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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 »

 

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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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.

By Marc Mancuso

Everyone wants to avoid overspeding these days. Things that may look nice and shiny and sound good are not always the path to happiness. These guys had amazing 2008 seasons, but they are bubbles waiting to burst. In keeping with the economic theme, past results are not predictors of future performance….

All Overvalued Team:
QB: Kurt Warner, ARI — I am seeing Warner go in rounds 3 & 4 of drafts. Really? The guy is 38 years old with a very suspect injury past, having played only two full seasons this decade (2001 and 2008)

RB: Michael Turner, ATL — The consensus #2 overall but I’m not buying it. Matt Ryan has new toys and its expected that the Falcons will open up the playbook in his sophomore season. That plus the dreaded rule of 370 to me sounds better at #6 than at #2.

RB: DeAngelo Williams, CAR — Timeshare with Jonathan Stewart again this year. Barring injury, DeAngelo will not reach his lofty 2008 numbers. Let someone else take the chance on a 1st round pick. T he Panthers didn’t see enough in DeWill or they would not have drafted Stewart as their top draft pick in 2008.

WR: Antonio Bryant, TB Those expecting a repeat of last season’s success will be disappointed. A very suspect QB situation, and three viable RB’s, point to fewer targets and particularly downfield targets. Awesome as a #3 but think twice about drafting him as your #2. Bryant has already gotten nicked in camp with a torn meniscus and will miss 3-4 weeks.

WR: Santonio Holmes, PIT A good Super Bowl does not a good fantasy player make (ala Deon Branch). I like his talent and speed, but he’s far too inconsistent to be a #2 WR. I am seeing him go in round 3 of drafts. Pittsburgh reverted back to a running team last year after putting up big numbers through the air in 2007. This despite injuries to Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, and Hines Ward never seems to age, are all factors will further diminish Holmes’ overall value.

WR: Brandon Marshall, DEN Elite talent, but too many question marks to consider him in the 3rd or 4th rounds. Kyle Orton does not have the gun that Jay Cutler had, and Marshall’s hip and hamstring issues, combined with a potential suspension, puts him in very high risk territory.

TE: John Carlson, SEA — Seneca Wallace is back on the bench, TJ Housh is on the team, and Nate Burleson is back and healthy and getting rave reviews thus far at camp. All signs point to Carlson going back to a middle of the road TE, who should not be considered a #1 option.

DeAngelo Williams
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

DeAngelo Williams was by far the biggest surprise in fantasy circles last year with a mammoth 1636 total yard (1515 rushing, 121 receiving), 20 TD (18 rushing, 2 receiving) performance.  He had 1101 rushing yards 16 TDs in the last nine games, including two four TD outburst.  That’s an average of 122.3 yards and 1.78 TDs.  Those are LT numbers, and I’m not talking about 2008 LT.  You would think someone with a monster year like that would be taken in the first few picks of the following year’s fantasy drafts.  The problem is Williams is in a time share with Jonathan Stewart.  There was plenty for both to feed last year, but it’s hard to imagine that they can both be as productive this year.  I think Williams will have monster games because he is so explosive and can score from anywhere on the field.  I just don’t think he’ll be as consistent, and I certainly don’t expect him to reach paydirt nearly as often. 

DeAngelo has a very difficult road in the fantasy football playoffs. He faces New England, Minnesota, and the Giants.  If he gets off to good start this year, you may want to consider moving him.  I’d wait until after Week 9 if possible as he plays Arizona in Week 8 and New Orleans in Week 9.  I just wouldn’t want my top two pick facing that brutal playoff schedule.  It’s hard to estimate his production because he came out of nowhere, but my gut says he has 1300 total yards and 9 TDs.

This is my preseason top ten.

Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

adrian-peterson
1.  Adrian Peterson – All Day led the league in rushing and scored double-digit TDs again.  Sure, the loss of Matt Birk will hurt, but Peterson shouldn’t miss a beat.  He’s looking to add some muscle mass this offseason without losing any speed.  A bigger AP with the same speed and quickness.  Scary.

2.  Michael Turner – Burner Turner did not disappoint in his first shot as the feature back.  He struggled early against good defenses, but scored in seven of his last eight games.  As Matt Ryan progresses at QB, it will become more difficult to key in on Turner.

3.  Matt Forte - I love Forte’s versatility.  As a rookie he had the third most receiving yards for a Running Back.  Second if you discount Kevin Faulk, who isn’t a feature back.  He had 1715 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Even if he has a 10% Sophomore slump dip in production, he’d still be good for over 1500 total yards and 10-11 TDs.

4.  Maurice Jones-Drew – With Fred Taylor heading to New England, MJD should be huge in 2009.  He’s always good for 400+ receiving yards and double-digit TDs.  Give him 300-320 carries and you could be looking at nearly 2000 total yards and 15+ TDs.

5.  Ronnie Brown - Last year Ronnie had 214 carries to Ricky Williams’ 160.  I think the split will be even more in Ronnie’s favor next year.  With Ronnie another year removed from his knee injury, he should be closer to the 2007 back that had 991 total yards and five combined TDs in seven games.

lt
6.  LaDainian Tomlinson - LT battled through a variety of ailments last year and still managed to produce 1536 total yards and 12 combined TDs.  Not only do I think he’ll be healthy in ’09, I think he will be motivated.  I don’t see pre-2008 LT, but a better version that last year’s model.

7.  Clinton Portis – CP was severely overworked last year, but he still remains on the right side of 30. I see him producing similar numbers next year, only spaced out a whole lot better.  Jim Zorn will do a better job managing Portis’ carries so he doesn’t wear down at the end of the year.

8.  Brandon Jacobs - You would think Derrick Ward’s departure to Tampa Bay would have a significant impact on Jacobs’ value.  I don’t think so.  Ahmad Bradshaw will likely pick up most of the slack. As long as Jacobs can stay healthy, there isn’t any reason he couldn’t run for 1200+ yards and scored 18+ TDs.

9.  DeAngelo Williams – You must think I’m crazy putting D-Will this low after leading all RBs in scoring last year.  I’m sorry, but I don’t see another 1700 total yards from him.  Furthermore, there is little to no chance he approaches 20 TDs again.  Jonathan Stewart played a major role last year, and I think the split will be a little closer to 50/50 this year.

10.  Steven Jackson - Steven Jackson’s strong finish (637 total yards and 4 combined TDs in his last five games) is sticking in my mind more than the most forgettable 19 games he had in 2007 and the first part of 2008.  If he can stay healthy he has a chance to leapfrog several of the guys above him.  I haven’t completely forgotten though, which is why he’s in the ten spot.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

The Panthers are coming off a very successful season that ended in disappointment.  The good news is they do not have a lot of key free agents.  Tops on the list is Julius Peppers.  Replacing his 14.5 Sacks is going to be very difficult so that is obviously a focal point. 

One thing that needn’t be addressed is their running game.  DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were the best 1-2 punch in the game last year.  They combined for over 2300 yards and 28 TDs.  Steve Smith is still one of the best wideouts in the game.  Jake Delhomme wasn’t particularly effective during the season, and how can you forget the five INTs he tossed against Arizona?  The window is open for Carolina to do great things.  I’m not sure Jake Delhomme has what it takes to get it done.  I’m not sure Matt Moore is the QB of the future so that could be addressed via the draft.  Muhsin Muhammad had a solid year for Carolina, but he’s no spring chicken.  D.J. Hackett didn’t live up to expectations last year.  The WR position will likely be addressed in free agency of the draft.  All in all, the Panthers are in pretty good shape.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Brett Basanez Signed Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears
WR Dominique Thompson UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
TE Jeff King RFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
PK John Kasay UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
OT Frank Omiyale UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
DL Julius Peppers UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
LB James Anderson RFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
LB Jason Kyle UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent
CB Chris Gamble UFA Carolina Panthers Free Agent

We’ve done the Big Dog RBs, Second Tier RBs, Third Tier RBsFourth Tier RBs, and Serviceable RBs, now it’s time to look at the Scrap Pile.  These are RBs that you’ll only use for bye weeks or in case of injury.

Ahman Green – He’s on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off an injury-plagued season.  However, he is still a starting RB (for the time being) so he’s worthy of a roster spot.  If he can stay healthy and Houston’s passing attack is on, there could be some decent weeks for Ahman.

DeAngelo Williams – He had close to 900 total yards last year while finishing strong (242 yards & 3 TDs in his last three games).  He also had 121 yards in Week 6 and 82 in Week 13 so he displayed some signs of life.  However, the Panthers brought in Jonathan Stewart for a reason.  DeAngelo may hold the starting job out of the gate, but he could easily be lapped.

Chester Taylor – If Adrian Peterson misses some time, Chester Taylor will vault into the Top Ten the weeks All Day is out.  As is, he’ll spell All Day and pick up some decent 40-60 yard games.  He’s probably the #1 handcuff out there.

Felix Jones – This dude is fast.  He’s from the University of Arkansas like Jerry Jones.  MB3 is the goods, but Felix will be taking carries for sure.  He’s also one of the best handcuffs given Dallas’ potent offense.

Deuce McAllister – He’ll turn 30 this year and is coming off an injury.  He also has to share the load with Reggie Bush in a pass-happy offense.  Things are stacked against him.  He will be the short-yardage guy though so he should score some TDs.  That said, I don’t see much more than 500 yards out of him.

Justin Fargas – You’ve got to feel a little bad for Fargas.  He ran for over 1000 yards last year for the sorry Raiders.  His reward?  The drafting of Run DMC.  He still should get some play though.  He clearly has big-game ability as evidenced by his three games of 139+ yards.  He averaged 106 yards and 0.6 TDs in Weeks 9-13.

Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is interesting as the Steelers already have Willie Parker.  He’s got great speed with a great build.  He had a great Junior year for Illinois rushing for 1681 yards and 17 TDs.  He added 34 receptions.  Given his size over Fast Willie, he could get the goal line touches.

Ahmad Bradshaw/Derrick Ward - Ahmad didn’t do much in the regular season (190 yards), but looked pretty solid in the playoffs (208 yards in 4 games).  Ward looked good early, but didn’t didn’t do anything after Week 6 except for a big 154 yard effort in Week 13.  It’s likely that all three Giant RBs (Brandon Jacobs included) will get some touches.  If Jacobs goes down Bradshaw and Ward will have bigger roles.

Chris Brown – He was one of my Sleeper picks last year for Tennesse, and he did decent at times.  Now he’s on to Houston.  He seems older than the 27 he turned in April so there is still tread on the tires.  If (and most likely when) Ahman Green goes down, he’ll likely be thrust into the starter role.  Never much of a TD threat, he scored 4 in the last 5 weeks of the 2007 season. 

Chris Johnson – Replacing Chris Brown in Tennessee will be rookie Chris Johnson out of East Carolina.  He’s listed behind 2007 rookie Chris Henry, but the Titans must not have been thrilled with him given their 1st round selection of Johnson.  He’s not a big back, but could be a nice change-of-pace to LenDale White.  He’s lighting quick (4.24).  He had 1423 yards and 17 TDs rushing and another 528 yards and 6 TDs receiving.  He’ll have to prove he can stay healhty, but he’s a Home Run waiting to happen.

Jerious Norwood – His reign in Atlanta was short-lived as Michael Turner has stolen his starting gig.  He is lighting-quick though and should be a nice change-of-pace to Turner.  If Turner proves he can’t stay healthy or is not up to the task of being the Lead Dog, Norwood’s value will increase.

Warrick Dunn – Until he hangs up his cleats, I will not overlook Mr. Dunn.  He has quietly surpassed the 10,000 yard mark for his career.  How many people would have expected that.  Even in a down year he had close to 1000 total yards.  If Cadillac Williams isn’t up for the task, Dunn will still have some fantasy relevance.

Tatum Bell – If Kevin Smith doesn’t make the adjustments needed to be an NFL back suddenly Tatum Bell becomes interesting.  That said, the ceiling is rather low for Bell, and I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were him.

Ladell Betts – He proved he’s more than capable if CP goes down.  However, Portis has been very durable in his career.  Betts will take touches away to keep CP fresh, but don’t look for major numbers out of Betts barring an unforseen injury.

Ryan Torain – He plays for Denver so never count him out.  The rookie out of Arizona State probably has the highest high-low differential in the league.

DeShaun Foster – He’s backing up Frank Gore now so there’s not much hope for Foster.  However, if Gore goes down, Foster is an adequate replacement.

Jamaal Charles/Kolby Smith – If Larry Johnson suffers a setback, the load will likely be shared between Kolby, who ran decent down the stretch, and rookie Jamaal Charles out of Texas.

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