Statistically speaking, Gano had another productive season in 2016 -- his fourth as Carolina's full-time starter -- but a tough start and even tougher, albeit injury-related, finish prompted the Panthers to draft a kicker for the first time in franchise history. Seventh-rounder Harrison Butker, the leading scorer in Georgia Tech's 124-year football history and coming off a season in which he led the ACC in field goal percentage, will compete with Gano this summer. As the Charlotte Observer reported, Gano's 2016 season began with frustration, when he missed a 50-yard FG in the final seconds that would have won the Super Bowl 50 rematch in Denver. He recovered to put himself in position to record his highest FG percentage since 2013, but late in the season injury finally caught up with him. In the three games leading up to his Week 17 1 for 4 performance at Tampa Bay, Gano played with a broken bone in his plant foot -- an injury that had bothered him well before the bone snapped in half on a Week 14 kickoff against the Chargers. Gano had surgery in mid-January and has been medically cleared, but fantasy owners need to watch the competition this preseason before committing here.
Graham Gano 2016 Outlook
As CBSSports.com recently noted, Gano has established himself as one of the better kickers in the league. He converted 30 of 36 field goal attempts and 56 of 59 extra point tries for a franchise record and career high 146 points last year -- due in part to playing alongside an offense run by NFL MVP Cam Newton, who propelled the Panthers to impressive scoring totals. Newton's ability to keep the offense moving was a major factor in Gano ranking second in points in the NFL behind New England's Stephen Gostkowski (151). Can he continue that run? It's not a reach to believe he can. Gano has converted at least 80 percent of his field goal attempts each of the last four seasons and has attempted 35 or more field goals each of the last two. CBS notes that he's a little spotty from 50-plus yards, but that shouldn't keep you from rolling with him as your primary kicker this season.