As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic: The Scrappy Sir Purrs.
Fantasy Football Booms - Panthers
D.J. Moore, WR
This is not the time to hop off the D.J. Moore train. The hype was deafening last year, and despite finishing as the WR27 in fantasy points per game, he's being drafted as a top-20 wide receiver (WR19, 41.5 overall) this year. I'm buying back in for the 2021 season in a big way, as Moore is one of the most efficient receivers in the NFL. In 2020, he ranked 11th in yards per route run (2.23) among all wide receivers, with 50 or more targets finishing immediately ahead of Tyreek Hill. He also piled up yardage with the best pass-catchers in the league, ranking tenth in yards per game (79.5) last season.
So with all of these factors in his favor, why did Moore disappoint? Touchdowns. But in his second season under Joe Brady, the regression pendulum is swinging back his way. Moore led the team in end zone targets (10) and targets inside the 10-yard line (6), but he converted this volume into only one score. If Moore's bad luck swings positively for him in 2021, he's a top-12/15 fantasy wideout. — Derek Brown
Robby Anderson, WR
Underpriced at his WR33 (79.7 overall) ADP, the fleet-footed weapon is about to rekindle his at times steamy on-field bromance with Sam Darnold. Recall in 2018 and 2019, the two tongued box scores with several scintillating hookups during the most opportune phase of the fantasy calendar — Weeks 14-16. Over that money-making stretch, Robby Anderson finished WR2 in ‘18 and WR16 in ‘19 in total PPR scoring. Decembers to remember, indeed.
Now reteaming in Charlotte, far away from Adam Gase, who is currently drawing up doomed-to-fail plays for high school kids, the duo could again light a spark. Panthers OC Joe Brady is a well-known aggressive play caller who called “pass” on just over 59% last fall. Anderson, who quietly strung together a rock-solid season despite little fanfare, ranked inside the position’s top-20 in several critical categories including total air yards, yards after catch and total red-zone targets. Yes, his three TDs left a bitter taste, but given his established rapport with Darnold and expanded route tree he could replicate last season’s 95 catches and 1,088 yards, potentially chipping in an additional 6-8 TDs. More encouragingly, if his unrealized air yards (No. 12 in total at WR in ‘20) are ascertained in the coming months, he could generate an across-the-board production boost. A WR3 in 12-team leagues? Think more bullishly. — Brad Evans
2021 Fantasy Football Busts - Panthers
In a classic case of not trying to force a narrative, these two still-functioning eyes don’t see an actual bust candidate. Christian McCaffrey, off injury that mired 2020, is widely regarded as the top pick in yearly drafts, whether PPR or standard, and for good reason. He’s only a year removed from joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk in the ultra-exclusive 1,000-1,000 club. Anderson, Moore and Sam Darnold — yes, even the much-maligned QB — sport reasonable price tags at their respective ADPs. Similar to dealing with an incensed significant other, sometimes it’s best not to engage. Pick fights elsewhere. — Brad Evans
I adamantly agree with Brad here. McCaffrey and Moore are the only Panthers being drafted inside the top 50 in fantasy football drafts, and where they are slotted is appropriate. Anderson and Terrace Marshall are values at their current ADPs, because if Darnold is marginally better than Teddy Bridgewater, they'll easily return value. Injuries and inefficient quarterback play held this offense in check last year but now presents easy investment opportunities across the board for fantasy gamers. Find other bad narratives and hollow hype to fade this year, because it's not found in Carolina currently. — Derek Brown
Fantasy football breakouts for the Panthers
Terrace Marshall, WR
Terrace Marshall enters a Carolina Panthers offense that supported three top-30 wide receivers (Moore Curtis Samuel tied at WR27, Anderson WR29) in fantasy points per game last season. This occurred despite the offense finishing 16% below the NFL average for pass success rate in the red zone. Marshall is a size-speed specimen who oozes exploitable upside in his rookie season.
During his final season at LSU, Marshall proved he can excel as the primary piece in a passing offense all around the formation. He ranked 21st in yards per route run among 146 collegiate wideouts with 50 or more targets. Marshall finished with the 26th-most targets (26) against man coverage and destroyed it, placing 27th in yards per route run (3.59) among 200 college receivers with 10 or more man coverage targets. As the third receiver in the Carolina passing attack, he can feast on lesser corners. He's a steal in drafts (WR68, 149.4 overall) and will go undrafted in many softer home leagues. Don't let this happen in any fantasy football forum this year. — Derek Brown
Terrace Marshall, WR
A DBro favorite, Marshall has the length (6-foot-3), athleticism, catch radius and long-range speed (4.38 40-yard dash) to potentially devastate secondaries. He’s also versatile, logging extensive time in a more traditional ‘X’ role and out of the slot last season for LSU. Concentration lapses handicapped him at times in ‘20 and his overall route running needs refinement, but it’s hard to look past his mouth-watering natural traits.
Marshall is a rookie, sure, in an offense with a pair of proven veterans, but in a game where turnover happens continuously, he’s a late-round lottery ticket worth stashing. Similar to many talented youngsters in this league, he’s one awkward knee-bend away from becoming a weekly fantasy starter in 12-team leagues. — Brad Evans
Best Bets for the Panthers 2021
(Use the FTN Prop Shop to uncover the best lines across legal sportsbooks)
D.J. Moore OVER six receiving touchdowns (+100, BetMGM)
The touchdown black cat will be shaken from Moore's path. After back-to-back four touchdown seasons, Moore breaks the cycle in 2021. — Derek Brown
Robby Anderson OVER 81.5 receptions (-120, DraftKings)
QB familiarity, versatility and polish — Anderson is criminally undervalued. Barring any major setbacks he should sail past the proposed threshold, especially knowing Carolina’s defense will likely again be painfully mediocre. — Brad Evans