2012 Team Outlook: Carolina
WR Brandon LaFell, CIN - Sleeper (undervalued)
Brandon LaFell took a big step forward in his second season, catching 36 passes for 613 yards and three touchdowns last season. If LaFell can build on his sophomore campaign and hold off newly acquired wide receiver Louis Murphy then he could be poised for a breakout in his third year starting opposite Steve Smith. LaFell is worth a late round flier on draft day.
WR Steve Smith, BAL - Solid/Safe Pick
Steve Smith experienced a renaissance year with rookie Cam Newton under center last season. Smith eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 2008, finishing the season with 79 receptions for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns. As a result of his resurgence, Smith was rewarded by Carolina with a three-year contract extension in the offseason. At age 33, Smith still has explosive speed that makes him a vertical weapon in the passing game, and he remains a solid fantasy wide receiver.
WR Louis Murphy, TB - Deep-league Only
Once a rising receiver for the Raiders, Louis Murphy became an afterthough in the Oakland passing game last season and was shipped to Carolina this offseason. The Panthers' options behind Steve Smith remain a work in progress and Murphy's experience could give him a leg up on the third wide receiver gig. Regardless, considering he plays in a run-heavy offense and would be behind Smith, tight end Greg Olsen and wideout Brandon LaFell in the target hierarchy, don't bother targeting Murphy in drafts.
WR Armanti Edwards, --- - Low Potential
Armanti Edwards is an intriguing project for the Panthers, but his development has been extremely slow and he has yet to catch a pass in two seasons with Carolina. Edwards has outstanding speed and could become a factor at some point, but the reality is that he has done nothing to justify any consideration from fantasy owners at this point in his career.
WR David Gettis, --- - Low Potential
David Gettis showed flashes of what he is capable of as a rookie, but suffered a torn ACL and missed all of last season. With Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell locked in as the teams starters, Gettis will have to prove he is fully healthy and make an impact as a third wide receiver in the Carolina offense this season. Fantasy owners can ignore Gettis on draft day.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR - Quality Backup
Greg Olsen was one of the most hyped tight ends in fantasy football after being acquired in a trade by Carolina last season. Olsen underwhelmed, catching just 45 passes for 540 yards and five touchdowns. Olsen has the potential to develop into an elite fantasy tight end, but has yet to put it all together. Olsen might still be worth a shot as a late round pickup in fantasy drafts, but nothing more.