The most consistent aspect of the NFC South is the fact that the division is inconsistent. No NFC South team has ever repeated as division champions. The Carolina Panthers have won the division in 2003, 2008 and 2013. Just wait another five years and they'll be on top again.
After a 7-9 season in 2012, the Panthers made a huge turnaround to go 12-4 last year. But when your defense is paving the way to wins, fantasy football points aren't really off the charts. Cam Newton finished as the No. 3 fantasy quarterback in standard leagues. Aside from him, the Panthers didn't provide owners a ton of value. Expect the same in 2014.
Notable offseason additions: Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood, Ed Dickson
Notable offseason losses: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Domenik Hixon
Yet again Newton will be working with a sub-par receiving corps. What's new? The Panthers needed a first-round receiver, so they grabbed Benjamin. He's a promising rookie, but the rest of the group look grim.
Quarterbacks: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb, Matt Blanchard
Newton's first three years in the NFL have been impressive from a fantasy perspective. He's finished third, fourth and third respectively among quarterbacks in standard leagues. Yet most fantasy rankings this preseason don't even have him in the top five at his position. There are a few factors are play here.
- Left tackle Jordan Gross and guard Geoff Hangartner retired. The Panthers aren't sure who will protect Newton's blindside yet. Byron Bell and Nate Chandler are in the running for the job, two unappealing options.
- Newton underwent ankle surgery this offseason and is still working his way back. He hopes to be at full strength by training camp, but it's still a situation to monitor.
- His receiving corps is completely revamped aside from tight end Greg Olsen. He's never had the best receiving corps to work with, but this group is
sub-parawful to say the least.
Running backs: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner, Mike Tolbert
Wide receivers: Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Jason Avant, Tavarres King, Marvin McNutt
A few things to note about rookie wide receivers before we go too in-depth with Benjamin.
- Only five rookie receivers have caught 70-plus passes over the last 10 years: Eddie Royal, Michael Clayton, Keenan Allen, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston. Probably not five you would expect to see on that short list.
- Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Williams were the only rookie wideouts to start all 16 games in that span.
|Most receptions in season
|Most TDs in a season
Tight ends: Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Mike McNeil
The Panthers frustrate fantasy owners with their backfield and their lack of standout receivers. Newton and Olsen will be top 10 players at their positions. Aside from those two, the value is slim everywhere else. Benjamin will pay off if he falls past Round 9 or 10 in your draft.