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Panthers Backfield Fantasy Football Breakdown | Will Miles Sanders or Chuba Hubbard Lead Way in Week 12? What About the Rest of the Season?

Discussing Panthers running backs Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard and trying to determine the better fantasy option for week 12 and the rest of the season.

Morgan Rode Nov 25th 9:57 AM EST.

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 19: Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard (30) holds the ball with both hands as Dallas Cowboys defensive back Markquese Bell (14) prepares to make a tackle during an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers on November 19, 2023 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 19: Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard (30) holds the ball with both hands as Dallas Cowboys defensive back Markquese Bell (14) prepares to make a tackle during an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers on November 19, 2023 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)

The Carolina Panthers have proven to be a roster that doesn’t offer many fantasy options this season. 

Quarterback Bryce Young hasn’t lived up to expectations, and Adam Thielen has really been the only consistent skill player. The running back room had shifted from Miles Sanders to Chuba Hubbard, but week 11 might have tightened the backfield back up.

Let’s talk about the Panthers’ backfield and see if we can determine what might happen in the weeks to come. We’ll also discuss if either back can start in week 12.

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Week 11 Showing vs. Recent Weeks

Hubbard appeared to be in control of the Panthers’ backfield going into week 11, but he and Sanders turned in two pretty similar fantasy outings.

Hubbard played 29 offensive snaps and got 12 touches. He rushed 10 times for 57 yards. He caught both of his targets for 8 yards.

Sanders was on the field for 27 offensive snaps and also saw 12 touches. He rushed 11 times for 50 yards and caught his only target for 2 yards.

Hubbard had 11 touches across 30 snaps in week 10, with Sanders at just four touches over 23 snaps. Hubbard played 46 snaps and got 20 touches in week 9, while Sanders had touches on half of his 18 snaps.

The last time the two backs had the same amount of touches was week 4. Hubbard had really dominated the touches since, so the week 11 showing came out of nowhere.

Backfield Fantasy Outlook

With not many fantasy options, the Panthers haven’t really been all that relevant. In the real life NFL, Carolina is 1-9 overall. The only real chance they have of making the playoffs is by winning the putrid NFC South, and even that seems like a pipe dream.

I bring this up because I believe a lot of teams will change their approach when they realize their seasons are over. Some call it tanking, but teams simply say they want to look toward the future and see what they got stashed on their rosters.

Hubbard has been the more effective ball carrier between him and Sanders. Hubbard averages 3.9 yards per carry, while Sanders is at just 3.3 yards. Both averages are really not that good, which speaks to the state of the Panthers’ offense as a whole.

With meaningful football games - the remaining games are still beneficial for the development of players, of course - not likely being played until next season, it would make sense if the Panthers continued to split the backfield work between Hubbard and Sanders.

Hubbard has been the better option, but he’s also two years younger, so the team could be splitting the workload in order to extend his longevity a bit. Sanders is the more expensive player, and is signed longer, so maybe splitting the workload is about keeping him happy and in town for the foreseeable future.

Whatever the case might be, I truly believe the backfield is going to pretty much be split right down the middle.

How to Approach the Panthers’ Backs

A split backfield is one of the worst things for a fantasy football owner. 

Take week 11 as an example, where Sanders and Hubbard both turned in decent fantasy showings. It’s great when two running backs can be productive, but they also limit each other’s ceilings and it becomes much harder to determine if either guy is worthy of a start each week.

Carolina likely is going to be playing from behind a bunch over the rest of the season, so that’s also a negative for the two backs. Neither is really a big pass-catching threat, so even in PPR formats it’s a tough start/sit decision for each guy.

You are probably going to have to take things on a week-by-week basis if they continue splitting the workload. Obviously, if one back starts getting a majority of the work again, the decision is much easier.

For week 12, most fantasy owners, including myself, are expecting a split backfield. The Panthers will be facing the Tennessee Titans. That’s a tougher matchup for the Carolina backs, as RBs average just 19 fantasy points per week.

Split in half, and you have two so-so fantasy performances again, just like in week 11. With the unknown backfield in Carolina, I’d try to avoid both Sanders and Hubbard in my week 12 lineups. 

You might not have the option to bench them, but I’d do my best to do just that. If you roster both, you might as well flip a coin when deciding on the better option. If I was in that situation, I’d go with Hubbard because he’s been the more efficient runner this season.

The worst part is, you can’t drop either guy at this point, as you might end up dropping the guy that becomes the lead back. Hopefully this is a situation that resolves itself in time, otherwise you are going to be stuck with a tough start/sit decision every week. 

#panthers #miles-sanders #chuba-hubbard #start-sit-decision

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