ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler took a deep dive into the 2021 NFL free agency pool and gave his top landing spot for the top 50 free agents this offseason. While there were plenty of picks he made that I liked from both a real and fantasy football perspective—Kenny Golladay to the New York Giants please and thank you—there was one that stood out the most among the pack and brought me the most sheer joy thinking about: clearly Dak Prescott signing with the Carolina Panthers.
Now I know the Cowboys have already expressed interest in using the franchise tag on Prescott if they and the star quarterback can’t settle on a long term deal (which spoiler alert they won’t be able to because Jerry Jones has handled this whole thing terribly) so most likely Dak will be in Dallas for 2021. And that’s not a bad thing either for his fantasy value. The Cowboys have a pretty loaded offense.
Personally, were I Dak, I would do everything in my power to get out of Dallas. I understand there’s a great recipe to succeed there in place, but I (as Dak) have proven over and over again that I’m a top 10 starting quarterback in this league and top 10 starting quarterbacks get paid a lot of money. Jones for whatever reason has been hesitant to pay Prescott the long term deal he’s worth. I certainly can see why the relationship could be frosty and why Prescott might be looking for a way out.
And there are few better “outs” than the Panthers.
Prescott playing for head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady is a fantasy football fever dream. Under Rhule, the Panthers offense climbed from 27th in offensive DVOA to 17th this year with Bridgewater at the helm and Christian McCaffrey missing most of the season. Prescott would step into an offense with a creative mind behind it’s controls and plenty of offensive talent surrounding him.
I love this landing spot so much not just because it keeps Prescott’s fantasy value high, but it also lifts the value of all the members of the Panthers offense. McCaffrey will always be a top fantasy back so his value can’t really increase too much, but you can’t tell me he wouldn’t benefit from defenses having to worry about a legit quarterback under center who can make every throw on the field (and also has the legs to occasionally take off if a play breaks down). Prescott would also help keep McCaffrey healthy as the burden of the entire offense wouldn’t fall on the running back’s shoulders. While his 2019 season of 1,300+ rushing yards and 1,000+ receiving yards was impressive and a instant fantasy championship winner for anyone with him on their roster, it definitely took a toll on CMC and played a big role in him missing most of the 2020 season.
Naturally an upgrade at quarterback would give the biggest boost to the Panthers’ passing game. While wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are both coming off 1,000+ yard seasons, they finished fringe WR2s in .5PPR leagues because of diminished touchdown production, with neither scoring more than four touchdowns on the season. (Fun fact: Anderson is one of 29 players in NFL history to have over 130 targets but less than 4 receiving touchdowns.) Adding a quarterback who was on pace for 30+ touchdowns before getting injured, and who’s never thrown for fewer than 22 scores in a full season in his career, would go a long way to fixing that blemish. The addition of Dak would firmly place both Moore and Anderson in the WR2 category for 2021 and could even have them flirting with WR1 status.
An added bonus to this fantasy fantasy is it can actually happen in real life (unlike, say, Aaron Rodgers getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers to play in that offense. You want to see that but it’ll never happen). The Panthers can get the money to work and free up enough space to bring Prescott in, assuming the quarterback isn’t tagged by Dallas.
If the Panthers have the opportunity, they should more than jump on it and the whole fantasy community would be thankful they did. Carolina’s offense could be one of the most explosive in the NFL with a top 10 quarterback under center and Prescott is the perfect man for the job.