The Carolina Panthers represent one of the more intriguing teams heading into the 2010 season. Their quarterback situation is fluid and untested. There is little depth at the receiver position past Steve Smith, who just struggled through his worst statistical season in recent memory. Veteran receiver, Muhsin Muhammad has retired after 14 seasons. Still they boast one of the best running back tandems in all of football with Williams and Stewart. Both put up quality fantasy numbers on a team that struggles to find consistency.
In 2009 the team made it to 8-8 and third in their division behind the 9-7 Atlanta Falcons and ahead of the 3-13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Likely they will arm wrestle the birds all season for that number two spot behind probable division winners, the New Orleans Saints.
Division: NFC South – Projected Finish: 3rd Place
Strength of Schedule - #26 = 7th Best. The Panthers have a decent schedule this season. With a few breaks, and if they can solve the Saints, they could surprise and take the division.
The weak arm of Jake Delhomme is gone, and the coaching staff are saying all the right things about 4th year QB, Matt Moore. However, the Panthers may have gotten the steal of the draft when Jimmy Clausen free-fell into their outstretched jersey.
- Matt Moore - Moore played 8 games in 2009, starting 5. He had 8 touchdowns to 2 interceptions and 1053 passing yards. Not bad but certainly not awe-inspiring. Still he could surprise in 2010 and put up a decent fantasy season as a number QB2 for your team.
- Jimmy Clausen - So where does the rookie fit in? Well Clausen was considered the most NFL ready QB in the draft by most experts. He will push Moore in camp, and the right collision of events could give Clausen the starting nod out of camp. More likely, poor performance on Moore's part could put Clausen under center at some point, but right now he's nothing more than a nice pick for dynasty leagues.
The running game is the back bone of the Panthers on the field and in fantasy. 2010 should prove to be no different as both RBs have an excellent shot to put up 1000+ yards and double digit TDs. The two ended at 11th and 14th last season in fantasy scoring. Both had over 1100 rushing yards.
- DeAngelo Williams - Williams numbers were almost identical to Stewart's but he missed three games and had three fewer TDs. I expect him to get closer to a dozen TDs in 2010 and currently have him ranked at #8.
- Jonathan Stewart - Stewart actually put up slightly better numbers last season than his partner, and I think another 1000 yards and 8-10 TDs are likely. I have him ranked at #14, not because I think less of him, but he remains an afterthought in most drafts and can be had later than Williams for similar production.
- Steve Smith - Smith is normally one of the first half dozen fantasy WRs taken each season, but a poor start by Delhomme hurt Smith's stats in 2009. That makes him a value this year as Moore or Clausen will need to rely on him to make things happen down the field. I currently have him ranked at #15.
- Dwayne Jarrett - Jarrett hasn't made much noise in his first three seasons, but he heads into 2010 as a good name to jot down on your sleeper lists. The 6'4" receiver will line up across from Smith.
- Brandon LaFell - The rookie is a potential deep sleeper this season and his name is worth knowing. Like Jarrett he is a huge target, and has excellent receiving skills.
Last season the team spread the ball around between Jeff King, Gary Barnidge and Dante Rosario, with the latter getting most of the love, as he usually does. Still that only translated to 313 yards and 2 TDs. Until we see how much any of these guys get used by Moore or Clausen, the Panthers offer little in the way of fantasy value at the TE position.
John Kasey was a fairly poor source of fantasy points at his position, and his career accuracy hovers around 80%. At 40 years old, he may not even start the season with a job, but regardless he's not a name you want on your roster.
In 2009 the Panthers clocked in as the 10th worst fantasy defense, but over the season's final 5 weeks they were 8th best. A good sign for a turn around in 2010. I currently have them ranked at 20th, and believe they could beat that rank this season. However, the team has already received a costly blow with the loss of Thomas Davis, who will now have to undergo a second surgery for another torn ACL.
Davis is a loss for IDP as well, but Carolina is also home of fantasy's #2 ranked linebacker, John Beason. While Julius Peppers is gone two Panthers make the top 50 rankings at defensive lineman: Charles Johnson and Tyler Brayton. They also have a couple of solid fantasy defensive backs in Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble.
2010 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
Wk Date Game Stadium Time (ET) 1 Sep 12 CAR @ NYG New Meadowlands Stadium 1:00 PM 2 Sep 19 TB @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 3 Sep 26 CIN @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 4 Oct 03 CAR @ NO Superdome 1:00 PM 5 Oct 10 CHI @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 6 Bye 7 Oct 24 SF @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 8 Oct 31 CAR @ STL Edward Jones Dome 1:00 PM 9 Nov 07 NO @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 10 Nov 14 CAR @ TB Raymond James Stadium 1:00 PM 11 Nov 21 BAL @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 12 Nov 28 CAR @ CLE Cleveland Browns Stadium 1:00 PM 13 Dec 05 CAR @ SEA Qwest Field 4:15 PM 14 Dec 12 ATL @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 15 Dec 19 ARI @ CAR Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM 16 Dec 23 CAR @ PIT Heinz Field 8:20 PM 17 Jan 02 CAR @ ATL Georgia Dome 1:00 PM
Head coach John Fox heads into his 9th season with the Panthers, and in all likelihood will not see his 10th. The Panthers faithful want to win now and Fox has the team in a rebuilding mold. His two key areas of concern on offense are at QB and WR, and while Fox addresses the future at QB, the present is still evolving. Moreover he did nothing to bolster the receiving corp that struggled all last season. They could still go out and grab Terrell Owens for a season, but that seems unlikely. For this reason I think the Panthers will likely end up at 7-9 or 8-8 again. Not good enough for the play-offs.
The Panthers were 4th best against the pass in 2009, allowing less than 200 yards per game. However, they were 11th worst against the run, surrendering about 125 yards per game. Ron Meeks, the team's defensive coordinator will have to tighten up the team's run stop to be effective in 2010. The team employs a 4-3 defensive scheme with some Tampa-2.