Good news for Panthers RBs Williams, Stewart

Panthers Cardinals Football

With the Panthers' focus return to their running game, Jonathan Stewart has scored four TDs since Week 5. (Greg Trott / Associated Press)

Is it possible that the struggles of Panthers QB Jake Delhomme might actually be a good thing for fantasy owners?

OK, so it’s not so great if you own WR Steve Smith. But if you were lucky enough to draft RBs DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, you might want to thank Delhomme for all of those turnovers.

With no legitimate options behind Delhomme on the depth chart, Panthers coach John Fox has put a restraining order of sorts on his quarterback’s pass attempts. In two of the last three games, Delhomme has thrown the ball fewer than 18 times.

As a result, the Panthers have gone back to their strength — running the football. That’s meant great things for their dynamic backfield duo.

In the two games that saw Delhomme’s role scaled back (vs. Buccaneers, at Cardinals), the Panthers averaged 267.5 rushing yards. Williams rushed for a combined 310 yards and two touchdowns in those contests, while Stewart recorded 197 yards and three scores.

The Panthers also won both of those games, so I’d expect them to continue to run the football down the throats of their opponents.

Remember, Williams’ big statistical run in 2008 came in the second half of the season, so we could be seeing a repeat performance of those heroics in 2009. The one downfall with Williams is that Stewart appears to be the favored red-zone back in this pseudo-committee.

While that could limit Williams’ visits to the end zone, he’s still a strong No. 1 fantasy back. Stewart, who has scored three times in the last three weeks, is now a far more viable flex starter in all leagues.

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