Carolina Panthers: 2014 Outlook
 
 
 
 
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Carolina Panthers

By Mark Morales-Smith, Friday, September 12, 2014

Cam Newton is coming back from offseason ankle surgery and he is expected to be 100-percent by late June to early July. The ankle should have no effect on his play. A lot has been made of Newton's receiving corps (or lack thereof). They are really not that bad and he has a few of veterans who know how to get open. Cotchery, Underwood, and Avant have all performed very well in limited opportunities. None of them are a true No. 1 receiver; however, each can make a play when called upon. He also has young receivers Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt. Both have upside and showed some of that during last year's preseason, Neither have amounted to anything just yet and both ended up buried on the bench. The Panthers' top pass-catcher may be tight end Greg Olsen, whom they backed up with Ed Dickson for insurance. Carolina also drafted Kelvin Benjamin out of Florida State with their first round pick. He is a huge target that can pull the ball down out of a crowd. When Newton's in trouble, Benjamin is a guy that can be thrown to even when covered. Newton can also leans on a stable of running backs. It goes without saying that Newton may be the best running QB in the league, especially in the red zone. His size allows him to do a lot more between the tackles than a Mike Vick or RG3 can. This may be the year Newton really pulls away from the pack as a superstar; he'll just need his passing stats to pick up where his rushes end.

Editor's note: Leagues which reward six points for passing TDs slightly reduce the value of dual-threat QBs like Newton.

THE NOT VERY GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY: DeAngelo Williams had some very strong fantasy years back in the day. He has been trapped in a two-back system with Jonathan Stewart since 2009, although J-Stew is rarely healthy enough to compete. Williams peaked in 2008 when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. That may as well be a million years ago. Over the past three seasons, Williams is averaging about 800 yards and six TDs per season. Now 31 years old, he is stuck in a very crowded backfield. He will be battling a somewhat rejuvenated Stewart, touchdown vulture Mike Tolbert, second-year runner Kenjon Barner, and Cam Newton for carries. With his role unknown and a cast of characters supplanting him based on down and distance, Williams is a flex play at best, with a touch more upside in PPR scoring.