Fantasy Impact: Robby Anderson Signs With Panthers
One of the dominos that we’ve been waiting to fall in free agency has, as Robby Anderson has agreed to terms with the Carolina Panthers on a two-year deal worth $20 million, with $12 million coming in year one of the deal. He’ll re-unite with head coach Matt Rhule, as he was back in 2015 when he tallied 70 receptions for 939 yards and seven touchdowns at Temple.
There were many who expected Anderson to sign sooner in the process, and the rumors were flying around that he’d been re-negotiating a contract with the Jets. It’s surprising to see a player who’s supposed to be in the prime of his career take a two-year deal on a team that’s rebuilding, but that’s what we have.
ROCKY ROAD WITH JETS
While with the Jets, Anderson was a mixed bag in both fantasy and reality. He’s tallied at least 752 yards in each of the last three seasons, though much of his totals came in big spurts. Highlighting this in fantasy football terms, here’s a look at his percentages in the “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between” series:
|YEAR||WR1 %||WR2 %||WR3 %||BOOM %||BUST %|
As you can see, there wasn’t a single year he produced WR3 or better numbers in more than half the games, which means he was a WR4, at best. Over the last two years, he’s “busted” (fewer than 8.0 PPR points) in 16-of-30 games. You can blame Adam Gase all you want (I would, too), but he’s only been there a year. Anderson has been inconsistent in both his effort and his results.
POTENT CORE OF PASS CATCHERS
What makes his lack of results that much more shocking in New York is the fact that he hasn’t had much competition on the roster. Jamison Crowder, aging Demaryius Thomas, Quincy Enunwa, and Jermaine Kearse were the receivers he was competing for targets with while on the Jets the last two years. Now, he goes to the Panthers, a team with rising star D.J. Moore, who plays a possession role; Christian McCaffrey, who is going to see 100-plus targets; Curtis Samuel, who the team invested a second-round pick on and targeted 106 times last year; and lastly, Ian Thomas, who’s flashed enough potential for them to move on from Greg Olsen.
WHERE DO THE TARGETS GO?
This is an entirely new offense, so it’s difficult to say who will get what targets, but one things for sure: there are only so many to go around. Moore went from 82 targets his rookie year, to 135 targets in his second year. Why should those go away when he tallied 87 receptions for 1,175 yards and four touchdowns with Kyle Allen as his quarterback? Samuel was extremely inefficient with his targets last year, though it should be noted that only 61 of his 106 targets were catchable.
The average NFL team targets wide receivers about 315 times over the last five years, which is a good starting point. If we were to keep Moore hovering around the 125-135 mark and then dip Samuel into the 70-80 target range, Anderson is suddenly coming in right around where he did with the Jets, which was 93-114 targets. There are a lot of hypotheticals here, but that’s a good baseline.
TEDDY NOT MATCHING UP
Now, onto the next issue: Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t been someone who takes many chances down the field, as evidenced by his miniscule 6.2 air yards per pass attempt in 2019, which was the lowest mark in the NFL. Anderson has made his living down the field, as evidenced by his 14-plus yards per reception in each year. To know that just 7.1 percent of Bridgewater’s passes went over 20 yards last year isn’t good, as it was the second-lowest rate in the NFL.
Even if we were to go back to the first two years of Bridgewater’s career, he threw the ball over 20 yards just 10.2 percent of the time in 2014 and then just 10.7 percent of the time in 2015, which were both bottom-10 in the league. Meanwhile, 26.0 percent of Anderson’s targets were 20-plus yards last year. The skillset meshing between these two isn’t what you’d describe as great.
As highlighted throughout this article, Anderson’s inconsistencies with the Jets are likely to float over to his time with the Panthers. Not only are there much more talented pass catchers surrounding him with the Panthers, but his new quarterback hasn’t thrown the ball deep throughout his career. Anderson goes from the clear-cut No. 1 option on the Jets, to the third option at best on the Panthers. This move isn’t great for his fantasy value, which is why he should remain in the WR4 range as a boom-or-bust option that you play when matchups call for it. If anything, this just hurts D.J. Moore‘s potential fantasy ceiling while Curtis Samuel continues to fall down the totem pole.