The Carolina Panthers are a Sleeper Team for 2024 Fantasy Football

The Carolina Panthers are being slept on this season.

Is it realistic to believe the Carolina Panthers have a positive outlook for the 2024 season? If you’re a Panthers fan, maybe. For most people, they see a team that is bound to have 4-6 wins on the season.

Every season, multiple teams initially perceived to be among the bottom dwellers of the league but ultimately exceed expectations in spectacular fashion. In 2023, CJ Stroud and the Houston Texans took the league by storm. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also blew their expectations out of the water last season.

For fantasy purposes, we primarily care about a team exceeding expectations on the offensive side of the ball. While it may sound a bit ridiculous, the Carolina Panthers are candidates to shock the league in 2024.

A COMPLETE OVERHAUL IN CAROLINA

Following a 2-15 season in 2023, it’s not shocking to see that the Panthers organization will look a lot different this season. When it comes to fantasy football, we primarily care about the offensive roster and the key members of the coaching staff. The Panthers will feature plenty of new faces in both of these areas.

Looking at the coaching staff, Dave Canales will be taking charge as Carolina’s new head coach. Canales is a phenomenal hire and has a history of making the most out of the talent on his roster. In just the last two seasons, Canales has been responsible for the resurgence of two veteran quarterbacks. In 2022, Canales orchestrated the passing game in Seattle that significantly exceeded expectations and led to a 75 million dollar extension for Geno Smith. Just last season, Canales was the Buccaneers offensive coordinator which saw Mike Evans finish as the WR8 (PPG) and Rachaad White as the RB9 (PPG). Once again, Canales’s QB earned a new contract and Baker Mayfield signed a 100 million dollar extension this offseason.

In terms of the offensive roster, there are new faces everywhere. In an effort to beef up the receiving core, Carolina brought in Diontae Johnson in free agency. They didn’t stop there, adding Xavier Legette in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. They continued to add offensive pieces in the draft, selecting RB Jonathon Brooks in Round 2 and TE Ja’Tavion Sanders in Round 4. Outside of the skill positions, the Panthers heavily invested in their interior offensive line. They added guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis in free agency.

The Panther’s offense will not even vaguely resemble what we saw in 2023. With a revamped roster and a head coach with a proven track record, massive improvements are realistic for Carolina this season. But who should we be targeting in fantasy football?

CAROLINA PANTHERS 2024 FANTASY FOOTBALL TARGETS

JONATHON BROOKS, RB (ADP: 87, RB22)

As previously mentioned, Carolina spent an early-round pick to acquire former Texas RB Jonathon Brooks.

This man was absolutely electric in succession of Bijan Robinson at Texas. Unfortunately, Brooks suffered an ACL tear late in the season. Many believe Brooks was a first-round talent before this unfortunate injury. Thankfully, Brooks is just 20 years old (21 next week) and is at the stage in his career where this injury is recoverable. At this point, there is hope that Brooks will be available for the majority of training camp if not all of it.

Prior to his injury, Brooks proved to be an electric player with a diverse skill set. Given this talent, there is a very real chance that Brooks can emerge as the clear RB1 in this offense. From a fantasy perspective, drafting the RB1 in a Canales offense is like hitting the lottery. Last season, Canales fed Rachaad White with 336 touches, ranking 4th in weighted opportunities per game. This workload lifted White to an RB4 finish overall (PPR).

I am willing to bet on Brooks returning to form and emerging as Canales’s preferred option out of this backfield. If he can earn a workload even close to that of White, he is in line to smash at ADP.

DIONTAE JOHNSON (ADP: 75, WR44)

After struggling to mesh with Kenny Pickett, Diontae Johnson has moved on to Carolina. This is an offense where targets are up for grabs and Johnson can easily solidify himself as the top dog. Although he has not been a high-end fantasy producer, Diontae has remained a phenomenal route runner and all-around receiver in recent years.

Last season, the go-to, “lay-up target” receiver was Adam Thielen. Although everyone (myself included) hated it, Thielen shoved this role down our throats and finished as the WR17. Through six weeks, Thielen was actually the WR3 in PPR formats.

It would come as a shock to nobody if Johnson takes over this role and has a dominant target share in Carolina. Thielen saw 137 targets in 2023. A season with 120-130 targets is very much in the range of outcomes for Johnson.

Nobody wants to invest in this Carolina offense and that is reflected by Johnson’s WR44 price. It simply doesn’t matter what you think of an offense, a player who is going to see as many targets as Johnson should not be drafted as a low-tier WR4. If you need consistent volume and production, especially in PPR leagues, look to Diontae Johnson.

JA’TAVION SANDERS (213, TE29)

The Panthers’ front office must have had their eye on the Texans Longhorns in 2023. They added Jonathon Brooks’ college teammate Ja’Tavion Sanders to their TE room.

Similar to the running back spot, the starting TE in a Dave Canales offense is incredibly valuable. Canales prefers to utilize one TE on just about every play. With Tampa Bay, this was Cade Otton. Otton ran 651 routes last season, 2nd among all TEs.

Sanders enters a TE room with little competition where he has a legitimate chance to earn the TE1 role. He will compete with Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas, two players who serve roles in this offense but are not anything special. Sanders displacing them and seeing TE1 usage is possible in his rookie season.

While this outcome is possible, it should not be expected. This is reflected by his TE29 price. However, if you’re scrambling at TE and need a dart throw, consider Sanders.

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