The Carolina Panthers have a new quarterback on their roster after trading for Baker Mayfield. The No. 1 overall pick in 2018, Mayfield played four seasons with the Cleveland Browns and finished his time there with 14,125 passing yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. That resulted in 15.9 fantasy points per game, which left him on the waiver wire in most leagues in his final season with the Browns.
Carolina didn't give up a ton for him, sending a 2024 fifth-round pick. And in order for this deal to come fruition, the Browns agreed to pay $10.5 million of Mayfield's 2022 salary ($18 million). This was a price the Panthers were willing to pay considering how dismal the quarterback play was in Carolina last season with Sam Darnold starting 11 games and averaging only 14.2 fantasy points per game.
The Panthers ranked 14th in pass attempts per game (35.2), but only averaged 190.5 passing yards per game. Only the Chicago Bears (188.6), New York Giants (188.0) and New Orleans Saints (187.4) averaged fewer. It's no wonder the Panthers were willing to roll the dice on Mayfield.
So how will Mayfield do with a change of scenery? While Mayfield isn't likely the long-term solution for the Panthers at quarterback, it gives them a chance to be more competitive in 2022. This news also provides fantasy managers a glimmer of optimism when evaluating Carolina players heading into drafts this summer. As a reminder, Mayfield is only one season removed from a solid 2020 campaign where he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance for the first time since 2002. He threw for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns that season. Even after Mayfield's 2021 season was derailed by a shoulder injury, he will be the favorite to start for the Panthers over Darnold and Matt Corral, the rookie third-rounder out of Ole Miss.
My colleague and projections maestro, Mike Clay has updated his fantasy football projections for the Panthers heading into the 2022. From a fantasy perspective, Mayfield is back on the streaming radar thanks to a plethora of offensive playmakers in Carolina including DJ Moore, Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson. Clay has him projected for 4,097 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. This translates to 225 fantasy points. It is best to view Mayfield as a streaming option or a QB2 in superflex formats.
Why DJ Moore is the big fantasy winner of the Baker Mayfield trade
Matthew Berry explains the fantasy impact of Baker Mayfield being traded to the Panthers.
McCaffrey's fantasy value remains relatively unchanged. He's only played 10 games during the past two seasons due to injuries, but McCaffrey has averaged 115.9 yards and 21.8 fantasy points per game in that span. He should continue to be heavily involved in the Panthers offense.
Mayfield's arrival provides a higher floor for Moore. He finished last season with a target share of 28.4%, which was sixth highest in the league. Moore also ranked fifth in air yards with 1,632. He's has had three straight seasons with 1,100 or more receiving yards. Stefon Diggs is the only other player to accomplish this feat. With Mayfield under center, Moore's ceiling is higher in 2022. He continues to be a nice value in fantasy drafts and Clay has him projected for 1,178 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Terrace Marshall Jr. should not be overlooked by fantasy players in deeper formats. The addition of Mayfield and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo benefits the second year receiver. Marshall's physicality and catch radius will be useful when he's targeted in the middle of the field or in the red zone. Mayfield had a ton of success with slot receiver Jarvis Landry from 2018 to 2019. During that period, Landry caught 164 of 287 targets for 2,150 yards. Marshall is worth a late-round flyer in your fantasy football drafts.