I remember it like it was yesterday. We had just finished Week 4 of the NFL season. By that point, we were all basking in the warm glow of Sam Darnold being QB5 on the season, averaging an amazing 24.44 fantasy points per game. All of the Darnold truthers up in Noo Yawk, of which there are tens, were rejoicing in their prognostications that “ALL HEEZ NEEDS TO DO IS MOVE ON FROM THAT BUM ADAM GASE!”

LOLZ. There was, in fact, not something special going on. In their last 14 games of the year, the Panthers would go 2-12 and Darnold would wind up as QB36 from weeks 5-18. Yes, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Trevor Siemian outscored him on a points-per-game basis. 

Those five rushing touchdowns Darnold had through four weeks? They would simultaneously be his final tally at the end of the year and lead the entire Panthers team. Cam Newton would enter the picture with five rushing touchdowns and Chuba Hubbard added another five while Christian McCaffrey and his one rushing touchdown sat on the trainer’s table and wept. 

But D.J. Moore looked upon those players with five rushing touchdowns with an intense rage and jealousy. Despite finishing the year with 1,157 receiving yards (just over 600 more than any other teammate), Moore managed just four receiving touchdowns including only one after Week 4. 

With all of that teal and black crap on the field each week, how do we evaluate this team from a dynasty perspective? Do we sell the whole lot of ’em? Is there anyone we can buy? Let’s dig through the mire and find out. 

Buy: D.J. Moore

You almost have to congratulate Moore and the entire Panthers’ offensive system for how they figured out a way for Moore to be so involved in every possible aspect of the offense except scoring. Of the 24 players who recorded at least 850 receiving yards this season, only Darnell Mooney had as few as four touchdowns. 

Moore finished the year 10th in receiving yards, sixth in targets, fourth in target share, and third in air yards among wide receivers. The fact that Jauan Jennings had more receiving scores than Moore is laughable. How does that happen? Primarily by ranking fourth in the NFL in unrealized air yards and seeing targets with the 98th-highest accuracy coming your way. 

All of that inefficiency is driving the market down on Moore. Currently, his ADP is WR16 (50.3 overall) in Sleeper dynasty formats. In the FantasyPros’ 2022 redraft consensus ranks, Moore is WR20 in half-PPR formats. 

If the results from 2021 are going to drive the price that low, I am almost certainly going to buy-in. He simply can’t be that inefficient again and there will be some significant touchdown regression. And the Darnold factor? There is some light at the end of that dim tunnel. Darnold is an unrestricted free agent after 2022 so dynasty managers will hopefully have only one more season of quarterback ineptitude. 

Sell: Christian McCaffrey

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the Christian McCaffrey ADP will likely be among the most controversial questions in the 2022 offseason. Just like it was in 2o21. You’re either in or you’re out at the current RB5 price in redraft formats and I am decidedly out. 

Part of it, of course, is the injuries. McCaffrey has played in 10 of a possible 33 games the last two seasons. Those injuries have been to his ankle, his other ankle, hamstring, thigh, and AC joint. So we are not just looking at one recurring injury, but rather something more comprehensive after he had back-to-back years of 300+ touches in 2018 and 2019. I understand McCaffrey will be just 26 next season, but 26 might as well be 56 for many running backs, historically speaking. 

But when McCaffrey is healthy, we know he is the most dominant force at the position. I also just fear that as McCaffery gets older, the less he will be able to just do it all himself. Eventually, the putrid offensive product will get him down, be it in 2022 or beyond. The Panthers ranked 25th or worst in yards per game, offensive plays per game, yards per play, third-down conversion percentage, and yards per rush attempt.

Their offensive line ranked 25th in adjusted line yards and 28th in running back yards gained in 2021. Granted, this could be a chicken-or-egg problem where ALL of these would have seen marked improvement if McCaffrey were on the field. But at some point, we have to understand this is a systemic problem that goes down to the roots of the offense. 

At the right price, I am certainly in on McCaffrey, but if you can sell him for a surefire top-5 running back or receiver, I would pull the trigger all day.