The Carolina Panthers finally upgraded at quarterback with the acquisition of Baker Mayfield, and the entire roster should receive a boost for fantasy purposes.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Panthers' trade on Wednesday, sending a conditional fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Mayfield. It ends months of speculation about a potential deal, giving Carolina a proven option under center after multiple seasons worth of quarterback inconsistency.
It should provide a major boost to DJ Moore for next season while receivers Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall Jr. should also see better numbers. Christian McCaffrey was already an elite option when healthy, but he could be even better in 2022 while competing to be the overall fantasy RB1.
Mayfield has often been criticized in his career, but even at his worst, he is an upgrade over what the Panthers had on their roster. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick had a career-low 17 touchdowns last season with 13 interceptions while dealing with a shoulder injury.
Carolina's three starters of Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and P.J. Walker combined for 14 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
The Panthers ranked 29th in the NFL in passing yards, 31st in touchdowns, 30th in total offensive yards and 29th in points scored. Matt Corral likely wouldn't have been ready to contribute in Week 1, meaning Darnold probably would have remained the best option for the team.
Mayfield should improve the offense, having showed he can excel when things are going well around him. The quarterback had 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 95.9 passer rating in 2020 while leading the Browns to an 11-5 regular-season record.
The improved offense means everyone on the roster should have more scoring chances, immediately helping each player from a fantasy perspective.
Moore should especially thrive as a possession receiver who could quickly become Mayfield's favorite target on mid-range throws. The wideout had 163 targets last year—sixth-most in the NFL—but only caught 57.1 percent of attempts. With a similar role and more accurate passes, he could easily become a WR1 in points-per-reception leagues.
The limited arm strength might prevent Anderson or Marshall from becoming stars, but either player could have big games like Donovan Peoples-Jones did last year. They are at least worth a watch heading into 2022.
McCaffrey's biggest concern is his health, but his role should remain a big one when on the field.
Kareem Hunt had 97 catches across 32 games with the Browns as the primary receiver out of the backfield. Mayfield also often targeted running backs Nick Chubb, D'Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton in the passing attack, with the four players combining for 84 receptions in 2021.
As long as McCaffrey is healthy, the Panthers star should remain a go-to weapon who will get plenty of opportunities to succeed.