D’Onta Foreman Steamrolling his Way Into a Starting Role

On October 20th, 2022, Christian McCaffery was shipped to the San Francisco 49ers in a blockbuster trade. Carolina received a 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in 2023 AND a 2024 4th round pick in return. McCaffery in turn has been a huge addition to the 49ers. However quietly, D’Onta Foreman has been a breakout player for Carolina since the trade.

D’Onta Foreman Now the Focal Point of Carolina’s Offense

The Panthers have played in four games since this trade. In three of those games, Foreman has had 118 rushing yards or more. In the 21-3 victory over the Buccaneers Foreman had 17 touches for 145 yards. That was 3 days after the trade. 

A week later in a shoot-out with Atlanta that ended 34-37, Foreman again had 118 yards rushing on 26 carries. He scored three times helping produce 21 of the 34 points by the team. 

On November 6th game flow dictated a pass-happy approach which left Foreman on the bench. He got just 7 carries and 3 targets on the day.  He produced a net of 21 yards on the day. This game ended 42-21 with Carolina trailing most of the game which led them to use Chubba Hubbard more often. 

In a 25-15 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night Foreman again topped 100 yards making it back-to-back 100-yard outings over the Falcons. He carried the ball 31 times for 130 yards and 1 touchdown on the day but again showed why he isn’t in the game during passing situations when he didn’t catch his only target on the evening. 

Derrick Henry Lite

Foreman has been a two-down back since he entered the league, so it’s no surprise to see his role diminished by the game flow. The thing that is surprising, and had been lacking up until 2021 was consistency. In 2021 Foreman was tasked with stepping in as Derrick Henry Lite in Tennessee and he would go on to produce 133 carries for 566 yards and 3 touchdowns in 9 games. 

During that stretch, he produced just three games of over 100 yards rushing. Never producing back-to-back 100-yard games. It was maddening for Titans fans, and his fantasy owners alike. He would go off for 24 touches and 135 yards one week then disappear for 9 touches and 17 yards the next. 

It seems Carolina has dedicated itself to the run which has helped Pj Walker find success in his time as the starter. Foreman was a guy in 2021 that no one would tell you to count on, now after four games in CMC’s absence Foreman has established himself as a lineup lock for the Panthers, and Fantasy Owners. 

Looking Forward to 2023

Could Foreman actually solidify himself as the starter for the Panthers beyond the 2022 season? So far during his short career he has bounced around due in large part to his lack of value in the passing game, and the death of old school three yard and a cloud of dust offenses. Foreman is a guy who belonged in the NFL about ten years before he was selected in the draft.

At 6’1 236 pounds he is very similar to Derrick Henry in terms of running style, and actually has similar athletic traits. Granted no other running back is on the level of Henry when it comes to yards after contact, but it seems Foreman has learned some things during his time with Tennessee. If he can continue to consistently put up 100 yard rushing games like he has over the last four weeks, the Panthers can live with the games in between when game flow doesn’t dictate a heavy dose of Foreman.

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