QB Matt Corral helped lead Ole Miss to an impressive 10-2 record in 2021 before getting knocked out early in a Sugar Bowl loss to Baylor. The signal-caller is a worthwhile investment for several NFL teams in need of a young quarterback. How should dynasty fantasy football managers assess Corral now that he’s landed with the Carolina Panthers?
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Matt Corral’s dynasty fantasy profile
Can Corral make fantasy waves as early as his rookie season? Which factors could impact his floor and ceiling?
PFN Draft Analyst Oli Hodgkinson highlights three core strengths for Corral. First, he boasts impressive zip on short and intermediate throws. If he can translate this ability in the NFL — where firing lasers with pinpoint accuracy between defenders separates the great from the merely good — then Corral’s fantasy floor as a chain-moving pocket passer will be secure.
Second, his mobility: 1,120 rushing yards across his last 23 games in the nation’s toughest college football conference — the SEC. Any self-respecting fantasy manager understands the sizable impact of dual-threat QBs. Five of last year’s top six NFL QB rushers (in terms of yards) averaged 20+ fantasy points per game. The sixth, rookie Justin Fields, will probably get there soon enough.
Third, never underestimate the power of leadership. This marks one of Corral’s core features. In his last four losses, Ole Miss rebounded the following game with a win, in which Corral always played much better. This mental toughness should translate well at the professional level.
The prevailing notion is that Corral has a cannon for an arm. Oli has a more nuanced breakdown after watching film, presenting the counterpoint that, while Corral shows terrific passing ability on shorter throws (as referenced above), he’s “prone to put air under the ball” on deep throws. This results in diminished accuracy.
He doesn’t have a flashy TD-to-INT ratio, and he threw a whopping 14 picks across 10 games in 2020 — the most of any SEC quarterback. We’ve witnessed sharp on-field and fantasy declines among quarterbacks who lose the ability to generate downfield production, including Ben Roethlisberger this past season and Philip Rivers in 2020.
Facing NFL-caliber secondaries, Corral’s development as a fantasy mainstay hinges, in part, on proving he can hit targets on deep passes.
Additionally, Corral is a bit undersized at 6’1″ and 205 pounds. Like Josh Allen, he invites contact, which could hurt him down the road, particularly against larger and more physical NFL defenders.
Corral’s injury history
Corral suffered an ankle sprain against Baylor in this year’s Sugar Bowl, exiting in the first quarter. He had another ankle injury earlier in the season against Auburn. He’ll enter the 2022 season healthy, but his aggressive running style might make him a higher-than-normal injury risk.
Corral’s dynasty value with the Panthers
The Panthers are stuck with Sam Darnold for another season. They made this bed and now have to lay in it. Darnold has spent four years proving he’s probably best suited as a backup. As a result, the Panthers were linked to Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis. Before the draft, I wrote this: “What if they decide to forego quarterback in the first round to address another need and try to move back into the second round to grab a QB?”
Well, the Panthers forewent a quarterback in the first round and the second round before moving back into the third round to grab Corral.
This is a great spot for Corral to get a chance to prove his worth. The Panthers have a true WR1 in DJ Moore and a solid WR2 in Robby Anderson. They also have the best receiving back in the NFL in Christian McCaffrey. If Corral finds himself in a starting role, he’ll have plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Will Corral start as a rookie?
Assuming health, I would be stunned if Corral did not make starts as a rookie. He’s not going to start Week 1, but Darnold is simply not a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. The Panthers are very likely going to be staring down the barrel of a heavily losing record. They know Darnold is not the answer. At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, it will make too much sense to just see what Corral can do.
I don’t expect Corral to carry any redraft value as he will open the season as a backup. Best case, he ends up being a streamer at some point after he replaces Darnold.
In dynasty, this is a boon for Corral’s value. I actually think he has the clearest path to start out of every rookie QB. While I don’t think he’s as good as Pickett or Willis, he has the weakest starting quarterback ahead of him between Pickett, Willis, and Desmond Ridder.
Since none of these QBs project as high-end dynasty assets long-term, the best value very well may be in the one most likely to see the field the earliest, which would be Corral.