Michael Turner running
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The NFC South is pretty loaded in the running back department.
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Atlanta’s Michael Turner leads the way. He ran for 1371 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He gets a downgrade in PPR leagues as he only caught 12 passes for 85 yards last year, but he’s a solid RB1. Turner has averaged 91.7 rushing yards and 0.91 rushing touchdowns per game over the past three years. Jason Snelling is one of the game’s best handcuffs because the Falcons hardly missed a beat when he filled in for Turner in the past. If he is a restricted free agent, he could be back with the club. If he is unrestricted it could be hard for them to bring him back. The Falcons drafted Jacquizz Rodgers, but he’ll strictly be the third down back.
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Tampa Bay got a pleasant surprise from LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1007 yards with six touchdowns. He did his damage in just 201 carries (5.0 ypc).  Cadillac Williams is a free agent, but has expressed his desire to return to the Bucs. Blount is expected to get the bulk of the carries while Cadillac would play in passing situations. Rookie Allen Bradford isn’t expected to steal too many carries.
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Jonathan Stewart (and his keeper league owners) are perhaps second only to DeAngelo Williams and his agent in interest in where D-Will lands next year. If J-Stew has the backfield to himself, he could easily produce top five numbers, though Cam Newton could steal some of his touchdown runs. If Williams returns, Stewart can still be a viable fantasy option. They can definitely coexist for the Panthers and fantasy owners alike. D-Will could also be an elite fantasy option this year if he lands in the right place. If he signs with the Broncos, he could replace Knowshon Moreno as the team’s lead back. D-Will is an important piece in determining next year’s fantasy running back landscape.
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Pierre Thomas looked to be in a great spot when the Saints signed him to a four-year extension. Then they went and drafted Mark Ingram. That move likely sealed the fate of Reggie Bush, who will be sent packing if he doesn’t take a large pay cut. Thomas will likely move to change of pace and third-down duty while Ingram would carry the bulk of the snaps. This is a messy situation that will cause fantasy owners some heartache. Ingram should be a solid RB2 while PT23 should be a solid RB3.
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The NFC South features three of the top quarterbacks in the league and a rookie that wants to become an icon.
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Drew Brees sets the bar for the NFC South, and you need a ladder to reach it. Brees topped 4000 yards for the fifth straight year, 4620 to be exact. His 33 touchdown passes marked his third straight year with at least 33. Brees is remarkably accurate, productive, and consistent. He’s a bona fide star and top tier QB1. It doesn’t seem to matter who is catching the ball for him.
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Matt Ryan made a nice jump into borderline QB1 territory last year. He threw for 3705  yards and 28 touchdowns. Roddy White is one of the most explosive receivers in the league. The Falcons traded the moon for rookie WR Julio Jones to compliment Roddy. I’m not sure Ryan can be much more productive than last year, given their commitment to Michael Turner and the running game, but he should be as good or slightly better. Ryan is a low-end QB1, high-end QB2.
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Josh Freeman quietly turned in a solid season, throwing for 3451 yards and 25 touchdowns. Perhaps as impressive was his INT total (6). He added another 364 yards on the ground. Given his size, I expect Freeman to record his first rushing touchdown next year. His numbers are a little bloated thanks to a five touchdown performance against a dismal Seahawks pass defense in Week 16, but he remains a terrific QB2. Freeman really developed a nice rapport with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn is ahead of schedule on his ACL recovery and should be more effective in 2011.
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Then you have Cam Newton. He is an amazing athlete, capable of being very productive with his arm and his feet. The lockout could prevent Newton from becoming comfortable with the offense, but he will still have the instincts to make plays with his feet. He’s worth a look late in the draft as a QB2, but he could run hot and cold in 2011, especially if Steve Smith gets his wish and is dealt to a contender.
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The Panthers were 2-14 last year. Their 196 points scored last year was the lowest in the league by a mile. They scored 75 fewer points than an inept Cleveland Browns offense. That’s nearly five fewer points per game than the league’s second worst scoring offense. Their 143.1 passing yards per game was nearly 40 fewer than an Arizona team that is desperate for a quarterback change. Clearly the Panthers need better play out of their quarterback. The question is will it be Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, or Jimmy Clausen?
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So how bad was Jimmy last year? He completed 52.5 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had a 58.4 passer rating. In his defense he had just one legitimate target (Steve Smith) in the passing game, and he actually had fewer fantasy points in non-PPR leagues than David Gettis. Smith will turn 32 in May and is on the downside of his career. An intriguing option would be to select Georgia WR A.J. Green with the number one pick. He is the top receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson and the Panthers could take a quarterback in the third round to compete with Clausen.
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The Panthers struggled on the defensive side of the football as well. They ranked 26th with 25.5 points allowed per game. Carolina allowed the tenth most rushing yards per game (123.8). Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus won’t help you score points on offense, but he would certainly beef up their defense. If he commanded double teams, it would open things up for everybody else. The Panthers could also consider Patrick Peterson, but cornerbacks traditionally have not gone that high in the draft.
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Without a second round pick it seems unlikely that the Panthers go in any direction other than quarterback. It will most likely come down to a decision between Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. Sorry Jimmy. Gabbert is a safer choice while Newton has more  upside. Not only does Newton have incredible athleticism, but he has the ability to put butts in the seats and increase merchandise sales. If the lockout continues, that revenue stream would be desirable.
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If I were pulling the trigger on the Panthers’ first pick I would go with A.J. Green. I’d bring  back Matt Moore once the lockout is over and have an open competition at quarterback. If you struggle again this year, perhaps you land Andrew Luck next year.
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What would you do if you were calling the shots for the Panthers?


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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. continue reading »


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The fantasy playoffs rolled into Championship Week as the Steelers smoked the Panthers in another Thursday Night dud.
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Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of an advantage. If your players do well, you can perhaps be a little more cautious with your team. If your players failed to put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk, hoping to make up some ground. You also get a feel for your matchup depending on how your opponents players did. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners will be feeling about their players.
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Quarterbacks:  Big Ben (320 yards, passing TD, 2 rushing yards, rushing TD) had a great game. If he’s your fantasy quarterback, you’re in excellent shape. If you’re going up against him, you have your work cut out. If you used Jimmy Clausen (72 yards, INT), you were likely playing in the toilet bowl.
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Running Backs: There were three possible running back choices in this one. Rashard Mendenahll (83 total yards, TD) delivered. Big Ben’s one yard touchdown would have been nice on Mendenhall stat sheet, but you can’t complain with the start he got you. James Stewart (80 total yards) was not a recommended play by most, but he had a solid showing for those forced to use him. Mike Goodson (26 total yards) is officially off the fantasy radar. Isaac Redman (45 total yards) was likely only used in 16+ team leagues.
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Wide Receivers:  Mike Wallace (104 yards, TD) had a real nice performance. 16+ points from your receiver is a great start. Hines Ward (38 yards) and Steve Smith (17 yards) were busts. David Gettis (5 yards) was a non-factor. Emmanuel Sanders (54 yards) was decent enough, but wasn’t likely in many lineups.
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Tight Ends: Heath Miller (73 yards) had a very strong performance. Odds are those who used him got much more than they anticipated. Still, it wasn’t enough to alter any remaining fantasy decision.
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Kickers:  Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals (26, 29) and had three PATs in a modest performance. John Kasay managed one short (27) field goal.
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Defenses:  Pittsburgh dominated. Plain and simple.  They only allowed three points, forced two turnovers (fumble, INT), and racked up four sacks. They be one of the highest scoring defenses this week so if you started them, you’re in good shape.
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Image courtesy of Icon SMI
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I love the original Steve Smith. He’s undersized, but is as fiery as he is talented. He has been one of the best receivers in the game since help establish the third-year receiver rule back in 2003. I think he may be a little overrated though.
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He’s had a couple of monster seasons where he went over 1400 yards, but has just five 1000 seasons in his  ten year career. He has reached double-digit TDs just once. He’s had just one 90 catch season.
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It’s not all his fault though. He hasn’t exactly been blessed with quality QB play the past few years. He has managed to be productive in spite of inept QB play. He also hasn’t had many seasons in which he had a legitimate WR on the other side to take the pressure off. Plus, Carolina has been a run-first team for the majority of his tenure.
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Those circumstances may explain his career numbers, but they don’t help your fantasy team. While David Gettis and Brandon LaFell looked good last week, I wouldn’t go so far as to declare them legitimate threats that will take attention away from Steve Smith.
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While Matt Moore torched the Niners for 308 yards and a pair of scores, I wouldn’t hang my hat on him just yet. It was his first good game this year, and only third good game of his career.
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The Rams (Carolina’s Week 8 opponent) aren’t a good defense, but they are much better this year. They rank 18th with 221.9 passing yards allowed and tied for 8th (with six other teams) with 8 passing TDs allowed.
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Is Smith’s ankle 100% healed? Probably not. It’s good enough though. With the questions at quarterback, and their offense in general, it makes it tough to count on Smith this week. I’ve seen him ranked in the top 15-20 making him a WR2 for the week. Personally, I have him at 30 (click to see WR rankings), making him a WR3.
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Would I start him this week? Sure. However, he is not a must start. Until he and the rest of the Carolina offense show they can move the chains and score some points, I will be hesitant to trust Smith.
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Also check out:

  • Week 8 Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em Waiver Wire Advice
  • Week 8 Fantasy QB Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy RB Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy WR Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy TE Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy K Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy DEF Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy IDP Rankings
  • Week 8 Start/Sit Advice
  • Week 8 Sleepers
  • 2-QB League News

    14 September 2010


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    If you are in a super deep league or a 2-qb league, it is worth noting that Cleveland Browns QB Jake Delhomme is sporting a walking boot according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Seneca Wallace could be preparing to take the first-team snaps in practice, which could put him in line to make the start this week against Kansas City. Given Delhomme’s 59.2 QB rating in the opener, Wallace could make his case for the starting gig with a strong showing.
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    In other news, Matt Moore, who suffered a concussion in the Carolina Panther’s loss to the Giants on Sunday, is expected to participate in practice this week, and take the field on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Monitor his progress in practice this week before using Moore. Jimmy Clausen would get the nod if Moore is unable to go.

     

    There aren’t many RBBC that work as well for fantasy owners as they do for the actual NFL team, but the Panthers 1-2 punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are the exception.

     

    In 2008 they combined for 2351 yards and 28 TDs (D-Will 1515, 18 & J-Stew 836, 10). Last year they combined for 2250 yards & 17 TDs (J-Stew 1133, 10 & D-Will 1117, 7).  DeAngelo Williams has the better combined numbers of the two seasons, but which one do you prefer for 2010?

     

    Currently D-Will seems to be the favorite with a ADP of 13 compared to 30 for J-Stew. ESPN has a narrower gap with Williams ranked 15 and Stewart ranked 17. I tend to think the opposite in this scenario and actually favor Jonathan Stewart.

     

    Williams had more carries per game, but that number should be more even in 2010 after Stewart exploded for 440 yards and 3 TDs (plus 30 receiving yards and a receiving TD) in the final three games against the Vikings, Giants, and Saints.

    Stewart is a bigger back (5’10″, 235) than Williams (5’9″, 217) and better suited for smash-mouth football, which is what the Panthers figure to employ with an inexperience QB (Matt Moore) and minimal weapons in the passing game. Plus, even if they split the carries evenly in the early part of games, Stewart is the better option to close out games.

     

    Stewart has been bothered by injuries in his first two seasons, but was still able to play every game. He has nearly 2000 yards and 20 TDs in two seasons despite those injuries. Can you imagine how good he’ll be now that he’s healthy?

     

    That’s not to say I don’t think D-Will can be successful. He is an elusive back that can score any time he touches the ball. He is as capable as any RB in the league of turning in a monster performance. I just think he’ll have less opportunities to do his thing in 2010.

     

    Predictions:
    J-Stew:  1500 total yards, 12 TDs
    D-Will:  1300 total yards, 8 TDs

     

    Which Carolina RB do you prefer?

     

    Images courtesy of Icon SMI

     

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    Steve Smith broke his arm over the weekend playing a flag football game at his football camp. It’s unfortunate that he sustained the injury while giving back to the community. He could miss a good chunk of training camp, but isn’t expected to miss any regular season action. I would bump him down a slot or two, but I think he remains a quality WR2 in fantasy circles.

     

    Image courtesy of Icon SMI

    The Panthers once again were led by the 1-2 punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They both ran for over 1100 yards, with 5.0+ yards per carry, and a combined 17 TDs. Perhaps with Steve Smith can return to form with Matt Moore under center for a full year (assuming he holds off Jimmy Clausen all year).

     

    Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
    There don’t appear to be any cupcakes on the schedule for the Panthers as they face the Falcons and Cardinals at home and the Steelers on the road. Weather should be fine for the first to games. Week 16 in Pittsburgh could be a different story, but the running game should be fine. Steve Smith is good enough to play in bad weather. You shouldn’t be relying on Matt Moore in a fantasy Super Bowl.

     

    Five Star Fantasy Players
    DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart –  This duo has put up two monster seasons. There is no reason to believe they can’t do it again in 2010. They actually keep each other fresh. If one were to miss a significant amount of time, you could be looking at top five production.

     

    Steve Smith – Smith failed to reach 1000 yards for the first time since 2004, but should bounce back. In weeks 13-16 with Moore at the helm Smith averaged  94.5 yards with 3 TDs.

     

    Four Star Fantasy Options
    None

     

    Three Star Fantasy Options
    None

     

    Two Star Fantasy Options
    Panthers Defense/Special Teams – The Panthers will miss Peppers, but they’ll still have some spot starts (Bucs twice, Rams, Browns).

     

    One Star Fantasy Options
    Matt Moore – If the Panthers struggle you could see Clausen get some work. I wouldn’t want Moore as a backup fantasy QB at this point, especially without many options in the passing game.

     

    Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.


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