Since joining the Panthers in 2014, Dickson has gone on to average about 12 catches and 123 yards per season, while scoring four touchdowns. With Pro Bowler Greg Olsen ahead of him, Dickson's opportunities are understandably few and far between, which has resulted in his fantasy value being severely restricted in recent years.
In two years since joining the Panthers, Dickson has totaled 27 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Not only is Dickson’s production capped by Carolina’s run-first approach, but the presence of Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen understandably restricts his involvement in the passing game. Additionally, with big-bodied receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess around, Dickson’s physical traits don’t particularly stand out the way they might on another team.
Following a four-year stint in Baltimore to begin his career, Dickson joined Carolina last season to help back-up starting tight end Greg Olsen. While the Pro-Bowler (Olsen) led the Panthers in receiving, little playing time was left for Dickson, who finished with a career-worst 10 catches (on 17 targets) for 115 yards and one touchdown all season. As a result of Olsen’s presence and Dickson’s minimal production, the 27-year-old’s fantasy value is severely restricted leading into the upcoming season.
Dickson signed with the Panthers this offseason, providing depth behind starter Greg Olsen. It's possible he carves out a bigger role than expected given the team's unsettled wideout situation, and the Panthers likely will use Dickson and Olsen in two-tight-end sets, with Olsen drawing the defensive attention. Dickson doesn't have good hands, and he didn't do much the last two seasons in Baltimore after posting career highs of 54 receptions and five touchdowns in 2011. His biggest contribution this year might be to depress Olsen's value.
Although his questionable hands and route running skills likely point to limited upside, Dickson's prognosis for 2013 changed drastically when Dennis Pitta went down with a season-ending hip injury during training camp. Of course, Dickson subsequently suffered a hamstring injury that led to the team adding Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe to the TE mix. Still, when healthy, Dickson is expected to serve at the team's No. 1 TE.
Dickson had a decent season last year, but the post-Todd Heap era didn’t propel him into fantasy relevance. Mainly that was because of Dennis Pitta, who took a healthy 56 targets to Dickson’s 89. Dickson saw a reduced role in the offense during the second half of the season, catching only 14 passes for 172 yards over the final seven games. The strength in his game is his ability to come out of short patterns quickly and turn them into bigger gains. He’s a better athlete than Pitta, but as long as both are used interchangeably, Dickson likely won’t climb the fantasy ladder.
Dickson is the de facto favorite to start at tight end with Todd Heap in Arizona. He'll have to fully separate himself from Dennis Pitta in order to be considered a viable fantasy option, however. Earning exclusive snaps would require a significant improvement in pass blocking. For now, he's probably best left alone on draft day.
Dickson will compete with fellow rookie Dennis Pitta to unseat Todd Heap from the starting spot. Dickson possesses elite athleticism and hands and could be difference maker down the road, but will need time to develop his blocking before he makes any impact.