As the depth chart stands, Artis-Payne returns to a Panthers roster that still has little depth behind starter Christian McCaffrey. While it's possible Carolina adds a running back in next month's draft, Artis-Payne should operate as the clear No. 2 over Elijah Hood (knee) and Reggie Bonnafon when the Panthers' offseason workouts begin April 15.
Artis-Payne finished the 2018 regular season with 19 rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown in nine games played.
Artis-Payne also caught three of his four targets for 15 receiving yards. Through four years with the Panthers, the tailback has never topped more than 45 carries in a season and has been active for just 32 games. Even after C.J. Anderson left Carolina this season, Artis-Payne was hardly used as Christian McCaffrey's backup. In fact, 16 of his 19 carries came in a meaningless Week 17 win over the Saints. Given that spare role, it wouldn't really be surprising if Artis-Payne heads elsewhere in free agency this offseason.
Artis-Payne is likely to notice an elevated role on offense Sunday against the Saints with Carolina expected to limit lead back Christian McCaffrey's snap count, Bill Voth of the Panthers' official site reports.
Coach Ron Rivera hasn't explicitly said that McCaffrey, who is active for Week 17, will be limited, but that's a reasonable assumption given that the Panthers are out of playoff contention and don't have much to gain by handing the second-year player his usual massive workload in an otherwise meaningless regular-season finale. Given that McCaffrey has played approximately 97 percent of the Panthers' offensive snaps this season, there will still be some extra volume to go around even if he works in more of a timeshare out of the backfield. Artis-Payne, who has just four touches across eight games this season, would be first in line to benefit if McCaffrey is rested or restricted at any point, but the uncertainty of what exactly the Auburn product's workload will look like makes it tough to roll with him in fantasy lineups with much confidence.
Artis-Payne contributed a seven-yard run and 13-yard catch during Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Falcons.
Artis-Payne doubled his season total for touches on Sunday. The fourth-year back has just five touches in six games as Carolina's No. 2 back since the departure of C.J. Anderson. That role means more with Cam Newton shut down for the season as Newton was essentially the Panthers' second back, but the difference probably isn't enough to warrant looking at Artis-Payne next Sunday against New Orleans, a top-five run defense this season.
Artis-Payne rushed for five yards on his lone carry during Sunday's 26-20 loss to Cleveland.
The carry was just Artis-Payne's second touch of the season. He's totaled just six yards. With C.J. Anderson now out of town, the fourth-year back has a chance to be more involved in the offense, but -- even as RB No. 2 -- he figures to get RB No.3-level carries given the running prowess of Cam Newton. That, along with a Monday matchup against a top-three run defense in the Saints, makes him a bad play this week.
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