Panthers HC Ron Rivera was asked about WR Brandon LaFell: "I feel very confident about Brandon. The one thing I didn’t want to do last year, I wanted to keep the carrot in front of Brandon. I didn’t want him to feel like he’s arrived. I think the thing that Brandon has to always keep in front of him is the big picture, and that is his continual growth. I hope he never, ever feels like he’s arrived. If he keeps that approach and works hard like that. And truthfully, looks at the way Steve Smith does things, I think that’s going to help him. I really do. Because when Legedu (Naanee) did get hurt, and (LaFell) did step up and become the starter, I was very pleased with what happened. I thought it kind of signified that, hey, you know what, I think the young man’s arriving. But he hasn’t gotten there. That’s the one thing, I don’t want him to ever feel like he’s gotten there."
During the first eight games of 2011, LaFell saw 3.0 targets per game and produced an average of 2.1 receptions for 35 yards and 0.25 TDs. Over the final eight games, he averaged 4.0 targets for 2.4-42-0.13, so there wasn't a big jump in production despite a 33% increase in targets. However his Fantasy Points / Target was 1.42, which ranked #16 out of 119 WRs with at least 30 targets in 2012. He is definitely a candidate for a breakout season if he gets true WR2 targets.