Panthers Make Move at Quarterback with Baker Mayfield Trade


After months of trade speculation, Baker Mayfield is finally on the move.


The Carolina Panthers acquired the former No. 1 draft pick on Wednesday, sending the Cleveland Browns a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024. Mayfield will likely compete with Sam Darnold for the starting quarterback job, though I’d expect him to win that competition. 

Mayfield’s numbers were not great in 2021, ranking outside the top-17 quarterbacks in deep completion rate, pressured completion rate and play-action completion rate. He averaged less than 14 fantasy points per game, but don’t overlook the fact that he played through a partially torn labrum for most of the season and then dislocated the shoulder weeks later. Mayfield also dealt with foot and leg injuries, making it a very difficult year for him.

Baker Mayfield QB Carolina Panthers

Assuming he starts for the Panthers, he skyrockets up the rankings, mainly in two-quarterback or Superflex formats. Carolina’s offense has been abysmal over the last two seasons, but between Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson, it not as if this team is devoid of talent. There is some added excitement surrounding Moore for fantasy, who has been top 10 in receiving yards in each of the last three seasons but also hasn’t scored more than four touchdowns in any season of his career. This move could help, especially if the Panthers are sustaining more drives. In 2021, Carolina averaged the third-fewest yards (26.0) and eight-fewest plays (5.8) per drive, while only the Lions, Jaguars, Giants and Texans averaged fewer red-zone trips per game (2.8). For his career, Mayfield has a 4.8% passing touchdown rate, which is a nice jump from Darnold’s 3.3% rate. 

It’ll be interesting to see if Mayfield heavily targets Moore like Darnold did, as Moore saw the fifth-most first-read targets last year (143), while his 35% first-read target share tied for the league-lead with Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson. Still, an uptick in touchdowns is all Moore has needed to reach WR1 status in fantasy. This move helps with that.


Meanwhile, Mayfield’s arrival certainly doesn’t hurt Anderson either. Among receivers with at least 50 targets last year, Anderson sported the sixth-lowest catchable target rate at 68%. Anderson was one of the least efficient wideouts in football last season, converting his 110 targets into just 53 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns. He finished as the WR49 in fantasy. Among qualified wideouts, Anderson’s 0.83 yards per route run ranked third worst in the league. Anderson is now a bit more exciting in the later rounds of fantasy drafts. 

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