NFL analytics expert names Panthers’ most underappreciated player
Being that the Carolina Panthers have flown under most radars for the past handful of seasons (which may be a nice way of saying that they’ve failed to contend), there are a few of their players who can be considered as underappreciated. But when it comes to the almighty dollar, who fits that bill best?
According to NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund, it’s running back Chuba Hubbard. She believes, based on contribution metrics and current salaries, that Hubbard is a tad overlooked.
Hubbard took a big step forward as a runner and receiver in 2022, with major bumps in yards per carry (4.9, up from 3.6 in 2021) and yards per reception (12.2, up from 7.0). And he averaged 5.0 yards per rush between the tackles last year, per Next Gen Stats, tying for eighth in the league. While free-agent acquisition Miles Sanders forecasts to be the primary back in Carolina, Hubbard’s importance and reliability drive a ton of value — especially while rookie QB Bryce Young adjusts to the NFL game.
Hubbard stepped up for Carolina as a rookie in 2021, leading the team in rushing (612 yards) in place of an injured Christian McCaffrey. He then provided a solid second punch to D’Onta Foreman this past season, averaging—as Frelund noted—that cool 4.9 per tote.
Now, with Sanders and his relatively hefty four-year, $25.4 million deal in tow, the Panthers have an undisputed bell cow in their backfield. But, as he was in his first two pro seasons, Hubbard should be ready to go if needed.
So maybe Matt Rhule’s wife was really on to something after all.
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