With preseason, there are always injuries. It just always sucks from a bitter standpoint when it is an actual usable fantasy product. The loss of Kelvin Benjamin to the Panthers is crushing because they aren’t really quite the offensive juggernaut without him. So what do the Panthers do from the standpoint of making it better for you as a fantasy player? Well, personally, I would like some sort of card or maybe a gift basket laying out their complete intentions about the situation at hand. Unfortunately, I actually requested these things and haven’t heard back from the Panthers’ front office. I don’t blame them… really I was probably asking for a lot. So from my perspective, I am going to explore what the they will do to replace the basically irreplaceable at this point of the build-up to the season, which is only two weeks away.
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[findthebest id=”3LIMDIfGODb” title=”Kelvin Benjamin Overview” width=”600″ height=”550″ url=”//www.findthebest.com/w/3LIMDIfGODb” link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/23437/Kelvin-Benjamin” link_text=”Kelvin Benjamin Overview | PointAfter”]
The Carolina passing game is and was very dependent on Benjamin being that guy that stretches the intermediate to deep routes. As witnessed by his red-zone targets (20) with 6 of those going for touchdowns. That can’t just be replaced by a camp-body. Neither are his 146 targeted receptions. A depth chart that includes the likes of Jericho Cotchery, Brenton Bersin, Ted Ginn, Philly Brown, Jarrett Boykin and Devin Funchess? Not an inspiring group from a fantasy perspective one bit. The only receiving option currently being drafted is Greg Olsen, who was basically going off the board as the 2/3 tight end overall, and in the top-50. His PPR love and overall draftability is only going to increase with the upcoming days and weeks to draft time. So there is no real value in that for me, and the fantasy sex appeal isn’t there for Olsen as it is with the players being drafted around him. Will Olsen get his? Definitely, but he was going to get his anyways.
So exploring who will be the beneficiary in the Panther offense is basically devising who is going to start and get the bulk of the passing work other than Olsen. Olsen will be in the same 120-130 targets this year as he was last year and viewing the last four years of Cam Newton’s average pass attempts (482), that leaves 350 or so attempts to be distributed around. Benjamin was scheduled to get 40% of them, so now it’s a collective effort to see who gets the majority, as no other receiver for Carolina last year had over 78 besides Olsen and Kelvin. There is no obvious choice here, and from a draft scenario, it’s a flyer type scenario, someone to pair with Cam as that WR5. The most likely candidate is Devin Funchess, who, in college, was never in an offense conducive for volume receptions as they ran a hybrid spread offense. Devin is currently being drafted at 190 overall, a number that has climbed in the days since Bengee went down.
So if we are just going to replicate last year’s stat season for the Panthers, Funchess moves into a prominent role, but there is always a but. And the but for me is: I don’t see it that way at all. I think Philly Brown moves to the Cotchery role full time. Funchess plays in Benjamin’s role and the true beneficiary is Jarrett Boykin. Boykin is a stretch-the-middle volume receiver, and is basically everything that Funchess isn’t. Funchess is a down-the-field over-the-top guy. For comparison sake, Funchess is Hakeem Nicks and Boykin is Victor Cruz from the Giants three years ago. Boykin never really shook out in Green bay, but not because he wasn’t talented, it was just impossible to sustain three quality receivers in the Packers’ offense even though his skill set is similar to to that of Randall Cobb.
So Boykin will get his shot as the Panthers jumble their approach to the offensive pass game. At it’s core, they are a still a high volume running team and the true beneficiary in draft formats should be both Cam Newton (especially in leagues who value TD’s differently) and Jonathan Stewart. The ground game may be a ground three times and punt a lot, because Cam’s accuracy is still a question mark here. Whether they pass the ball a lot or not, he needs to be better at completing the ball 20 yards down the field. So Boykin isn’t a draftable commodity currently because he isn’t guaranteed anything, he is there because he was a decent cog in an offensive machine that could get his shot for the Panthers given their receiver woes. I can see Boykin having WR4 type production, catching 60-70 passes, for 800-850 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is more of a bye week filler than anything else until we see how the offense transforms around the loss of Benjamin.