Fantasy owners need to give DeAngelo some love

(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Deangelo Williams rushed for 1,515 yards in 2008. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Why are fantasy players undervaluing Panthers standout RB DeAngelo Williams?

His average draft position (ADP) is below QBs Drew Brees (7.43), TomĀ  Brady (9.44) and nearly below WR Larry Fitzgerald (10.09), too. While those three are stars, are we forgetting that Williams was a scoring machine last season?

Williams has little to no chance to score 20 total touchdowns again in 2009, 12-15 touchdowns are reasonable for the Panthers’ run-heavy offense. He’s rushed for 69 yards with one touchdown on 14 carries (4.9 YPC) in the preseason.

The Memphis product could also be in line for more work to start the regular season, with Jonathan Stewart sidelined with a sore Achilles’ tendon. Stewart reportedly missed Monday’s practice due to “personal reasons” after missing an excessive amount of practice time in recent weeks.

That has Stewart’s ADP (72.51) falling across the board. Why then, is Williams’ ADP sliding as well?

Williams wasn’t drafted until the second round in the recent NFL.com Experts League. While the PPR (points per reception) format did make him a bit less attractive, wouldn’t you rather have Williams over backs like Steven Jackson, Frank Gore or LaDainian Tomlinson?

Jackson and Gore might be better all-around backs, but injuries make them a risk even in the best of scenarios. Tomlinson is also a better pass catcher than Williams, but at 30 he could be on the verge of another disappointing season based on his higher standards.

Williams is a star in the making, which is why I’ve kept him ranked fifth among running backs on NFL.com while he’s fallen to the bottom of the top 10 on other sites. Not only did Williams explode in 2008, but his yards-per-carry average has risen in each of his three seasons.

That just tells me he’s getting better as a runner on the pro level.

Unless you’re in a PPR league, there are just four running backs I’d take ahead of Williams — Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Turner. And if for some reason Stewart is forced to miss regular-season time or is limited at all, I’d take the Panthers runner as high as fourth overall.

In an offense that is geared toward the run, Williams should have another stellar season for both coach John Fox and fantasy leaguers alike.

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