Fantasy Team Preview: Panthers

BY John Halpin • July 29, 2013

Overall outlook: Cam Newton is the fantasy headliner here, but Steve Smith and Greg Olsen will be weekly starters as well.

Bye week: 4

Quarterback: Cam Newton

Ranked sixth among 2012 fantasy quarterbacks with 361.5 points on … Was 13th in passing yards (3,869) and T-21 in touchdown passes (19), but led quarterbacks with eight rushing TDs and placed second with 741 rushing yards … Had a strong second half, with 13 touchdown passes against four interceptions in his final eight games … Consensus top-five fantasy QB in 2013.

Running back: DeAngelo Williams

Ranked 21st with 130.4 fantasy points in 2012 … Ran 173 times for 737 yards (23rd among RBs) and five touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for 187 yards and two scores … Seems to be going as an RB3, mainly because Jonathan Stewart’s health is up in the air.

Running back: Jonathan Stewart

Injuries limited Stewart to just 93 carries for 336 yards and one touchdown in 2012, along with 17 receptions for 157 yards and a score … Had surgery on both ankles during the offseason … Started preseason on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and status for season opener is TBD … Durability is biggest issue, and it’s hard to trust Stewart as anything more than an RB4.

Running back: Mike Tolbert

Ranked 31st with 87.1 fantasy points in 2012 … Ran just 54 times for 183 yards, and caught 27 passes for 268 yards, but scored seven times as a short-yardage runner/human bowling ball … Could post similar fantasy production in 2013, but should only start as a bye-week play due to workload.

Wide receiver: Steve Smith

Ranked 19th with 142.1 fantasy points in 2012 … Had 73 receptions (19thamong WRs) for 1,174 yards (12th) and four touchdowns (T-40) … Smith’s lack of TD production has often held him back from fantasy elite status … Consensus among expert rankings has him at the WR2/WR3 bubble … At age 34, has to slow down sometime – doesn’t he?

Wide receiver: Brandon LaFell

Ranked 48th with 95.2 fantasy points in 2012 … Played 14 games, caught 44 passes (T-60) for 677 yards (T-50) and four touchdowns … Has settled in as a WR5 on most draftboards, where he could have some upside.

Tight end: Greg Olsen

Ranked an impressive sixth among tight ends with 114.3 fantasy points … Caught 69 passes (sixth) for 843 yards (fourth) and five touchdowns (T-10) … Was also fifth among tight ends with 104 targets – Newton LOVES him … A repeat season seems likely, and Olsen could produce as a top-five TE.

Placekicker: Graham Gano

Converted nine of 11 field goals and 20 of 21 extra points in six games as a Panther in 2012 … Gano and Justin Medlock (cut at midseason) combined to make just 16 of 21 field goal attempts, both of which were last in the league … There’s no need to consider Gano on draft day.

Team defense

Ranked 19th with 111 fantasy points in 2012 … Ranked 10th with 5,329 yards allowed, T-8 in fumble recoveries (12) and T-9 in sacks (39), but were 18th in points allowed (363) and T-23 in interceptions (11) … A healthy Jon Beason could make this unit interesting, but they shouldn’t be in your top 12 on draft day.