Carolina Panthers’ running back Jonathan Stewart is expected to play in his first game of the season on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Stewart has the potential to be a good fantasy player in Week 9, thus making him a fantasy football deep sleeper.
The Panthers placed Stewart on the PUP list prior to the start of the season. He has been rehabilitating from an ankle injury, and the Panthers might activate him from the PUP list this week. According to a AP’s Steve Reed tweet on Wednesday, Stewart declared himself ready for Sunday’s game. With Panthers starting running back DeAngelo Williams battling a quadriceps injury, this could lead to Stewart having a great game on Sunday.
Stewart has shown in the past that he can be a superb running back when the Panthers give him a lot of carries. The last time he had at least 20 carries in a game was on Dec. 19, 2010 against the Arizona Cardinals.
He had an amazing game rushing for 137 yards on 27 carries, which equated to a 5.1 yard per carry. It is quite possible that he could receive 15-20 carries on Sunday. Stewart would be completely irrelevant in fantasy leagues if Williams decides to play on Sunday. However, if Williams does not play on Sunday, then Stewart could have a great game.
Panthers’ running back Mike Tolbert is not good enough to be anything outside of a goal-line running back, so Stewart would receive a lot of carries if Williams did not play. The matchup against the Falcons’ run defense could lead to great fantasy production for the workhorse. The Falcons’ defense is ranked 22nd in the NFL against the run, which is terrible. The Falcons’ defense has given up an average of 114.1 rushing yards per game.
The Panthers should be able to run the ball a lot in the second half since they are much better than the Falcons. This would lead to Stewart gaining a lot of ‘garbage time’ yards. Stewart is only owned in 13 percent of leagues, and he could be the difference if a team in a deeper league wins this week.