Mike Tolbert to the Panthers has me scratching my head, as the Panthers already have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. To be frank, fantasy owners felt the Giants, Packers, Browns, Bengals, Lions and Buccaneers were better options to use Tolbert's dual-threat ability.
This tells me his four-year deal is either a forerunner to the team moving Jonathan Stewart or Tolbert getting ready to enter his Le'Ron McClain phase. McClain went 234-902-10 TDs rushing and 19-123-1 on 30 targets in 2008 — an average of 16.5 utilizations for 64.1 yards from scrimmage and 0.7 TDs. After that season he fell into obscurity, as he became a blocking fullback despite his talent. Will Tolbert follow?
In 2011, Tolbert totaled 121-490-8 rushing and 54-433-2 on 79 targets in 15 games — an average of 13.3 utilizations for 61.5 yards from scrimmage and 0.7 TDs. Tolbert's numbers will plunge between the 20-yard lines, but he will find a niche role as the short-yardage specialist with soft hands. He will also play on special teams, as that's also one of his strengths.
He can also allow for deception on third downs, as they could use both he and Stewart on third downs creating less predictability with two dual-threat backs, but I'm speculating. Regardless, right now he has no fantasy value, as he will only serve as depth at tailback and focus on being a fullback and special-teams player. His value only increases with injury to either running back and is someone to target during the season on the waiver wire.
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