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Super Deep Sleepers: Carolina Panthers

In the coming weeks, the RotoViz team is going to dig deep to uncover the most buried and overlooked sleepers in the fantasy football landscape.

These are the guys that seemingly have no shot at significance, but with a little imagination and a little luck, could pay off in deeper formats.

Next up, two deep sleepers for the Carolina Panthers.

Curtis Samuel

The Panthers aren’t a fantasy favorite, but they are amassing a nice array of talent at the skill positions. As a result, last year’s second-round pick Curtis Samuel is now just about free in all formats. In dynasty leagues, his arrow has been heading south all offseason to where he’s now being drafted behind some 300 other players in startups.

dynoadp

In best ball, only nine brave souls have been bold enough to take a swing on Samuel since the NFL draft.

 

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I wouldn’t recommend him in that format, but he could find himself in demand in the near future, and here’s why.

For one, he’s still an excellent prospect. Even before accounting for his 40th-overall draft stock and the fact that he was one of the youngest WRs in last year’s draft, the former Buckeye’s college comparisons stood out.

Samuel

Samuel had the best phenom score in the 2017 class, just ahead JuJu-Smith Schuster, who is now often being selected in the second round of dynasty startups.

Samuel’s rookie season was wrecked by an ankle injury which limited him to 15 receptions over 10 games. Expected to report for camp at nearly full health, he’ll will finally get a full offseason of work in the Panthers offense.

This will be his age-22 season, and while he’s behind Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith, and first-round rookie D.J. Moore on the depth chart, he offers the upside of youth and some antifragile appeal.

Like Percy Harvin before him, Samuel is a chess piece who can play almost any role on offense. His college production was so diverse that he qualified for the RotoViz Sweet 16 Tournament as both a wide receiver and running back.

Funchess, Smith, and Moore are obvious favorites to start. But one is a rookie, the other has had one good season. Smith, meanwhile, has about 700 yards in the past two years combined. Nothing here is guaranteed.

Samuel is capable of taking on their targets should one of those WRs falter, and as a bonus, he can play RB if one of those starters goes down, too.

That’s a good number of paths to opportunity for someone of his Samuel’s talents.

Reggie Bonnafon

Reggie Bonnafon is an undrafted free agent rookie who brings similar versatility without the pedigree.

He came to Louisville as a quarterback and played 21 games at the position before future Heisman winner Lamar Jackson showed up. Bonnafon then switched to WR before ultimately switching to RB for his final season.

Year Pos G Rush Att Rush Yds Rush Y/Att Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec YPR TD Plays
2014 QB 10 72 164 2.3 5 0 0 0 72
2015 QB 10 45 175 3.9 0 10 105 10.5 0 55
2016 WR 12 5 7 1.4 0 13 159 12.2 5 18
2017 RB 13 93 459 4.9 7 21 182 8.7 1 114

Carolina signed him as an RB, and that’s where the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder is listed on the depth chart. Considering his inexperience at the position, Bonnafon performed well, rushing for almost five yards per carry and scoring seven TDs.

The athleticism is apparent when watching the highlights, and Bonnafon backed it up with a 4.40 40-yard dash time at his pro day. Pro day times should be taken with a grain of salt, but for what it’s worth, that time would have been good for fourth-best among all RBs and WRS in the 2018 class, tied with Saquon Barkley.

Even if we add six one-hundredths of a second (4.46), he’s still the 12th-fastest ball carrier across all positions.

Bonnafaon is a name to keep an eye in in Panthers camp. He only needs to beat out also rans Cameron Artis-PayneElijah Hood, and special teamer Kenjon Barner for backup duties. Then, he’s only one injury away from opportunity.

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