The Carolina Panthers offense is going to run through Christian McCaffrey, both through the air (124 targets) and on the ground (219 carries). At the same time can we expect the Panthers to hand him that type of workload once again? Wear and tear could quickly become an issue, and any downturn in usage is going to help add potential value elsewhere.
When you look at the receiving corps you see a group full of questions. First just look at the target leaders from a year ago:
- DJ Moore – 82
- Devin Funchess – 79
- Curtis Samuel – 65
- Jarius Wright – 59
Funchess left in the offseason (he signed with Indianapolis) and the options brought in, like Chris Hogan and Torrey Smith, don’t elicit much optimism. While a healthy Greg Olsen should assume some of the available opportunities, it’s clear that there’s room for someone to step up and emerge.
Enter Samuel, who showed some signs of taking a massive step forward in his sophomore season and is getting consistently praised this preseason. Just look at this courtesy of David Newton from ESPN:
Christian McCaffrey says Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel has rare speed. Coach Ron Rivera says the former Ohio State Star is light years ahead of where he was when he entered the league. For Samuel it’s all about staying healthy and getting reps.
While he managed just 39 catches for 494 yards and 5 TD (he added 2 rushing TD), there were times where he looked primed to become a strong part of the offense. Just consider this target run over a four week stretch:
11, 8, 4 and 13
The question is going to be whether or not a healthy Cam Newton will help him become more efficient in those opportunities. He had at least 7 targets in a game four times, and his efficiency with an increased workload was poor (22 catches on 39 targets).
There is no doubt that he is an explosive player, and one with the potential to make big plays every time the ball is in his hand. Even with the potential for increased potential targets available can we expect him to consistently get 7-8 opportunities per week (and even if he does, can he capitalize on them)? Let’s not forget that he’s probably still fourth on the priority chart behind:
- Christian McCaffrey
- DJ Moore
- Greg Olsen
He still has to combat sophomore TE Ian Thomas, as well as the veteran wide receiver imports. He could do that, and potentially push for 50-60 catches and score several TD. With that upside, which could make him a potential WR3, his current average ADP of 119.8 (the 45th wide receiver off the board) makes him well worth the gamble. He’s hardly a can’t miss, but the reward outweighs the risk at that point in the draft.
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros