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Joined: Jul 16, 2015
July 19th, 2015 at 4:53:44 PM permalink

Offense - Mike Shula came to Carolina before the 2013 season and immediately installed a West Coast type offense. It relied on good timing by the quarterback and on the fly adjustments by receivers. Luckily for Carolina, someone told Shula shortly after that season started that he did not have have Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, but instead Cam Newton and Jerricho Cotchery. Since then, every week has featured less pro style plays and more Urban Meyer style plays, until now I would categorize Carolina's offense as more of a 'college offense' than most college offenses. That's not a knock. Cam Newton has some serious strengths. A great athlete who can make amazing throws, he's not the fastest at reading the plays, but rarely makes a poor read. So what does Shula's offense do? It simplifies the read, and uses the threat of the quarterback running on most plays.

Defense - Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott get a lot of credit. I'm not sure how much of that is deserved. From a strategic perspective, I'm not big on what they do. They often have their best player playing man to man coverage (the one thing he's not great at), they play very soft on the outsides, and rarely confuse the other team. That said, either they have the best defensive personnel people, or they're the best teachers because these guys never miss with defensive draft picks. Last year's 4th and 5th round picks played wonderful in the 2ndary last year, and 6 other starters are still playing their rookie contract. I don't think any other team is close.

QB's I like Newton, and think this could be a 'breakout' year fantasy wise. As stated above, the offense is now almost completely catered to his strengths, including the drafting of back to back early pick wr's who are tall, a nod to the fact that when Cam misses, its very often a high miss. I know this sounds crazy, but I'll be your huckleberry if this wasn't a big part of the Panthers' thinking with both picks.

RB's Stewart seems to get hurt every year, but I think he's still worth the gamble here. He should get the majority of the carries when healthy. Not that he's any good.

WR's I don't think much of Benjamin. He should get plenty of targets again, but not worth his fantasy rating. Or his real life rating for that matter.

TE's Olsen is a very good player and someone who saw an increase in targets as last year progressed. I like him.

OL The only positive thing I can say about Michael Oher is that he's not as bad as Byron Bell, the human turnstile he's replacing. Seriously though, how does anyone watch film of Oher and say, 'that's who I want blocking for me!', yet 2 years in a row someone has paid him multiple millions to do just that. Even so, Carolina seemed to find something with their 2 rookie guards last year, and this line isn't anywhere near as bad as many make it out to be. I'd go so far as to say its above average, even.

Cam yes, Stewart yes, Olsen yes. Pass on the receivers.


Front 7 As mentioned earlier, 5 of 7 starters will be playing under rookie contract. And all have been excellent. This doesn't count the still very good pass rusher Charles Johnson. Any and all Carolina front 7 players are worthwhile.

2ndary As mentioned above, rookies Bene Benwikere and Tre Boston took over starting roles midway through the season last year and excelled. The Panthers have been throwing cheap darts at their 2ndary for a few years now (that's the downside of paying 2 mediocre running backs 10 million each per year) but seem to have finally found a few reasonable ones to stick. While none of these players stand out individually, they complete what should be a very reasonable defense.
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