Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

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Back Against the Wall

The Carolina Panthers 2022 outlook, or the theme is “back against the wall.” Head Coach Matt Rhule was on the hot seat last season, and is lucky to still be in charge. Running back Christian McCaffery needs to stay healthy. He has played in 10 games over the last 2 seasons combined. He will be there in 2023 because of his high dead cap number. But they Panthers will look to strengthen the position group if CMC gets hurt again this season. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were drafted 1st and 3rd in the 2018 draft. They are now entering Training Camp battling to be QB1. The winner of the battle needs to take the job and show the franchise he can be the long term answer for the Panthers. This franchise is desperate to find a franchise quarterback.

It’s Not All Bad

It’s not all bad in Charlotte though. The wide receiver corps is talented. D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Terrance Marshall Jr is middle of the NFL. The defense has some good young talent as well. Brian Burns will take over as the premier pass rusher on the roster with the departure of Hassan Reddick. Jaycee Horn looked really good in his rookie campaign before getting injured. Losing Stephon Gilmore in free agency hurts the depth, but they hope the addressed that in free agency.

Draft Class

For a team with not a lot of draft capitol, they addressed some big holes in the roster. #6 overall selection Ikem Ekwonu out of North Carolina State is viewed as an elite talent. Matt Corral entered 2021 as a Heisman hopeful for Ole Miss. The Panthers nabbed him in the 3rd round. He won’t see the field early on this year, but if the season goes south, then why not. They also drafted a defensive lineman, line backer, and cornerback. They’re at least trying to address multiple areas of the roster to provide some depth.

  • Schedule Breakdown

    Baker Mayfield Carolina Panthers 2022 Outlook

    Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    9/11 vs. Cleveland Browns

    9/18 @ New York Giants

    9/25 vs. New Orleans Saints

    10/2 vs. Arizona Cardinals

    10/9 vs. San Francisco 49ers

    10/16 @ Los Angeles Rams

    10/23 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    10/30 @ Atlanta Falcons

    11/6 @ Cincinnati Bengals

    11/10 vs. Atlanta Falcons (Thursday Night Football)

    11/20 @ Baltimore Ravens

    11/27 vs. Denver Broncos

    12/4 BYE

    12/11 @ Seattle Seahawks

    12/18 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

    12/24 vs. Detroit Lions

    1/1 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    1/8 @ New Orleans Saints

    Matt Rhule can go a long way in saving his job if he can win 2 out of his first 3 games. The get the Browns at home without Deshaun Watson (presumably) in a revenge spot for Baker Mayfield. I’ll say the G-Men bet them at home, but Carolina bounces back with a home divisional win over the Saints. The next 4 games are tough. Arizona will be without DeAndre Hopkins, but the Cardinals are good in the first half of the season. Loss. I think the home game against the 49ers is a spot for their 3rd win of the season, although the 4:05 kickoff benefits the west coast team traveling east. They get the 2 best teams in the NFC the next two weeks against the Rams and the Bucs. 0-2. Back to back road games against the Falcons and Bengals are next. I don’t think they get it done in either of these spots. They get a Thursday night game at home against Atlanta, so that’s a W. They go into their bye with a road game against Baltimore and a home Broncos game. 0-2. Coming out of the bye they hit their easiest stretch of the season. At Seattle followed by the Steelers and Lions at home. They get the Seattle game, but lose the other 2. They end the season with road NFC South games against the Bucs and Saints. 0-2.

     

    Record: 5-11 (wins vs. Cleveland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Atlanta, and at Seattle)

  • Key Additions

    Johnny Hekker Carolina Panthers 2022 Outlook

    Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

    S Xavier Woods (Minnesota Vikings); 3-year/$15 million

    P Johnny Hekker (Los Angeles Rams); 3-year/$7.62 million

    C Bradley Bozeman (Baltimore Ravens); 1-year/$2.8 million

    LB Damien Wilson (Jacksonville Jaguars); 2-year/6.9 million

    DE Matthew Ioannidis (Washington Commanders); 1-year/$5.9 million

    WR Rashard Higgins (Cleveland Browns); 1-year/$1.87 million

  • Fantasy Outlook

    Christian McCaffrey Carolina Panthers 2022 Outlook

    Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    This guy. there might not be a bigger question mark in the fantasy football world. If Christian McCaffrey stays healthy he could be the top fantasy player period. He could also play in less than half the games, like he’s done the last 2 seasons, and ruin your chances at winning your league. If you’re picking at the end of the first round and CMC is still on the board, just listen to your gut. If your gut says take McCaffrey, then you MUST draft Chuba Hubbard. DJ Moore is a viable option as a WR2, but if you can get him as WR3 or your Flex, then you’re sitting pretty. Stay away from the quarterbacks, kicker, and defense though.

  • Best Case Scenario

    DJ Moore Carolina Panthers 2022 Outlook

    Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    The Panthers have a manageable home schedule. Apart from their 3 NFC South opponents they have the Browns, Cardinals, 49ers, Broncos, Steelers, and Lions. I could see a world where they win against the Falcons, Saints, Browns, Steelers, and Lions. If they can take those 5 games at home and beat the Giants, Falcons, and Seahawks on the road 8-9 is in play.

    Best case scenario: 8-9