Given his profound history of knee injuries (three ACL tears), advanced age (34 years old), and the looming specter of former first-round pick Shaq Thompson in the background, Davis feels somewhat risky being ranked this high. But his performance level remained high last year, and it would be a surprise to see Carolina lower his play count below the 750-snap mark after he played 1,008 last year. Davis' shaky floor is largely offset by the upside he presents -- he has eight sacks and seven interceptions over the last two years.
After 11 seasons and three torn ACLs, Davis was finally named to his first Pro Bowl last year, when he finished with 105 tackles and career-highs in sacks (5.5), interceptions (four) and forced fumbles (four). Although the Panthers’ date in the Super Bowl ultimately precluded Davis’ long-awaited trip to Hawaii, he and Luke Kuechly have been arguably the NFL’s best linebacking tandem in recent times. Somehow still boasting cat-like quickness at age 33, Davis enters this season coming off four straight seasons with at least 100 stops, making him about as reliable as they come at his position.
A player who’s endured three ACL tears since joining the league as a first round pick in 2005, Davis remarkably registered his third straight 100-tackle campaign last season. A career-long Panther, Davis’ final 2014 totals of 100 stops and 2.5 sacks were slight dips from 2013, but the veteran also missed one game due to a hip ailment. As he enters his eleventh season, Davis arguably remains the Panthers’ second-best fantasy player on defense, with only All Pro running mate Luke Kuechly topping him. While rookie first round linebacker Shaq Thompson could gradually grow into a Davis-type player, the 32-year-old is still enjoying a wildly productive close to a career filled with perseverance, and offers stellar IDP value for fantasy owners to boot.
The Panthers were rewarded in 2013 for their patience in Davis, a talented linebacker and former first-round pick who persevered through an improbable three ACL tears. He's still a risk for reinjury, but Davis was highly productive last year, finishing with 123 tackles (85 solo), four sacks and two interceptions in 16 games. He's among the league's best blitzing and coverage big-play threats at linebacker. He'll continue to post big numbers so long as he's on the field, as he has safety-like athleticism and an elite defensive line keeping blockers away from him.
Davis was second on the Panthers in tackles last season, and will start at strong side linebacker this season alongside rookie of the year and NFL leading tackler Luke Kuechly.
Thomas is attempting to become the first player in NFL history to return to action following three torn ACL surgeries. Even if he can do it, he's playing behind James Anderson and Luke Kuechly, both of which are expected to have big tackle numbers this year.
Davis is an extremely injury prone player, but he remains a rare athlete with the potential to put up big numbers in Carolina’s defense, which figures to spend a lot of time on the field in 2011. He tore his right ACL twice between November 2009 and June 2010, so he's in Bob Sanders territory when it comes to durability, but Davis’ 174 tackles (140 solo), five sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in his last 23 games are nice numbers. If he’s on the field, he should be a steal.
Another torn ACL during summer OTAs has Davis likely to miss the majority of the regular season. The injury is a blow to Carolina's defensive corps, as Davis was in line for a career year as the Panthers' starting weak side linebacker. The Panthers have so far neglected to place him on injured reserve, so he may still be available as a late season pickup.
Davis finished the 2008 season with a career-high 113 tackles along with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The move over the weak side behind Julius Peppers paid immediate dividends for Davis, as he became a very productive player for the Panthers and IDP owners alike. It looks like Peppers will remain in Carolina this season, so a repeat of his 2008 numbers isn't out of the question.
Davis enjoyed another solid -- if unspectacular -- season as the Panthers' starting strong-side linebacker rolling up another 88 tackles including a career-high three sacks. He'll be pushed for snaps by rookie Dan Connor, but he's a viable option for 80-90 tackles again if he can stay healthy.
Davis will start at the strongside linebacker spot again in 2007 after piling up 88 tackles over 14 games a year ago. He could crack the century mark for the first time in his career with a full season's worth of starts and another year of experience under his belt, given his incredible athleticism and continued development at linebacker after playing safety at Georgia.
After playing safety and linebacker last season, the Panthers decided to move him to linebacker this season. Playing only one position should help the second-year player. Davis will be worth a late-round selection in all IDP formats.
Davis is a very versatile defensive player who can play both safety and linebacker. With the Panthers lacking much depth at either position, Davis will be forced to play both positions for much of the season. Colin Branch's season-ending knee injury opened up a starting job for Davis at strong safety and he'll likely play most snaps in that spot but could spell Brandon Short at linebacker as well.