2012 Team Outlook: Carolina
QB Cam Newton, CAR - Stud (low risk)
Cam Newton was one of the most pleasant surprises in all of fantasy football last season, outperforming even the most outlandish expectations by throwing for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushing for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie. While a regression is certainly possible, all signs point to Newton building on his impressive rookie campaign. Fantasy owners should target Newton as a top five quarterback on draft day.
QB Derek Anderson, CAR - Not Draft Worthy
Derek Anderson will battle with Jimmy Clausen to be Cam Newton's backup in training camp. Pardon me if I don't sound too excited. Even if Newton were to miss significant time due to a major injury, it is unlikely that Anderson would be very productive in the starting role.
RB Jonathan Stewart, CAR - Gamble (high risk)
The Daily Show has been a colossal disappointment for fantasy owners the last two seasons and with the Panthers' backfield situation more crowded than ever, it may be best to just stay away from this situation altogether this season. While Jonathan Stewart scored only four rushing touchdowns, he did manage to get more involved in the passing game by reeling in 47 passes for 413 yards and a score. Stewart is rumoured to be on the trading block and is in the final year of his contract; fantasy owners would be wise to steer clear.
RB Mike Tolbert, BUF - Deep-league Only
The Panthers' crowded backfield situation got even more complicated with former San Diego goalline specialist Mike Tolbert signing a one-year contract as a free agent this offseason. Tolbert will likely see some work as a goalline vulture, which is where Cam Newton excelled last season. Tolbert is worth a speculative pickup in the late rounds of fantasy drafts this season.
RB Josh Vaughan, --- - Low Potential
Josh Vaughan is buried on the Panthers' crowded depth chart behind veterans DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, which means that he has zero fantasy value this season. If injuries were to strike, he would see an increased role, but that is Vaughan's only chance at playing time this season.
RB DeAngelo Williams, --- - Gamble (high risk)
The Panthers' backfield situation is a mess. There are just too many mouths to feed between DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. That list doesn't even include quarterback Cam Newton, who is a factor in the run game. Williams was productive last season (rushing for 836 yards and seven touchdowns), but his upside is limited due to questions about his workload. Fantasy owners should consider Williams a solid number three running back this season.