Analyzing DeAngelo Williams’ 2012 Fantasy Value
It’s hard to gauge the value of the Carolina Panthers’ top two running backs in fantasy football these days. But it’s even more troublesome when the guy listed as the actual starter doesn’t seem to be the guy with the most potential (or even talent) anymore.
That’s what’s happened to DeAngelo Williams. He’s still an explosive burner who can take it to the house on any play and shake things up as a receiver out of the back-field, but it’s been no secret that he’s quietly taken a back-seat to teammate Jonathan Stewart in the talent department, while Stewart has also completely trumped him in the passing game (Stewart had 47 receptions to Williams’ 16). That, combined with the fact that D-Will hit the field just 42.7% of the time in 2011 compared to Stewart’s 55.2%, and it’s pretty clear which guy you want to draft first in fantasy circles – NFL depth charts be damned.
So, there it is. Go get Stewart before you get D-Will. Make Williams the handcuff these days, and not the other way around. End of story, right?
Not so fast. While I encourage you to pass on Williams and take Stewart first, I am in no way suggesting Williams has minimal or no value. Stewart is just the better bet.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t want Williams in 2012. If Stewart is gone and you’re still looking for a competent RB2 for your starting lineup or a killer Flex play, D-Will could come in handy. Very handy.
Just look at the past few years. Despite an extremely even load split with Stewart in 2011, D-Will still churned out 836 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging a sick 5.4 yards per carry. Stewart actually ran the ball five more times than Williams two years ago in 2009, but Williams still ran for 1,177 yards and another seven scores. Oh, and it was another year with over five yards per carry, too.
The point is, Williams can ball. He’s a fast dude with a second and even third gear, and even with a slightly lesser role than Stewart, brings very solid value as a RB2. Working in his favor, as well, is a fat pay-check he’s getting due to a big contract signed just a year ago. Since he’s locked up and the Panthers are feeding him coin, you know he’s going to keep a solid role.
I know Stewart is the guy you want and should get ahead of D-Will. But if you weren’t sure of his value before, know now that Williams is fairly under-valued and can be a very important piece of your lineup in 2012. The key is to not reach for him too high in your draft. If he’s your RB2 and starting, you’re doing okay. You can get away with that, and really, you could do a whole lot worse. But if he’s your RB3 or in a Flex spot, you’re ahead of the curve.