The Associated Press is reporting the Carolina Panthers have released starting running back DeShaun Foster to clear about $4.75 million in cap room. The move should also open the door for running back DeAngelo Williams, the team's 2006 first-round draft pick, to step into the starting role.
Despite showing early promise, Foster never really took advantage of his full-time role with the team. The 2005 season was his first campaign as the starter, but he failed to capitalize on the opportunity. In 15 games played, he managed just 879 yards and two touchdowns. He also failed to provide head coach John Fox with the kind of bruising back that he wanted for his attack - the kind of back that former Panthers running back Stephen Davis was. Foster was also plagued by fumble problems, most noticeably last season when he lost five of seven fumbles. Last season, coincidentally, was also his first full season, and he managed 876 yards and three touchdowns. However, his yards per carry dropped below 4.0 (down to 3.5) for the first time in his career, and his receptions were the lowest they have been excluding his injury-shortened 2004 season. Foster should still be able to offer some value to a team in search of a running back. However, until he signs with another team, his fantasy value will be uncertain.
Williams should receive a big boost in fantasy value with Foster gone, provided the team does not make any additional moves. Although he does not have prototypical size for a running back (5-foot-9), Williams showed he can hang around for a full season when he played in all 16 games last year. He also showed he could take over the starting job with 717 yards and an impressive 5.0 yards per carry. His best effort last year was in the final game of the season, when he ran for 121 yards and two scores against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is another reason to believe he can hold up to the pounding that comes with being a starting back in the National Football League.
The team's early plan is to make Williams the No. 1 back in Carolina. With Fox's emphasis on a ground-oriented attack, this makes Williams a decent fantasy running back. His value currently sits as a weak No. 2 running back, barring any additional moves by the Panthers.
After Williams, the team only has running back Alex Haynes on its depth chart at the position. He only carried the ball three times for three yards last season. The Panthers could make a move for another running back in free agency or the draft. Regardless, at this time, Williams has value as a weak No. 2 back, while Foster's value will be determined by where he lands.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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