved last year. He ended up as an eminently useful—but not mindblowing—fantasy football wide receiver. That is how I can see Terrace Marshall’s 2021 shaking out.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK
Round 3, Pick 83: Tommy Tremble, Tight End, Notre Dame (6’4” 248 pounds)
Depth Chart:
TE1:        Tommy Tremble
TE2:        Ian Thomas
TE3:        Dan Arnold
TALENT

Tommy Tremble is my favorite tight end in the 2021 class. Calm down, I didn’t say the best tight end, I said favorite. When I watch Tremble, all I can think of is his blocking. That’s what really jumped off the page with him in college. That and Notre Dame’s shiny helmets. The Fighting Irish used him all over the field; he lined up in the slot, in-line, outside, and in traditional FB usage. That having been said, I don’t see how he carves out a lot of targets and touches for the Panthers. If you want to imagine his skillset, think of the 49ers’ Kyle Juszczyk, who can run a little bit, catch a little bit, and block the living daylights out of opposing defenders to get his running back some space.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

I’m not… entirely certain… how the Carolina Panthers squeeze any fantasy football value out of Tremble in his rookie year. First and foremost: the rookie tight end wall. They’re just not good for fantasy, all around. Literally, zero TEs have had 10+ double-digit fantasy points (HPPR) for 9 or more games in a season. Second, the Panthers don’t throw to the tight end. At all. 7.8% of their targets went to tight ends, nearly tying the New England Patriots for the lowest in the league.

2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK

Re-read his 2021 opportunity and tell me a path forward to me having Tommy Tremble on my roster in 2021 redraft leagues.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK
Round 4, Pick 126: Chuba Hubbard, Running Back, Oklahoma State (6’0” 210 pounds)
RB1:       Christian McCaffrey
RB2:       Chuba Hubbard
RB3:       Trent Cannon
TALENT

Evaluating Chuba was a difficult task for me because the Oklahoma State offensive line was just an absolutely dreadful mess, leaving Hubbard to run for his life as soon as he touched the ball. That having been said, when the OL provided him with a lane, he could take it for a long way. He had a good tempo and ran with great vision at multiple levels (which helped overcome the line). Chuba isn’t the strongest guy, but NFL running backs come in all types. He is efficient with his movement and is decisive with his running. There’s rarely a wasted millisecond with Hubbard as he eats up runway fast enough and doesn’t dance. He gets really tiny and comes flying out of creases at the offensive line, which can only remind me of a less compact version of the immortal Frank Gore.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

Well, I’m not going to sugarcoat this: he’s behind Christian McCaffrey. If the Panthers have their druthers, they probably don’t let Chuba Hubbard get enough touches to do much but give CMC a breather. But I would go out and try to get Chuba on the cheap in a deeper league, just in case. Chuba Hubbard is a better player than Mike Davis, and Davis had all the opportunity in the world when Christian McCaffrey went down last year. He ranked eleventh in ten zone carries, just ahead of Nick Chubb. Davis also had five ten-zone carries. He had every opportunity to produce, and should CMC miss time, Chuba will have that same opportunity at production.

2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK

Ideally, the Panthers don’t let him play this year and ride their stud back Christian McCaffrey. Because of that, his outlook is bleak. Despite the bleakness, I concede an opportunity might exist if Matt Rhule and Joe Brady decide to spell CMC more this year to preserve his reps. Still, Chuba Hubbard is nothing but a deep league stash for me at this point.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK
Round 6, Pick 204: Shi Smith, Wide Receiver, South Carolina (5’10” 190 pounds)
Depth Chart
WR1:     D.J. Moore
WR2:     Robby Anderson
WR3:     Terrace Marshall Jr.
WR4:     David Moore
WR5:     Brandon Zylstra
WR?:     Shi Smith
TALENT

Shi Smith isn’t a great wide receiver in the traditional sense. He’s small, he doesn’t have an exceptionally refined route tree, and he doesn’t have the best hands in the world. But, he’s fast enough, versatile enough, and explosive enough to carve out a role at the NFL level. That having been said… I’m not so sure that role has enough fantasy football upside to plant my flag in Shi as anything other than a down roster depth piece for the Panthers.

2021 OPPORTUNITY

I put a question mark next to Shi Smith’s rank for a very specific reason: who knows where he stands in the Panthers’ receiving corps. He’s fighting with Keith Kirkwood, Ventell Bryant, Omar Bayless, Marken Michel, Micah Simon, and Ishmael Hymen for the WR5+ role in the offense. I think that Shi Smith has a slight leg up on the other guys for one reason and one reason only: if anyone could become a Curtis Samuel-esque gadget player, it’s Shi Smith. But can he ride that into fantasy football production? Probably not, but I will leave the door open his rookie year, just a crack.

2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK

It’s highly likely that Shi Smith wouldn’t get drafted in an NFC South-only league. No thanks.

TALENT
2021 OPPORTUNITY
2021 FANTASY OUTLOOK
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