Fantasy Football: Can Jonathan Stewart Be a Viable Fantasy Option in 2013?

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IJuly 17, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18:   Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Jonathan Stewart came into the league in 2008 full of promise. Despite sharing the load for two seasons, he was able to average 1,076 total yards in his first two seasons. Over the past three seasons J-Stew has averaged just 846.7 total yards.

After scoring 21 touchdowns in his first two years, Stewart has combined for just 10 touchdowns in the past three seasons. Injuries limited Stewart to nine games, 493 total yards and two touchdowns last year. Can he return to fantasy relevance in 2013?

Stewart has been a solid fantasy play in three of his five seasons despite nagging injuries and a shared workload for the bulk of his career. Double-digit touchdowns are likely out of the question with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert sniping short touchdown runs.

Tolbert scored seven touchdowns last year, and combined for 19 in the previous two seasons with the San Diego Chargers. Newton has 22 rushing touchdowns in two seasons. There is still room for Stewart to be productive.

What we’re looking for out of Stewart is a year similar to 2011 when he recorded 1,174 total yards and five touchdowns. The Panthers will be utilizing a more traditional rushing attack this year, which is good news for Stewart. Unfortunately, the Panthers have three capable backs, which minimizes his value.

The problem is his health. He has continually had issues with his lower extremities. Prior to last year, he had only missed two games in his first four seasons, though he often missed practice and was a game-time decision. He is capable of playing in pain, it just starts to wear on fantasy owners.

Stewart recently had to withdraw from a golf tournament (see Charlotte Observer’s report) because of the ankles he had surgery on this offseason. This doesn’t mean that he won’t be ready for training camp, but it certainly sends out some red flags.

Stewart ranks 31st among running backs in the FantasyPros rankings, putting him as an RB3. That’s a fair place for him, but I would understand if you wanted a less risky option as your primary backup fantasy running back.

Overall, he ranks 85th, which puts him in the 8th rounds. Personally, I would want to hold off a little bit on him, perhaps a round or two. If you do draft him, prepare to deal with missed practices and finding his name on the injury report.

Have you wrote J-Stew off, or would you take another shot with him?

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