2011 Fantasy Football Preview: Dissecting DeAngelo

Feb 22, 2011


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By Andy Boyum
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Heading into 2008, DeAngelo Williams was a name that, unless you were entrenched in our beloved fantasy football world, didn’t resonate amongst the masses outside of the Carolina borders. Coming into a rookie season in 2006, Panther-Pride was at an all-time high due in part of two NFC Championships and a Super Bowl appearance in the previous three seasons. But in replacing – and I use that word loosely – starting incumbent DeShaun Foster, Williams did not immediately impress. After two seasons he had compiled only 265 carries for 1218 yards and five touchdowns.
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Although Williams had been showing signs of life and glimmers of hope, head coach John Fox was likely wondering whether or not the young back was worth the 27th overall pick they had used on him, expeditiously prompting the team to once again use their first round draft pick on another running back, up-and-comer, Jonathan Stewart. An act that just may have produced the spark that lit the fire in # 34’s rear-end, and just in the nick of time. If you didn’t know who DeAngelo Williams was in September, you would certainly know him come December.
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In 2008, DeAngelo Williams was, in my opinion, the steal of fantasy drafts. In many of my leagues he was being taken after Jonathan Stewart, as was the case in my keeper-league where Stewart went in Round 4, and I drafted Williams in Round 6. Thank you, thank you very much…but I digress.
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Williams went on to finish his 2008 campaign starting all 16 games with 273 attempts for 1515 yards and an impressive 18 touchdowns, all of which were career highs. He also added another two scores off 22 receptions for 121 yards. Both offensive skill sets produced a 5.5 yard average for Williams. In the 295 times he touched the rock in 2008, he never fumbled the football – not once.
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In Week 13 at Lambeau Field, Williams set a Panthers franchise record, rushing for four touchdowns in a 35-14 win over the Packers. One week later, Williams rushed for another 186 yards and two scores over division rival Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football. That performance earned him FedEx Ground Player-of-the-Week. Williams was not yet finished though, and in Week 16 he continued his dominance, rushing for 108 yard and another four scores in an overtime loss against the eventual #1 seeded New York Giants.
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He even threw in an additional 178 rushing yards on Week 17, setting the Panthers single-season rushing record. He was arguably the catalyst that propelled the Panthers back to the top of the NFC South, and back to the playoffs for the first time in three years with a division crown and first-round bye awaiting them.
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Like Alexander in ’05, Tomlinson in ’06, Peterson in ’07, Johnson in ’09 and Charles in ‘10, if you owned Williams in ’08 odds are he single-handedly allowed you to hoist your fantasy trophy at the end of the year. For the past two seasons he has been considered one of the elite, first-round draft talents at the position. Now considered an injury risk and being mired in a three-headed monster – running-back-by-committee – many fantasy owners are not so optimistic regarding Williams’ future.
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It is difficult to gauge the 2011 fantasy value for DeAngelo Williams. He backed up his stellar 2008 season with another strong campaign in 2009 rushing for 1117 yards and seven touchdowns while being selected to his first Pro Bowl. More impressively,
he accomplished this while effectively sitting out five games due to injury and working in a split-backfield. Williams yielded an additional 221 carries to Jonathan Stewart which translated to 1133 yards for the 2nd-year back, and they became the second NFL rushing duo in history to both eclipse 1000 yards in a season.
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His 2010 season did not bode well for the 5th-year veteran heading into his ever-so-important contract year with free agency on the horizon. Williams only played in six contests, never totaling more than 19 carries or 86 yards and only one score, before being relegated to the IR for yet another injury. To muddy the waters in the Carolina backfield even further, Stewart and
2nd-year back Mike Goodson filled in admirably and provided what little spark it could to an anemic offense led by a rookie quarterback behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
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With uncertainty regarding health, and as a practical matter, where he will be playing in 2011, his first-round draft status is now in question. Now this is not to say that Williams has fallen off the face of the Earth. In fact, I don’t expect him to fall much further than an early 3rd Round pick, if even that far. Potentially he has the ability to regain his first round draft status, depending on the situation he finds himself in come 2011. With the Panthers not expected to use the franchise tag on Williams, and understandably skeptical when it comes to signing him to a long-term deal, there have been rumblings out of Carolina that the club may not be looking to retain # 34’s services.
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So where does that put DeAngelo for 2011? Right now there are rumors linking him to Miami and Denver, which would reunite him with his former coach. But with Moreno finishing out 2010 very impressively in Denver and reports out of Miami projecting them to draft Alabama running back Mark Ingram, I don’t view either one of those two options as having very much steam.
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Looking around the league, a better fit, in my opinion, would be in Washington, Arizona or probably the most intriguing of all, Green Bay. Wherever he may land, coaches around this league and fantasy owners alike realize that he is a commodity worth having, a true buy-low sell-high candidate in 2011. But, if 10-plus years of playing this game have taught me anything it’s that fantasy owners are sketchy beings. So go ahead and discount DeAngelo on draft day, and I’ll be there to gobble him up with my late 2nd, early 3rd round draft pick, reaping the rewards of great value.
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Andy Boyum
Farmington, MN
Fantasy Football enthusiast since 1999
Commissioner: Purlple Pride Fantasy League 2002-present: 1 Championship (2004)
RT Sports Commissioner Money League Champion: 2003 & 2005
Keeper League Champion 2006, 07 & 09
Yahoo PPR Champion: 2010

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One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. A daily fantasy | Fantasy Football Gut Feeling - A KFFL.com Fantasy Sports Blog
    February 23rd, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    [...] The Carolina Panthers are not using their franchise tag on running back DeAngelo Williams. The folks over at LestersLegends.com talk about DeAngelo and his fantasy value at this early stage in the game. [LestersLegends.com] [...]

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