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Draft Grades – Carolina Panthers

Kenjon Barner

I’ve been looking at the fantasy repercussions of the 2013 Draft and giving out a few grades and rankings. The grades mostly focus on fantasy-relevant positions, but I’m also examining overall positional value and strategy. A complete list of teams already covered can be found at my author archive.

No. 27 Carolina Panthers                       Grade: D-

I’m a big fan of the double-up strategy at a position of extreme need, and Star Lotulelei was probably a good value at No. 14. Unfortunately, the draft strategy of former GM Marty Hurney left the Panthers with only five picks, which meant they weren’t able to address the other needs of a paper thin team.

The biggest need in Carolina is the type of receiving threat that would allow mega-talent Cam Newton to develop as a passer. (You know, someone like DeAndre Hopkins.) The RotoViz WR Similarity App paints a bleak picture for Carolina’s aging No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith and doesn’t like marginal No. 2 receiver Brandon LaFell much better. The most positive comps for Smith entering his age 32 season are Derrick Mason (2007) and Bobby Engram (2005). The most positive comps for LaFell are Drew Bennett (2004) and Justin Gage (2008). Again, those are the positive comps. It’s hard to understand the Panthers’ strategy when receivers with strong size/speed/production profiles lasted all the way to the end of the draft.

Fortunately, they snatched up Kenjon Barner. They’ll need someone to carry the ball when Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert are all gassed at the same time. Barner is actually a much better prospect than most are currently saying. In fact, he may be a better prospect than the first running back selected. I previously suggested Barner was a good arbitrage candidate for Gio Bernard based on their respective measurables, and the advanced stats you can get with Bill Connelly over at Football Study Hall would seem to confirm it. Barner finished with 34.8 adjusted POE (points over expected), while Bernard was actually negative at -0.6. Even if you’re skeptical of the numbers, that’s a huge gap.

Dave Gettleman should be praised for seeing the value, but it’s a bizarre selection in terms of positional value. It also won’t be appreciated by fantasy players as it hurts the value of all four running backs involved.

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By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

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