BREAKOUT - DeAngelo Williams - RB
In Carolina, Deshaun Foster has been the primary ball carrier for the past two years. Entering the league as a highly decorated UCLA runningback, Foster never really lived up to his potential. He has yet to crack the 1,000 yard mark, and has never scored more than 3 TD's in a season. One of the main reasons Foster has not had a breakout year is that he keeps breaking his bones. In 5 years he has missed 33 games, while playing in just 47. Its time the Panthers moved on.
Last year, the Panthers selected DeAngelo Williams with the 27th overall pick to be the eventual long term replacement to Foster. In limited playing time, fans saw flashes of what they hope becomes true brilliance. In only 2 starts, he ran for over 500 yards (2nd on the team), caught 33 passes for over 300 yards (4th on the team) and scored a couple of touchdowns. He also showed off his great vision, speed, and explosion on kick returns, returning a kickoff 98 yards in week 3 of the preseason.
In games where Williams had at least 10 carries he ran for no less than 65 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. If given the chance to be the full-time back, I think he could put up similar numbers and should give the Panthers their first 1,000 yard rusher since Stephen Davis in 2003. He should also be able to be a pretty reliable redzone contributer considering that the main receiving threats in Carolina are the 5'9" Steve Smith and the rookie Dwayne Jarrett.
If Williams wins the starting job in the preseason (as he should) and gets the bulk of the carries, I can see him being a 1,200 yard rusher while scoring close to double digit TDs, which makes him a great option as RB2.
BUST - Jake Delhomme - QB
Jake Delhomme had his worst season as a starter in 2006. His passing yards and touchdown numbers dropped dramatically from his former pro-bowl form. But what might hurt him most this year (fantasy wise) is that he was only 7-6 as a starter last year, and in the offseason, the Panthers brought in former #1 overall pick David Carr. Carr will play the backup role for the time being but he could eventually take over the starting job if the Panthers are struggling to win games and Delhomme is unable to provide consistent play from the QB position.
Delhomme is not a bad QB. He had 5 games where he had a QB rating over 90, and he did throw 17 TDs in 13 games (that works out to about 21 if he had played 16 games). Jake still has great chemistry with super-stud WR Steve Smith, but like I said, if he isn't winning games none of that will matter and he could be replaced midseason by David Carr.
In my opinion, he is one of the biggest Boom-or-Bust fantasy players this year and would be a pretty big risk to rely on to be a main QB. Depending on the size of your league, Delhomme might be a decent waiver wire pickup.
MR DEPENDABLE - Steve Smith - WR
Steve Smith has emerged as the most dangerous wide receiver in the NFC and will more than likely be one of the first WRs taken in any league.
In the last 3 years that he has played (missed 15 games in 04), he has averaged 1,270 yards and 9 TD's. In that span, he has 18 games with at least 100 and even had a 200 yard game in 05. A great option as a WR1 for anyone lucky enough to get him.
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