Sneaky fantasy pickups entering Week 4 

September, 27, 2013
I'm guessing few people are thinking about the Carolina Panthers this week, as the Cam Newton-led squad joins the Green Bay Packers on bye, but that's exactly why sneaky owners should be thinking about them. Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is off and running to a terrific start. Entering Week 4, he was tied for 19th in standard scoring among running backs, but actually was third in rushing yards and tied for fourth in rushing attempts. As for scoring touchdowns, yeah, that is going to be a problem with Newton and Mike Tolbert around. Another potential problem: What happens when rookie Kenjon Barner and veteran Jonathan Stewart return from their injuries?

[+] EnlargeDeAngelo Williams
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsDeAngelo Williams has 291 rushing yards through three games, the third-highest total in the league.
One might think Williams has more than proved himself as a capable starter, but think again. The Panthers have run a time share at running back for years, which would make now a wise time to peddle Williams, and deep-leaguers should think about Barner and Stewart. After all, through 12 weeks last season, Stewart had more rushing attempts and yards than Williams. Then an ankle injury shut Stewart down, and he continues his recovery. It wasn't until the final month of 2012 that Williams helped fantasy owners. In fairness, Stewart didn't really help many while he was active, either, but here in the Sneaky Pickups blog post, we're open to previously disappointing players playing better. Look at Williams, for example!

Stewart is eligible to return from the PUP list in Week 7. He's running and rehabbing, and the Panthers expect him to play a role immediately. That should surprise nobody. Perhaps you're tired of Stewart and want no part of this situation, and that's understandable. But in 2011, Stewart, who is only 26 years old, averaged 5.4 yards per rush and caught 47 passes on 61 targets. Williams, 30, played well in 2011, as well. Why wouldn't the Panthers play all of them if healthy? Barner, the speedy rookie from Oregon, also figures to play a role. Perhaps if he emerges, the team would consider moving on from one or both of its veterans in 2014. Regardless, in a 20-team league, Stewart and Barner are in play for October, so don't wait too long to consider the possibilities.