Dan Arnold settled into a nice role with the Cardinals last season with a modest 31 catches, 438 yards and four touchdowns. He now joins a Panthers offense with an open spot at the position and has said to local reporters that he joined Carolina expected a large role in the passing game. Arnold was quietly TE13 over the second half of last season and is getting very little interest in draft circles. His current ADP is TE36 and he’s available in the late 23rd round – so essentially free. Most importantly, his new quarterback is named Sam Darnold. So we’ll get Darnold throwing to D. Arnold. That has to count for something.
The Panthers have a lot of receiving options, including Christian McCaffrey coming out of the backfield, so there may not be enough volume for Arnold to put up fantasy points. Also, he gets a pretty big downgrade at quarterback going from Kyler Murray to Darnold, even if Darnold shows massive improvement over his Jets days. Arnold also has to contend with holdover Ian Thomas and rookie Tommy Tremble for tight end snaps, although Thomas and Tremble both profile more as blockers than receivers. With Arnold, it’s the opposite.
2021 Bottom Line
Arnold is worth a dart throw in any league where drafters are taking three tight ends. He’s available at the very end of all drafts and has TE1 upside. Every year, we hope for some low-profile tight ends to rise to the top, so if you can’t snag a good one early on, and decide three late guys are the answer, Arnold is worth being the third of those three.