Outside of wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, the Carolina Panthers did not have many consistent fantasy football starters week in and week out last year. With the addition of quarterback Sam Darnold, we should see a few more players creep into fantasy starting lineups in 2021. Darnold can stretch the field a lot better than Teddy Bridgewater did last season but he is also more prone to turnovers.
Here is who we think improves the most with the new QB situation:
QB Sam Darnold, Stock Up: QB16
Sam Darnold has spent his first three NFL seasons in arguably the worst situation imaginable. He has had limited weapons, below-average protection, and the league's worst coaching. When Ryan Tannehill finally escaped the clutch of Adam Gase and turned out to be a quality quarterback. The Panthers are hoping that the same rings true for Darnold.
Darnold has been pretty much irrelevant in fantasy football except for as a fill-in for heavy bye weeks. This should change in Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater finished as the nineteenth-best QB in fantasy in standard scoring leagues last year. That's good enough for a solid QB2 in a twelve-team league. Darnold should be able to at least match that, if not surpass it, considering Bridgewater only threw 15 touchdown passes. However, if your league scoring rules penalizes interceptions severely, then I would steer clear of drafting Darnold. He has thrown double-digit interceptions in each of his three NFL seasons. He has turnover issues dating back to his collegiate days at USC.
To summarize; Darnold is not a bad option as a backup quarterback for fantasy football rosters in 2021 if the scoring rules are -1 for interceptions thrown. If they are -4 or more, which has become the new standard, then I would avoid drafting him as anything more than a QB3.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stock Up: RB1
Could the stock possibly go up on the consensus No. 1 overall pick? Well, as it turns out, it can. McCaffrey is basically a fantasy football cheat code when he suits up. He only played three games last season but, when he did play, he averaged almost 30 points per game. PPR scoring, of course.
For those worried that Joe Brady's scheme wouldn't feature the RB position; those fears were put to bed real quick. Mike Davis was even able to fill in as an excellent fantasy RB when McCaffrey was out. Just imagine what a healthy CMC will be able to do.
Sam Darnold has a strong enough arm to keep opposing defenses from stacking the box against the All-Pro RB. McCaffrey will be the unquestioned top non-QB scorer in fantasy football as long as he plays all 17 games.
WR DJ Moore, Stock Up: WR12
Perhaps nobody's stock improves more than DJ Moore's. Moore possesses an elite skill set that has only been put in check because of the limitations of his QBs. Darnold is no Tom Brady but at least he can throw the ball accurately more than 15 yards down the field.
Moore's route tree should be opened up and put on full display starting Week 1. Despite all of DJ's success in his young career, he has struggled scoring touchdowns. This should finally improve in 2021 given the combination of a QB that is not afraid to take chances and a quality Joe Brady scheme.
DJ Moore is a solid WR2 with some serious WR1 upside in fantasy as long as he develops some chemistry with Darnold. The fourth-year receiver just turned 24 making him a must-have in dynasty leagues.
WR Robby Anderson, Stock Up: WR18
Robby Anderson played with Darnold as a member of the New York Jets. This should allow him to get off to a fast start in 2021. He is the second option on passing plays but will get plenty of targets throughout the year.
He is an outstanding WR3 and could pass as a WR2 most weeks. His outlook could be even better than that if Darnold relies on him as his lone familiar pass-catcher.
WR David Moore, Stock Up: WR40
The signing of former Seahawk David Moore is starting to make sense. Moore is a deep threat receiver that is used to catching the long ball from Russell Wilson. This was head-scratching at first given the fact that Bridgewater has trouble throwing deep.
Now that Carolina employs Darnold this move should pay dividends. Not the type of dividends that David Tepper is used to receiving but dividends nonetheless.
David Moore is worth drafting in deep leagues. He is a WR5-6 with the opportunity to be more if DJ or Robby were injured at any point in the season. Just don't mess up and accidentally draft David Moore instead of DJ Moore. DJ is the guy you want.
TE Dan Arnold, Stock Down: TE24
Dan Arnold spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals where he wasn't much of a fantasy football factor at all. To be fair, the Cardinals didn't use the TE position much. Unfortunately, the Panthers didn't either.
Joe Brady targeted TEs in his time as passing coordinator for LSU but he didn't use them for more than extra blockers last season. As you already know, there are no fantasy points awarded for blocking.
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