NFL Rumors: Jonathan Stewart Named Featured Back in Carolina
According to numerous reports, The Carolina Panthers announced that Jonathan Stewart is ready to be the team’s featured back, ahead of DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. But it will be hard for observers and fantasy players to believe it until they see it.
Consider the team averages just 113 rushing yards a game, good for 13th in the league, just a shade about the Jets. Then consider Cam Newton accounts for 40 percent of their rushing yards (273 of 682). And that Mike Tolbert can be a classic vulture. That, folks, is called reasonable doubt.
Add in Stewart’s season-long ankle injury and you’ll know why people aren’t running to insert him into the lineup.
Stewart, in limited action, has a 4.1 yard-per-carry rate (35 for 142) and 51 yards and a TD on 7 receptions; Williams has a 3.5 ypc average (50 for 177) and a pair of TDs; 4 catches for 30 yards.
If healthy, we’d give the ball to Stewart also, so his “featured back” status surely has more to do with the healing of that injury coming off the bye week than anything else.
His first test? The opportunistic Chicago Bears defense. Our guess is the Bears will hone in on the Panthers running game to force the struggling Cam Newton to beat them. If they are successful early, and force Newton to make mistakes, the Panthers may have to throw more often than they want to while in catch-up mode.
Fantasy football owners, if they have the luxury, should take a wait-and-see approach with Stewart this week. An unfavorable matchup and a crowded field of runners give us pause to jump in with both feet despite his newly-declared status.