Carolina Panthers Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Is Bryce Young Set for a Bounce-Back Season?

What are the fantasy outlooks for the Carolina Panthers offense after they added some intriguing options this offseason?

The best fantasy football season any member of the Carolina Panthers produced in 2023 was 32-year-old WR Adam Thielen as the WR17 in PPR formats.

With all due respect to the productive veteran wideout, the Panthers’ offense was very tough to watch for the vast amount of last season.

After a handful of changes to the coaching staff and roster, here is a closer look at the fantasy football outlook for the Panthers heading into the 2024 NFL season.

Carolina Panthers Fantasy Depth Chart

QB
Bryce Young, Andy Dalton

RB
Chuba Hubbard, Jonathon Brooks, Miles Sanders

WR1
Diontae Johnson, Jonathan Mingo

WR2
Xavier Legette, Terrace Marshall Jr.

WR3
Adam Thielen, David Moore

TE
Tommy Tremble, Ja’Tavion Sanders, Ian Thomas

Bryce Young’s Fantasy Outlook

To give you a better idea of just how rough Bryce Young’s rookie season was in Carolina, I’ll start with the fact that he finished with fewer fantasy points than Joshua Dobbs. It is worth mentioning that Dobbs played three fewer games and changed teams in the middle of the season.

Young’s rookie season was so bad that his very future as the team’s franchise quarterback is likely at stake after throwing the same amount of touchdowns (11) last year as he had fumbles throughout his rookie season.

He failed to top 200 yards passing in 11 out of his 16 games played in 2023 and had eight contests where he failed to throw a touchdown pass.

And for the cherry on top of the disaster cake from last season, Young was sacked 62 times in 2023, which was the most of any quarterback in the league not named Sam Howell.

Now, it’s time to provide a little bit of context behind this whole mess.

Young had arguably the worst collection of pass-catchers in the league, his offensive line was inconsistent at best, and his first head coach in the NFL got fired in the middle of the season. That is a recipe for disaster for almost any quarterback, even a No. 1 overall pick.

One small bright spot for Young was his rushing contributions, which came in at 253 yards on the ground despite that not really being his game.

Due to his receivers getting a lack of separation all year long, Young was forced to extend plays and attempt to hang in the pocket while trying to go through his progressions to find somewhere to go with the football.

Fortunately, new head coach Dave Canales has made it a point to bring in a new crop of playmakers in an attempt to surround Young with talent heading into Year 2.

Unfortunately, those changes do very little to suggest he is going to be much more than a QB2 dart throw in Superflex leagues heading into 2024.

Jonathon Brooks’ Fantasy Outlook

One of the playmakers the Panthers added in an attempt to bring aid to Young in 2024 was selecting Texas RB Jonathon Brooks in the second round of the NFL Draft.

Brooks flashed plenty of feature-back upside in his one season as the starter at Texas, rushing for 1,135 yards and 10 TDs while adding an additional 286 yards through the air on 25 receptions.

This all sounds great, right? Well, the issue with this selection is that Brooks is still recovering from a torn ACL he sustained towards the end of the 2023 college football season and isn’t a guarantee to be ready for the start of the upcoming NFL season.

His advanced metrics last year look very good, ranking toward the top in yards after contact (YAC), broken tackles, and explosive rushing plays.

Canales loves to run wide zone dating back to his days on the Seattle Seahawks staff, which fits Brooks’ patient, one-cut, and get-downhill style perfectly.

Brooks’ combination of speed, play strength, and lateral agility all suggest he has the physical tools to be a full-time leading back in the NFL. Yet, his injury affects not only his fantasy outlook for 2024 but his entire projection to the professional ranks.

Chuba Hubbard’s Fantasy Outlook

Outside of Thielen’s surprise fantasy success, the other bright to come from the Carolina offense in 2023 was Chubba Hubbard.

He finished the season as the RB27 after posting a career year with 902 rushing yards and five scores, with an additional 233 receiving yards on 39 receptions.

Yet, Hubbard’s RB27 overall finish feels like it deserves a bit of context. Hubbard actually swiped the feature role away from Sanders in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins and never really looked back.

In fact, from Week 6 through the rest of the season, Hubbard was actually RB19 during that span. Basically, he was everything fantasy managers hoped Sanders would be in 2023.

The addition of Brooks gives Hubbard a pretty shaky fantasy outlook heading into 2024. Hubbard will likely have the inside track to touches and snaps to start the season, while the Panthers likely ease Brooks into the offense of his knee injury.

Yet, once he starts splitting carries when Brooks returns to the lineup, it may be hard to trust Hubbard in your fantasy lineup.

Diontae Johnson’s Fantasy Outlook

One thing that was mentioned about this receiver group from last season was their lack of ability to create separation. Fortunately for Young, the Panthers aggressively went and traded for one of the better route runners in the league with Diontae Johnson.

Johnson’s dipped a bit last year by catching a career-low 51 passes after missing some time due to a hamstring injury. It also did bode well that there was a rotating door of quarterbacks under center last year. Then there is the Matt Canada effect that did pretty much everyone no favors from a fantasy perspective.

My goal is certainly not to create excuses for a player who had multiple instances of inexcusable lack of effort and his fair share of concentration drops, but Johnson’s drop in production certainly didn’t feel like it came from a place of losing a step.

Despite the ineptitude of the Steelers’ offense for the majority of his career, Johnson has proven he can be a very productive wide receiver with a healthy target volume. Prior to last season, Johnson saw 140+ targets and finished inside the top 30 at his position for three consecutive years.

He is still a very capable run-after-catch threat (RAC) who instantly provides this offense with a consistent separator when he is dialed in.

If the aforementioned Thielen can produce a top-20 fantasy season at the WR position on a struggling offense, then Johnson realistically could have a similar ceiling in 2024.

Panthers Fantasy Sleepers

The Carolina collection of pass catchers — outside of Johnson — are all going to present great sleeper value in redraft formats due to the low expectations surrounding this offense heading into the 2024 NFL season.

In fact, people are still going to sleep on Thielen despite his truly outstanding 2023 fantasy production.

Given the circumstances from last year, Thielen proved he can still be a productive fantasy option as a rotational depth piece. His fantasy ceiling has likely been lowered significantly by the arrival of Johnson, but he is still worth a late-round dart throw this year.

Speaking of dart throws, Carolina has a pair of young, physical receivers who could play a small fantasy role for your squad if Young looks anything like the franchise QB the Panthers envisioned.

Jonathan Mingo did remarkably little with 85 targets last season, catching just 43 passes for 418 yards and no scores for a WR81 over fantasy finish in 2023. Mingo has plenty of physical tools but really struggled to create separation while operating outside as an X-receiver.

Fortunately for Young, they drafted one of the most intriguing X-receiver prospects in this class, Xavier Legette, out of South Carolina.

Legette possesses exceptional vertical speed (4.39 40-time) and explosiveness (40” vertical) for a 6’1” 221-pound receiver. His impressive play strength makes him a bully at the catch point, a consistent RAC threat with great contact balance, and difficult to rough up at the line of scrimmage against press coverage.

Legette is not a complete prospect at this time, but his skill set compliments both Johnson and Thielen quite well. If you give him 85 targets next year, then I would expect him to finish much higher than WR81.

Lastly, the tight end group is pretty uninspiring from a fantasy perspective. Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas have both failed to make a fantasy impact throughout their time in the NFL. I have both veteran tight ends completely off my rankings board heading into redraft leagues.

Another reason they are completely off my board is that I’d prefer to take a last-round chance on rookie TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, who possesses a great pass-catching profile but likely could be stuck in a rotation with the two veteran tight ends previously mentioned.

As we look ahead to the 2024 fantasy football season, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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