2022 Franchise Focus: Carolina Panthers

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2022 Franchise Focus: Carolina Panthers

We think it’s likely — if not near certain — that the Panthers’ modest trade for Baker Mayfield will make them a better football team this year. But their climb back to relevance, and to potentially save the job of head coach Matt Rhule (if not GM Scott Fitterer) is severely hampered by why that trade was necessary in the first place — last season’s absolutely horrific overpay for the awful Sam Darnold.

Overall, solid improvements on the offensive line and at QB should be good news for WR DJ Moore, but the big question for Carolina and for fantasy remains the same as last year’s — can Christian McCaffrey stay healthy?

Carolina Panthers Franchise Focus Companion Podcast with FOX Sports Upstate/The Roar Podcast’s John Ellis

The Basics

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)6.5 (+105/-125)
NFC South+1000
Playoffs (Y/N)+400/-500
NFC Championship+6000
Super Bowl+13000

Season Prop Movement

Win Total: 6 (-110) in late March to 6.5 (+105) in late July

Super Bowl: +3600 in mid-February to +13000 in late July

Premium subscribers can get Tom Brolley’s betting preview here.

Key Offseason Moves
AdditionsDraftDepartures
QB Baker MayfieldOT Ikem EkwonuEDGE Haason Reddick (Phi)
OG Austin CorbettQB Matt CorralCB Stephon Gilmore (Ind)
C Bradley BozemanLB Brandon SmithCB A.J. Bouye
RB D’Onta ForemanC Matt Paradis
WR Rashard HigginsQB Cam Newton
LB Cory Littleton
S Xavier Woods
LB Damien Wilson
DT Matt Ioannidis
P Johnny Hekker

Barrett’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule

Quarterback: 14th-toughest (-0.07)

Running Backs: 13th-softest (+0.16)

Wide Receivers: 3rd-softest (+0.85)

Tight Ends: 14th-toughest (-0.24)

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Pace splits by score (2021)

When within a score – 28.6 (17th)

When trailing – 23.9 (2nd)

When leading – 29.3 (18th)

Play volume (2021)

Passes per game – 39.8 (11th)

Runs per game – 27.6 (14th)

Total plays per game – 67.4 (11th)

Pass/Run splits by score/situation (2021)

When within a score (1st-3rd quarters) – 24th pass rate (55%) / 9th run rate (45%)

When trailing – 7th pass rate (71%) / 26th run rate (29%)

When leading – 17th pass rate (53%) / 16th run rate (47%)

On early-downs – 26th pass rate (50%) / 7th run rate (50%)

Summary

After spending two years out of the NFL after being fired by the Giants, Ben McAdoo re-emerged in 2020 as the QBs coach in Jacksonville and was in Dallas last year as an offensive consultant. It was a quick career turnaround, but McAdoo is back calling plays as the Panthers OC.

McAdoo’s background as a play-caller largely centers around the passing game – the Giants were the 12th-most pass-heavy team on early-downs from 2014-17. However, HC Matt Rhule sure as hell doesn’t want to play that way. At least that’s what he says. After firing OC Joe Brady in late-December, Rhule made it clear it was about philosophical football differences saying, “We have not committed enough to running it, and that’s going to change… You’ll see a vastly different look moving forward.’’

So, did it change?

Nope! Over the Panthers final five games, they became way more pass-heavy – throwing it 59% of the time on early-downs. That was the fifth-highest rate in Weeks 14-18. I’m just as confused as you are.

Mix in the massive question mark that is Baker Mayfield’s form and what he will bring to the table, and it’s clear that the Panthers are among the most difficult teams to predict in 2022. The good news? This offense is very condensed for our game. We only really care that Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore gets the rock early and often.

Data Points

Despite having no notable tight ends to speak of besides Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble, the Panthers ran the 6th most 12 personnel in 2021 at just over 25%. Both of those players are back in 2022 and will have to stay healthy if they want to continue to be a heavy 12 personnel team. One way the Panthers can not have to rely on their mediocre tight end group would be to see 2nd year receiver Terrace Marshall take a step forward. It is hard to judge just how bad Marshall was in his rookie season. Pretty much every player outside of D.J. Moore had a down season so it may have been the play calling and QB play. For example, Marshall was not targeted on a single “Go” route last season despite showing deep speed at LSU. His three most popular routes were out routes, screens, and slants. Each had an average depth of target under seven yards.

Baker Mayfield’s most popular targeted routes last season were out and hitch routes. He actually was a decent deep ball thrower too, completing over 30% of go route targets for a 78 passer rating. It is hard to know how bad the Panthers receivers were at these routes. No Panthers’ receiver caught over 65% of their out route targets or 61% of their hitch route targets, both ranked in the bottom half of the league. Baker completed those passes at 65% and 70% respectively, so either the Panthers’ receivers are going to have to improve or Baker to get to an above average NFL level.

The Panthers’ running back room outside of Christian McCaffrey was bad last year. Chuba Hubbard ran for a respectable 4.2 yards per attempt on outside zone runs, but ran a terrible 2.5 yards per attempt on inside zone. Ameer Abduallah was below 3 yards per attempt on both inside and outside zone runs. While D’Onta Foreman is not going to take over anyone’s job for RB1, he is an instant upgrade for the RB2 spot behind McCaffrey. On man and inside zone runs he ran for over three yards per carry, and on outside zone runs (which was Carolina’s most popular run concept last season) he ran for 4.5 yards per carry. If McCaffrey were to miss time again in 2022, Foreman is the guy you want to roster.

Projected Fantasy Contributors

Baker Mayfield (Proj: QB27 | ADP: 194 | Pos ADP: QB27)

While it appears likely that Panthers GM Scott Fitterer has a longer leash than head coach Matt Rhule… all the different assets that Fitterer has put into “solving” a QB position that, as of today, still doesn’t have an answer. Both Fitterer and Rhule are hoping that Mayfield is that answer and the man, potentially, to save both their jobs. The Panthers are saying this is an open QB competition between Mayfield and Sam Darnold, but let’s face it — if Darnold wins it after the season he had last year… that’s bad news for the entire organization. Let’s go to the numbers…

StatMayfieldDarnold
Attempts19241625
Passer rating87.876.9
Yards per attempt7.36.5
Touchdown rate4.8%3.3%
Turnovers per game1.071.2
Sack rate6.5%7.6%
On-target throw rate *non-screens*69%70%
On-target throw rate *unpressured*75%75%
aDOT *non-screens*11.2 yards10.7 yards
Throws beyond sticks%46%40%
Throw% of 15+ yards23%20%
On-target throw rate, 15+ yards58%52%

Mayfield’s traditional career numbers aren’t eye-popping, but it is clear that he’s a respectable upgrade over Darnold. However, the accuracy and throw distance data are super compelling. Mayfield and Darnold have near identical accuracy when you take away layup throws (screens) and judge them just on non-pressured throws. But, Mayfield is far more aggressive – leading the duo in average depth of target (aDOT), throws beyond the first down sticks, and percentage of throws that traveled at least 15 yards in air. Baker is also far more accurate when throwing deep downfield and gives us a reason to get a little bit more excited for D.J. Moore and these Panthers pass catchers. A healthy Baker will provide a higher ceiling, largely because he’s far more aggressive and accurate when throwing downfield than Darnold. And unlike Darnold… Mayfield has actually had good NFL seasons (2018 and 2020). Look, is it likely that Mayfield reestablishes himself as a franchise QB? No. But is there a better chance it happens with him than Darnold? Absolutely.

Matt Corral (Proj: QB42 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: N/A)

Corral is a slightly undersized, twitchy athlete for the QB position who, in theory, projects well to the modern NFL game with his skill set. However talented he is, he fell in the NFL Draft to the third round because of what NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport called “unreliable behavior.” He also ran a highly schemed RPO-based offense at Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin, and has a lot of learning to do to to become a quality NFL starter — while running will be a part of Corral’s game in the NFL, he doesn’t have the frame to hold up to consistent designed runs the way he did at Ole Miss. He has to supplement that with learning how to become a better pocket passer than he is now. With Baker Mayfield in town in Carolina, it’ll be a little harder for Corral to get on the field as a rookie, as well. We’re projecting Mayfield to easily win this QB “competition” with Sam Darnold. If Mayfield struggles early or gets injured, Darnold is likely the next man up. But if the Panthers are out of it late and Mayfield has proven beyond doubt he isn’t the Panthers’ franchise QB, we could see Corral getting some late-season starts.

Sam Darnold (Proj: QB50 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: N/A)

The Panthers’ trade for Darnold last season — for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second and fourth-round picks — was an obvious disaster when it happened, and after one potentially promising month as Carolina’s starting QB, Darnold proved that disaster unequivocally. Darnold threw just 9 TD to 13 INT in 11 starts, the second consecutive year he’s thrown double-digit INTs with single-digit TDs. Per SIS, Darnold’s EPA per attempt from a clean pocket was 0.03 – ranking him 35th out of 37 qualified quarterbacks. Only Trevor Siemian (0.0 EPA/A) and Mike Glennon (-0.32, lol) were worse. Darnold completed just 37% of his passes beyond 10 yards downfield, the worst rate in the league. Ben Roethlisberger was second-worst on passes of 10+ air yards, with a 42% completion rate… which was still 5% better than Darnold’s. So here it is, laid out plainly — if Darnold beats new arrival Baker Mayfield in the Panthers’ so-called “QB competition,” it will be an absolute disaster (there’s that word again) for Carolina, because Darnold very clearly ain’t it.

Christian McCaffrey (Proj: RB4 | ADP: 3 | Pos ADP: RB2)

The song remains the same — CMC is the best player in fantasy football, but he’s had terrible luck with injuries. If we drop the two games where he left early with an injury in 2021, CMC finished as the RB1, RB3, RB15, RB4, and RB3 in his five healthy games. CMC has finished as the RB15 or better in an incredible 23 of his last 24 healthy games dating back to the start of 2019. CMC has finished as the RB5 or better 17 times in this span. His ceiling and floor are both massive, but his injuries are concerning. Soft tissue injuries have been problematic — he missed nine games combined with glute and hamstring injuries over the last two years. But ankles have been an issue too, as sprains to both ankles cost him a combined 12 games the last two seasons. Oh… he also had a shoulder injury mixed in. So everything hurts, basically. What can the Panthers do? Well, say a rosary… and then maybe realize CMC can produce huge numbers at a 70% snap share instead of a 100% one? New signing D’Onta Foreman was brought in to handle some of the early-down grinding, and as unexciting as he is, he played pretty well when filling in for Derrick Henry last year. Chuba Hubbard might stink, but he has experience now. There’s no reason for Carolina to push CMC to the limit given a likely upgrade at QB (Baker Mayfield) and their new addition in the backfield. Heck, maybe they can even split him out wide a little more often to prevent the dings and dents he’s accrued. For our purposes, it’s simple — if you could guarantee CMC plays even 14 games, you could make the argument he should be the #1 overall pick. Drafting him is trying to fight through the pain for the potential glory.

D’Onta Foreman (Proj: RB54 | ADP: 201 | Pos ADP: RB60)

Somewhat surprisingly, Foreman moved on from the Titans this off-season after providing them with a very solid backup to Derrick Henry. Foreman actually had a career year in 2021, with 133/566/3 rushing (4.3 YPC) and 9/123 receiving in just nine games (three starts). Foreman didn’t take his first snap until Week 9 (after Henry was injured), and though his lack of TDs and receiving numbers limited his fantasy upside (overall RB25 from Weeks 9-18, with just two top-12 weeks), he was 9th in the NFL in carries and 10th in rushing yards over that span. The Panthers likely signed him to complement — and take some load off — Christian McCaffrey, and Foreman apparently saw a clearer path to snaps in that role than behind Henry in Tennessee. And the Panthers likely view his bruising style as a better fit for sharing snaps with CMC than that of Chuba Hubbard — per SIS, Foreman averaged more yards after contact and was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fewer runs than Hubbard a season ago. If CMC is healthy, Foreman’s role is unlikely to be fantasy relevant, outside of the occasional TD vulture. If CMC is not healthy… well, Foreman had a pretty big role on one of the run-heaviest teams in the NFL last year and was mostly an RB2/FLEX. It’s hard to see him doing more than that.

Chuba Hubbard (Proj: RB80 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: RB68)

While he produced solid totals in 2021 — 175/612/5 rushing, 25/174/1 receiving, overall RB36 in PPR scoring — Hubbard was also one of the most inefficient backs in football. He averaged just 3.6 YPC (yes, the offensive line did not help). His EPA per carry ranked him 52nd among 60 RBs with 70 or more rushes, per SIS. His elusive rating was 47th among the same sample, per PFF. And he never once finished as a top-12 PPR RB despite leading the Panthers in rushing. At 6’0” and 210 pounds, Hubbard has a decent enough frame, but our Greg Cosell expressed some concerns with his finishing traits on his college tape, without much make-you-miss ability. All that bore out in his rookie season, and it’s looking like Hubbard might cap out as a rotational back who needs space to be at his most effective.

DJ Moore (Proj: WR11 | ADP: 31 | Pos ADP: WR15)

Talent is not a question with Moore – it’s whether or not it can be realized. Moore is starting to approach Allen Robinson territory in terms of a receiver who puts up big numbers despite QB play that at times seems to be in the market of actively sabotaging him. In the first four games of the Panthers’ season in 2021, in which it looked like they might actually have something in Sam Darnold, Moore shredded and put up 30/398/3 (22.4 FPG — good enough for the overall WR4). But from Week 5 on, once Darnold became Darnold, Moore was the WR36 in FPG (11.4). Given how bad his QB situation was, it is impressive that Moore stayed so efficient. Among 90 qualified receivers, Moore ranked 23rd-best in yards per route run. And he’s been even better over the last number of years — Among all wide receivers, Moore ranks 12th in yards per game (75.0) and he’s 21st in receptions per game (5.2) since 2019. Over the last three years, his 1.96 receiving yards per route run ranks 14th-best out of 81 qualifying WRs. However, we haven’t seen the true breakout season for Moore just yet largely because he’s been limited in the touchdown department. He’s never scored more than 4 TDs in a season. The bet here is that Baker Mayfield presents a palpable upgrade over Darnold, which should help this offense overall, leading to more scoring opportunities for Moore. Mayfield may not be great, but he turns the ball over less, takes fewer sacks, and throws TDs at a higher rate than Darnold. This may not be the “franchise” QB we’ve wanted Moore to have, but it’s better than another season with Darnold or an uninspiring rookie.

Robbie Anderson (Proj: WR51 | ADP: 147 | Pos ADP: WR68)

Anderson has a different spelling to his name this year (he dropped the “y” for an “ie,” if you didn’t notice), and now he’s got a new QB, and for his sake the hope is the changes will lead to a rebound season. “Sideshow Bob” was atrocious in 2021, having one week (1!) when he finished as the WR20 or better, posting a 53/519/5 line on 110 targets in all 17 games. Yes, one of the premier deep threats in the NFL averaged under 10 yards per reception in 2021. It wasn’t for lack of trying — Anderson got 20 targets of 20+ air yards downfield. The bad news? He turned those 20 looks into 3 receptions for 105 yards. He was 88th of 90 qualified receivers in yards per route run. He had 7 drops on 110 targets, after having just 12 combined on 326 targets the previous three seasons. It was, in virtually every way possible, a disastrous year for Anderson. Our hope, though, is that moving on from Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield will be an upgrade, even if Anderson himself didn’t want the trade to happen. Of the two, Mayfield is far more aggressive – leading the duo in average depth of target (aDOT), throws beyond the first down sticks, and percentage of throws that traveled at least 15 yards in air. Baker is also far more accurate when throwing deep downfield, on target on 58% of such throws compared to 52% for Darnold in their careers. And though DJ Moore is the clear WR1 here, there really isn’t much in the way of proven target competition beyond that. Anderson should have an opportunity for a bounce-back here in what essentially amounts to a contract year.

Terrace Marshall (Proj: WR86 | ADP: 203 | Pos ADP: WR88)

Marshall had a massive training camp and preseason for the Panthers, making it look like the 2021 second-round pick was on the verge of being a young star for Carolina, and the latest in an ever-expanding group of rookie second-round WRs to make an immediate impact (Michael Thomas, DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Tee Higgins, Deebo Samuel, Michael Pittman, etc.). Unfortunately, he would have more receiving yards and touchdowns (181 and 1) during three preseason games than he would have during 13 regular-season games (138 and 0). The Panthers were counting on Marshall having a big role, too — he played over 50% of the snaps in each of his first five games in the league, but suffered a concussion in Week 6 and never really regained his role (he missed four games total — two with the concussion and two with a foot injury). Over Marshall’s first five games, he posted 13/107 receiving on 20 targets. Over his next eight… just 4/31 receiving on 10 targets. In many ways, it was a lost season, but there could be reason to give him the benefit of the doubt given the concussion and the poor state of the Panthers’ offense in general in 2021. He’ll be a guy to watch closely this August.

Rashard Higgins (Proj: WR118 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: N/A)

The “other” Hollywood was a minor blip on the radar signing when it happened in March — it’s a one-year deal that doesn’t even guarantee he’ll make this roster. But we’ll admit our ears did perk just a little bit when the Panthers made their trade for Baker Mayfield, as Higgins and Baker have had a connection in Cleveland since Mayfield entered the league in 2018. In fact, Higgins’ two best seasons in the NFL — 2018 and 2020, when he posted 37+ receptions, 572+ yards, and 4 TDs in each — coincided with Mayfield’s two best seasons in the league. Higgins is not and never will be a star, but he’s the quintessential #4 type of WR who can play multiple positions and can use his solid frame and big hands to be a red-zone factor. If Terrace Marshall doesn’t take the step forward he needs in Year Two, don’t be shocked if Higgins is outsnapping him given his relationship with Mayfield.

Tommy Tremble (Proj: TE41 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: TE37)

Tremble caught 20 passes for 180 yards and a TD as a rookie, so he didn’t make a fantasy impact. And that’s why one of our all-time favorite Greg Cosell evaluations is still the first thing we think of when we hear his name — Cosell wrote last year for us that Tremble “was an outstanding run blocker who played with an attitude and an edge and looked to melt the face mask of whomever he was blocking, in addition to having an excellent feel for the multiple concepts he was asked to execute in the Notre Dame run game. I don't usually get excited about run blocking TE but Tremble was so much fun to watch.” Run blocking might not be great for fantasy, but it certainly can get a TE on the field, and Tremble also has receiving traits to develop. The Panthers shockingly re-signed the underachieving Ian Thomas to a three-year contract this off-season, but Tremble is the guy we’re most excited about here. It’s just hard to project him for much of a fantasy-relevant role.

Ian Thomas (Proj: TE53 | ADP: N/A | Pos ADP: N/A)

The Panthers signed Thomas to a three-year deal worth up to $17 million this off-season… and it was definitely a head-scratcher. Initially showing promise as a fourth-round pick out of Indiana in 2018, Thomas caught 36 passes for 333 yards and 2 TD as a rookie. In the three years since, he has totaled 54/469/2, and he caught just 18 passes in 2021 despite playing all 17 games. Per PFF, he was the second-worst TE in the NFL in 2021, and the worst in 2020. He’s never missed a game in his career, which the team might consider a positive, but it’s likely he’s actively hurting his team when he’s on the field. Nonetheless, get your bag young fella.

Huber’s Dynasty Buy-Low

The Panthers can’t cut Sam Darnold with an $18.9 million dead cap hit, but they don’t have to play him. When Carolina traded for Baker Mayfield, they built incentives into his deal that reportedly includes making the postseason, collecting victories and statistical-based awards. Out of 40 qualifying QBs last season, Darnold ranked with the fifth-lowest FPs/dropback, fourth-worst in both overall passer rating and passer rating under pressure, the eighth-lowest YPA and air yards/attempt and the 10th-highest sack rate. Equipped with one of the strongest arms in the league, Mayfield did what he could with a barren WR room in Cleveland, averaging the eighth-most air yards/attempt. The 18th-most YPA with that group indicates reason for optimism.

Surrendering the fourth-highest sack rate must be reversed but, unlike Darnold’s mess, Mayfield is a top-20 QB vs. Cover 1, 2, 4 and 6. His particular speciality is Cover 1, where he’s thrown 30% of his TDs on 22% of his dropbacks. Mayfield’s FFPC dyno start-up ADP has improved since the trade. It will continue to do so. However, the ADP for Terrace Marshall Jr. has plummeted double-digit spots since the deal. That’s even with Matt Rhule passing along that Marshall has been at the stadium at 5:30 A.M. everyday and that he’s already performing as the WR3.

Marshall still has the head coach that drafted him, who believes in him. He will be put into a position to succeed. Marshall’s success is not only Rhule’s success, his second round ‘21 selection is also on the shoulders of second-year GM Scott Fitterer. Jaycee Horn is a resounding A+ on Fitterer’s report card, now he needs his second pick as a GM to show up. Drafting Marshall in the 12th round makes plenty of sense. But he’s lasting into the 16th. Prepare to pounce accordingly. Even if Mayfield flops, Carolina will simply replace him with one of the top ‘23 QBs.

Hansen’s Final Points

He will be in yet another new system with little time to learn it, but the Panthers didn’t trade for Baker Mayfield for him to sit the bench, so we have him starting 14 games. Mayfield has been humbled I’m sure and I expect him to be a good soldier and to perform well. Of course, if he does I’ll expect a dropoff next year. But for 2021, he has plenty of motivation and a decent supporting cast. We have him slightly above his revised ADP of QB29, but unless he shows signs of mastering this offense and fitting it well in camp, he’s nothing more than a viable QB3 for 2-QB leagues.

I think Sam Darnold may be gone, so after Baker Mayfield in Carolina, rookie Matt Corral is most likely to start. Of course, that means very little and Corral is clearly not ready, which is one of the reasons they added Mayfield in the first place. I don’t even think Corral is a good dynasty pick, so forget about this year.

I understood why the Panthers tried it out with Sam Darnold last season — and I understand why they traded for Baker Mayfield. Darnold has plenty of talent, but he’s a slow processor and he panics when the pressure comes. He simply cannot maintain a high level of play, so he’s dead for fantasy.

The question with Christian McCaffrey is simply this: at what point of a draft does his upside make him palatable? Even if he slips down the board, you’re going to have to pass on a really good player to take CMC, so is it worth it? I don’t have a great answer, but I think CMC has to be taxed at least a little for his time missed. He’s been elite when he’s played the last two seasons, but his inability to play hurt was fairly shocking last year. One way to mitigate the risk is to draft D’Onta Foreman, who they are high on and who will likely get valuable goal line touches and targets if CMC is out. I think where we have CMC as of 7/22 (RB4, 7 overall) at least addresses the fact that taking him higher means you’re passing on some truly elite options, like WRs Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase.

The Panthers want to pull back from Christian McCaffrey’s massive role, hoping it can help him stay fresh, and they’re going to do it with D’Onta Foreman, who they are pleased with in terms of catching the ball. We have him at RB54, which is slightly higher than his RB57 ADP. He’s not a locked-in must-have for CMC owners, but he’s more of a priority than Chuba Hubbard was last year and can likely maintain RB2 level production for 1-2 months if CMC is out.

We learned last year that Chuba Hubbard was just a guy, and with CMC locked in as the #1 RB and veteran D’Onta Foreman added, Hubbard’s not really Carolina’s guy, so he’s a potential WW guy only.

The data points on DJ Moore are outstanding, so we’re excited to see him get a QB upgrade in Baker Mayfield. Moore brings with him outside/inside versatility, and he can be your deep threat or your high-volume, low aDot guy, so he can do it all. He’s put up 1.96 receiving yards per route over the last three seasons with absolutely awful QBs, so we think he’s a value at WR15 off the board, and I’ll take him as early as the first pick of round 3 (25 overall).

I’ve been eye-balling Robbie Anderson as a potential steal all year, and while his ADP is rising, he’s still a value with an ADP of 175 and WR70 as of 7/22. That is, assuming he still wants to play football and stuff. Despite being eighth in targets (136) and catches (95) in 2020, Anderson finished only 46th in catches with 53, thanks at least in part to OC Joe Brady, who was relieved of his duties in Carolina mid-season due in part to his role in Anderson’s decline. I don’t even like Anderson that much and I have him at WR56, despite him talking about retirement this off-season. I will have to track Robby (and second-year man Terrace Marshall, who is starting to pick things up) this summer to make sure he’s on track for a positive season, but he's still a value no matter how you slice it.

His freshman season was a complete bust, but look out for Terrace Marshall entering his second season because he’s probably the most talented receiver in the league that very few are talking about. Marshall’s versatility and size should get him a solid role here, and keep in mind they don’t throw to their TEs much. If you’re still drafting WRs 200+ picks in, Marshall should be one of your top targets.

He does have a history and relationship with Baker Mayfield from their Cleveland days, but Rashard Higgins is nothing more than a guy to watch and consider during the season if they have a WR injury or two.

The Panthers clearly like their TEs to block, which means that Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas are not really on the fantasy radar. Both players have ADPs of 240+ and neither are being drafted as even top-60 TEs for fantasy, so there’s nothing to see here this summer.

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