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Carolina Panthers 2022 Fantasy Outlook: The Baker Mayfield Era Begins

The former No. 1 pick gets a fresh start after being traded from Cleveland.

The Carolina Panthers desperately need RB Christian McCaffrey to stay healthy to help increase their chances of posting a winning season for the first time since 2017. The quarterback position gets a bump by the acquisition of Baker Mayfield. In addition, the Panthers have three viable options at wide receiver to hopefully raise their offense from the doldrums in the league. Defensively, Carolina showed growth in 2021, pointing to more success this year if they can play from the lead in more games.



The Panthers tried to run the ball last season, but without their star ball carrier, they lost the ability to make big plays and score on the ground. Even with close to 600 pass attempts, Carolina struggled to move the ball consistently via the air. With a push to 5.0 yards per rush and 7.0 yards per pass attempt, this offense would have top-12 upside.


Baker Mayfield  click here for fantasy projections

Matt Corral
Over his final two seasons at Mississippi, Corral completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 6,686 yards with 49 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He gained 9.4 yards per pass attempt while also being active as a runner (112/506/4 and 152/614/11). Almost one-third of his rushing yards last year came in one game (30/195). Over his final nine full games in 2021, Corral failed to deliver more than two passing touchdowns in any matchup. In his meeting vs. Malik Willis (173 passing yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions plus 27/71/1 on the ground) on November 6th, he gained 333 combined yards with one touchdown.

Corral also took the snap out of the shotgun on most plays, but Mississippi ran play-action run/pass options to keep defenses on their heels. He showed the ability to stick quick passes on time on a tight line while doing some dirty work in the run game. Corral must improve his decision-making on his run plays to avoid taking big hits at the next level. His desire to fight for extra yards on the ground can be a win at the goal line. When asked to drive the ball downfield in the passing game, Corral offered touch, but some passes had a high vertical, which may lead to more interceptions.

I expect him to control the first 20 yards past the line of scrimmage while only using his legs when asked to move the chains. In addition, Corral will make his share of big passing plays in an offense with a top-tier run game.

Fantasy outlook: When given a choice, new blood at quarterback may be the best option for all players in the Panthers’ offense, but the trade for Baker Mayfield puts him on clipboard holding mode. Carolina has offensive tools to push higher in passing production, giving him a chance to offer matchup value in his rookie season.

Sam Darnold
Carolina fans thought they had found their franchise quarterback over the first four games last season when Sam Darnold gained 1,241 combined yards with 10 touchdowns. His completion rate (67.8) and yards per pass attempt (8.1) graded well. However, over the next five weeks, he passed for only 159 yards per game with two touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing only 51.9% of his passes. A right shoulder injury led to five missed contests. Darnold finished the year with three empty starts (190/0, 132/0, and 219/2).

Over his time in the NFL, he has a 17-32 record with 52 passing touchdowns and 52 interceptions while gaining only 6.5 yards per pass attempt. Darnold does add some value as a runner (162/639/10).

Fantasy outlook: The long-term solution at quarterback for Carolina isn’t Darnold, and Carolina confirmed that by adding Mayfield. I don’t see a reason to ride him as a starter even in 2022. His draft pedigree (third overall pick in 2018) suggests Darnold has the game to lead an NFL franchise, but I see him as an easy avoid at any value in the fantasy market. In the National Fantasy Football Championship, he has a waiver wire ADP (281).

Other options: P.J. Walker, Davis Cheek



The Panthers’ running back had a similar opportunity in touches over the past three seasons (365, 340, and 360), but they had a sharp decline in touchdowns last year (9 – 19 in 2020 and 23 in 2019). Their backs gained only 3.90 yards per rush in the run game compared to 4.9 in 2019 when Christian McCaffrey had his last healthy season.

Christian McCaffrey click here for fantasy projections

Chuba Hubbard
Over three seasons at Oklahoma State, Hubbard gained 4,097 yards with 36 touchdowns and 53 catches. He averaged 5.9 yards per rush and 9.0 yards per catch. When at his best in 2019, Hubbard rushed over 100 yards in 12 of his 13 starts, highlighted by four games with over 200 yards (26/221/3, 32/256/3, 25/296/1, and 20/223/2). He had over 20 touches in every game except Week 2 (8/44/1).

Hubbard runs with rhythm and vision while willing to take what a defense gives him. He has a north/south feel, but he can win on the outside when given daylight. Hubbard dominated his sophomore season at Oklahoma State (328/2,094/21), helped by a heavy workload (27 touches per week). Unfortunately, Hubbard wasn’t the same player in 2020 (133/625/5 over seven games).

The Panthers gave him 197 touches in relief of Christian McCaffrey, leading to 786 combined yards with six touchdowns and 25 catches. However, he gained only 3.6 yards per rush and 7.0 yards per catch while only five playable games (18.40, 13.50, 15.10, 15.80, and 13.60 fantasy points). Carolina gave him only 7.9 touches per game over his final nine games.

Fantasy outlook: In late June, Hubbard has an ADP of 259 in the NFFC, ranking him third on the Panthers’ depth chart (70th overall). His wide gap as a possible handcuff makes him more attractive to someone buying Christian McCaffrey insurance. I expect better in his second year in the NFL, but he’ll have a minimal value without an injury.

D'Onta Foreman
After an injury to Derrick Henry, Foreman worked his way into serviceable snaps late in 2021. He finished 689 combined yards with three scores and nine catches. Tennessee gave him 20 touches or more in four of their final six matchups, leading to 542 yards with three touchdowns and six catches (13.03 FPPG in PPR formats).

Fantasy outlook: Foreman has been in the NFL for four seasons, but he has never had a full-time starting job. His play last year gives him a chance for early-down touches if Carolina has an injury to their star running back.

Other options: Spencer Brown, Darius Bradwell, John Lovett



The success of the Panthers’ receivers in 2020 (252/3,301/1) piqued fantasy drafters last season. Unfortunately, the change at quarterback led to a regression in their catch rate (55.5) despite only a small drop in targets (353 – 375 in 2020). Carolina has three talented wideouts, pointing to a rebound in their production this year.

D.J. Moore click here for fantasy projections

Robbie Anderson
After failing to live up to expectations over four seasons in New York, Anderson developed into a high-volume receiver in Carolina in 2020. He caught 95 of his 136 targets (69.9 percent) for 1,096 yards and three touchdowns. Anderson gained a career-low of 11.5 yards per catch.

The Panthers gave him his best opportunity over the first five weeks (36/489/1) while averaging 9.2 targets. Over his final nine starts, Anderson failed to gain over 95 yards in any matchup, with combined 49 catches for 456 yards and two touchdowns. Carolina gave him 8.6 targets per game over this span.

In his final two years in New York with Sam Darnold starting at quarterback, He caught 88 of his 164 targets (53.7 percent) for 1,353 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The switch at quarterback led to a regression season (53/519/5 on 110 targets) for Anderson in 2021. He finished with 26 fewer targets but a sharp decline in his catch rate (48.2 – 69.9 in 2020). Anderson scored over 20.00 fantasy points in PPR leagues in one contest (7/84/1).

Fantasy outlook: Anderson has an ADP of 185 in the early draft season in the NFFC while ranking as backend WR6. He should rebound in 2022 while never approaching his success in 2020. At best, 70 catches for 800 yards with a handful of scores.

Terrace Marshall Jr.
In 2019, Marshall caught a piece of the Joe Burrow ride to the national championship, leading to 46 catches for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns. He flashed over the first seven games last year (48/731/10) before opting out. His best output came in the third game (11/235/3) of the season against Missouri.

He projects to be a vertical threat early in his career while doing damage on comeback throws. Marshall offers size (6’2” and 205 lbs.) and speed (4.38 40-yard dash on his pro day). However, his release looks questionable and lacks tempo. He needs to add more fight to his game off the snap and at the top of his routes to reach a high level.

Marshall ended his rookie season with only 17 catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns on 30 targets. He missed three games with a concussion issue and foot injury.

Fantasy outlook: Marshall has a professional feel with the talent to develop into a WR2 in the Panthers’ offense down the road. His ceiling falls on his motivation to work hard on his route running. This draft season, he projects to be a waiver-wire option unless his summer camp news suggests growth in his game.

Shi Smith
Smith worked as a possession receiver over four seasons at South Carolina, leading to 174 catches for 2,204 yards and 13 touchdowns on 273 targets. In 2020 in nine matchups, he caught 57 passes for 633 yards and four scores. Smith showed improvement in his route running in his final year in college. His future lies in the slot while also having the speed to beat a defender deep. He makes plays in the open field with the willingness to fight for his space in tight quarters after facing bump and run coverage. Smith needs to be more physical on his release and out of his breaks to create a larger passing window.

Other options: Rashard Higgins, Brandon Zylstra, Andre Roberts



The tight end production for Carolina continues to rank at the bottom of the league. Even so, the Panthers almost doubled their stats in catches (45), receiving yards (452), and targets (79) from 2020 (26/196/2 on 39 targets). Any growth in their tight ends starts with better talent.

Tommy Tremble
Over his 19 games with the Fighting Irish, Tremble caught 35 balls for 401 yards with four touchdowns. Only once in his career did he catch more than four passes in a game or gain over 50 yards receiving.

Tremble earned his way into the NFL as a blocker, but his frame (6’3” and 245 lbs.) isn’t ideal for a lead role at tight end. He continues to improve, but his growth in the passing game at Notre Dame was restricted by a pair of talented players in front of him on the depth chart. Tremble ran a 4.59 40-yard dash on his pro day while also showing short-area quickness. However, his hands look to be in question when facing tight coverage.

In his rookie season, Tremble caught 20 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 35 targets.

Fantasy outlook
: Tremble needs time to develop in the passing game while possibly having the best fit as a move tight end on early downs. His speed will play well when overlooked by a defense in the deep passing game. There’s more here than meets the initial eye. He won’t be drafted in any 12-team leagues in 2022.

Other options: Ian Thomas, Stephen Sullivan, Colin Thompson


Zane Gonzalez
In his first season with the Panthers, Gonzalez finished with his highest success rate (90.9) in field goals with only one miss in his 23 extra-point tries. His leg from 50 yards or more (11-for-18) looks serviceable. However, a quad injury led to Gonzalez missing the final four games.

Fantasy outlook: Despite an up and down opportunity over his five seasons in the NFL, Gonzalez has the talent to be a better kicking option while at the same time having job loss risk. The Panthers scored only 32 touchdowns last season while creating 29 field goal chances. I expect better offensive play this year, giving Gonzalez potential matchup value in some weeks.


In his two seasons as the Panthers’ head coach, Matt Rhule went 10-23, with the most progress coming on the defensive side of the ball. His only experience in the NFL came in 2012 for the Giants as the assistant offensive line coach.

Over the previous seven seasons, Rhule worked as the head coach for Temple (28-23) and Baylor (19-20). He took over both programs at low points. As a college coach, his team improved from the previous year in each season. In 2019, Baylor finished 11-3 and 8-1 in conference play after going 1-11 in 2017, helping him win the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Rhule has been coaching since 1998, with his best highlight coming as the AAC football champion in 2016.

The Panthers flipped offensive coordinators in the offseason, giving Ben McAdoo his second chance to run an offense (2014 to 2015 with the Giants) in his career. His success in New York led to a promotion to head coach (11-5 in 2016 and 2-10 in 2017). McAdoo has been coaching in the NFL since 2004.

Carolina slipped to 30th in offensive yards and 29th in points scored (304 – their lowest total since 2010). The Panthers’ offensive demise came from shoddy quarterback play and more missed time by Christian McCaffrey.

The defensive side of the ball remains in the hands of Phil Snow. His path to the NFL paired with Matt Rhule over seven seasons in college. Snow has four years of experience in the NFL, working for the Lions as a defensive assistant and linebackers coach. His early career entailed multiple seasons preparing defenses in the Pac-10 and Pac-12 while seeing time at Arizona State, UCLA, California, and Washington.

Last season the Panthers dipped to 21st in points allowed (404) despite finishing with the second in yards allowed.


Plenty of money was thrown around players signing with Carolina in the offseason and moving on to other cities. LB Haason Riddick, CB Stephon Gilmore, and DT DaQuan Jones took him a combined $79 million in contracts from the Eagles, Colts, and Bills. Not to be outdone, the Panthers invested in CB Donte Jackson, G Austin Corbett, S Xavier Woods, P Johnny Hekker, LB Damien Wilson, and DE Matthew Ioannidis, costing the franchise over $95 million.


Carolina picked up a pair of offensive linemen (T Ikem Ekwonu – 1.6 and G Cade Mays – 6.21) in the 2022 NFL Draft. The only dart at an offensive skill player came in the third round with QB Matt Corral. The Panthers took fliers on LB Brandon Smith, DE Amare Barno, and CB Kalon Barnes on defense.


Carolina inched to 20th in rushing yards (1,842) with 17 touchdowns and only eight runs over 20 yards. They averaged 4.0 yards per carry on 26.8 rushing attempts per game.

The Panthers fell to 30th in passing yards (3,573) with 14 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. They gained only 6.0 yards per pass attempt with 36 completions over 20 yards. Their offensive line allowed 52 sacks (36 in 2020).

The only offensive lineman to play well last year was RT Taylor Moton, leading to Carolina signing him for $72 million for four seasons. His pass protection has always been an asset while trending forward in run blocking. The Panthers upgraded their left tackle (Ikem Ekwonu), center (Bradley Bozeman), and right guard (Austin Corbett) positions via the draft and free agency. They have a concern about left guard while needing to figure out the best fit for a couple of other capable players.

This offensive line has a chance to be much improved this year. Their first order of business is cutting down the number of sacks allowed. If Christian McCaffrey suits up all season, their run blocking would naturally push higher up the rankings.


The Panthers bumped to 18th in rushing yards allowed (1,935) with 16 touchdowns and nine runs over 20 yards. They allowed only 27.9 rushing attempts per game, with ball carriers gaining 4.1 yards per rush.

Carolina rose to fourth in passing yards allowed (3,266) with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Their defense finished with 39 sacks, with quarterbacks gaining 6.9 yards per pass attempt.

The secondary of the Panthers has the potential to be one of the better units in the league, especially if their two young cornerbacks (CJ Henderson and Jaycee Horn) reach this potential after battling injuries last season. The linebacker position has a veteran feel while being another draft class away from adding difference-maker talent. Carolina has three developing young players on the defensive line (Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, and Yetur Gross-Matos) who all need improvement against the run.

This defense isn’t far off. If a couple of players emerge in the pass rush, the Panthers have the talent to be a week-in and week-out fantasy defense. They rank 24th in the NFFC in late June, making them a buying opportunity with the right matchups. 


AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Patriots | Jets
AFC North: Ravens | Bengals | Browns | Steelers
AFC South: Texans | Colts | Jaguars | Titans
AFC West: Broncos | Chiefs | Raiders | Chargers

NFC East: Cowboys | Giants | Eagles | Commanders
NFC North: Bears | LionsPackers | Vikings
NFC South: Falcons | Panthers | Saints | Buccaneers
NFC West: Cardinals | Rams | 49ers | Seahawks