Fantasy Football : The Curious Case Of DeAngelo Williams

deangelo-williamsTotal Pro Sports – Although we were expecting to talk about the sophomore jinx today in our Fantasy Football section, we have pushed that back a day in order to talk a little about the Carolina Panthers’ backfield situation and running back DeAngelo Williams.

After witnessing his impressive 25-yard touchdown run against the Miami Dolphins on Friday night, what better time to evaluate the former Memphis back and his fantasy value.

It is no secret that Williams is a serious threat to score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball.  Last season he recorded an impressive 1515 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns , adding another 121 yards receiving and two more TDs.  While such numbers would often warrant early first-round consideration, that has not stopped some leagues from allowing him to slip into the second round.

Some have him ranked as high as a second overall pick on fantasy mock drafts but others have him falling out of round one.  What should we make of the fourth year man?  Where does Williams deserve to be drafted?  Should we be worried about the emergence of Jonathan Stewart in the Carolina backfield?

We are here to answer these questions.

Let’s begin with the Jonathan Stewart question.  Will DeAngelo be seeing a decreased workload because of Stewart’s presence?  Yes, he likely would.  Should this worry us?  No, it should not.

The Carolina Panthers have one of the best offensive lines in football, and as you may expect from any team with a good offensive line, they like to rush the ball.  Last season, they ran the ball an average of 31.5 times per game.  That means that even with an equal distribution of the carries in the Carolina backfield, Williams would still see the ball 15-16 times per game.  When you take into consideration his 5.5 yards per carry, Williams numbers would average out to approximately 88 rushing yards per game.  Over the course of a 16 game season, that would give him 1408 yards rushing, more than all but three other players in the league.

What must be kept in mind is that when you can break the big run like Williams can, a slight decrease in workload is not as devastating as one would originally believe, and breaking the big one is exactly what DeAngelo has done.  Last season he broke off 5 runs of 40+ yards and 15 of 20+ yards.  Only three teams were able to record runs of 40+ yards, and only five could surpass his 15 rushes of 20+yards.

The loss of touchdowns should not be much of a worry either for owners of DeAngelo Williams.  Last season he combined with Stewart to record 30 total TDs.  Even when split equally between the two of them, the number is still a total of 15, an average of almost one per game.

Williams is only 26 years old and is entering his 4th season in the league.  Age is not an issue for him and there should be no worries that the Panthers are preparing Stewart to be their back of the future.  Williams is as much a part of the Carolina backfield’s future as anyone, and with Stewart still being hampered by a nagging Achilles injury throughout preseason, Williams may even see an increased roll in the running game, rather than a decrease.

The fact of the matter is that Williams is undoubtedly worthy of an early first round pick.  Just how early is the next point of contention.  Adrian Peterson is a lock for top spot in my eyes, and I would likely go with Matt Forte, Michael Turner and Maurice Jones-Drew ahead of him because of the decreased threat of a running back by committee system in Chicago, Atlanta and Jacksonville, respectively.

Then comes the number five position.  That is where I would have him.  You can make the case for LaDanian Tomlinson, Steve Slaton, Chris Johnson, or Steven Jackson, but I do not believe any of them to have the potential stat line that Williams has proven he can produce.

Don’t agree with me?  Then check out this clip.  It just may help change your mind.

Tags: Adrian Peterson, carolina panthers, DeAngelo Williams, fantasy football, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, NFL,