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32 in 32: Carolina Panthers

In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!


Bryce Young (QB – Carolina Panthers):


Young entered the 2023 NFL Draft as the top QB prospect from Alabama in ages, setting the school’s single-season records in passing yards (4,872) and passing TDs (47) while finishing 2nd all-time in career yards (8,356) and passing TDs (80), accomplishing everything there was to do individually (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, All-American, etc.), and accomplishing everything there was team-wise outside of a National Championship. His historic collegiate career landed him as the 1st overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft where the Carolina Panthers mortgaged their future to trade up to select the former Alabama QB. While the expectations are for Young to become the franchise QB that Carolina expects him to be, part of that massive package that Carolina sent to Chicago for the 1st overall pick was the only significant weapon the Panthers had on roster in WR DJ Moore. Stepping into the NFL is by no means an easy task for a QB, much less for one who no longer has a bonified WR1 on the roster. Young will likely have an uneasy transition from the college level to the pros, at least statistically, with his receiving corps consisting of Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Terrace Marshall, Jonathan Mingo (rookie), and Hayden Hurst. On top of a sub-par supporting cast, history is not on the side of Young, at least in his rookie campaign. Over the last twenty years, 1st round QBs have finished as top-24 fantasy QBs just 40% of the time in their rookie season with those selected 1st overall finishing as top-24 QBs just 57% of the time. Top-24 is rosterable, not playable – 1st round rookies finish inside the top 15 at a rate of just 13% with QBs taken at the top pick hitting under 30% of the time. He’ll likely be a serviceable fantasy QB in his career, but it is highly unlikely it will be in Year 1. I like him in dynasty formats as a value option if in a rebuilding mode but outside of that, I will not be prioritizing him on draft day, especially not in re-draft formats where he doesn’t appear to be anything more than a potential waiver wire/streaming option.

 

Miles Sanders (RB – Carolina Panthers):


Sanders is coming off a career year in Philadelphia where he set career highs in total yards (1347), touchdowns (11), and touches (279). It was the largest workload of his career by far (next closest at 229 touches) and it showed in his best finish (RB15) of his four-year career. Unfortunately, his production was wildly inconsistent in 2022, posting the 7th-worst Consistency Rating (0.729) among the top 40 RBs. A big reason for the lack of consistency last year was a complete lack of involvement in Philadelphia’s receiving game (in large part due to Jalen Hurts’ rushing abilities), tallying the fewest targets (26) and receptions (20) of his career and coincidingly posted just 78 receiving yards all season. Sanders’ offseason move to Carolina should present significantly more receiving opportunity, especially with a rookie QB (Bryce Young) checking down when in danger. However, the additional receiving work is likely to be offset by a notable step back in efficiency and redzone opportunities in the move from Philadelphia’s high-powered offense to Carolina’s underwhelming offense. There is definitely top-15 potential for Sanders from the likely workload alone, but the offensive strength and redzone opportunity in Carolina leave security as a concern for Sanders’ fantasy prospects. It’ll all come down to price for Sanders, who currently is projected to go as a mid-RB2 (RB19 on ADP, RB21 on ECR) in the 5th round. If that price holds, I will likely be passing on Sanders in favor of more secure RB2 options, but if he slips into the RB3/FLEX range, I’d be enthusiastic to land Sanders at his potential workload, even within a likely struggling Panthers’ offense.


 

Jonathan Mingo (WR – Carolina Panthers):


Mingo stood out as a very promising and somewhat under-the-radar player in the midst of one of the best WR draft classes in years, but the Panthers made sure they wouldn’t let him fall, selecting him in the early-2nd round of the NFL Draft with the 39th overall pick. His intriguing blend of size, speed, and ball-tracking ability makes him a dangerous weapon heading into his rookie season. While his collegiate production is far from extraordinary, either for 2022 (51 catches, 861 yards, 6 total TDs) or his career (112 catches, 1758 yards, 13 total TDs), the tangible features are there for him to make the jump to being a successful pro WR. The talent is there and the opportunity is certainly there – stepping into a situation in Carolina where he could make an impact from Day 1. With no established pecking order in a very weak WR room (Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Terrace Marshall), the path is there for Mingo to quickly establish himself as a starter. At his price of a late-round pick or waiver wire player (WR59, 12th rounder on ADP; WR91, UDFA on ECR), he falls into the category of a ‘dart throw’ player that every team needs at least 1-2 of in the final rounds of drafts. With Mingo’s relatively easy path to targets in his rookie season, I have zero issues with targeting him in the 11th round or later as a depth WR, and would actually encourage it as he appears a promising deep sleeper.

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