Arguably no franchise enters 2022 with less certainty on the coaching staff and roster than the Carolina Panthers. The team, now in its third season under head coach Matt Rhule, faces major questions at the quarterback position even after adding multiple potential starters over the past 16 months. That lack of clarity could end up forcing major changes for the organization this offseason if Rhule and company cannot turn the ship around.
In this series, we look at the most important fantasy-football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity remains king in fantasy as you can’t deliver production without getting on the field. As such, the first step when evaluating value involves projecting — correctly — which players will win training-camp battles.
Here, we present our picks to win the Panthers’ training-camp battles ahead of your 2022 fantasy drafts.
Matt Corral vs. Sam Darnold vs. Baker Mayfield
Since acquiring Baker Mayfield for the price of a conditional Day 3 draft pick, the Panthers have fronted that they will hold an open competition for the starting quarterback job. That, of course, seems unlikely given Sam Darnold’s struggles last season and third-round pick Matt Corral’s inexperience. The very fact that Carolina added Mayfield at this juncture highlights the lack of faith in the other options, at least as it pertains to the upcoming season.
Our pick to win: Baker Mayfield
Whether Mayfield holds onto the starting role all season and whether he stays in Carolina past 2022 remains unclear, but the job looks like his to lose at this stage. Mayfield comes off a disappointing campaign, but less than two years have past since he performed like a long-term solution under center for the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield probably won’t match that level of efficiency playing behind a leaker offensive line, but the Panthers don’t have a better option.
Rashard Higgins vs. Terrace Marshall Jr.
Unless wideout Robbie Anderson’s less-than-favorable views of Mayfield force a move, he and D.J. Moore will serve as the Panthers’ top receivers in 2022. While the two form a quality tandem, new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has previously used “11 personnel — three wideouts with a tight end and running back — as his primary group. That means Carolina will likely feature another wide receiver heavily in 2022.
Our pick to win: Terrace Marshall Jr.
Though Terrace Marshall barely touched the ball as a rookie (17 receptions for 138 yards and no touchdowns), the Panthers spent significant draft capital to acquire him (the No. 59 overall pick) and presumably want to give him every opportunity to provide a quality return. Rashard Higgins has a longer track record, but he doesn’t provide the same upside as Marshall. Unless Marshall looks lost in McAdoo’s offense, he should outproduce Higgins.