Jonathan Stewart left last Sunday’s victory with a sprained foots and, on Wednesday afternoon, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed he would also miss the squad’s Week 15 matchup against the New York Giants.
This isn’t a particularly huge surprise consider Stewart was seen in a walking boot on Monday. The Panthers have also already clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs, so there’s really no reason for Carolina to push Stewart back on the field before he’s 100 percent ready.
The move, does, however open up the backfield for a new face and it, likely, will be Fozzy Whittaker.
Whittaker took over as the Panthers lead back after Stewart left the game against the Falcons last week and finished with 34 yards and one touchdown off eight carries. He also caught his only target of the afternoon.
Now, those aren’t exactly numbers to write home about, but with Stewart out, Whittaker’s workoad is going to increase and there’s a serious opportunity for him to do some serious damage against a Giants squad that is nothing short of woeful when it comes to defending the run.
In 13 games this season, Big Blue rather depleted defense has given up 110.2 yards per game and allows, on average, 4.1 yards per carry. As far as running backs are concerned, that presents a prime gridiron opportunity.
So, why chose Whittaker off the waiver wire when you’re likely fighting for your fantasy playoff lives? Easy. He’s going to get touches. Dan Phillips reported on Wednesday that Rivera told media Whittaker “likely will star” Sunday against New York and while the Panthers also boast Mike Tolbert in the backfield, Whittaker is a better play.
Whittaker doesn’t have a ton of carries to his name this season, mostly because Stewart was ahead of him, but he’s got some size and if he gets a good amount of touches this Sunday, he’s going to get yards – and points.