Baker Mayfield is out of the drama in Ohio and now hopes he can redeem himself in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 2021, Baker Mayfield’s throwing ability was hampered by playing through a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. In his four seasons in Cleveland, he hasn’t been a winning quarterback (29-30). His completion rate (61.6) was significantly lower than it had been during his collegiate career (68.5). His touchdown contribution also has not exactly been stellar (92 TDs over 60 games). Mayfield made three or more touchdown passes in only nine of his 59 starts. In fact, he had not done so in his last 18 games. Throughout his career, his run game has also been negligible.
Take note that Mayfield underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in January. He hopes that he will be fully recovered by the start of the regular season.
Now, even though Mayfield has moved on to the Panthers, he still won’t be a very popular fantasy option. A large part of it is due to the previous work he has produced. For instance, he only reached the 20-point threshold in fantasy in 2021 twice. That’s a noticeable decrease from five times in 2020 and six times in 2019.
In four seasons, Mayfield has also never exceeded 30 passing touchdowns or passed for 4,000 yards. It’s difficult to imagine him reaching those goals. That’s even if he secures the starting job for the Panthers and retains it for 17 weeks.
Baker Mayfield getting settled in https://t.co/nCKp2kKmN2
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 8, 2022
Did the Panthers get a steal by acquiring Mayfield? Likely not. Recall that the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Commanders all made moves for him, who had just received a 63.6 PFF grade. He just did not have a big market.
Keep in mind, however, that Mayfield finished ninth among quarterbacks from 2018 to 2020 with an overall PFF rating of 87.5 and tenth with an 84.9 passing grade during the same period. He also guided the Browns to their first postseason victory since 1994 back in 2020. He can win games.
How will Mayfield do in 2022, then? Will Sam Darnold beat him as the Panthers’ starting QB? And what is his ceiling?
Baker Mayfield’s 2022 fantasy football outlook
Mayfield is in a great position to produce passing statistics that are substantially better than they were in Cleveland. Since he joined the club, the Browns have been a run-first team, and his health was a major concern last season. Mayfield now has three great wideouts and an exceptional receiving back. The bar wasn’t set particularly high, but his arrival should improve the passing game for the Panthers’ offense. With 17 starts, approaching 4,000 passing yards and about 30 touchdowns will still be tough, but it’s not impossible.
Last season, Mayfield completed only 253 of 418 passes for 3,010 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. With a passing grade of 62.4, he finished 27th out of 38 qualifying quarterbacks. For context, the three quarterbacks who played for Carolina last season (Darnold, P.J. Walker, and Cam Newton) were far superior to Mayfield even in a down year. Strangely enough, practically all experts anticipate that Mayfield would be an improvement over that trio.
Mayfield will work with a new offense that’s led by the versatile Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. Many see that the Panthers’ offense is deeper than what Mayfield had in Cleveland last year.
Having said that, Mayfield joined the team late in the summer. He may need some getting used to, but he should still be a huge improvement at Carolina’s QB spot. Diehards still recall that just two years ago, he guided the Browns to an 11-5 record behind a 26/8 TD/Int ratio. If he can do that again, the Panthers would be extremely happy.
Most observers agree that Mayfield will beat Sam Darnold for the starting job. Still, the team has stated that there will be an open competition. That means there is a chance he won’t start in Week 1, though he is QB1 in the released depth chart.
Baker Mayfield Has Been With The Panthers For A Month, Already Has “Inside Track” To Start Over Incumbent Sam Darnold https://t.co/fEk9ltUCBG pic.twitter.com/Up9NeuBx5s
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) August 8, 2022
Moving forward, just remember that Mayfield has never been a high-level fantasy QB. While he did have a special 2020 season for the Browns, he was just QB17 that year in fantasy football. Again, Mayfield has never surpassed 30 touchdowns or thrown for 4,000 yards in a season. Averaging 9.5 yards on 2.6 running attempts per game since joining the league, he also doesn’t add a lot of rushing yards.
In 1QB leagues, Mayfield is almost undraftable, but he offers some backup value in favorable matchups as a bye week or injury-filler. He’s a low-end QB2 option going into the season. Truth be told, he’ll probably continue being better on the field than on any fantasy team.
Prospective managers can consider picking him in the second half of Superflex/two-QB formats, though he may still be a mediocre choice.