Fantasy Football Focus: Carolina Panthers

Russell IvanacSenior Analyst IJuly 26, 2008

Quarterback injuries derailed Carolina's offense last season and caused them to start four different quarterbacks. They even pulled Vinny Testaverde out of retirement.

It looks like their quarterback situation has calmed down, and as a result their offense should fall back into place. It should also yield solid fantasy numbers, at least on the offensive side of the ball.



Jake Delhomme/Matt Moore

Delhomme recently underwent "Tommy John" surgery, but Carolina is sure that he will be 100 percent before the preseason starts. The surgery isn't one that many quarterbacks come back from with a lot of success, but the way Delhomme is progressing has yet to be seen. 

If he does return to his previous form, he will prove to be a very solid fantasy back-up this year. He has been a decent back-up in the past, but now he has more weapons than just Steve Smith, as well as the benefit of an improved running game.

If he isn't able to return like he is supposed to or he gets re-injured, inexperienced back-up Moore would be next in line for the starter's job. He showed decent skill in a few spot starts last year, but don't expect much from him.



DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart

It looked like Williams was finally going to be the feature back in Carolina; at least until draft day. Carolina selected Stewart early in the first round and made it clear that it won't be a one man show in Carolina this season. Odds are they will be using a system similar to the one used in Jacksonville last year.

The biggest criticism against Williams has always been his size. That means that he will more than likely be running between the 20's, and be taken out in short yardage situations.

That means plenty of yards, but few touchdowns. Not what you want out of a starting running back, although he could make a good No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy running back.

Stewart, on the other hand, has a big frame and is a powerful runner. There are health concerns, due to his recent toe injury, that supposedly dropped his draft stock. If he stays healthy he will be filling the "MJD" role in Carolina.

It worked well for Maurice Jones-Drew, and there is no reason to believe that Carolina won't be putting Stewart into plenty of scoring opportunities. He is a solid No. 3 fantasy running back, and could develop into more as the season goes on.

If you are in a keeper league, he has even more value.



Steve Smith/D.J. Hackett/Jeff King

I don't think it is a stretch to say that Steve Smith is the most talented receiver under 6' tall.

That said, he will only play up to his potential if Delhomme plays up to his own. If Delhomme does stay healthy and play well, Smith will a solid No. 1 receiver on any fantasy team. The addition of two capable receivers will take pressure away from him, and that only makes him a better pick.

Hackett has been on the verge of breaking out for a couple of seasons now, but hasn't found the right place to do it yet. Carolina is as good a place as any, and starting opposite of Smith is sure to make things easier.

The injury prone receiver could emerge as a red-zone target due to his height compared to Smith and his great hands. Call him a No. 3 fantasy receiver with upside.

King doesn't offer fantasy owners much. He is a great blocker and a solid tight end to have in protection schemes, but don't expect too many catches out of him. The arrivals of Hackett and Muhammad won't get him any extra catches either.



John Kasey

He has decent accuracy...until he gets beyond 50 yards. He has made roughly half of his kicks from 50 or more yards in each of the last three seasons.

His value will depend purely on the offense. If they click, he could be a good waiver wire pick-up.



The Panthers' defense used to be known for its defensive lineman, but the departure of DT Kris Jenkins and DE Mike Rucker is quickly changing that. Their strong suit will be their linebackers this season, led by Jon Beason, Na'il Diggs, and rookie Dan Conner.

So what does this mean fantasy-wise? It means they will probably give up more yards on the ground. Fortunately, their offense will most likely put them ahead most games, so teams will be passing more anyway. Too bad their safeties are another liability.

Their return game in non-existent outside of Steve Smith, and I can't imagine Smith taking a lot of returns if he is as involved in the offensive game plan as he should be.

Don't look here for a defensive unit this season.


Top Five Carolina Panthers Fantasy Players

1. Steve Smith

2. Jonathan Stewart

3. DeAngelo Williams

4. Jake Delhomme

5. D.J. Hackett


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