Cameron Artis-Payne Fantasy Value After Jonathan Stewart’s Injury



When it comes to fantasy football, games don’t even have to be played for a new player to become relevant. An injury report from practice is all it takes.

That was evident Thursday with news that Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart missed practice with a leg injury:

UPDATE: Friday, October 2, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET

Both Stewart and Mike Tolbert returned to practice Friday and are expected to play Sunday:

That makes Artis-Payne nothing more than a handcuff at this point.

Stewart left Carolina’s Week 3 contest in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury. He returned on the next drive, but after missing Wednesday and Thursday practices, this is suddenly something worth keeping a close eye on. And to make things even more interesting, fullback Mike Tolbert has also been absent from practice:

The Panthers have two primary backups: Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker. As Pro Football Focus’ Mike Clay projected, they would likely share duties:

If you have the room on your bench, add both and see what happens. But if don’t have that kind of space, Artis-Payne–while not a must-add at the moment–makes for a very intriguing flier for teams in need of running-back help or for Stewart owners looking for a contingency plan.

A fifth-round pick out of Auburn, Artis-Payne looked very good in the preseason, tallying 139 yards on 30 carries (4.6 YPC). He has only played seven snaps in the first three weeks, but he did receive three carries in Week 3, while Whittaker received none.

Should Stewart sit out, one would presume that Artis-Payne, a strong, powerful, downhill runner, would handle the early-down and short-yardage work, while Whittaker would handle the passing downs and change-of-pace work.

Combine Artis-Payne’s lack of experience and the uncertainty of the situation, and you shouldn’t drop anyone of immense value. But again, if you have an open spot in a deep league, it’s worth buying a lottery ticket and seeing how Stewart’s injury plays out over the next couple of days. The rookie has talent, the Panthers offense is clicking right now, and a big role would be valuable.

In daily leagues, Artis-Payne is a bare-minimum $3,000 for DraftKings’ Week 4 millionaire maker contest. If Stewart is out, he makes for a very compelling play against a weak Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.

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