McCaffrey Sizzles, Matt Kalil Struggles, and Cam Newton Yet to Find His Groove

McCaffrey Sizzles, Matt Kalil Struggles, and Cam Newton Yet to Find His Groove

The Carolina Panthers hosted the Miami Dolphins for their first home preseason game this Friday night. There was no midfield logo, despite teases from Carolina media members throughout the day. Carolina walked away with a 27-20 victory and advanced to 2-0 in the preseason despite an erratic showing from Cam Newton featuring him running for his life much because of the atrocious of left tackle Matt Kalil.

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Curtis Samuel Will Just Have to Pick it Up and So Will Carolina

Curtis Samuel Will Just Have to Pick it Up and So Will Carolina

Carolina’s second round pick, Curtis Samuel, strained his hamstring in the first practice of training camp. He hasn’t practiced since. Samuel, in conjunction with Christian McCaffrey, was believed to be a key part of Carolina’s plan to evolve into a faster, more dynamic unit. Bringing speed and versatility

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FFL Participants Need to be Careful Drafting Panthers in 2017

FFL Participants Need to be Careful Drafting Panthers in 2017

The C3FF Mega-League is around the corner and more importantly, so is the unveiling of the "new look Carolina Panthers" -- especially on offense -- which is exactly why those who want to dominate their FFLs of ANY sort need to look for VALUE in Carolina's players' picks...especially in 2017.

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Experts Are Weighing In On Fantasy Potential For Panthers Rookies.

It's only May, but is that really to soon to start eyeing potential Panthers fantasy star? I don't think so, and these fantasy sites don't either. So I jumped in to get an early look at where some of the experts have our offensive rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel ranked.

SCOUT.COM-"FANTASY STUDS"

 

RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY, CAROLINA PANTHERS

McCaffrey brings a much-needed dimension to the Panthers that they have lacked for years. He is a unique pass-catching back with an ability to run the ball as well. I don’t expect him to blow anyone away with his rushing numbers. However, he has the potential to be PPR gold. His presence should also help Cam Newton out immensely forcing the defense to focus more underneath so he can blow the top off when the opportunity presents itself.

Curtis Samuel did not make this list.

NFL.COM'S TOP 20 FANTASY ROOKIES

12. Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers

Samuel is a player to watch during camp, as the Panthers don't have much at wide receiver behind Kelvin Benjamin (who is reportedly overweight) and Devin Funchess. A versatile player in the mold of a Percy Harvin, Samuel could etch out a role in the Panthers offense as a potential slot receiver who also sees a handful of carries. The Ohio State product will have some late-round appeal in most fantasy leagues.
Projection: 21 carries, 113 yards, 0 TDs, 47 receptions, 506 yards, 4 TDs

 

 

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey isn't considered a good fit for the Panthers offense in the minds of some analysts, but has this unit ever had a runner with his skill set? You don't draft someone eighth overall and not use him to the best of his abilities, and he fills a need in an offense that lacks playmakers. McCaffrey can do it all on the gridiron, and I think he'll be a better fantasy option than veteran Jonathan Stewart as a rookie.
Projection: 153 carries, 677 yards, 4 TDs, 54 receptions, 433 yards, 2 TDs

FOX SPORTS TOP 15 FANTASY ROOKIES

12. Curtis Samuel - Panthers WR/RB

Like Christian McCaffrey, Samuel is a collegiate RB/WR playmaker for Cam Newton. With Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen running vertical routes, Samuel can be used in a variety of ways underneath like Julian Edelman.

 

3. Christian McCaffrey - Panthers RB/WR

The combination of McCaffrey and Samuel paired with Cam Newton’s talents is scary. For my initial thoughts on McCaffrey, please check out my post-first round feature.

 

 SPORTING NEWS FANTASY ROOKIE RANKINGS

 

4) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers

We already have the "Run CMC" T-shirts, but the question is, just how much will Carolina let McCaffrey run?. It's selling him short as a five-to-10-carry change-of-pace guy, as McCaffrey is underrated as a physical finisher and even better as advertised as an open-field receiver. Given he's behind aging and worn Jonathan Stewart (30), he must be drafted as an RB2. The Panthers were short on dynamic difference-makers last year, and McCaffrey should get every chance to be a consistent one.

Curtis Samuel didn't crack their top 17.

As expected, it sounds like a lot of the fantasy gurus are high on McCaffrey out of the rookie class this season. He could be especially valuable in PPR formats. 

It seems many are also liking the potential value of the Panthers second round draft pick Curtis Samuel out of the 2017 rookie class. His best value could be in the mid-rounds based on these early rankings (unless your draft has defensive players).

Written By Tripp Morgan

Follow @TrippMorgan6 and @Cat_Chronicles for the latest surrounding the Carolina Panthers.

 

Article Thumbnail Photo by Jesse Fraetis.

Panthers Ace Draft and I'm still a Fournette Fan

Panthers Ace Draft and I'm still a Fournette Fan

I realize the Panthers decided to "evolve" their offense. Their identity was that of a power running scheme until this week. The top two selections proved the team brass wasn't lying when they nabbed a pair of 200 pound running backs in The Holy Terror and in Pest Wild.

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Did Sean McDermott Foil Carolina's NFL Draft, Twice?

Did Sean McDermott Foil Carolina's NFL Draft, Twice?

The Buffalo Bills traded up in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, just the ahead of the Panthers. In both of these rounds, the selected players that the Panthers had met and of positions that Carolina addressed in that same round.

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Panthers Rounds 1, 2, and 3 Draft Recap

Panthers Rounds 1, 2, and 3 Draft Recap

After Leonard Fournette went to the Jaguars at #4, the Panthers were targeting three players: Jamal Adams, Christian McCaffrey, and O.J. Howard. The Jets took Adams at #6, leaving Carolina to choose between the dynamic running back from Stanford and the well-rounded tight end from Alabama.

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Do These Prospect Visits Show Carolina Panthers Want To "Evolve?"

One word has summed up the Carolina Panthers off-season for fans, media, and analysts alike... "EVOLVE." Ever since Rivera muttered the phrase in regards to the offense at the end of the season, the outside world has been trying to figure it out. As we have gotten closer to the draft, we may be getting a pretty good idea judging by a few of the prospect visits the Panthers have brought in.

Each season NFL teams are allotted 30 draft prospects to bring in for visits and/or workouts at the team facilities. In most cases, in the Panthers case anyway, these are the players you can start getting the best judge of interest in. There have been three particular players the Panthers have shown interest in that fit roughly the same mold and could help "evolve" this offense and give Cam Newton another weapon. They are RB/WR Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR Curtis Samuel, and RB Alvin Kamara.

In a year where Jonathan Stewart is turning 30 and has battled injuries, seeing Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera hosting running back prospects isn't surprising. But each of these running backs offer something new to the Panthers offense, and that's the ability to line up outside or in the slot at receiver.

Having a running back with the ability to line up as a receiver can create all kinds of mismatches for opposing defenses. Many question whether offensive coordinator Mike Shula can properly use a player like this, but who really knows as the most versatile player he has had with Carolina was Ted Ginn, who now resides with NFC SOuth rival New Orleans. Between Shula and Cam Newton, Ginn has had the best years of his career in Charlotte. During the 2015 season Shula constantly used Ginn's speed to create mismatches. Like the one here (fast forward to 1:55) where a linebacker was covering Ginn. Good times.

With Ginn in the slot and the Falcons sending a blitzing safety from the left, it left Ginn matched up alone with the linebacker. There was one safety left up top, but Ginn is the only receiver on the three wide set who crosses field, leaving the safety in no man's land with two other receivers to his right. As soon as Newton realizes the safety doesn't adjust, he lofts it up downfield for Ginn to use his speed to go get it. 

Now, I'm not comparing Ginn to prospects like McCaffrey, just simply showing what the use of proper mismatches with players who create separation can do. The hottest name surrounding the Panthers draft right now, Christian McCaffrey, has been a master of this in college. You can look up highlights all day, but here's one where he runs a route out of the back field and breaks a linebacker down one-on-one and takes it all the way after finding the seam.

Alvin Kamara shot up teams boards after posting explosive combine numbers. His versatility in both the running and receiving game is what helped land him at Tennessee. That along with his combine performance is what will help him in the NFL as well. 

This isn't the big play like McCaffrey's above, but it's a good example of the mismatch caused by the running back motioning out of the backfield. Tennessee scored twice in this game on this exact same play. You'll notice two defenders on one receiver near the back of the end zone leaving Kamara wide open. 

Chances are you saw Curtis Samuel of Ohio State play at some point last season. He dominated the final drive in double overtime that propelled the Buckeyes over arch rival Michigan.

Another play where the linebacker matches up with the running back coming out of the back field. The quarterback slightly under-throws the pass here causing a contested catch that Samuel still comes down with. A little more on the pass and it's an easy touchdown catch.

The Panthers have visited with all of these running backs along with Leonard Fournette, who is another hot name associated with the Panthers. These takes here are not a spite to Fournette and his game. I still like Fournette and think he can be successful in the NFL. I also believe he has better hands than many anticipate, but the Panthers need versatility if they are going to truly "evolve" the offense. Having another power running back wouldn't really do that. 

With that said, it's also entirely possible Carolina brought in the likes of Curtis Samuel and Alvin Kamara in case they chose not to go McCaffrey at eight. It seems pretty evident the Panthers like Fournette just as much as they do McCaffrey and if he falls to eight, we could see them take him and get either Samuel or Kamara later. They could also go defense at eight if a guy they really like is still there and get one of the two later. The only problem with that is McCaffrey is much more polished in running, receiving, and returning than the other two. Not to mention you are then tying up two draft picks on running backs.

When it all boils down to it, we can only guess what Rivera meant by "evolve." Hell, Gettleman said in his post season presser that it wasn't really the proper term to use, so who knows? Nobody but the people in the front office really know what direction they want to go a week out from the draft. Even they probably still don't know. It could all come down to who falls and who doesn't. 

Written By Tripp Morgan

Follow @TrippMorgan6 and @Cat_Chronicles for the latest news and updates on the Carolina Panthers.

Article thumbnail photo by Jesse Fraetis.