by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Remember when who was going to get the carries in Carolina’s backfield was in question? Well, to an extent they still are but it’s because the top options have all gone down due to injury. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are all banged up, leaving Darrin Reaves, an undrafted free agent, and a collection of castoffs remaining (though reports today state that Stewart could play).
Reaves figures to get the opportunity to lead the backfield, assuming Stewart is out, over the likes of Fozzy Whitaker & Chris Ogbonnaya. The question facing fantasy owners now is if he could prove to be a viable option against the Chicago Bears.
Panthers’ offensive coordinator Mike Shula was quoted by Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer (click here for the article) as saying:
“For a smaller guy he’s pretty thick, and he’s not afraid to hit you. And he’s got a little elusiveness for a guy that’s kind of thick. He shows signs of a lot of good things. His experience will help him play a little faster.”
Reaves, listed at 5’10” and 220 pounds, played at Alabama-Biringham in college. Over his last two years he rushed for 1,965 yards and 25 TD while proving to also be a capable receiver (70 receptions, 596 yards, 3 TD). Given the questions surrounding Cam Newton, the passing game and his “weapons”, that type of skill set should play. While Reaves struggled when taking over in Week 4 (12 carries for 26 yards), preparation time and matchup should not be ignored.
The Chicago Bears have allowed 376 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards to opposing running backs this season. With the Panthers offense dependent on production out of the backfield, look for them to try to exploit that.
While Reaves isn’t going to be a must use option, he is a potential FLEX play depending on your alternatives. Opportunity is king when it comes to these types of plays, and he is in for as good a one as we can ask for.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Charlotte Observer
Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings: