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If your in a competitive football league, then you truly know how shallow a free agent pool can get. You are constantly on the lookout every Sunday for a player who performs above and beyond, and then you rush to free agency to pick him up before anybody else has a chance to check the box scores.
If a QB gets injured, you are there. If a wide receiver has 10 catches, you are there. If a running back rushed for over 100 yds, you are there. Last season’s most notorious player who fell into one of these scenarios, was Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams.
Williams was an afterthought last season, plain and simple. He was thought of as a compliment in a dual backfield to hot rookie stud Jonathan Stewart. In fact, through the first four games of the season, Stewart was actually the better runner in Carolina. Through four games:
Not just better, but the clear #1 back for the Panthers.
Williams then had a great game in the fifth game of the season when he rushed for 123 yds and scored three times (2 rush, 1 receiving). I assume that everyone stormed free agency to pick him up. I didn’t, but still, the fantasy community was hoping that Williams could keep this up.
During his next two games, Williams looked like his old self as he rushed for 93 yds on 29 carries (3.2 ypc) and no rushing TD. It looked like it was back to Jonathan Stewart for most people. In fact, one member of Sports of Boston (who will go nameless to hide his shame), actually ended up dropping Williams in one league for Jamaal Charles.
We all know the rest of the story. Williams simply exploded after week 7. He rushed for over 100 yds in seven of his last nine games. In those last nine games, Williams ran for 1,101 yds and 16 TD.
Thanks to his incredible totals of the previous season (1,515 yds, 20 total TD), Williams’ stock shot through the roof in preparation for fantasy drafts in 2009. He was now a consensus top-10 pick and almost a “can’t miss” option at running back.
Just like last season, things started out slowly. Through his first four games, Williams was making you regret investing such a high draft pick on him.
OK, the TD are better than last season, but isn’t it weird that his yards per carry through four games this season (3.7) is identical to his yards per carry through four games last season. Eerie isn’t it?
However, just like last season, DeAngelo has waited to explode. After his mandatory four game suckfest, Williams rushed for 152 yds and 2 TD in his fifth game.
In his last two games, Williams has rushed for 158 yds against Arizona, and 149 yds with two scores against New Orleans. Those weren’t easy yds to come by either. New Orleans owns a very explosive defense that creates a lot of turnovers, and Arizona has the 3rd best rush defense in all of football.
Williams is actually on pace to surpass his rushing totals (both yards and TD) from last season.
Just like last season, DeAngelo Williams just needed four games to warm up. In both years, he waited until the fifth game of the year to have a 100-yd game, and it was nothing but pure gold for the last nine games of 2008 for anyone who owned Williams.
In 2009, Williams has decided to start the show a little early. While he maintained his mediocrity through the first four game once again, he has broken off huge games since then.
I hope Williams owners didn’t panic after the first four games. He seems to have to hit his stride now. In his next four games he faces teams that allow over 100 yards rushing per game (Atlanta, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay), so the good times will continue to roll.