Carolina Panthers running back Mike Tolbert has been seeing a lot of action in short yardage and goal line plays recently. He’s developed into being part of a nice one-two punch with DeAngelo Williams and has two touchdowns in his last three games.
Watching the highlight reels of his plays each week are encouraging. You might even feel tempted to pick him up or if he’s already on your roster, it might seem like a good idea to start him. His stat lines recently have been tempting, especially if your fantasy backfield has been bitten by the injury bug. If he catches a couple of passes in a game, rushes for 30 or so yards and punches one in at the stripe, he will indeed put up a serviceable stat line.
If you don’t already own him, there is some concern about sticking your neck out to grab him as Jonathan Stewart is due back from dual ankle injuries soon. The Panthers are likely to ease Stewart back into game shape. For the next couple of weeks, you can expect that Stewart will steal more touches from Williams, running between the 20s rather than inside of them.
If you’re looking for a one-week replacement because one of your starting back or flex players is on a bye this week, Tolbert might be a nice play. This week, the Panthers are going up against the division rival Atlanta Falcons and their 15th-ranked run defense.
The Falcons have allowed 799 yards and three scores on the ground to opposing running backs. The slew of injuries they have suffered on offense have stalled out a lot of drives in key situations. There’s a real chance that if the Panthers get up by a couple of scores, they will start grinding out the clock with Tolbert.
If you already own Tolbert and you’re desperate, he’s probably worth a flex start this week. If you don’t own him and you’re looking for long-term value, I’d look elsewhere before sticking my neck out.