Fantasy football preview: Carolina Panthers quarterbacks

Fantasy football preview: Carolina Panthers quarterbacks

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football preview: Carolina Panthers quarterbacks

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The Carolina Panthers have struggled to get past the Cam Newton era but overhauled the quarterbacks room in the last three months. Carolina has become the dumping ground of 2018 draft failures, where Cleveland passed on Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson to take Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick, and the New York Jets followed shortly thereafter in taking Sam Darnold at No. 3.

Darnold was an undeniable failure in New York, getting run out of town when he struggled, and the Jets drafted Zach Wilson with the second pick in the 2021 draft to officially end the experiment. Although Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 2002 and earned their first playoff win since 1994, his erratic play led to a 29-30 record as a starter and the signing of a megadeal with Deshaun Watson that eventually sent Mayfield packing.

Rookie Matt Corral was rumored to be in consideration as a first-round draft pick, but fell all the way to the third round and has the “QB of the future” tag, while third-year man P.J. Walker has to wonder where his future lies.

Baker Mayfield

Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield came out of the gate strong with the Browns as a rookie in 2018, throwing for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns but backed it up with a brutal 2019 season with almost as many interceptions (21) as touchdowns (22). The same happened after leading the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 with an erratic 2021 season that led the Browns to mortgage the future on Watson while throwing Mayfield to the curb.

He was known to be a volatile teammate who could rub people the wrong way, so perhaps a fresh start is the best thing for him. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, there are millions of reasons for Mayfield to reclaim his career. He is the most talented of the quarterbacks in camp, but will need to play well early to prevent looking over his shoulder.

Sam Darnold

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Darnold came to the NFL from a blue-blood program (USC) with high expectations, but, 49 career starts later, he has almost twice as many losses (32) as wins (17) and just about as many interceptions (52) as touchdowns (54). His first month in Carolina had some wondering if he turned a corner and the problem wasn’t Darnold but was the Jets.

In his first four games he threw for 1,189 yards (297 a game) with five touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Panthers started 3-0. In his last eight games (seven starts), he went 1-6 as a starter with just 1,338 yards (167 a game) with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It was the same old story that has dogged his career in New York – long stretches of poor play, and it helps explain why Carolina doubled down in trading for Mayfield and drafting Corral.

Matt Corral and P.J. Walker

Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers traded back up into the third round of the 2022 draft and threw in a 2023 third-round pick to land Corral. The acquisition of Mayfield takes the pressure off Corral of being forced to get on the field too soon. The coaching staff can take its time getting Corral settled into the system. The Panthers see him as the long-term answer at quarterback once the current dust settles of the veteran competition in front of him. It just is very unlikely to happen this year.

Walker has started two games in his two years with the Panthers – and won them both – but he appears to be the odd-man out, because he has thrown eight interceptions with just two touchdowns. Nobody keeps four quarterbacks in the NFL, and there is no way the Panthers are going to cut Mayfield or Corral, so his only chance to make the team is if Carolina parts ways with Darnold.

Fantasy football outlook

Tiers for players in fantasy leagues tend to follow the 12-player league format. A QB2 would include the 13th to 24th ranked quarterbacks. If Mayfield is going to have a ranking it would be at the very bottom of the QB2 grouping – and that isn’t a given.

Mayfield may put up fantasy numbers to garner QB2 inclusion because he has the weapons – Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson can do damage – but he had as good or better weapons in Cleveland and never took it to the next level. Darnold, Corral and Walker have no fantasy value at this point.

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