Positive news on Delhomme

The name Jake Delhomme doesn’t incite a lot of excitement in fantasy football.

The veteran out of Louisiana-Lafayette was buried on the New Orleans depth chart for the first five seasons of his NFL career, and he didn’t have much value in fantasy circles until he went to Carolina. While he did have two solid seasons from 2004-05, one of which led to a Super Bowl appearance, Delhomme’s numbers over the past two seasons have been mediocre.

Jake Delhomme, QB
Carolina Panthers

2007 Statistics
Comp: 55
Att: 86
Yards: 624
TDs/INTs: 8/1

He has missed 13 starts due to injuries in that timeframe, and he required what’s become known as “Tommy John” surgery to repair the damaged right elbow he suffered last September.

Despite his proneness to injuries in recent seasons, however, fantasy owners should be optimistic about Delhomme’s value for 2008.

Delhomme has had no setbacks in his rehabilitation from what was considered a successful surgical procedure. In fact, he’s been able to throw the football in Carolina’s recent OTAs (Organized Team Activities).

He’s even drawn praise from teammate Steve Smith.

“It seems like he has a stronger arm; he’s not showing any signs of weakness with that major surgery,” Smith told the Charlotte Observer.

Aside from his tremendous rapport with Smith, who is one of the top wideouts in fantasy football, Delhomme will also have new additions D.J. Hackett and veteran Muhsin Muhammad at his disposal. That list of weapons could increase even further if Dwayne Jarrett can make strides after a disappointing rookie season.

Delhomme should also have added support from the team’s backfield after the addition of rookie Jonathan Stewart, who will be paired with DeAngelo Williams.

Fantasy footballers should also remember that before he hurt his elbow last season, Delhomme was the fourth-most productive quarterback on NFL.com. He threw for 624 yards and eight touchdowns in what amounted to fewer than three full starts, and his 72 fantasy points were more than Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck. He’ll also face Arizona, Atlanta (2), Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and New Orleans (2) this season — none of those defenses finished better than 23rd against the pass in 2007.

Barring setbacks, Delhomme could be considered a candidate to exceed expectations and develop into a tremendous draft value. Consider him in the late rounds as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback with the skills, experience (not to mention a long list of favorable defensive matchups) to make a legitimate impact in fantasy land.

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