DeAngelo Williams raises Panthers fantasy worries

During an interview with Molly Qerim and Jordan Babineaux Thursday morning on "NFL AM," Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams talked about his team's tough offseason. He also had strong words about what the loss of several important offensive components could mean for his fantasy value.

Unless you're behind on your NFL news or have been living under a rock for the past few months, you probably know that the reigning NFC South champions have made wholesale changes to their wide receiver corps. The team released face-of-the-franchise veteran Steve Smith (Ravens) and lost Brandon LaFell (Patriots), Ted Ginn Jr. (Cardinals) and Domenik Hixon (Bears) to free agency. Those changes have altered not only the team's pass attack, but the fantasy value of more than a handful of players.

That includes Williams and fellow running back Jonathan Stewart.

"I guess people are saying my fantasy value went up after we got rid of our four receivers," Williams said. "But it's the truth. I went from probably being drafted in the fifth or sixth round to being in the first round, me and Jonathan alike, because we have no receivers."

The Panthers have made some additions to cover the loss of the aforementioned wideouts, but none of them came with a lot of fanfare. Jerricho Cotchery looks like the team's No. 1 receiver, while Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant were added to fill the second and third spots on the depth chart. While Cotchery did have 10 touchdowns a season ago, that was more than he had scored in the previous four campaigns combined. He's also failed to record 500-plus yards in four of his last five seasons.

As for Avant and Underwood, that duo has combined to record nine touchdowns in the last three years. Smith had a combined eight scores in the last two seasons ... all by himself.

Williams also had some rather interesting thoughts about the most valuable fantasy player on the team's roster, quarterback Cam Newton, who is coming off an ankle operation. For those of you who have been a fan of Superman or won fantasy titles with him at the helm, well, Williams' words could be seen as worrisome.

"I have my questions there, because you can bring in all the best receivers that you want to," Williams said. "We could have got DeSean Jackson, we could have got all these high-profile wide receivers to bring in, but with Cam having the surgery that he had, that timing would be off until training camp, because he's not going through OTAs because of his surgery."

Williams went on to talk about how Newton's surgery combined with a glut of new receivers could impact the running game, saying he doesn't "want to see, eight, nine guys in the box week in and week out because we're working on our timing." In short, Newton's absence plus all the new additions could be bad news for the team's offensive attack during the earlier portions of 2014.

We're still in April, and things could change for the Panthers via the NFL Draft in May. In fact, three of our four mock draft experts have Carolina taking a wide receiver with the No. 28 overall selection, which makes all the sense in the world. But if Williams has some questions about the current state of his own offense, fantasy owners need to question it as well.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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