WR Brandon LaFell, Free agent
HT: 6-3, WT: 211, Born: 11-4-1986, College: LSU, Drafted: Round 3
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: G Graham (212), Brandon LaFell (213), J Rodgers (214), M Floyd (215)
Position: H Douglas (205-WR68), R Streater (209-WR69), Brandon LaFell (213 - WR70), M Floyd (215-WR71), E Royal (216-WR72)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: Brandon LaFell (205), G Graham (207)
Position: M Austin (196-WR67), O Beckham (200-WR68), Brandon LaFell (205 - WR69), M Floyd (208-WR70), R Streater (209-WR71)
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Brandon LaFell never lived up to the promise he showed coming out of LSU during his time with the Panthers, but the expectations aren't quite as high with the Patriots who excel in getting the most out of their players. We expect him to make the roster, given the money he is making, but the question becomes "how many targets?" LaFell will be battling with second-year player Aaron Dobson for the "X" spot, which could improve his production. He ran routes out of the slot a lot in Carolina and was ill-suited to the role. If LaFell wins the job, we expect WR4 or WR 5 production. There is a chance his role is more limited though, and he is beaten out by Dobson, in which case he won't be worth a roster spot at all.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - The de facto third target in the Panthers offense, Brandon LaFell failed to make an impression in this tense affair as the Panthers offense relied mainly on short to intermediate completions and a steady dose of the ground game, with Newton favoring Steve Smith and Greg Olsen over LaFell. Although LaFell failed to register a catch, he drew a pass interference penalty albeit on what would have been only a five-yard completion as Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond played LaFell and not the football. Late in the game, LaFell broke free down the seam and looked to have a step on the safety in coverage, but Cam Newton's pass had a little too much on it for LaFell to run under.
Week 2 - LaFellís first catch of the game came on a third and eleven in which Cam Newton had loads of time to throw. LaFell picked up twelve yards and the first down. LaFell caught a quick screen on a play-action fake up the left sideline for nine yards. Another LaFell catch came on a screen in which he was pushed a few yards back by a defensive lineman, LaFell would have been better off dropping the pass, which resulted in a loss of three yards. Another play-action fake destined to fail commenced when Bills LB Kiko Alonso got interior pressure, and the dumpoff went to LaFell for a loss of five. Having LaFell as your second best wide receiver says something about your receiving corps as a whole. Heís not a terrible football player, but championship caliber teams wonít want to rely on him for anything more than a third receiver, if that.
Week 3 - Two touchdown receptions on only three catches is a rare feat for any player, but especially for Brandon LaFell, whose last trip to the end zone came in Week 12 of last season. LaFell did not distinguish himself throughout the game, his lowest point coming on a lazily-run deep comeback route. LaFell failed to come back at an angle to the football, rounding off his sideline pattern to allow the cornerback to step in front for the interception. Newton's pass did not have the required zip, but he was forced to release the football quickly under duress. LaFell redeemed himself by reeling in the first of Newton's three touchdown passes, however. Lined up in the slot in a three-wide set in the red zone, LaFell beat the cornerback to the outside on a corner route. Newton's pass was where only LaFell could catch it, which he duly did. His second touchdown also came in the red zone. Out of a bunch set, LaFell took advantage of his free release and with a slight stutter step seemed to confuse the cornerback in coverage. Running outside the numbers, LaFell turned just as Newton released the football. With the cornerback's back turned at that instant, it was a straightforward pitch and catch for the duo. His two-touchdown display notwithstanding, LaFell was not getting open at will and both touchdowns were more down to well-placed passes than LaFell's ability to gain separation via nuanced route-running.
Week 5 - Brandon LaFell announced himself early on in this contest with a nice catch on a zipped pass from Cam Newton, getting free after running a quick hitch out of a bench set. However, on 4th-and-1 in the red zone, LaFell dropped a straightforward pass from Newton to kill a drive. LaFell initially did well to find a soft spot in the Cardinals' defense, but failed to reel in the well-thrown pass. For most of the game LaFell was a non-factor as the Panthers offense struggled to gain a foothold. In the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, LaFell and Greg Olsen made their presence felt, riffing with Newton and finding the holes in the Cardinals' conservative, bend-but-don't-break defense. Overall, it was a mediocre display from LaFell.
Week 6 - The leading receiver in terms of yardage for the Panthers, Brandon LaFell made the most of his targets to record a 79-yard touchdown reception. With a big assist from a Ted Ginn block, LaFell and Ginn ran a combination pattern to confuse the Vikings secondary. LaFell sprung free and after a laser from Newton was able to finish the job to reach pay dirt. Apart from his big play, however, LaFell was mostly used on underneath routes and rarely targeted more than 10 yards downfield. He and Newton connected on a shallow crossing route against a Vikings blitz to pick up a first down in the first half. The Panthers' game plan revolved around a steady dose of the ground game and safe, controlled passing, a strategy that did not lend itself to outstanding production from the wide-outs. LaFell, the third most targeted receiver on the roster, may not produce a bottom line of 100+ yards and a touchdown for the rest of the season if the Panthers persist with game plans like this. Admittedly, the game script meant they could afford to get away from passing the ball, but LaFell's production appears too up and down to trust.
Week 7 - After a touchdown last week in Minnesota, this was a Žback down to earth' type of outing for Brandon LaFell, who took advantage of off coverage by the Rams to reel in a couple of catches early on. LaFell looked good on a wide receiver screen pass, making a defender miss with a beautiful cut, but in general his role was de-emphasised as Newton attempted only 17 passes in a game that the Panthers were in control of for the majority.
Week 8 - In what is turning into a typical outing for Brandon LaFell, there was no standout moment for the wide out in this contest with the Buccaneers. LaFell lacks the explosiveness in the open field, evident on his wide receiver screen pass in the first half, to threaten defenses. His route running is sound, but it is clear Newton favours the more explosive Ted Ginn, with LaFell used as more of a third or fourth option in the passing attack. Credit has to go to LaFell for breaking up a would-be interception, however. Newton tossed a pass down the seam to the receiver but, seeing the pass was too high and likely to fly into a defender's grasp, LaFell reached up and tipped it. It wobbled enough to ensure the defender could not corral it. LaFell's inconsistent hands showed up in the third quarter with a drop on a deep dig route that Newton placed right between his numbers.
Week 9 - Finishing as the leading receiver on the day, Brandon LaFell impressed with his physical play in close quarters with Atlanta defensive backs, snatching Newton's fastballs with strong hands. LaFell was on Newton's mind early, as a red zone target drew a pass interference flag. Not long after LaFell drew another pass interference flag as he picked on rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant. Newton almost managed to hit LaFell on a corner route in the second half, but the former LSU Tiger seemed to lose the football in the sun as he tried to reel it in over his shoulder. A key 30-yard catch and run on third down in the third quarter almost resulted in disaster as LaFell, streaking down the field, was stripped of the ball from behind. Fortunately the ball bounced back into his grateful hands following a scramble. It was an overall solid performance from the veteran, who benefited from being matched up with rookie Desmond Trufant.
Week 10 - Generally tasked with working the intermediate route tree from the slot, Brandon LaFell Ů apart from a drop on a pass in the flat Ů answered the call when Newton threw it his way. Newton tried to fizz the ball into LaFell down the seam in the early stages, but San Francisco's coverage was touch-tight and LaFell was unable to get his hands on the ball. Newton connected with LaFell on an important completion in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half for 17 yards, as LaFell got inside his cornerback and presented a big target for his quarterback on a medium slant route. LaFell was generally well marshalled by the Niners, but his handful of catches proved crucial in the end.
Week 11 - The leading receiver for the Panthers, the increasingly sure-handed Brandon LaFell continued his momentum from last week's clash on the West Coast with a solid display under the lights on Monday night. LaFell worked the underneath and intermediate routes to perfection and was always available for his quarterback when his first and second reads were covered. As with the other receivers, LaFell seemed to have a mind meld with Newton, hooking up on several timing routes such as the 15-yard deep out and the slant. Newton connected with LaFell for his touchdown pass of the game. The Patriots send a blitz with Carolina set up in the red zone, leaving LaFell one on one over the middle. No Patriots defender could catch up to him, and he waltzed into the end zone after catching a bullet pass on a slant from Newton.
Week 12 - After a strong performance against New England on Monday night, Brandon LaFell came back to earth as the Panthers' passing game struggled to find its footing. Miami deserve credit for their effort defensively, especially the front seven, that blitzed early and often, smelling blood in the Carolina offensive line. LaFell's most meaningful catch came as the first half was mere seconds away from ending; he reeled in a sideline pass and turned it upfield unopposed for a 29-yard gain that put the Panthers in field goal range. LaFell was targeted on a corner route in the end zone in the first half, but pressure up the middle of the pocket forced Newton to release it before he was ready.
Week 13 - Brandon LaFell was the beneficiary of a terrible breakdown in the Bucs' secondary for his touchdown reception. Lined up in a trips bunch, LaFell ran a skinny post pattern to the back of the end zone, but the safety failed to pick him up, instead shading to the middle of the field. Cam Newton had an easy task of lofting the ball to the back line of the end zone, where LaFell reeled it in for six. Apart from his scoring play, however, it was a quiet outing for the receiver. Newton tried to hit him on a corner route along the sideline early on, but the pass was thrown a little too high. It was a similar issue for another target, a high and wild Newton pass that came off LaFell's hands and resulted in an interception. Newton was at fault on the play, giving his receiver little chance to catch it.
Week 14 - Despite the favourable game script for receivers like Brandon LaFell to work with, he failed to make any significant contribution as the Panthers passing attack floundered in New Orleans. In his two-catch display, LaFell struggled to get off press coverage at times and had a terrible mental error on a quick slant that resulted in a drop. The play would have resulted in a first down. Cam Newton opted for the safer hands of tight end Greg Olsen and his running backs out of the backfield as pass receivers Ů not LaFell Ů as the Panthers went into catch-up mode early. In an uninspiring day for the entire Carolina offense, LaFell failed to make his presence felt.
Week 15 - Brandon LaFell had arguably his best all-around game of the season. LaFell contributed to the win with his route running ability, blocking, and strong hands. Early in the first quarter, LaFell ran a go-route by Dee Millner and caught Cam Newtonís inaccurate throw a 36-yard gain. LaFell displayed impressive body control and great poise to make the play. LaFell followed up his big gain with a designed red zone run that resulted in six yards. LaFell took turns picking on New Yorkís toasting each of its three best corners for gains in excess of 12 yards. While LaFellís play-making ability and route running has improved, his blocking may have been his most valuable attributes. On DeAngelo Williamsí 72-yard touchdown reception, LaFell dominated his blocking assignment, Dee Millner, and didnít give him a chance to make a play. Regardless of which New York defender played him, LaFell won the majority of battles as both a blocker and receiver.
Week 16 - A victim of the offensive struggles suffered by Carolina, Brandon LaFell caught only one pass, although Newton failed to hit him on a corner route that could have bolstered his totals. LaFell was well marshaled for the most part by Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis and once Steve Smith went out of the game, the Saints put the pressure on Newton to fit the ball into tight spaces by challenging the receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Week 17 - Brandon LaFell, after having such a promising season, failed to register a catch in the Georgia Dome. Cam Newton was off on many of his throws, possibly due to the ankle injury he has been battling. While LaFell was the target of a couple of Newton passes, the connection couldn't quite get in sync. LaFell ripped the seam early, but both cornerback and safety had a bead on him and Newton's pass fell harmlessly to the turf. A subsequent target to LaFell on a corner route was a tight squeeze, but a pass Newton could have delivered with more accuracy. Once again, LaFell was let down by a high pass. With the Panthers seemingly trusting their defense to win this game, LaFell was not relied upon as much.
Week 19 - Brandon LaFell was kept well-marshalled by the San Francisco defense throughout the game Ů as they did with most Carolina receivers Ů and failed to make a telling impact on matters. LaFell, to his credit, showed good concentration as he often had to make contested catches. The former LSU receiver showed reliable hands compared to previous weeks, and couldn't be blamed for a high pass that resulted in an interception early on. Newton delivered the football slightly too high for LaFell to comfortably catch, and the ball fell kindly for Patrick Willis to intercept.