The Cam Newton era in Carolina is over. Newton and the Panthers are heading for an unceremonious split after the team has reportedly reached an agreement with Teddy Bridgewater and will allow Newton to seek a trade. While there are still more dominoes to fall with Newton, we can unpack the immediate fantasy impact Bridgewater will have on the Carolina Panthers.
Bridgewater got off to a respectable start to his pro career, posting fantasy finishes of 22nd and 23rd in 2014 and 2015. But a devastating preseason injury in 2016 kept him on the sidelines for a bulk of the next two seasons and nearly cost him his career. Bridgewater signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2018 and was solid when called to action last season. As the Saints starter from Weeks 2-7, Bridgewater ranked 19th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring.
Solid was certainly good enough for the Saints while Drew Brees was sidelined, but back-end QB2 numbers aren’t going to get it done for fantasy purposes. Of course, Bridgewater is stepping into an intriguing situation with Joe Brady now at the reins as the new offensive coordinator in Carolina. That being said, it’s tough to view Bridgewater as anything more than what he’s been over the course of his career: a low-ceiling QB2.
As for the incumbent cast in Carolina, there’s really no impact on Christian McCaffrey. He’s a stud and will almost certainly be the consensus No. 1 overall pick in redraft fantasy leagues this year. The bigger effect here is on the receivers. Bridgewater showed in New Orleans that he had no problem getting the ball to Michael Thomas. That makes a lot of sense when you look at average depth of target. Thomas is a low aDOT guy at just 8.21 last season, and Bridgewater ranks 95th out of 100 qualifying quarterbacks in cumulative aDOT since his rookie season in 2014 at just 7.5.
In his 6 starts last season, Teddy Bridgewater attempted just 14 passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. That's bad for Curtis Samuel, but D.J. Moore is going to eat. https://t.co/njX0aUJSVG
— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) March 17, 2020
So, considering his low aDOT, this actually bodes fairly well for D.J. Moore and fairly poorly for Curtis Samuel. Moore saw an aDOT of just 10.05 last year, while Samuel was targeted an average of 16.06 yards downfield. While Moore’s overall upside is slightly capped by Bridgewater, he projects to see enough volume to be in the fringe-WR1 conversation. It’s tough to get behind Curtis Samuel as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4.