Oh No, the Panthers Paid A Running Back, Again

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Carolina Panthers have agreed to a four year contract extension with franchise running back Christian McCaffrey worth $64 million.

If you’re like me, your first reaction was something along the lines of “Oh dear God no.” Paying a running back? In 2020? In these times?! It might be worse than catching the ‘Rona. 

However, we need to keep in mind that Christian McCaffrey is a different kind of running back. And no, it’s not because he’s white. His ability to play running back, but also be capable of moving around the field as a receiver is a rarity. The Chargers’ Austin Eckler is really the only other running back who serves that same swiss army knife role. CMC is twice the player that Eckler is (Eckler signed a 4/$25M this offseason as well). 

Paying a running back is never fun. It might be the most fearful experience for an NFL fan every offseason. However, when you have a player as versatile as McCaffrey maybe it will be worth it. Ask me in two years how I feel, then the year after, then the year after. 

Needless to say, I’m terrified. 

PS: He will be off of this deal when he is 30 years old! So that’s a win! 

Marvin Williams Buyout: I’m Tired of Incompetence

The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday without the Charlotte Hornets making a move for the second straight year. If you recall last year, the Hornets were on the Eastern Conference playoff fringe and only added *checks notes* Shelvin Mack who played little to no minutes during his tenure in Charlotte. The Hornets ultimately missed the playoffs by 2 games.

Fast forward one year later. The Hornets currently have multiple players on expiring contracts, but players that could serve roles on contenders between Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, and Cody Zeller. Certainly they would try and sell parts for draft capital, right? The team has slowed down significantly after their hot start and find themselves at the bottom of the East. Instead, the Hornets yet again failed to make a move.

That is until after the deadline when less than an hour ago (on Friday) ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Charlotte is buying out Marvin Williams. What? WHAT? W-H-A-T?

For the past two weeks we as Hornets fans and as an NBA collective have speculated that surely Marvin Williams was one key piece that the Hornets could trade at the deadline for a late-late first or second rounder. Especially given the movement we saw at the deadline.

While we never know the full details, I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe that the Hornets received zero inquiry or let out several feelers throughout the league regarding Williams in particular who is a fantastic 3-and-D player that many contenders need.

This leads me to my main point: I, like many of you, are sick of the incompetence. In the past two years we couldn’t make the playoffs right, and now we can’t even tank right. WHAT THE F, MAN.

In his time with the Hornets, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has done the following:

  • Traded now rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for Miles Bridges
  • Failed to make a playoff push last season
  • Low-balled franchise star Kemba Walker
  • Failed to trade current assets for future draft capital
  • Has only brought in Terry Rozier as a free agent
  • Bought out Marvin Williams for free

Sure, he inherited a bad situation. However, good management turns those situations around. The Grizzlies, who were in the same, if not worse, boat than we are in have already started talking about the playoffs. David Griffin, Zion aside, has formed a great team in New Orleans. The Thunder blew up their whole team and haven’t lost a step. What is there to talk about here?

How Matt Rhule Ruled His Panthers Press Conference

I’m an infant when it comes to the depths of my Charlotte sports fandom. This is my second year with the Hornets, and the season that just wrapped was my first with the Panthers. I have essentially been welcomed to each organization the same way: with a new coaching staff. The Hornets hired James Borrego and the Panthers now famously gave the keys to Matt Rhule (7 years $60 million).

I’ve seen a lot of press conferences in my history as a sports fan. I’ve even been part of them during my brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, I have never seen someone — rule — an opening press conference the way that Matt Rhule did on Wednesday afternoon. Let’s get into the play by play.

The presser was hosted at the new practice bubble. Simply put, it was a damn party. Media members, staff, and even fans (shoutout to Roaring Riot) were in attendance. There was also a DJ??? Most press conferences are very strong in demeanor, but this one was a feel good vibe. It was like when you and your boys all pull up to the crib at the same time and everyone is dapping each other up.

The Panthers put together a brief video of Coach Rhule’s journey to Carolina that ultimately would set the tone for the presser. Passionate and motivated. When Rhule finally stepped up to the podium, he was greeted with chants of “Keep Pounding,” which would soon become a theme.

This man damn near starts his speech with, “I promise you (the Tepper’s) each day that I will work each day with everything I have and will make you proud of your organization.” Matt Rhule or 2008 Tim Tebow? He then adds a bit later, “There’s no doubt we share a common vision. There’s no doubt we believe in doing things the right way.”

Rhule then transitions into why the Carolina Panthers. In a brilliant two minute monologue he encapsulated his love for the game and how it has allowed him to achieve so much. Ultimately, he ended it his soliloquy with, “I wanted to be part of the greatest game at the highest stage. I just had to figure out where.” Are you ready to run through a wall yet?

So you still need more convincing, huh? Coach then begins to praise former Panthers’ legends, “I’m so excited to be part of this team. I’m walking in and I saw Steve Smith. I’m sitting there saying to myself, ‘My goodness. The people who have come before me. The greatness.’ I met Julius Peppers earlier — like, Julius Peppers!” Matt Rhule is someone who is clearly so gracious about people who paved the way before him and aspires to be the next person who carries the torch.

“I will work tirelessly to bring you guys [points to Roaring Riot] a championship, to bring you [points to Tepper family] a championship. Because that’s what this region [#OneCarolina] deserves, that’s what the players before us deserve, that’s what the guys in the locker room deserve.” Update: I’m like Pam from the Office right now walking on hot coals for this man.

“Everything counts. Everything is important. The way I park my car in the morning, the way I walk to the practice field, the way I watch tape. Everything I do, everything our players do… everything has to be our best each and every day.” *insert a thousand fire emojis here*

He just… gets it. Leadership is never given it is earned. Cheesy, but true. We’re looking at a guy who successfully rebuilt two collegiate programs within two years at each. Someone who embraces challenge, and someone who understands the effort and attention to detail it takes to not only win, but sustain a winning culture.

I could continue with quotes, but instead I’d like to end with my favorite. During his final dismount Rhule said, “‘Keep Pounding’ isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life.” Right then I knew we did it. We found our guy.

PS: After the presser it was reported that Rhule is leaving the smock in Waco. This is the only blemish on the day.

Terry Rozier’s “Rocky” Start

Terry Rozier is the most polarizing player on the Hornets. I’ve never seen a player enter a new city and immediately be criticized the way that Rozier has through his first 14 games into his Charlotte Hornets career. Mainly, I believe it is because of *who* he is replacing. Before the season started, I laid out a preview into the Terry Rozier experience, and not to parade myself, but I nailed it. Every single aspect of it, the good and the bad.

A very short recap: Pros: athletic, push the pace, rebounder, can get to the rim, and is a willing passer. Cons: up in the air defensively, ineffective shooter, misses open players (especially PnR) despite his passing willingness*.

* Wasn’t mentioned directly, but it was a concern I was aware about.

However, something I did not anticipate was the amount of turnovers and foul trouble. Rozier is averaging three turnovers a game (4:3 AST/TO ratio). He has also been in foul trouble throughout multiple games this season. Since Rozier is a player that relies on rhythm and pace, him having to go to bench multiple times a game because of fouling certainly doesn’t help his strengths.

Something that makes Rozier even more polarizing throughout the Hornets fanbase is Devonte Graham, or rather, best player in the world Devonte Graham???? Listen, I’m going to say this, and you might not believe me, but the Hornets didn’t expect THIS from Graham. No one, not me, you, or the front office believed that Graham could take his big of a leap in an offseason where he saw very limited action the season before. DG started out the year the hottest player in the league, and this skewed perception entirely into “well, why did you sign Rozier if you had this?”

Now I have something that’s going to blow your mind… but no one is going to tell you this… Rozier and Graham have almost identical stats. Both are shooting 41% from the floor, both are averaging three turnovers, Terry is a better rebounder, and Graham is a better facilitator. Of course, the thing that has separated Graham from Rozier so far has been three point percentage. ‘D3vont3’ is shooting 41%, while Terry is shooting 36% (which is relatively average). Both are shooting 14 shots a game, with Devonte averaging 18 points per game and Rozier at 16.

Of course, stats only tell one side of the story. Just watching the games Graham looks smoother overall. We can attribute this to multiple reasons. First, this is Graham’s second year with James Borrego. Obviously, Rozier is entering a new situation. Along those same lines, chemistry with the other players. The Hornets brought back 11/15 players from last year’s team. Of course there is going to be a familiarity aspect into it.

I think the main idea that everybody is missing, regardless of how you view the current point guard situation in Charlotte is that James Borrego LOVES his dual point guard backcourt. Last year he had some combination of Walker/Parker/Graham on the floor during games, and this year it’s Graham and Rozier sharing the court together. The two have been on the court together for 235 minutes this season, which is about 1/3 of all game time. They are both averaging 32 minutes per game. Regardless of who you want to start, it doesn’t matter because the two will both see the floor a ton anyways. If giving Graham that “starter” title makes you feel better, then sure, but it’s worthless in Borrego’s system.

I write this as someone who is already genuinely exhausted of the comparisons because of preconceived notions that were developed either this offseason or *checks notes* 1/5 of the way through a season. That said, I’m not blind to it. If anything, I’m more frustrated than you at Rozier’s inconsistent play because of how I view him as a good player. I get mad at the turnovers, heat checks, fouls, just like all of you. But I promise that he is not playing as bad as people make him out to be playing as. I realize the reality of the situation: a new player, on a new team, “replacing” a franchise player, with a second year player performing out of his mind. Like Aaron Rodgers once said, “R-E-L-A-X.” We’re winning games, and Rozier hasn’t even begun to hit his stride.

PS: You all wanted the Hornets to tank, and now you’re mad that a player is allegedly playing poorly. So which one is it, because you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

PS2: If Rozier and Graham are putting up damn near equal numbers, then how is one good and one bad? Just something to think about….

The Hornets Might Be Better Than You Expect

Attached is a screenshot of when I first wanted to write this article. October 14, 2019. However, I thought I was maybe *too* optimistic. Ultimately, I decided to condense my thoughts into a Twitter thread posted October 22nd. Then opening night happened, and now I’m fully bought into it. Right or wrong I need to plant my flag in this.

The Charlotte Hornets might be better than everyone expects. First, we need to establish the facts. The Hornets won 39 games last season, which is a lot considering how many we had to slug through. Mainly those wins came off the back of franchise leader Kemba Walker and sidekick Jeremy Lamb. The two were one of the best backcourts in the league last year. As we all know, the Hornets lost both players this offseason. Not great, Bob. However, the Hornets began establishing “Kemba and the ‘Avengers'” last year. The “core four” as I like to call them: Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, Malik Monk, and Devonte Graham. These are indisputable facts of last season.

The Hornets brought in Terry Rozier to fill the starting point guard role. I truly don’t know how great, good, or bad Rozier will be during his first season as a full-time starter. In Boston, Rozier only started a few dozen games. From what I’ve seen of those games I am very much inclined to believe that Rozier will be a quality starting point guard in the NBA. Terry Rozier does a lot of things well and some things not so well. First, he’s a lightning bolt of speed. That was evident if you watched the first game versus Chicago. He is also a stat sheet stuffer. In my opinion he’s Russell Westbrook lite. In a bad game he had 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists. He has the ability to do nearly everything which means the gap between Rozier and Kemba is not as wide as most people make it out to be (I REALLY don’t want to compare the two). There are two big issues in Rozier’s game. Shooting and defense. Let’s not get this twisted, Terry Rozier CAN score at will. He’s a wizard at breaking down defenders. However the question is can he become an effective shooter. Finally defense is where things get confusing. There was a point in time during his Celtics tenure when he was the team’s best defender statistically, but no one knows if that was a product of the Celtics’ system or if he’s legitimately good. We will get answers to both of these questions throughout the season.

Next, Cody Zeller is healthy. For now. It was evident in the preseason and in game one how important having a versatile big is for the Hornets offense (more on this later). Zeller moves extremely effectively on the court and more importantly knows where to move. He is without a doubt our best big man. Health is the only concern for him as he has shown to be made of glass. Also friendly reminder that he is only 27 years old.

Thirdly, we all expect the Avengers to take a step forward, right? Then shouldn’t that equate to more wins, logically? This is the point that makes me laugh the most. We all saw how good Dwayne Bacon played last season. Miles Bridges showed flashes of being a cornerstone. Devonte Graham can be a very good back up point guard (especially if he shoots the three ball like he did against the Bulls all season). I think we all want Malik Monk to be good, and the front office seems committed to him by not trading him at last year’s trade deadline. Lastly, bring in PJ Washington who my goodness is one of the most fundamentally sound rookies I’ve seen. I disliked the selection during the draft for being a “safe pick.” Note to self: Safe can be good. From what we’ve seen so far, Washington can shoot the three, score around the rim, and defend. I’m so impressed. The problem with last year’s team is that players didn’t step up and contribute consistently. But now having the now “core five” seeing extensive minutes to learn and improve, they will have the opportunity to do so and I think we all expect them to.

Finally, the Hornets installed a brand new offense and it’s a good one. I loved the action that we ran during preseason and the pace we played during opening night. The new offense works perfectly with our roster. We run a five-out system that revolves around the big with everyone else working off of him. Out of this new system we get pick and rolls with Rozier and Zeller, DHOs or curl screen slashing with Bacon and Zeller, screen and replace with wings, and threes and layups. Coach Borrego talked about threes and layups a lot this offseason. This offense utilizes everyone on the roster effectively. We have a team of athletes that need to be in constant motion to see success. We’re going to need that kind of ball movement to create open shots. The assist numbers were crazy in Wednesday’s win against the Bulls: Rozier – 6, Graham – 8, Bridges/Bacon/Monk – 3 each, It honestly reminded me a lot of the Spurs. While the Spurs certainly had more talent than the Hornets, it’s the system that maximizes everyone on the court. I’ll do a full offensive tape breakdown later.

The over-under in Vegas this season was 23.5. This just felt low. I mapped out Charlotte’s schedule initially and I had them at a minimum of 21 wins. That is only assuming that we beat up on teams at the bottom. There are obviously plenty of games December through March that the Hornets can win based off of other team’s schedules (back to backs, for example), injuries, and flat out effort. All of these things in conjunction with the points I just laid out make it easy for the Hornets to smash the over.

Charlotte Hornets “BINGO!” Drinking Game 2019-2020

The Charlotte Hornets will most likely not be very good for the 2019-2020 season. The current win total for the team at Vegas is 23.5 according to some odds makers. However, we all knew this going into the season. We’ve had months to prepare for a potentially disastrous season.

The bright side to knowing ahead of time that we will be bad is that it opens up opportunities for us to be fun in the process. We have zero expectations, which means that we can have all the fun in the world because no one is going to care about us this season where all the attention will be on the new-look NBA.

All of this is to say that the Queen’s Guard is going to be your home for fun Charlotte Hornets this season starting with the introduction to Hornets Drinking “BINGO!” (21 and over, please drink responsibly). The “BINGO!” boards will consist of negative tendencies of the Hornets’ roster, poking fun at the play-by-play crew (who we all love), and some situational circumstances.

The rules are simple. Before every game we will tweet out who would like a “BINGO!” board for the game to participate. We will tweet one out to you. If an event happens during the game that is on your board, cross it off, and take a drink. If you get “BINGO!” You finish your drink (vertical, horizontal, diagonal). We will tweet out game updates. Be sure to follow us @TheQGB on Twitter, even though I’m sure you already are.

The point of this game is to provide us more entertainment value for what is anticipated to be a long season for Hornets fans. It’s more like a game that you play with your family when you playfully roast each other (until someone inevitably takes offense to something). We love the Hornets for the disaster they are. We want to see them successful just like you, but we’re still going to get these jokes off because comedy is a coping mechanism.

The current list of “BINGO!” spaces:

  1. Eric Collins says anything outlandish
  2. Malik Monk turnover
  3. Miles Bridges lost on defense
  4. Weak finish/lack thereof by Willy Hernangomez or Bismack Biyombo
  5. Willy Hernangomez traffic cone defense
  6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist air ball
  7. Ill-advised Terry Rozier heat check
  8. Cody Zeller injury
  9. Bad Martin twin defense (two drinks for one)
  10. Any Kemba Walker mention/reference (excluding Celtics games)
  11. Dwayne Bacon bites on a fake
  12. Hornets blow 10+ point lead
  13. Random player goes off against Hornets
  14. Hornets lose by 3 or less
  15. Send PJ Washington to Greensboro
  16. Nic Batum turnover
  17. Marvin Williams misses *wide* open three
  18. Any of our bigs air ball a three
  19. Steph Curry mention/reference
  20. MJ mad or upset on bench
  21. Less than 20 points in a quarter
  22. Martin twin turnover (two for one)
  23. Terry Rozier misses roll man in a PnR
  24. Batum finishes in single digits in 25+ minutes
  25. Devonte Graham hard-brick three (long rebound)
  26. Malik Monk “WTF was that?!” shot
  27. Borrego preaches defense then team gives up scoring run
  28. Reference of how much we are paying MKG/Marvin/Biz/Batum
  29. Miles Bridges offensive foul
  30. Martin twins backstory reference (Grew up in NC, NCSt, Nev-Reno)
  31. Any vet plays more than 32 minutes
  32. “Kobe!” Kobi Simmons reference

2019-20 Player Preview: Miles Bridges

Miles Bridges’ sophomore season is arguably one of the most important second seasons in recent Charlotte Hornets history. Bridges will be asked to take a big step forward in his game and become the leader of the franchise. 

Going back to last season, the Hornets traded back to get Bridges in the 2018 NBA draft. He was the front office’s guy. So much so that the Hornets continued to heavily target him when he did not work out for them. While he started his rookie season coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man, he quickly expanded his role into becoming an every-game starter. Time after time Miles showcased his ferocious athleticism, which was his calling card coming out of Michigan State. He even participated in the dunk contest during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. Statistically, Bridges finished last year scoring seven points a game, four rebounds, and an assist on 46% from the floor and a below average 32% from beyond the arc. 

Shifting towards this season, Miles Bridges needs to become an alpha. He’s going to have an opportunity on a bad team to flourish. The minutes he’s going to see this year will be plentiful, which is great because we all know that experience is the best teacher. If you follow him on social media, you know that he has this energy about him, and interacts well (that we can see, at least) with the other guys. I believe this is important because if the Hornets organization believes that he is a cornerstone moving forward he has to have the respect of the other players around him. 

There are two aspects to his game that I would love to see improved this season: shooting and defense. As I mentioned earlier, Bridges shot 32% from three last season, which isn’t great in today’s NBA for a wing. Head coach James Borrego’s new offense revolves around threes and getting to the rim. Bridges is great at the latter due to his athleticism and great first step. However, to expand his game to the next level he has to develop a respectable outside game, too. Imagine how dominant he could be should he get that going. Rozier swings to Bridges on the wing, pump fake three, drive and catch a body at the rim. Yes please. He has the tools to craft a diverse game, he just needs to sharpen them.

The second and more important thing is defense. Miles’ defense could use some work to say the least, which is odd given how athletic he is. His anticipation is a bit off, even when he’s the primary defender. He can get behind because his reaction step a tad slow. When he’s away from the ball he zones out or even loses his man entirely and gives up a bucket. The Hornets still do not have a lock down defender, which was a big problem for them last season when they could not guard a soul. Bridges’ stature, size, and athleticism gives him the assets to potentially become a great defender, but there are so many micro mistakes that make him frustrating to watch on the defensive end. The only thing that saves him here is just how athletic he is. It allows him to get burned and be able to recover in time to alter the shot or something of that nature. That cannot be relied on, though. 

I believe that Miles Bridges can become a star in this league. I truly do. However, he certainly has ways to go in order to get to that level. Watching him now, it’s clear that Bridges has the potential, but can he actually get there? This season is going to reveal a lot to that question, and I, for one, am excited to find out. 

2019-20 Player Preview: Terry Rozier

I am going on record and saying I am the biggest Terry Rozier fan of the Charlotte Hornets fan base. That being said, I am hyped to see Rozier as a member of purple and teal.

Rozier was brought to Charlotte via a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics this offseason. The Hornets signed Rozier to a three year $58 million deal.

Rozier was drafted in 2016 by the Celtics out of Louisville. His breakout came during the 2017-2018 season when he helped lead the Hospital Celtics to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the Hospital Celtics season (basically, everyone was hurt) Rozier started 37 games. In his first ever NBA start Rozier recorded a triple-double. I’d argue that’s pretty good, if you’re into that sort of thing.

However, I’m going to focus on the playoff run where he started 19 consecutive games because those are 19 games against good teams where the competition is ramped up due to the postseason, and not some random game in December. During the 2018 Playoffs, Rozier had a stat line of 16.5 ppg / 5.3 rpg / 5.7 apg. He shot 40% from the floor and 34% from three, both of which aren’t great. Stats aside, Rozier has a charisma on the floor that transforms the game. Everything just looks smooth and you can see how he was a big part in Boston’s deep playoff run.

My favorite analogy for Rozier’s game is that he plays like a water bug. He plays extremely quick and glides across the court. His athleticism shines in the open floor. He’s also a willing passer and a highlight reel playmaker. Rozier is great with the ball in his hand. There have been multiple times through the preseason where he breaks down a defender with a couple of dribbles then either pulls up or gets to the rim for two. It’s art, truly.

Simply put, Rozier does it all. He might not be the most effective shooter, but he’s definitely able to score at will. I mentioned his passing already. He’s also a great rebounder for a 6’1 point guard. Defense can be an issue for Rozier this season, but he’s also led the Celtics in defensive efficiency during points of his tenure. We’re going to find out just how good (or bad) of a defender he is.

That said, Terry Rozier is a dog; one who fits perfectly on this Charlotte Hornets team. If you’ve been following Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, or Malik Monk on social media you have seen they have this swagger about them that says “shock the world.” Rozier fits that mentality perfectly. He’s a grinder and a student of Mamba University. I guess we can call them the Killer Bees? The Stingers? I’ll come up with something.

Needless to say, I am here for the Terry Rozier experience. He brings a level of energy to the Hornets and has an incredible opportunity to become a very good starting point guard in the NBA. Here’s what we’re not going to do, though… compare him to Kemba Walker. There’s a reason I didn’t mention Walker in any of this, because he’s not him. He’s Terry Rozier III (aka Three Sticks, aka Scary Terry), and he’s your starting point guard for the next three seasons.

2019 Player Preview: Willy Hernangomez

Willy Hernangomez is entering the fourth year of his young NBA career which has seen its ups and downs. This year I imagine will not only be his toughest yet, but also the most important.

Hernangomez has the potential to be the Hornets leading big man moving forward, but his has to play like it. However it’s not that easy. Depending on how head coach James Borrego uses his plethora of bigs (Willy, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo) will greatly impact Hernangomez’s future with the organization and their belief in him.

Hernangomez is a traditional big, but has worked very hard on expanding his offensive game, stretching out to the three point line more and more. Last season he shot 38% from beyond the arc.

Offense is not Hernangomez’s problem, though. It’s defense. Often times he is late on rotating to protect the rim or is easily scored over. In 52 games last season he only recorded 20 blocked shots. I would classify Hernangomez defensively as a traffic cone.

His defensive concerns are important because last season, and presumably this season, the Hornets do not have great wing defenders which means rim protection becomes even more important that it already is.

Hernangomez has had a fantastic offseason. As a member of the Spain national team, the club won the 2019 FIBA Championship. Additionally, he has been in the gym all summer. I’m not throwing this in to push open gym propaganda, but rather to highlight Hernangomez’s willingness and desire to get better. You can easily tell how much he loves playing basketball which is important for young, developing players.

I’m hoping that Hernangomez is highly utilized this season for Charlotte. The organization needs to evaluate what they have in him moving forward. Is he a bench player or a starter? Can he become a viable defender? The only way to find out is to play him.

Carolina Panthers Fantasy Outlook: Curtis Samuel

Curtis Samuel / Wide Receiver / Age 22 / Year 3

Curtis Samuel is an electric wide receiver on the outside. With blazing speed and incredible deep-threat ability Samuel has weekly upside. However, through two seasons in the NFL he has yet to play a full sixteen games, and has only started in 12 total. With Devin Funchess in Indianapolis, the main outside position becomes up for grabs. Samuel is primed for it. 

2018 Review:

Curtis Samuel’s 2018 season was quite disappointing. He only saw 7+ targets in four of thirteen games played. The most yards he caught in a contest was 88. The Panthers failed to utilize him to his skillset which crippled his fantasy value. Samuel, a DeSean Jackson-esque receiver had a yards per reception of 12.67. His teammate, DJ Moore, had a YPR over 14. That is inexcusable for someone with Samuel’s abilities. The one bright spot in Samuel’s 2018 season was that he scored a total of seven times, five through the air and two on the ground. 

Samuel’s 2018 stat line: 65/39 (60%), 494 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns, 84 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns

2019 Outlook:

As mentioned previously, the main outside slot is up for grabs and is for Curtis’ taking. I expect DJ Moore to be utilized everywhere as he was last season, and Samuel to see all of his work on the outside. Through just a few days at training camp, Samuel has been the star of camp. Each day he has hauled in multiple deep throws and the team seems determined to use him the way he should have been used all along. That said, deep threats are often associated with boom-bust weekly potential in fantasy, and he is no different. Many experts and myself expect that this season could be a breakout year for Samuel. With Funchess gone, Samuel should absolutely see an uptick in targets and the combination of himself and Moore could be a nightmare for secondaries. 

Per Fantasy Football Calculator (in half PPR), Curtis Samuel is being drafted in the back of the eleventh round and is wide receiver 45 off the board. This feels like an absolute steal for a guy who could break into the top 36 at the position, and is closer to a WR2 (top 24) than a WR3 (top 36). Wide receivers going before Samuel are Dede Westbrook, Courtland Sutton, and Keke Coutee. Players going after him are DK Metcalf, Golden Tate, and DeSean Jackson. The only player mentioned that I am taking ahead of him is Dede Westbrook. In the 11thround, you’re throwing your darts on guys and this seems like an easy one. 

The interesting debate actually comes from the question, “DJ Moore in the 6th or Curtis Samuel in the 11th?” In terms of value, it’s Samuel. You’re getting a player who could turn into the team’s number one option extremely late. However, I believe this question really comes down to team construction. I view Moore as a possession receiver (great for PPR) who will see a ton of work in between the twenties and Samuel as the scoring threat. If you want a high floor, go Moore. If you want high weekly upside with bust potential go Samuel. 

Projected 2019 stat line: 90 targets, 57 catches (63%), 850 yards, 8 touchdowns