Greg Olsen, TE Carolina Panthers
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Schedule difficulty based on schedule-adjusted, positional defensive ranking. Top DEF = 1, bottom DEF = 32.
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The Panthers are better at receiver than they were a year ago. Nothing against Steve L Smith, but at 35 he was no better than a No. 2 receiver and at the end of his career. Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon really weren't big losses when you look at it closely. Hixon wouldn't have been a loss at all were it not for the game-winning touchdown against New Orleans. The key here will be chemistry, but first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin looks like a red zone beast at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. Free agent signees Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant are solid possession receivers, and more dependable than the players they replaced. Who steps up as the fourth receiver will be the biggest question, whether it's free agent Tiquan Underwood or one of the young receivers. The Panthers plan to run a lot more two tight-end sets makes that less critical.
We project Cotchery and Benjamin to start but believe that Greg Olsen will once again lead the team in catches. Benjamin has upside, but Cotchery is a dirt cheap WR5/WR6 option available in the final rounds.