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Who won Panthers TE battle between Dan Arnold, Ian Thomas

Does the winner of the Panthers’ tight end battle have much fantasy appeal?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers signed tight end Dan Arnold to a two-year, $6 million contract in the offseason. The move gave them a player with pass catching bona fides at the position, and set up a preseason roster battle with incumbent Ian Thomas to be the team’s top tight end.

The preseason finale apparently confirmed the pecking order. Arnold was on the field for 30 snaps, compared to just 22 for Thomas, and he was getting the nod whenever the offense lined up with just one tight end on the field. Arnold came away with three catches on three targets for 25 yards. More tellingly, Arnold only came off the field when the situation called for blocking from the tight ends.

Arnold had 438 yards and four touchdowns on 31 receptions with the Cardinals last season. Thomas caught 20 passes with the Panthers for 145 yards and a touchdown.


Arnold is going to be Carolina’s primary receiving threat at tight end. Thomas will still see a few balls come his way, but he’s mostly there for his blocking chops.

Fantasy football implications

Arnold has some appeal in fantasy lineups, but it’s mostly as a fill-in. With Christian McCaffrey’s pass catching chops and a wide receiver trio of D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and rookie sensation Terrance Marshall, there aren’t going to be many passes going to the tight end in this offense.