DeAngelo Williams

Carolina Panthers Running Back

A year ago, Deangelo Williams was written off in many fantasy leagues.

The Carolina Panthers had just spent the 12th overall pick of the NFL Draft on Jonathan Stewart, a big back who seemed to fit the mold of the Panthers RB.

In drafts I participated in, most of the time, people drafted Jonathan Stewart ahead of Deangelo Williams. But Jonathan Stewart was coming off a foot surgery and quickly developed a turf toe, so he was hobbled throughout training camp and the early part of the season.

DeAngelo Williams – 18 Rushing TDs in 2008

So DeAngelo Williams got his chance to start, after two seasons languishing before DeShaun Foster. Williams definitely made the most of his chances. He went for 1515 yards on 273 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Along with that, DeAngelo Williams ran for 18 touchdowns and 2 passing TDs.

That’s a huge fantasy season, enough to make DeAngelo williams a 1st round pick in most fantasy football drafts in 2009. With a 5.1 career average rushing from the line of scrimmage and a good combination of speed (4.45 40 time) and elusiveness, there are reasons to think DeAngelo Williams could be a solid first rounder for teams.

DeAngelo Williams a 1st Rounder?

DeAngelo Williams - Carolina Panthers - 2009 Deangelo WilliamsBut I’m a little hesitant to make this pick, even though Williams is running on a team that loves to run. That’s because Jonathan Stewart should be much closer to healthy this season, and Stewart showed talent in his spot duty at running back last year. The two runners were a nice 1-2 punch, especially after Stewart began to heal later in the season.

Mostly, you don’t want to draft a guy in the 1st round who’s possibly in a platoon situation. That’s why I suggested people avoid Marion Barber, a player whom I love watching (as a Cowboys fan), because you want your 1st round runner to be an every down back. I might rather take a chance on a "sure-shot" receiver like Larry Fitzgerald and save the 2nd round pick for a high-upside platoon running back, who frankly aren’t going to have much less upside or much more risk than Williams.

DeAngelo Williams Stats

Ht: 5’9"
Wt: 217
Age: 26
Born: April 25, 1983
College: Memphis
Years Pro: 4
Number: 34

DeAngelo Williams – Fantasy Advice

When considering that the Carolina Panthers spent a first found pick on Jonathan Stewart, keep in mind that DeAngelo Williams was also a 1st round selection of the Carolina Panthers. The coaches are going to give playing time based on who is the most productive.

Given that DeAngelo Williams earned the right to be the starter last year, he’s going to have every chance to be the #1 guy. Given that he’s got around a 5 yard per carry average lifetime in the NFL and he should be running for a run-first team which should be in contention, there’s no reason to think Williams won’t be a solid performer.

So don’t think I hate DeAngelo Williams when I say I wouldn’t draft him as a 1st rounder. That’s based on the fact that you know Jonathan Stewart will get significant time in 2009, probably more than last year, barring injury. Combine that with the fact that the Panthers running game might naturally not have as stellar numbers as in 2008 (it’s hard to repeat that), you can’t honestly expect DeAngelo Williams to match his 2008 campaign. Also keep in mind that the USA Today did a break down of strength of schedule for NFL positions and the Carolina Panthers face one of the hardest NFL schedules against the run in 2009.

But if you think DeAngelo Williams will match 2008 and you are willing to put up with the occasional inconsistency that platoon RB situations create, feel free to draft DeAngelo Williams where he’s being projected: as a mid-1st rounder in most 2009 fantasy football drafts.

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