The Carolina Panthers have locked up running back Jonathan Stewart through the 2017 season with a five-year contract extension. The team broke the news on its official Twitter account Saturday. The deal is reportedly worth $36.5 million. Stewart, 25, has been a part of one of the league's top running games for the past four seasons, teaming with DeAngelo Williams . That attack got even more dangerous with the addition of quarterback Cam Newton in 2011. However, after rushing for 10 touchdowns in each of his first two years, Stewart crossed the line just eight times combined from 2010-2011.
As a collective group, there's no doubt that trio is as good as any franchise in the NFL on the ground. And let's not neglect Mike Tolbert, who was signed during the offseason. But in fantasy, we need to look at each player's potential. And Stewart's has to be fairly low considering the crowd he's playing in. All four of those guys are going to cannibalize each other to an extent because they can all be used around the goal line. All four of them are also under contract through the 2015 season, so that crowd might be sticking together for a while. Great for the Panthers, bad for fantasy owners.
Newton is still a stud QB, obviously. Tolbert is the clear No. 4 option in this rushing attack. But those two plus Williams and Stewart makes me want to stay far away from any Panthers running back. FFToolbox has ranked Stewart as the No. 26 RB. I think that is too high for a player whose role and workload is so uncertain.
Again, it's really no fault of his own. Stewart is a very good player. Last season, he gained more than 1,100 from scrimmage on fewer than 200 touches. But I'm not willing to consider him a low-end RB2 or a high-end flex play when he's going to be giving up so many rushing attempts and plenty of TD opportunities to three other teammates.