Have you ever had a girlfriend that continues to let you down, but you just can’t stay away? Sure, they will have flashes where they are incredible and make you feel really happy, but they will also make you want to pull your hair out.
That, my friends, is the perfect way to explain my love/hate fantasy relationship with DeAngelo Williams.
The guy has so much skill, so much potential. However, the running back situation surrounding the Carolina Panthers has hindered his fantasy production over the years. Many people have thrown in the towel on Williams as one of their fantasy running backs, but I just can’t give up on the guy, for whatever reason it may be. I’m still a firm believer in the talent. With that being said, I’m going to go out on a limb (perhaps being the only one to do so) and say that Williams will post a very productive 2013 campaign.
First of all, the Panthers have come out and stated that they want to be a run-first offense, which bodes will for Williams, just as long as he is getting the touches. Well, considering one half of the frustrating running back tandem, Jonathan Stewart, can’t even participate in a gold outing because his ankle is bothering him so badly, there is a good chance that he won’t be ready for the start of training camp. This makes me a little more excited about Williams, especially considering Stewart hasn’t exactly been a model of health over his career. In fact, Stewart has missed nine games due to injury, and it just seems like something is always bothering him, whether it be a knee, ankle, whatever. To be fair, Williams has missed his fair share of contests as well, but he has played a full 16 games in back-to-back seasons. If I had to choose on of these backs to miss extended time this year, especially since he’s already experiencing trouble getting on the field, it’d easily be Stewart. If that does happen, Williams will receive the one thing he needs to be productive;
Towards the end of 2012, when Stewart was sidelined, Williams was a very productive fantasy running back. In two of those weeks, he posted receiving touchdowns of 45 and 53 yards, followed by a monster 210-yard, two-touchdown Week 16 performance against the Saints. I’ve said it for a while, but if this guy can get the carries, he will still be a very good runner, despite having turned that dreaded 30-years of age. The last time Williams received at least 250 carries, everyone was in love with him. Why? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because he finished as the number one fantasy running back with over 280 points. During that season, he rushed for 1,515 yards, 5.5 yard per carry and a whopping 18 rushing scores. If you aren’t a believer in the talent, the proof is in the pudding, folks. He has the pedigree of being a top tier fantasy running back, and during that season, rookie Stewart still had his fair share of carries (184). Just imagine the type of production we could see out of Williams if Stewart is forced to miss time in 2013.
Of course, there is some obvious risk to this whole situation, which is why there is a love/hate relationship. Williams hasn’t rushed for 1,000 yards since 2009, largely due to the fact that he hasn’t seen over 175 carries since that same season. As talented as I still believe he is, it’s all going to come down to usage, which is something that is never guaranteed with the Panthers. In the red zone, Williams may actually be the third option, after Cam Newton and even touchdown vulture Mike Tolbert.
I will say this, however. Fantasy owners can get a major bargain if they take a shot on Williams, considering no one else seems to be even considering it. Right now, Williams is the 44th running back off the board, via Fantasy Calculator. Guys going ahead of him are Isaiah Pead, Vick Ballard and Daryl Richardson. Heck, even Stewart is going nine picks ahead of him. If you ask me, I’d much rather take a shot on Williams, a guy who has done it before, than any of the aforementioned players. All I’m saying is, don’t be surprised if Williams sneaks into the top-20 among fantasy running backs this season, especially if he somehow sees 250 carries.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.