As a player who was expected to lead the way at the wide receiver position in free agency, Robby Anderson‘s market was quiet…very quiet for the first week of the NFL’s new league year. When the legal tampering period opened on Monday, other bigger name free agents quickly agreed to new deals with their respective teams. However, up until this past weekend, Robby Anderson’s name was one that didn’t get much attention.
On Tuesday, Robby Anderson signed a 2-year, $20 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. It’s decent money for a wide receiver of Anderson’s caliber, but I think most people were expecting him to garner more attention in free agency with other receiver needy depth charts who could have used Anderson’s services. Let’s not forget, however, that Anderson does carry some off the field concerns, and that could have played a role in the lack of interest in the former New York Jet.
Anderson now joins his former college coach at Temple in Matt Rhule, the new head coach for the Carolina Panthers. No doubt, this had a role in bringing the former Temple Owl wideout into Carolina. During his final season playing for Rhule in college in 2015, Anderson turned in a 70 catch season for nearly 1,000 receiving yards, and 7 receiving TD. Given the relationship between player and coach, the current depth chart, and a new QB in Teddy Bridgewater, what can we expect from Anderson and the rest of the Carolina Panthers? Similarly, what is the fallout for the New York Jets, who lose a dynamic field stretcher? Let’s break down the fantasy football implications.
New York Jets
After losing Anderson in free agency, the Jets wide receiver depth stood as follows: Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, and Josh Doctson. To say the Jets’ offense needs weapons and playmakers is an understatement. Crowder turned in a productive 2019 season, being peppered with 122 targets last year, amassing 833 yards and 6 TD. For PPR formats, Crowder turned out to be a nice value in drafts, but he is locked into the slot role for the Jets and is certainly not a deep threat. Enunwa has missed a ton of time with various injuries and has only played 16 games once in his five-year NFL career. Josh Doctson, despite being a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2016, has never topped more than 550 receiving yards in a season and in 2019, he only played one game for the Minnesota Vikings. The pass-catching situation in New York is…bleak.
Sam Darnold loses his most talented weapon in Robby Anderson, who vacates 96 targets, good for a 19.5% market share. It’s a significant loss for the offense as a whole as they lose a top tier field stretcher in the NFL. Darnold finished 2019 as QB22 in fantasy points per game with Anderson playing a full 16 games. For a young QB like Darnold, who is still just 22 years old, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where Darnold is able to take the next step forward without a true WR1 for the offense.
Fortunately, however, the Jets did sign Breshad Perriman to a 1-year, $8 million deal Tuesday evening. Now, is this the type of player we can rely on in fantasy football? Probably not, as Perriman really struggled to progress in his first few seasons in the league. Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Perriman still has a lot to prove at the NFL level, but he flashed upside at the end of 2019 with Tampa Bay after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both went down with an injury. From Weeks 13-16, Perriman was fantasy’s WR4. It remains to be seen if this was a flash in the pan, or if Perriman is experiencing the late breakout similar to that of DeVante Parker.
With the Jets picking 11th in the NFL Draft, it’s possible they use their pick on a top tier WR in Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. If not, look for the team to add WR depth later in the draft. Certainly, this would help Darnold and the offense as a whole, but if they pass, look for Le’Veon Bell to challenge Christian McCaffrey for the most targets at the running back position.
Biggest Fantasy Winners: Jamison Crowder, Le’Veon Bell
Biggest Fantasy Losers: Sam Darnold
After signing Teddy Bridgewater to be the team’s new starting QB and releasing Cam Newton, the Panthers add Robby Anderson, who joins a talented WR group in Carolina with D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.
Carolina’s 2019 target distribution and market share:
- Christian McCaffrey: 142, 23.5%
- D.J. Moore: 135, 22.5%
- Curtis Samuel: 105, 17.7%
With Greg Olsen and Ian Thomas splitting time at the TE position, Carolina’s target distribution was fairly top-heavy with McCaffrey and D.J. Moore leading the way. With formers Saints offensive assistant and LSU passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, now joining Carolina as the offensive coordinator, it’s very likely McCaffrey continues to dominate passing down work. After all, with Brady in New Orleans, we saw Kamara catch 81 footballs in each of his two seasons playing under Brady.
As a result, WR production with a new QB in Teddy Bridgewater is difficult to project. D.J. Moore profiles as the team’s WR1 and is likely to continue to dominate targets in the short to the intermediate passing game. For fantasy football, he’ll likely continue to be productive and be a mainstay in our lineups. However, the same cannot be said for Curtis Samuel, who profiles similarly to Anderson in their ability to stretch the field. In 2019, Anderson’s 15 yards per reception ranked 21st in the NFL.
Throughout his NFL career, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t shown the tendency to push the ball down the field, averaging just 7.2 yards per attempt. To me, this spells good things for McCaffrey and Moore and potentially, negative things for Samuel and Anderson. However, to play devil’s advocate, Joe Brady’s dynamic passing attack should open up the offense as a whole. Can Teddy Bridgewater, who has never thrown more than 14 TD passes in a single season, execute and elevate his pass-catchers? That remains to be seen and will be a major discussion point on the Fantasy Footballers Podcast this offseason.
Biggest Fantasy Football Winners: Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore
Biggest Fantasy Football Loser: Curtis Samuel