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Cam Newton is an athletic freak of nature. He really is. At 6'5 and 248 pounds, with a cannon arm, terrific quickness, good vision, strong confidence and big desire he is a beast. He put up stats last year that ranks among the best of all time. He threw for 3837 yards and 35 touchdowns with his top receiver out for the season and also ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. He scored 446 fantasy points on the season and was the NFL's Most Valuable Player. My concerns with Newton is mediocre completion percentage and that sometimes his confidence merges with arrogance which may get in his way at times. With talented receiver Kelvin Benjamin returning from injury this season, Newton is poised for another fantasy football dominating campaign.
Derek Anderson is the perfect backup in Carolina. He has enough talent to be a marginal NFL starting quarterback, enough experience to
step in and lead a team to victory and enough experience to help Newton when called upon. If injury were to strike Cam Newton, Anderson would be worth a waiver wire look if your fantasy squad in need of quarterback help. He has only thrown 107 total passes over the last five seasons though so nobody really knows how he would handle lots of action at this time. He has not thrown an interceptions since the 2010 season though. That's pretty amazing.
Stewart got the chance to be the man last year after a long partnership with DeAngelo Williams in the Carolina backfield. He did a very good job for the team but did miss 3 games as he has struggled with injuries his entire career. He ran for 989 yards on the season, just missing the 1000-yard mark for his 2nd time and scored 7 touchdowns. He runs with power and has nice vision. The Panthers play with confidence when Stewart is in the lineup. He has missed 23 games in the past four seasons though and at 29 years of age this year, time could begin to catch up to him. If he stayed healthy through 16 games, 1200+ yards rushing is very doable but Stewart and staying healthy does not seem very likely at this point.
Fozzy Whittaker is one of those dime a dozen running backs that stick around the NFL for many seasons but really does not have the overall ability to be a difference making player at this level. He has 86 career carries for 333 yards but is a better option as a receiving back with his 38 receptions for 279 yards and 3 scores. He provides adequate depth for the Panthers but little else.
Artis-Payne had some nice moments as a rookie last year. He has decent size and possesses a real nice quick burst that gets him to the second level quickly when decisive. He is often hesitant in hitting the hole though and actually has too much patience and will miss his opening to hit the hole. He is not that elusive but does run hard with some power. He had 33 carries for 152 yards over the final three weeks of the season and scored a touchdown. He is definitely not an elite running back but could prove serviceable if called upon.<
Tolbert had a comeback year of sorts last year after a terrible 2014 season. He had 256 yards rushing on 62 carries, caught 18 passes and scored 4 touchdowns. He is on the latter stages of his career but good to see the big guy continue playing well.
Ted Ginn Jr.,
Stephen Hill, Brenton Bersin:
Kelvin Benjamin had a tremendous rookie campaign in 2014, catching 73 passes for 1008 yards and scoring 9 times. A huge, talented target and clearly the top receiver for the Panthers, big things were anticipated for him in 2015 before a knee injury derailed his entire season. He is doing light running and cutting as of April and he should be ready to go by the start of the season. His blend of size, body control and hands are a challenge for anyone to cover and if completely healthy, 80 receptions / 10 touchdowns are very likely. He is a matchup nightmare and a potential stud fantasy performer.
After nine years of very underwhelming receiving seasons (he did star as a returner however), Ginn became a legitimate receiving weapon last year when he caught 44 passes for 739 yards and 10 scores. However with the return of Benjamin and the continued growth of Devin Funchess, I expect Ginn to become an afterthought once again. This feels like a one and done for Ginn in regards to high touchdown totals.
At times last year Devin Funchess looked like a rookie trying to find his ways but towards the end of the season he began to figure some things out and at 6'4 and 232 pounds, he has the size and ability to become a nice option in the passing game. Whether he does so this year or down the road depends on how hard he works between now and the start of the season but a duo of 3rd year Benjamin with 2nd year Funchess could be the start of a special receiving era in Carolina
Brown has had some success and the former undrafted receiver from Ohio State appears to have the tools to stick around with the team going forward. Last year, Brown caught 31 passes for 447 yards, scored 4 touchdowns and appears to have the trust of quarterback Cam Newton. Undersized but quick and elusive, he is the perfect contrast to the big, young receivers currently on the roster and he should be able to haul in another 30+ passes in 2016.
Stephen Hill, Brenton Bersin and Kevin Norwood:
Greg Olsen is a very good tight end in the prime of his career. Now in his tenth NFL season, he has caught 161 passes for 2112 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns over the past two years. He is durable, runs consistently good pass routes, has good size and excellent chemistry with his quarterback. He will catch another 70+ passes in 2016 and should finish as a top-five fantasy tight end.
Dickson is a solid veteran tight end who is a blocker for the most part in Carolina. He only caught 27 passes over two years for the Panthers. 7th round pick Beau Sandland should stick on the roster for depth purposes. He has the receiving ability to emerge as Greg Olsen's eventual replacement if he works hard.
Projected Starters: LT Michael Oher, LG Andrew Norwell, C Ryan Kalil, RG Trai Turner, RT Daryl Williams
Key Backups: Mike Remmers, David Yankey, Gino Gradkowski, David Foucault
For the Panthers, the offensive line begins with the best center in the game today in Ryan Kalil. Athletic, nasty and intelligent, he is the glue that holds this group together. Trai Turner is a 2014 3rd round pick who has started 25 games in his first two seasons and really came into his own last year, at times dominating the line of scrimmage. Mike Remmers started at right tackle last year for several of the games but the journeyman will likely be pushed to the bench by former 4th pick, mountain of a man, Daryl Williams. He is big and nasty and should win the starting job. Michael Oher had a very strong season at left tackle for the Panthers. Many thought he may be done as his play had gone south prior to signing with the Panthers but he allowed only four sacks and took three penalties all season. The Panthers have a very good, albeit relatively unknown guard in Andrew Norwell and the undrafted lineman at times dominated last year. He is better than most realize still and may become a household name soon. This starting five looks very capable of dominating football games.
He has hit on 83 of 98 field goals with the team and is dependable.