Carolina Panthers

NFC South

2017 Schedule

  • Week 1

    CAR @ SF


    4:30 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

Carolina Panthers - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview





“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape,

You don’t spit into the wind,

You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,

And you don’t mess around with” Cam, Newton that is!





Well, Superman might not live up to Jim Croce’s expectations this year. Before we jump into the reasons to avoid Newton, let’s look at the Cam we know and love. Last year, he finished 3rd in fantasy points for QBs. He has finished in the top 4 every year he has been a pro. In those three years, he has thrown for at least 3,300 yards every season. He has at least 27 total touchdowns in every season. He is the definition of a dual threat QB.


Alright, here it is, my devil’s advocate speech. I don’t think I even need to invoke Al Pacino in order to win this argument.





If Cam does not score a rushing TD, his fantasy output suffers severely. If you look at his rushing numbers, they have dwindled every season. Currently, there is not one wide receiver on roster that caught a pass from him in 2013. As always, I like to look at trends. So, let us focus on how he played in 2013. Last year was his lowest totals for rushing attempts, yards, and rushing TDs. Last year also marked career lows in the passing department. In 2013, he turned out his lowest attempts, lowest passing yardage, lowest yardage per attempt, lowest per completion, and lowest total yards per game. He only had one game over 300 yards. He did however, have six games where he did not even reach 200 yards passing.  In the last five games, he averaged 10th in fantasy points per game. In the last three games, his average in fantasy points per game fell to 16th. In 2014, the Panthers have the 13th easiest schedule for quarterbacks this year. Last year, they were ranked 7th. Now, Cam has a whole new receiving core to get accustomed to. Granted the rookie, Kelvin Benjamin, has looked good in the preseason, but how about the rest of the crew? On roster, he will be throwing to Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and Tiquan Underwood. The pro Cam side has stated the fact that he has always worked with unknown receivers before. Well, I say to you Mr. Underwood, you sir, are no Steve Smith. Oh yeah, one more fact to sure this debate up. Superman suffered a cracked rib in the 3rd preseason game, not to mention his most recent ankle surgery was in March. As they say in tennis: Game. Sip. Macked… Bitch! What, like you really watch Wimbledon either?






Alright, even though Cam should be sliding down your tiers, he does have a good looking rookie receiver. Kelvin Benjamin has been getting a lot of hype, and perhaps deservedly so.



The one thing he has going for him is his athleticism and perhaps, the lack of positional competition. But damn, does everyone have him as their rookie pick or what? As of his ADP in late August, he is going in the middle of the 8th round in 12 team leagues. It was just one short month ago, Benjamin’s ADP was the start of the 11th round.  He falls in the 50’s for the Pyro collective wide receiver tiers. His ADP has him going in the late 30’s.  Personally, he falls in the low 40’s for me. He is easy to fall for, especially given the lack of competition. Benjamin is a big guy but lacks speed and ups. He is 6”5’ and 240 pounds, but only ran a 4.61 and has a vertical leap of merely 32.5 inches.  He does not possess breakaway speed, and was not known for his route running, nor his run after the catch. So, this means he will most likely end up with TDs as he is a red zone mismatch, but chances are, he will not have those big yardage games that often give you those extra points. If your league awards for this, or long scores, Benjamin falls down the tier sheet a bit. Like I said, he could be a TD monster. The Panthers come in to 2014 with the 8th best WR schedule. But, keep this stat in mind, in the history of the NFL, there have only been 8 rookie wide receivers to go for 1,000 yards.  Personally, if there is a rookie that is going to make it 9, my money (and D-rx’s for that matter) is on Brandin Cooks. For more info on this, check out Houdini’s piece “Does Height Matter for Wide Receivers?”



Looking at the rest of the receivers in Carolina, it makes you want to simultaneously bump Benjamin up your tiers, and then adjust Cam down.  Out of the remainders, Cotchery has the best shot at fantasy relevance. Avant and Underwood will not make any of my rosters, nor should they be on yours if you want to roll into the playoffs. Cotchery could actually be a sneaky pick up.  Although he has been in the league since 2004, and has only gone for over 1,000 yards once, he might just lead the team in yardage. After all, look how Smith had a resurgence with Newton on his team. Smith was in his 11th season when Newton came to Carolina. He more than doubled his yardage and TD totals from the previous year. Now, Cotchery is also going into his 11th year and it will be his first with cam Newton. I don’t know if he will have as much success as Smith did that first year, but I think it is safe to say Cotchery should see a significant jump in his stats playing with Cam. Jerricho is more of a route runner than Benjamin. Still, comparing the two, Benjamin will score more fantasy points, but Cotchery might have some value as he is currently going undrafted. In Pyro’s collective tiers, Cotchery is ranked in the high 60’s right in the neighborhood of Rod Streater and Andrew Hawkins. Even if he goes undrafted, he could be one to watch on the waiver wire if indeed Cam relies on the veteran’s steady performances week in and week out.


If it is reliability you are after, than look no further than Greg Olsen. Lord knows Cam will be looking for a familiar face out there, and we do not mean Owen Wilson. But you have to admit, there is some similarity there.






The fact that Olsen will be one of the very few players on the team that actually caught a pass from Superman last year will undoubtedly work in his favor. Pyro has Olsen rated inside the top 10 for tight end. He does have a tough go of it this year; the Panthers are ranked with the 29th easiest schedule at the tight end position. There could be several weeks where Olsen leads all Panthers in receptions. If you are in a PPR league, this could be Olsen’s biggest year to date. In fact, in our PPR mock draft, Olsen actually went ahead of Cam. Doing mocks is one of the best ways to prepare for your draft. I would say it is second only to listening to the Pyro podcast. So, we combined both into one earth shattering event. 





Olsen does not get the respect he deserves. In the last six season, he has played in every single game. Last year, his 73 receptions was a career high. Although he did not post a 100 yard game last year, I think that will change in 2014. Besides, when drafting Olsen, you get solid production week in and week out. He is a guy you can plug in and have a steady performance week in and week out.  In 2012, he was the 6th best fantasy tight end. Last year, he ranked #8. The situation in Carolina should allow a repeat of those numbers if not improve upon them.


Turning to the running game, Carolina uses a committee approach with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart working as the two main backs. Mike Tolbert gets most of the goal line looks. In order to capture what it actually feels like to own one of these players, Pyro secretly recorded a Williams owner checking his team’s performance on Monday morning. Let’s watch!





They have a tough road to hoe in 2014. They are ranked with the 25th easiest schedule. Pyro’s collective tiers shows the Carolina backs roughly in the same neighborhood. Williams is in the low 40’s with Tolbert actually coming in next. He and Stewart are found in the low to mid 50’s. Personally, I have these guys moved even farther down my tiers. I will not have a Carolina RB on any of my teams. One, health is always a concern. Two, you never know who, if any, will have the hot hand. Three, if you count Newton, there are four guys that could score a rushing touchdown on any given Sunday. Look, I want to win my league. I take the Ricky Bobby approach. “If you ain’t first, your last”. 





The goal is to win week in and week out. That means you are going to have to take some chances, go for the high ceiling guys. I don’t mind some stability to your line up, sprinkle in some steady guys to balance your roster, but drafting a Carolina running back is a sure way to find yourself in 5th place. Let’s face it, if you want to “piss excellence” guess which word of the two these running backs are missing?


Finally, on the defensive end, Carolina finished most leagues as the number 3 ranked defense. That is exactly where they are being drafted as of late August. Pyro is down on them defensively, ranking them outside the top 12. They lost many of their secondary in the offseason. Not to mention, they play in the NFC South, with teams like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay all boasting big play guys in their passing game. With Carolina’s suspect secondary, they could be in some high scoring affairs. In many leagues, points allowed is where the defensive position draws the majority of its scoring. If they are going against big guns like Breeze and Ryan, chances are Carolina’s defense will allow some major scoring this year. Do not draft them expecting a repeat of last year’s performance. There are far better defensive units to be had in the last round of your draft.




By Mo



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Double Trouble

DeAngelo Williams was a record setting running back in college where he holds the NCAA record for most 100-yard rushing games with 34. DeAngelo would finish his career as the fourth all time leading rusher in the NCAA with 6,026 yards. He would measure out at 5’9” 215 pounds, leading many NFL teams to worry about his size and durability, but his 4.4 speed made him the 27th pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2006. In 2006 and 2007, Williams would play a back up role to DeShaun Foster being effective on the ground and through the air compiling 1,218 yards on 265 carries with five rushing touchdowns and adding 56 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns. 2008 looked to be the season in which DeAngelo would get the lion’s share of the carries but the Panthers would select Jonathan Stewart 13th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Stewart was one of the most sought after high school recruits in the entire nation and choose the University of Oregon over USC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and others. Stewart was one of the biggest recruits to ever attend the University of Oregon at the time and would start his college career with a bang leading the nation in kick return average during his freshman season. His junior season he was selected as a first team All Pac-10 performer and would enter the NFL draft. Stewart would become a hot commodity at the NFL draft combine where he posted an impressive size (5’10” 235 pounds) and speed (4.46 forty time) combination. Stewart would be selected by the Panthers with the 13th overall pick in 2008 and join DeAngelo Williams in one of the most dynamic backfields ever.

While this may have been a luxury pick for the Panthers the tandem was extremely effective until DeAngelo was bit by the injury bug in 2010 and defenses could stack the box against the Stewart and the failed experiment that was Jimmy Clausen. The Panthers would finish 2010 with a 2-14 record and be rewarded with the number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft which the Panthers would use to select Cam Newton which would forever change this groups value at the running back position. To make matters worse both running backs were signed to big long term deals that continue to haunt the Panthers to this day. In 2011, Williams signed a five-year contract worth $43 million. Stewart signed a five year 30.65 million dollar contract in August of 2012. To make matters worse the Panthers also added Mike Tolbert on a 4 year deal in 2012 making for one of the most crowded backfields in the league and recurring nightmares for fantasy owners. The Panthers backfield has gone from a highly efficient group to a nightmare in recent season as Cam Newton has also played a giant role in the run game.



DeAngelo and Stewart


By Stagg Party

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Julius Peppers was a Beast

Julius Peppers is one of the more interesting stories in the NFL as he came up playing only basketball until high school when the Head Coach of the football team would end up asking him to play, even though he had never played before. As a freshman, Peppers was already a man among boys standing at 6’5” 225 pounds and would star in football, basketball, and track during his high school years. Julius would later be named the Male Athlete of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for his standout play in all three sports which included being an All American on the football field, an All Conference performer on the basketball court, and a state champion sprinter and triple jumper.

Peppers would choose to attend the University of North Carolina as he was given the ability to walk onto the Basketball team to go along with his football scholarship. Peppers would redshirt in 1998, before exploding in his sophomore season to lead the nation with 15 sacks and earn first team ACC honors as well as second team All American honors. Peppers would walk on with the Tar Heel Basketball team for two seasons and play power forward, where he would average 5.7 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game in his 56 games with the team, before deciding to focus solely on football for his junior season. In 1999-2000 Peppers would be a reserve on a Tar Heels team that went to the final four. Pepper’s junior season was the icing on the cake though as he would prove to be one of the most dominant forces in the college game being named a unanimous All-American, the Chuck Bednarik Award winner, the Lombardi Award winner, and the Bill Willis Trophy winner.

Peppers would enter the NFL draft after his junior season and would attend the NFL Scouting combine in February of 2002. He would measure out at 6’7” and 283 pounds and would run a 4.68 forty yard dash exciting every NFL team. Peppers would be selected second overall by the Carolina Panthers and help turn their last place defense around immediately as he accounted for 12 sacks and five forced fumbles in just 12 games during his rookie season and be named the NFL Rookie of the Year for his work. In his second season Peppers would help the Panthers make it to the Playoffs for the second time in franchise history and eventually reach the Superbowl. Peppers would become one of two players in history to play in the NCAA Men’s basketball Final Four and the NFL Superbowl.

Peppers would be one of the most sought after commodities in IDP drafts as he was a consistent sack performer with a penchant for making big plays. Peppers would play eight seasons with the Carolina Panthers and holds numerous team records including having the most sacks in team history. In his 122 games played with the Panthers Peppers picked up 81 sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 interceptions for touchdowns, 46 passes defended, 30 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 387 tackles. Peppers would also be named to numerous pro bowls during his time in Carolina and would earn himself a 91 million dollar contract with the Chicago Bears for his efforts. As of the end of the 2013 season Peppers currently ranks 17th on the all time sack list with 119 career sacks.

By Stagg Party

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The 1996 Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers were an expansion team in 1995, and had a very successful entry season with a 7-9 record. That is a far cry from the pitiable play that plagued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints franchises in their inaugural seasons’ and for many years beyond. The Panthers represented the dream of Pete Rozelle, where an expansion team can compete early in their existence. The Panthers, as well as their expansion mate Jacksonville Jaguars, would shock the NFL world with their performance in 1996.

Defensive minded coach Dom Capers led the Panthers, and they added a lot of NFL veterans to their roster through the expansion draft.  Capers then put all his eggs in the basket of the franchise’s first ever draft pick quarterback Kerry Collins. The weapons that the Penn State product had to work with in the offense were running back Anthony Johnson, wide receivers Mark Carrier and Willie Green, along with Pro Bowl tight end Wesley Walls. Collins was not counted on to win a lot of games for the Panthers, as the strength of the team lied with the defense.

The defense was led by linebackers Sam Mills, Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathan and cornerback Eric Davis all who made the Pro Bowl in 1996. Those three linebackers combined for 33.5 sacks on the season. It was the job of the defense to keep the games close, so the offense could do enough to win the game.

The season started off on the right foot with the Panthers going 3-0, while outscoring their opponents 74-33. The next six games would see the Panthers lose a bunch of close games, and they would go 2-4 during that stretch, but still outscored their opponents 116-98. The final game of that stretch, a 17-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, would be the last loss of the regular season for the Panthers and the second to last time they allowed over 20 points the rest of the regular season.

The Panthers would go on to reel off seven straight wins to finish the regular season at 12-4 and clinch the NFC West Division title. During that seven game win streak the defense was top notch allowing only 87 points. That win streak not only clinched them the division title, but they also clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. Their first opponent would be the Dallas Cowboys who were still led by Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin, and were coming off a 40-15 trouncing of the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys were the favorite in the match-up against the expansion Panthers, but Sam Mills and the defense had other ideas.

The Cowboys ran the ball for 255 yards against the Vikings with three touchdowns. The Panthers held the Cowboys to 96 yards rushing on the day with no scores. In fact the defense was so tough that day, they intercepted Troy Aikman three times. Dallas scored first in the game with a field goal, but the Panthers answered with touchdown passes to Wesley Walls and Willie Green and never relinquished the lead. The defense continued to stand tall against Aikman down the stretch to earn the Panthers their first ever playoff victory 26-17. That win also placed the Panthers in the NFC championship game, in only their second season, where they would face off against Brett Favre, Reggie White and the Green Bay Packers.

The Panthers started the NFC Championship game in fine fashion scoring first in Lambeau on a pass from Kerry Collins to Howard Griffith, but that was the end of the offensive power for the Panthers this day. The Packers would hold the Panthers to two more field goals the rest of the game in route to a 30-13 victory. Carolina was unable to run the ball with only 45 yards, while Kerry Collins was intercepted twice. The Packers would go on to defeat New England in the Super Bowl.

The Panthers still had one of the most magical seasons ever by an expansion team in their second season. They also proved that just because you are an expansion team, does not mean that you are relegated to being a losing team for your first 10 years. Pete Rozelle, who passed on Dec 6th of 1996, would have been so proud to see the Panthers and Jaguars both reach their conference title games in their second seasons.

By Houdini

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