The Carolina Panthers have endured a disastrous season, so far, in 2023. The franchise hit a tipping point earlier this week when team owner David Tepper made the decision to fire head coach Frank Reich. The team has fallen to 1-10, and without a first-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, there is a strong feeling of hopelessness in Charlotte, N.C.
Let’s observe recent trends in the Panthers’ offense to see if we can identify any startable receivers from this Panthers team for fantasy football this week.
Should You Start Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo, or D.J. Chark Jr. This Week?
In the Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer, PFN’s Consensus Rankings say that Adam Thielen is the player to start. His projected 13.8 points include a projection of five receptions for 55 yards. That doesn’t seem like a big stat line, but it outperforms the consensus projection of Jonathan Mingo’s 7.6 points and D.J. Chark Jr.’s 6.6 points.
My rankings align with the consensus, but I do expect Mingo and Chark to perform slightly better against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary that ranks 31st in pass yards allowed per game. With the coaching change, rookie QB Bryce Young and his receivers could be in for a strong performance on Sunday.
Fantasy Outlook for Thielen This Week
Thielen has been the lone bright spot for the Panthers this year. He’s become the primary target that Young has leaned on through the season. However, it’s important to note that the last four games have been underwhelming for the former Minnesota Viking.
He’s averaged 37 receiving yards over the last four games, as opposing defenses have started to lock up the Panthers’ leading receiver.
I would continue to plug Thielen into your starting lineups, but be aware that he’s no longer the locked-in starter he once was earlier in the year. The PFN Start/Sit Optimizer projects Thielen to finish with five receptions for 55 yards.
Fantasy Outlook for Mingo This Week
During the offseason, hopes were high for the rookie combination of Mingo and Young. The receiver was drafted in the second round by the Panthers, but so far, he has underwhelmed.
Mingo has finished with less than six fantasy points in seven out of 10 games. Still, there has been a sign of hope for those who drafted Mingo. The PFN Start/Sit Optimizer projects Mingo to finish with two receptions for 36 yards.
Mingo has finished the last three games with at least six targets — a sign that Young is trying to get him the ball. Against the weak Buccaneers secondary, Mingo could turn in a strong performance with this increase in target share.
Fantasy Outlook for Chark This Week
Chark has the lowest projected points for all three receivers and for good reason. Chark is the third-most targeted receiver on this team, which isn’t great when you factor in that the Panthers have the worst passing offense in the NFL.
Chark has yet to finish a game this season with at least five receptions. His ability as a deep threat does not mesh well with this struggling offense. The PFN Start/Sit Optimizer projects Chark to finish with just two receptions for 33 yards.
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