Tolbert loses fantasy appeal with the Panthers

The Carolina Panthers already had one of the most frustrating backfields in fantasy football, featuring two talented runners in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Well, it just became even more of a headache with the addition of Mike Tolbert.

Outside of a trade involving Stewart, which NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora doesn’t project as imminent, the Panthers could now have a three-headed backfield monster – and that doesn’t include Cam Newton vulturing touchdowns near the goal line. Remember, it was Newton, not Stewart or Williams, who led the team in rushing touchdowns last season. If we are talking strictly backs, I would take Stewart, Willams and Tolbert (in that order) in fantasy drafts.

However, I wouldn’t take Stewart or Williams as more than potential flex starters, while Tolbert would be worth a mere late rounder in the majority of standard leagues.

The fantasy winner in this deal, of course, isn’t in Carolina — it’s Ryan Mathews.

The third-year runner will have a legitimate chance to break out in 2012, assuming he can avoid injuries and the Chargers don’t add another big-game running back this offseason (Jackie Battle has been mentioned, but he won’t hurt Mathews’ value). As it stands, the Fresno State product is worth as much as a first-round selection in leagues with 12-plus teams.

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