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AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

2023 Fantasy Football Preview: Carolina Panthers


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Player Outlooks (2023)

 

QB Bryce Young: Young is a ready-made NFL quarterback with a rare combination of poise, intelligence, accuracy, and leadership skills, and instant fantasy success is very possible with Frank Reich loving to throw the ball. The remade receiving corps for Carolina will need to come together, but the offensive line is very good, and Young can do damage with his legs if the opportunity presents itself. While he’s more of a low-end QB2 option at a stacked position, Young can finish as a top-15 fantasy quarterback in Year 1.

 

RB Miles Sanders: Signed to a four-year, $25.4-million contract this offseason, Sanders will lead a very thin depth chart and was called a three-down back by Frank Reich—so his outlook is promising on an emerging offense. The RPO-style attack led by Bryce Young is something Sanders is familiar with, and getting 250+ touches could be enough to make him a rock-solid RB2 despite leaving the dominant Philadelphia offense. We’ll see if another signing is made or someone else steps up this summer to decrease Sanders’ workhorse appeal.

 

RB Chuba Hubbard: Hubbard averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season, and he showed well when given at least eight touches—with the Panthers going 5-0 in those games. Still, he seems entrenched as a change-of-pace option, so Hubbard will be a handcuff to Sanders with limited FLEX value as a standalone play.

 

RB Raheem Blackshear: Blackshear is another back that flashed last season, including three rushing touchdowns on just 23 carries. His talent caught our attention last summer in preseason action with the Bills, so Blackshear is someone to monitor based on the opportunity he can get in his second season with the Panthers.

 

WR DJ Chark: Frank Reich said he “really wanted” Chark this offseason, talking him up as a “chunk- play guy” with a career average of 14.4 yards per reception. Durability is what has held Chark back throughout his career (he’s yet to play a full season), but the upside was shown last season in Detroit with a 17-game pace of 56 receptions, 981 yards, and five touchdowns over the final seven weeks when the Lions hit their stride as an offense. Chark can be an upside FLEX option.

 

WR Adam Thielen: Entering his age-33 season, Thielen was signed to a three-year, $25-million deal by Carolina—suggesting they believe he has plenty left in the tank and will be a key part of the offense. Scoring territory is where Thielen can really make a difference as a favorite for Bryce Young, and he should continue avoiding top cornerbacks for the most part. Consider him a touchdown-dependent option for 2023.

 

WR Jonathan Mingo: Mingo brings a well-grounded game with the ability to operate across the middle, get on top of cornerbacks, and do damage with the ball in his hands underneath—so emerging as Carolina’s No. 1 wideout as a rookie is very possible. The connection he’s able to make with Bryce Young will determine how highly he’s able to rise this year, but we are very high on Mingo from a long-term perspective.

 

WR Terrace Marshall Jr.: Because a new coaching staff handpicked the already discussed trio at wide receiver, Marshall may need a big summer to build on the flashes shown last season to earn a significant role in 2023. Exciting potential has been on display dating back to his LSU days, though, and Marshall is still young having just turned 23 last week.

 

WR Laviska Shenault Jr.: Frank Reich said they will “experiment” with Deebo Samuel “stuff” when it comes to Shenault’s role, but will there be enough touches for him to have fantasy appeal? The best-case scenario would include a good number of traditional handoffs from the backfield for Shenault, and hopefully we get a lengthy look at the Carolina offense in preseason action.

 

TE Hayden Hurst: Hurst missed time with a foot injury last year just when he seemed to be hitting his stride in the Cincinnati offense, but he’ll now try to become a big part of the passing attack for the Panthers. Overall, the role might overlap too much with Jonathan Mingo and Adam Thielen, and the team also has two other quality tight ends on the roster in Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas—making Hurst more of a low-end TE2.

 

TE Tommy Tremble: Top-tier blocking is the calling card for Tremble, but will there be enough receiving upside for him to contribute from a fantasy perspective? On the plus side, Frank Reich’s offenses have typically featured tight ends, and he’s still a young player with good size and athleticism. Tremble can rise with a big summer.

 

TE Ian Thomas: Thomas is another tight end that’s been more of a blocker throughout his career, and he’s been held under 200 receiving yards in each of the past four years (after 333 yards as a rookie). He will likely be stuck behind Tommy Tremble with a limited fantasy impact from week-to-week.

 

Other Notes

 

Best IDP value: LB Brian Burns

Carolina is switching to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, and Burns is a versatile player that can benefit from increased all-around statistical upside while still keeping high sack potential. Coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2022, Burns is primed for a contract-year explosion and should be one of the first IDP options off the board.

 

Stat to know (via draft guide)

After averaging just 4.6 yards per target as a rookie, Terrace Marshall Jr. averaged 10.4 yards per target last season.