Panthers Early 2014 Fantasy Football Analysis

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The post linked below ranking the players spurred the notion to post this review, something I preview every year before fantasy season kicks in. This year I'm getting an early start.

You might be surprised to see Newton ranked this high but honestly this ranking is on the money:

Fantasy Football: Ranking the top 10 quarterbacks for 2014
4. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) Newton has yet to finish a pro season outside of the top-four, so why stop now? He seemed to finally put it all together in 2013, although 2014 could be troublesome with no real proven weapons at his disposal other than Greg Olsen at tight end. Seriously, Jerricho Cotchery? Even if the Panthers draft new talent at receiver, it’s still going to be a major red flag for Newton owners. He’s scheduled to miss four months while recovering and rehabbing from ankle surgery. He should be ready to roll week 1, but camaraderie is again a concern.

I'm not sure where the camaraderie comment is coming from. He will be at OTA's and camp even if he can't participate. I think that is just an issue that resides only in this pundits head. Newton is a solid 2nd round selection after first grabbing a top notch RB in the first round. Careful though he may not last to 16.

Beyond Newton is there a true 'starter-quality' player on the Panthers offense at the moment? Players like TE Olsen, FB Mike Tolbert and RB DeAngelo Williams might be good spot starts but if you play them every week they will let you down on some weeks. At least that is my thought at the start of the season with so much being unknown. In fact, all have an opportunity for slow starts if the Panthers offensive line struggles. They are mid round picks that might out produce their draft position if everything goes right with the offense in 2014.

Newly acquired WR's Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant will have to get involved but will it be enough unless it all goes to one player? I'm having a hard time seeing that happen. I have zero confidence Cotchery can repeat his 10 TD receptions from 2013 with this Panther offense yet he will be over-drafted in most leagues. Underwood has the most upside at this point assuming he gets the slot work. Yet I still wouldn't draft hum until the last or next to last round as a flyer pick. Same with Avant if you think he is going to break out. Unless you are in a league full of Panther fans you can get those guys late if not on the wire after week 1.

K Graham Gano finished 15th in fantasy points last season as the Panthers offense was more effective in the red zone than seasons past. That's the thing about a starting kicker, sometimes its the mediocre offense that produces big for the kicker by creating so many chances. Still, drafting or using Gano is simply a homer move by any Panther fan. But I solute you if you do!

The Panther defense finished a solid 3rd in defensive scoring and was only 11 points from the top. They did it on the back of a league leading 60 sacks while also creating 30 turnovers and scoring 4 TDs. Though I was concerned about some losses in the secondary I don't see that making an impact in these defenses ability to rush the passer. Hence the defense is a solid starting D almost every week. I usually target a top defense around the 8th round of most drafts.

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