2022 Carolina Panthers Odds, Schedule, & Fantasy Football Team Preview
The 2022 NFL season is just weeks away, and we’re going to dive into the prospects of the Carolina Panthers. They enter 2022 with a ton of question marks, especially at the quarterback position with Baker Mayfield now ahead of Sam Darnold on the depth chart. Will Mayfield be an upgrade for this offense? Can Christian McCaffrey stay healthy? These are questions we’ll dive into.
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2022 Carolina Panthers Schedule, Lines, and Best Bets
Projected Odds, derived & modified from data originally published by Sean Koerner here.
Win Total and Total Games Favored:
6 (105) / 1 Games Favored ( 0 Big Favorites / 8 Big Dogs)
The Panthers finished the 2021 season with a 5-12 record, so Vegas only expects a modest improvement in their record this season as their implied win total stands at only 6. As long as Tom Brady remains in the NFC South, it will remain an uphill battle for the Panthers as they’ll have to face the Bucs twice during the season. The only way I can see the Panthers exceeding their 6 win implied total is if Christian McCaffrey returns to dominance and Baker Mayfield is somehow unleashed to reach a new level he didn’t achieve in Cleveland. McCaffrey has only played a total of 10 games over the last two seasons, so injuries have definitely impacted his performance. If the Panthers and head coach Matt Rhule are willing to stick to Mayfield for the season, they may at least find a level of consistency they lacked last season as they wavered between Cam Newton and Sam Darnold under center.
Best Bet: Over 6.5 Wins // +100 on Pointsbet
The Panthers will need to go 7-10 on the season for this bet to hit, which is basically a two-win improvement from last season and one more win than they are implied for. I realize this may be a bit of a stretch but I think there’s at least a chance they can hit this if Christian McCaffrey stays healthy and Baker Mayfield can finally realize his upside that made him a #1 pick just four years ago. The good news with Carolina is they resigned D.J. Moore and Ian Thomas this offseason, further boosting this offense. The biggest question mark for me is whether they can do enough on defense given they cut cornerback A.J. Bouye and lost Stephon Gilmore.
Carolina Panthers Props
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Favorite Prop: Christian McCaffrey Over 6.5 Rushing Touchdowns
This one is fully dependent on whether McCaffrey can stay healthy, but McCaffrey hit this over in both 2018 (7) and 2019 (15). In 2020 he also rushed for 5 touchdowns in just 3 games before missing the rest of the season. The Panthers have already committed to sitting him out the entire preseason, meaning they are being super cautious with their star running back to enter the season. I realize this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, but Nick Chubb has rushed for at least 8 touchdowns in every season since 2018 under Baker Mayfield, if you wanted to use that as a reference point. But really the hope here is that McCaffrey can stay healthy enough over the course of the season to realize the over 6.5 rushing touchdowns under this new Mayfield-led offense.
Carolina Panthers Fantasy Football Projections
Team Rankings and Ratings
Offense Ranks: Rank 24/ Average Rush / Average Pass/ Rank 30 Points For)
Defense Ranks: Rank 24/ Average Rush / Weak pass / Rank 7 Points Allowed)
Opponent Strength – Rushing: 8 difficult vs. rush. 5 soft vs. rush.
Opponent Strength – Passing: 8 difficult vs. pass. 6 soft vs. pass.
As you can see, the Panthers have their work cut out for them as they rank among the bottom third of the league in both offense and defense. From a DFS perspective, it’ll be interesting to see if the Panthers stacks gain some traction as a Mayfield/Moore/Thomas stack will likely be affordable and given the negative game scripts the Panthers should find themselves in, there may be some upside to this passing game. Additionally, Christian McCaffrey could hold some DFS appeal on full-PPR sites like DraftKings if the Panthers are playing from behind and using him on quick swing passes or dump offs. In effect, I could see McCaffrey playing a combination of the Kareem Hunt / Nick Chubb roles that Mayfield led in Cleveland.
As mentioned above, the losses of A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore really makes this defensive unit suspect. Carolina also lost pass rusher Haason Reddick to free agency. Cornerback Jaycee Horn is set to be a full go this season after the 2021 #8 pick played just three games before suffering a broken foot. The Panthers are going to need Horn to step up and help fill that void by Bouye and Gilmore. Either way, this defense looks exploitable on paper and will likely lead to plenty of negative game scripts for the Panthers.
Carolina Panthers Top Fantasy Football Plays & Picks
Noteworthy Depth Chart
QB: Baker Mayfield – Underdog Rank: 189 (ADP 192 / 1.59% ADP Gap)
RB: Christian McCaffrey – Underdog Rank: 2 (ADP 2 / 0% ADP Gap)
RB: Chuba Hubbard – Underdog Rank: 233 (ADP 239 / 2.58% ADP Gap)
WR: D.J. Moore – Underdog Rank: 26 (ADP 31 / 19.23% ADP Gap)
WR: Robby Anderson – Underdog Rank: 134 (ADP 155 / 15.67% ADP Gap)
WR: Terrace Marshall – Underdog Rank: Not Ranked
TE: Tommy Tremble – Underdog Rank: 216 (ADP 254 / 17.59% ADP Gap)
The Panthers did bolster their receiving corps by signing Rashard Higgins to a one-year contract. Higgins has a chance to take the #3 role behind DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. The Panthers do have Terrace Marshall to compete with Higgins for that #3 role, but Marshall underwhelmed in his rookie season by catching just 17 passes all season and failing to record a single touchdown. Meanwhile, Higgins has spent the last six seasons in the Cleveland organization and should have plenty of rapport built with Baker Mayfield. Higgins did have multiple seasons with four receiving touchdowns, but never topped out at more than a 599-receiving yard season and appears more to be a complementary receiver in this offense.
The Panthers do have some young talent at the tight end position which may be appealing for DFS purposes. Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas combined for just one receiving touchdown all season but showed some glimpses of promise when given playing time. In Cleveland, we saw Baker Mayfield utilize his trio of talented tight ends in David Njoku (4 TDs), Austin Hooper (3 TDs) and Harrison Bryant (3 TDs), so there’s at least some hope that Mayfield can breathe life into this receiving game.
Image Credit: Imagn