fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    
HOME ARTICLES NEWS DRAFT GUIDE REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS NFL TEAMS MESSAGE BOARDS

FANTASY FOOTBALL ARTICLES

The Ultimate RBBC Review - 2006
David Dorey
July 25, 2006

Each summer fantasy fanatics pore over depth charts and cheat sheets to determine which running backs they most want and in the back of their mind always looms the fear of that four letter word (acronym actually but stick with me here) - RBBC. The old running-back-by-committee which takes your perfectly good starting runner and has him trot off the field so another back can get the fantasy points (preferably not your opponent's).

The reality with runners sharing carries is twofold really. Running backs split the load because that is the offensive scheme employed or because there simply is no known "best" runner for the team. In many cases, the lack of that dominant runner is not yet known due to injury or the team has a new set of runners. No coach yanks a hot player from a game just to satisfy a game plan. They will use what works and what wins. For some teams, that means more than one runner.

Every team will - given an option - use the running backs to win the game. There is simply far lesser risk handing the ball off than executing a pass play which can result in a sack, interception or incompletion. If a team is ahead on the scoreboard, they want to run the clock out. Passing often kills the clock, running usually doesn't. This is why running backs are the most consistent and productive fantasy scorer. Beyond Coach-speak, reporters stretching a story or the endless speculation or mind games, remember this single truth:

The best players play. Guaranteed. Period. It's about winning.

This time of the season is rife with speculation and innuendo. Let's look at facts, changes and best probability. The greatest factor on a RBBC situation is if that offense is designed to use "specialists". Just because the #1 RB for a team is not yet know does not necessarily mean the team will take 16 games to make a choice if they prefer a primary back instead of RBBC.

The statistics you will see are derived to show who the primary ball carrier was for each team last year. The stats are computed by each game played and which runner had the most carries in that game. Sum it up and you get how many games each player was the primary ball carrier for his team and the averages of all runs and catches of all team rushers in that game. Reviewing this from a per game perspective is much more accurate than merely doing math to total season numbers. For our purposes, I am defining a team to be RBBC if the lead carrier does not receive at least 75% of the rushing plays considering all runners used in a game, including fullbacks.

Let's take a look at what we are likely to see with how running backs are used this season:

Team By Team Review

Arizona # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
J.J. Arrington 6 51% 58% 38% 13 10 28 0.3 3 2 13 0.0
Marcel Shipp 10 59% 66% 40% 16 13 35 0.0 3 3 23 0.0

The Cardinals drafted J.J. Arrington but that did not amount to much. Arizona continued to use the same sharing situation that they had when Emmitt was still there and it actually got even worse largely because no Cardinal runner could do much. The average game for a primary running back was only about 32 yards per game. While it would be reasonable to assume that Denny and the gang would be heavy into RBBC again this year, the addition of Edgerrin James puts a much different slant on everything. Green has always used specialists and sharing the ball but he has never had a runner like James (nor paid so much for one). The assumption has to be that Arizona finally stops RBBC but the past history has never been anything but that.

Atlanta # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
T.J. Duckett 1 48% 51% 0% 19 19 72 1.0 0 0 0 0.0
Warrick Dunn 15 65% 70% 46% 20 18 87 0.2 2 2 15 0.1

Atlanta has always used a committee system that not only uses Duckett and Dunn, but also fullback Justin Griffith. And it is the worst kind of all - Dunn gets the rushing yards, Duckett takes the short scores and Griffith gets the receptions and receiving touchdowns. No reason to expect otherwise this year as Dunn is yet another year older though Duckett was the subject of trade rumors and the Falcons drafted Jerious Norwood who could figure in as well.

Baltimore # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Chester Taylor 3 71% 72% 63% 21 17 53 0.0 4 3 15 0.0
Jamal Lewis 13 69% 78% 44% 22 19 66 0.2 3 2 13 0.1

The Ravens mixed in Lewis and Taylor a bit more last year than in previous seasons and it was certainly borderline RBBC. But now Taylor is gone and Mike Anderson is the back-up. Taylor was a true change of pace and a receiving threat while Anderson is basically the same style runner as Lewis just several years older. The Ravens would use Lewis more if he could show that it was profitable which hasn't happened in the last couple of years. This is a situation where RBBC depends once again on Lewis turning in decent numbers. If he doesn't, the Ravens have never hesitated to mix in other runners.

Buffalo # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Willis McGahee 16 79% 87% 52% 23 20 78 0.3 2 2 11 0.0

The Bills have always used McGahee heavily in the running scheme for the last two seasons but they have a new offensive scheme this year with HC Dick Jauron from Detroit and OC Steve Fairchild from STL. Both were RBBC systems in the past under those coaches which could be a concern but McGahee has ran so well (and others ran so poorly) that you have to assume no RBBC here despite the track record from the coaches. Jauron likes to run the ball - McGahee should be fine even though he has never had a role in the passing game.

Carolina # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
De'shaun Foster 8 63% 68% 44% 21 18 78 0.3 3 2 17 0.1
Stephen Davis 8 56% 65% 12% 20 19 55 1.3 1 1 6 0.0

Carolina had an RBBC going last year with Foster and Davis and even after Davis dropped out of the picture, Foster still was not a heavy use back. But that may be more related to the personnel than to the scheme since 2004 had runners there (Goings and Foster) getting 80% of the plays for running backs. With DeAngelo Williams drafted in the first round, it is reasonable to assume that Carolina will have RBBC this year at least until Foster is injured yet again or if Williams really turns hot from the start. Most likely - it is waiting for Foster to fall and then turning to a more primary role for Williams. The Panthers do not want to overwork the less than durable Foster.

Chicago # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Adrian Peterson 1 61% 65% 25% 25 24 120 1.0 1 0 0 0.0
Cedric Benson 1 41% 45% 0% 14 14 79 0.0 0 0 0 0.0
Thomas Jones 14 75% 79% 57% 24 22 93 0.6 3 2 11 0.0

Thanks in part to Cedric Benson's holdout all summer and in part to Thomas Jones catching fire, the Bears not only had an RBBC last year but did not involve either back in the passing game either. The consensus thought is that Benson takes a more primary role at some point this season and Jones has been vocally unhappy with his situation of making about 1/3 as much as Benson this year. But the Bears run the ball so much that there is a need for two power backs and both should play barring any further developments. That means RBBC at least to a small degree and could end up a 50/50 deal unless Benson really falters or shines.

Cincinnati # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Rudi Johnson 16 71% 83% 30% 23 21 91 0.8 2 1 6 0.0

Rudi Johnson was the man again last year and while he had 83% of the runs in games last year, he fell behind in receptions since Chris Perry was the third down back. Expect the same heavy use of Johnson in the rushing game that may need to be used more if Palmer is at all limited from his knee injury. This is not RBBC but it does use a third down back on obvious passing situations.

Cleveland # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Reuben Droughns 16 82% 88% 65% 23 19 77 0.1 3 2 23 0.0

While there was a concern that the Browns would go into an RBBC last year, it never happened. Droughns 88% of carries in games was actually one of the highest in the league even if he could hardly reach the endzone. The team has not changed this year with rushers and there is still the specter of Lee Suggs and William Green but either of those could be released before the season starts. The Browns also drafted Jerome Harrison but unless the courts decide otherwise, Droughns should be the man again this year. He has a hearing in mid-August that should clarify his situation and if he was to miss time, the Browns would likely rely on RBBC because there is no runner strong enough to be considered a full-time primary back.

Dallas # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Anthony Thomas 1 56% 60% 25% 22 21 47 0.0 1 0 0 0.0
Julius Jones 10 74% 76% 62% 26 22 86 0.5 4 3 22 0.0
Marion Barber 4 66% 67% 58% 22 19 88 0.8 2 2 12 0.0
Tyson Thompson 1 49% 50% 33% 21 20 75 0.0 1 1 2 0.0

The Cowboys did use more committee work than expected last year with mixing in Marion Barber but in games where Jones was healthy and running well, Barber was just a change of pace back. This is another situation where it all depends on Jones. If he runs strong and remains healthy, then there will be no RBBC. If he gets hurt or falters, then the same sort of committee will be seen from last year.

Denver # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Tatum Bell 6 51% 55% 24% 15 13 68 0.8 2 1 8 0.0
Mike Anderson 10 55% 60% 32% 20 19 81 1.0 2 1 18 0.1

The Broncos may have processed many highly productive runners through their system in the last ten years, but it was always with one runner being "the man" each season. That didn't happen last year. Tatum Bell is a spark and breaks the long ones but never was heavily used. Mike Anderson is gone and Ron Dayne takes his place with Cedric Cobbs also potentially in the mix. Unless a runner like Dayne or even Cobbs can surprise - and that happens regularly in Denver - then expect more RBBC like we saw last year. If Bell can stay healthy, there is a chance he could take over but so far the coaching staff seems to discount that happening.

Detroit # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Shawn Bryson 1 60% 50% 75% 12 6 26 0.0 6 5 18 0.0
Kevin Jones 11 56% 65% 28% 18 16 52 0.5 2 2 9 0.0
Artose Pinner 4 68% 74% 59% 19 16 50 0.3 4 3 24 0.0

The Lions had a RBBC last year that defied logic and reasoning. Artose Pinner was mixed in even though he rarely did much and Kevin Jones never had enough carries to get into the groove. Now the Mariucci regime is gone and Rod Marinelli takes over with help from Mike Martz. That probably doesn't bode too well for Jones since Martz has always passed first, ran second but Martz did use Marshall Faulk heavily as both a runner and a receiver in the past. If nothing else, it cannot be as bad as it was last year which defied explanation. With no other notable runners on the team besides potentially Brian Calhoun, this will likely not be RBBC and should see Jones catch more passes. Almost anything will be an improvement over last year.

Green Bay # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Tony Fisher 1 88% 89% 80% 21 17 51 1.0 4 2 7 0.0
Samkon Gado 6 75% 90% 26% 25 24 87 1.3 3 2 12 0.4
Noah Herron 3 43% 65% 3% 15 15 40 0.7 0 0 0 0.0
Najeh Davenport 1 37% 46% 11% 13 12 54 2.0 1 1 2 0.0
Ahman Green 5 67% 76% 50% 21 15 51 0.0 5 4 29 0.0

The Packers have always used multiple backs in their scheme and last year was no measuring stick after massing injuries decimated the position. Even in 2004, Ahman Green only had around 76% of the runs and only 65% of the total plays by running backs. This year has both Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport coming back from injury as well as Samkon Gado. This is not only likely an RBBC situation, it is hard to nail down exactly which player will be doing what this year. Tony Fisher is gone this year and he was the primary receiving back so his role will be shifted to another player.

Houston # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Vernand Morency 1 100% 100% 100% 26 21 83 1.0 5 4 46 0.0
Jonathan Wells 4 73% 76% 62% 23 19 72 1.0 3 3 27 0.0
Domanick Davis 11 90% 94% 79% 25 21 89 0.2 4 4 31 0.4

Davis may spawn questions about durability, but he has been one of the heaviest used running backs in the enter NFL for the last two seasons. When he plays, he rarely gives way to any other players. Now Gary Kubiak comes over as head coach with impeccable credentials for a rushing offense and the Texans skipped over Reggie Bush in the NFL draft. Long as he lasts, Davis gets pretty much all the action in Houston and that should continue with Kubiak if only because there is no other runner in Houston that comes close to what Davis can do.

Indianapolis # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Edgerrin James 15 87% 88% 80% 27 24 100 0.9 3 3 22 0.1
Dominic Rhodes 1 77% 83% 71% 10 5 4 0.0 5 4 29 0.0

James was always one of the heaviest used running backs in the NFL and often would get 100% of the running back action. Now he is a Cardinal and the Colts are looking at Dominic Rhodes and the rookie Joseph Addai wondering what they have. Early word is that they will mix in both runners this season but nothing in the past suggests that they are happy to have a committee. Expect RBBC only so long as it takes to establish a clearly better runner and then for the team to lean on him. That of course will either be Addai if he can step up or Rhodes if Addai cannot quickly make the transition to the NFL.

Jacksonville # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Labrandon Toefield 1 69% 78% 0% 25 25 102 1.0 0 0 0 0.0
Greg Jones 5 72% 79% 31% 23 22 79 0.6 1 1 7 0.0
Fred Taylor 10 66% 75% 32% 21 19 80 0.3 2 1 8 0.0

The Jaguars scrapped their old offense and OC Carl Smith installed a new scheme but the numbers are almost exactly the same from 2004. Taylor had 72% of running back plays both years when he was the main rusher and he loses some action to other backs who receive more than he does. Mix in that Taylor is 30 years old and unhappy to compete for a job and the situation all smacks of more RBBC. The Jaguars did draft Maurice Drew but he seems undersized and more of a third down back. Expect RBBC this year if only because there is no clear best runner.

Kansas City # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Priest Holmes 6 66% 66% 70% 22 17 60 0.7 5 3 32 0.2
Larry Johnson 10 88% 92% 68% 32 28 144 1.7 4 3 30 0.1

While there was a bit of RBBC when Priest Holmes was the starter, once he left it was all about Larry Johnson who received more work in ten games than anyone else - easily. Holmes has not been counted out this year but will only be a back-up if he even returns. It is unlikely that Johnson can sustain the record -shattering pace of last year, but that still doesn't mean he's not a safe bet to avoid an RBBC situation. New HC Herman Edwards says he's not going to change the scheme up from last year.

Miami # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Ronnie Brown 9 64% 69% 57% 19 16 75 0.3 4 3 17 0.0
Ricky Williams 7 58% 61% 29% 19 17 84 0.7 2 1 7 0.0

This was definitely RBBC last year, almost a classic case and one that used two similar runners merely mixed in each game. However, Ricky Williams is now nursing a broken arm in Canada and Brown stands alone. While there is speculation that the Dolphins will involve other runners, reason says that Brown is far superior to any other on the roster that he will receive the vast majority of all carries. If Ricky Williams returns in 2007, then there is a bigger question about RBBC but this year it would only serve to diminish the rushing game.

Minnesota # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Moe Williams 1 47% 50% 40% 8 6 15 0.0 2 2 32 0.0
Michael Bennett 6 69% 68% 74% 20 16 66 0.5 4 3 8 0.3
Mewelde Moore 9 73% 76% 67% 19 15 62 0.1 4 3 28 0.1

The Vikings under Mike Tice always used RBBC but this year they get new HC Brad Childress who imports the Philly-style of offense. While that usually results in around 70% runs and 75% receptions for the primary back, there are concerns this year that could change that. New running back Chester Taylor should be very good to reprise the Westbrook role and the coaching staff have stated that Taylor would be used 20 to 30 times a game but Taylor showed up out of shape and apparently unmotivated in mini-camps. He can smooth that over with a good training camp but it needs to be seen to keep the team from relying on Mewelde Moore for more than occasional change of pace.

There should be at least some committee in play here given what Childress has done in the past. Figure Taylor to play like Westbrook and then Moore to be the main secondary.

New England # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Patrick Pass 3 54% 52% 60% 13 9 39 0.7 4 2 29 0.0
Heath Evans 2 63% 63% 67% 20 17 79 0.0 3 3 20 0.0
Corey Dillon 11 67% 77% 36% 21 19 67 1.1 2 2 16 0.1

The Patriots suffered through an injury-plagued season with Dillon last year but he still ended up with the same 77% of runs when he was the primary that he had in 2004. Problem now is that the Patriots drafted Laurence Maroney in the first round as the heir to the starting tailback. Dillon has vowed to return better than ever this year but he is 32 years old and those nagging injuries may not understand his plan.

The Patriots often used other running backs as receivers - Kevin Faulk has been the third down player for many years - but the Patriots have never had two runners with at least the potential that both Dillon and Maroney bring. Given the complicated offense that Maroney needs to learn, the presence of Dillon who will start out healthy and yet the reality that Dillon is old and Maroney is young, figure the backfield to be a developing situation as the season progresses. It will likely contain some RBBC this year unless Maroney takes the starting job which would require Dillon to get injured.

New Orleans # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Deuce McAllister 4 83% 82% 88% 25 21 76 0.8 4 4 21 0.0
Antowain Smith 11 49% 59% 19% 14 13 49 0.1 1 1 4 0.0
Aaron Stecker 1 59% 57% 75% 19 16 86 0.0 3 2 0 0.0

Another new coaching staff in the NFL is here and HC Sean Payton comes over from Dallas and will be helped by Doug Marone from the Jets. McAllister returns from knee surgery and would already be suspect about carrying a heavy load and then the Saints drafted Reggie Bush with the second overall pick. The team openly wants to use both backs in an RBBC situation and that won't likely change unless McAllister is slow to return or, and more likely, that Bush holds out for too long and needs time to catch up on the offense.

This will be an RBBC if it works as they want it to.

NY Giants # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Tiki Barber 16 82% 84% 79% 27 22 116 0.6 4 3 33 0.1

The Giants have been using Tiki Barber as a primary runner since Tom Coughlin showed up with tremendous results. No reason to expect anything different despite Barber's age because he just has not slowed down yet - he is getting better every year. The caveat here is that Brandon Jacobs is the goal line guy and takes a lot of touchdowns from Barber but saves the wear and tear on Tiki.

NY Jets # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Curtis Martin 12 81% 91% 51% 21 18 61 0.4 3 2 10 0.0
Cedric Houston 4 65% 74% 29% 18 16 57 0.5 2 2 12 0.0

The Jets suffered through a nightmare season in 2005 and yet they used Curtis Martin more last year than in 2004 when he only had 83% of the carries. Problem was that they did not have a chance to run that much in 2005. Now the Jets have a new headcoach with Eric Mangini from the Patriots and OC Brian Schottenheimer from the Chiefs. But the problem here is that the Jets have openly admitted that Martin can no longer shoulder a heavy load and that Cedric Houston and Derrick Blaylock could figure in. They also drafted Leon Washington which only adds to the confusion of a team that will likely struggle this year.

This has to be considered RBBC going into the season. There is no clearly better runner here, other than Curtis Martin who cannot shoulder that heavy of a load anymore.

Oakland # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Zack Crockett 2 83% 91% 50% 17 15 44 0.0 2 2 12 0.0
Lamont Jordan 14 89% 90% 89% 27 19 73 0.6 8 5 40 0.1

Lamont Jordan became the primary tailback and as in any Norv Turner offense, that meant he was used heavily during the season. With 90% of all passes and runs by the tailback in games, Jordan went from being a back-up in New York to being "the man" in Oakland. Now Turner is gone and Art Shell is back along with the mayor/OC Tom Walsh. What to expect here? Very hard to say given the lengthy layoff by both coaches.

But most likely - no RBBC. Maybe a few less passes with a healthy Moss this year but the runs should remain high. There is no other runner on the roster able to yield anything more than an occasional change of pace.

Philadelphia # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Ryan Moats 4 44% 54% 8% 11 11 58 0.8 1 0 1 0.0
Bruce Perry 1 62% 68% 25% 16 15 70 0.0 1 0 0 0.0
Brian Westbrook 11 75% 79% 73% 22 13 54 0.3 8 5 53 0.4

Brian Westbrook has always had to share the ball with someone but thanks to his heavy role in the passing game, he still ends up performing as if there was no RBBC. The Eagles liked what Ryan Moats did last year but he is effectively a clone of Westbrook. Expect some RBBC here but for Westbrook to still rate well enough that it is not an issue.

Pittsburgh # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Willie Parker 13 61% 63% 53% 20 18 89 0.3 2 1 15 0.1
Jerome Bettis 1 58% 61% 33% 18 17 54 1.0 1 1 16 0.0
Duce Staley 2 52% 57% 34% 18 16 70 0.5 2 2 13 0.0

The Steelers almost always have a top running game and yet rarely much of a top runner thanks to the RBBC that they employ. It is a classic scenario in the past - Parker runs between the twenties and Bettis took all the short yardage and goal line duty. Now that Bettis is gone, that doesn't mean the Steelers will suddenly turn Parker into a heavy use player, it just means that either Duce Staley and Verron Haynes will have to sort it out as to which one gets the rest of the action. This is always an RBBC.

Seattle # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Shaun Alexander 16 75% 80% 38% 25 23 118 1.7 2 1 5 0.1

Alexander is one of the top backs in the league and is no concern for RBBC. He is spelled just enough to keep him healthy and he remains one of the most durable backs in the league.

San Diego # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Ladainian Tomlinson 16 78% 81% 69% 26 21 92 1.1 5 3 23 0.1

Like Alexander, Tomlinson is an elite back that is heavily used.

San Francisco # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Maurice Hicks 1 62% 63% 60% 13 10 17 1.0 3 3 8 0.0
Kevan Barlow 12 62% 67% 41% 18 15 48 0.3 4 3 20 0.0
Frank Gore 3 60% 65% 32% 20 18 85 0.7 2 2 23 0.0

The new offense by offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy didn't exactly set the world on fire (though it had only wet matches to use anyway) but the 49ers have brought in Norv Turner who has no history with RBBC. He usually has some of the heaviest used running backs in the league. That spells good things for Frank Gore if he can remain healthy and if the offensive line comes together better this year. Fortunately, this is one place where RBBC should end from last year.

St. Louis # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Steven Jackson 14 75% 86% 48% 21 17 69 0.6 4 3 23 0.1
Marshall Faulk 2 42% 41% 49% 18 14 56 0.0 5 3 15 0.0

The Rams were never an RBBC when Faulk was in his prime but have spent the last two seasons transitioning Steven Jackson into the fold. Now that Faulk is gone for this season and likely all others to follow, Jackson has the look of finally ending the RBBC that has been around in STL. The coaching change to Scott Linehan caused a little concern given what he did last year in Miami and in other years with the Vikings but unlike those situations, he has a big, powerful back that is easily better than anyone else on the roster. The Rams did acquire Tony Fisher who has a history of being a third down back though and there is speculation that the Rams.

At this point, the assumption has to be that there will either be no RBBC or that if there is, say with Fisher on third down, it still won't be enough to materially devalue Jackson.

Tampa Bay # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Michael Pittman 1 64% 57% 80% 21 13 46 0.0 8 7 41 0.0
Earnest Graham 1 49% 53% 0% 17 17 50 0.0 0 0 0 0.0
Carnell Williams 14 65% 78% 22% 23 21 84 0.4 2 1 6 0.0

The Buccaneers had long been an RBBC prior to Carnell Williams showing up and even when he did play, they still made use of Alstott and Pittman. Mostly that came from Pittman as a receiver. What the above numbers hide is that Williams was injured and played limited in four games last year. When healthy - there is no RBBC here at all. Cadillac had over 20 carries in almost every game while healthy and even topped out at 37 carries in one game. Not RBBC here - long as Cadillac is not injured.

Tennessee # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Travis Henry 4 55% 65% 31% 18 15 65 0.0 3 2 7 0.0
Jarrett Payton 1 60% 55% 100% 15 12 30 0.0 3 2 5 0.0
Chris Brown 11 77% 80% 61% 20 17 67 0.5 2 2 18 0.1

The Titans were always non-RBBC when Eddie George was still around and with Chris Brown they continued that until last year when Brown was injured. He still had a very healthy amount of carries thanks in part to Travis Henry not being a factor. But the Titans acquired LenDale White in the draft and already Brown wants out. Tennessee looks like it will be RBBC this year with Brown and White, if not a dash of Henry but if Brown leaves then it opens a door for White.

The Titans have never liked RBBC and it is not to be expected, particularly if Brown leaves.

Washington # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Clinton Portis 16 72% 75% 59% 25 22 95 0.7 3 2 14 0.0

Portis was more productive last year but he actually decreased from 2004 when he had 90% of the carries. The coaching staff also has been glowing about Ladell Betts. But Portis has been so productive that even the specter of sharing more carries doesn't mean Portis will lose any value. It probably just means there is even more rushing.

The RBBC Score Card

Team RBBC Likely? New Offense Scheme? New Primary RB?
Arizona No No Yes
Atlanta Yes No No
Baltimore No No No
Buffalo No Yes No
Carolina Yes No No
Chicago Yes No Possible
Cincinnati No No No
Cleveland No No No
Dallas No No No
Denver Yes No Yes
Detroit Possible Yes No
Green Bay Yes Yes Possible
Houston No Yes No
Indianapolis Yes No Yes
Jacksonville Yes No No
Kansas City No No Yes
Miami No No Yes
Minnesota Yes No No
New York Giants No No No
New York Jets Yes Yes No
New England Yes No No
New Orleans Yes Yes Yes
Oakland No Yes Yes
Philadelphia Yes No No
Pittsburgh Yes No No
San Diego No No No
San Francisco No Yes No
Seattle No No No
St. Louis No No No
Tampa Bay No No No
Tennessee Possible No No
Washington No No No

The final score: RBBC 13, Non-RBBC 19
Teams with new offensive schemes: 8
Teams with new primary RB: 7
Teams returning same primary RB, same offensive scheme and unlikely to use RBBC: 9 ( 28%)

Most used RB's # of % of RB's in Gm Avg. Rushing Avg. Per Game Receiving Avg. Per Game
Games Plays Runs Rcvs Plays Att Yards TD Targets Caught Yards TD
Domanick Davis 11 90% 94% 79% 25 21 89 0.2 4 4 31 0.4
Larry Johnson 10 88% 92% 68% 32 28 144 1.7 4 3 30 0.1
Curtis Martin 12 81% 91% 51% 21 18 61 0.4 3 2 10 0
Lamont Jordan 14 89% 90% 89% 27 19 73 0.6 8 5 40 0.1
Reuben Droughns 16 82% 88% 65% 23 19 77 0.1 3 2 23 0
Edgerrin James 15 87% 88% 80% 27 24 100 0.9 3 3 22 0.1
Willis McGahee 16 79% 87% 52% 23 20 78 0.3 2 2 11 0
Steven Jackson 14 75% 86% 48% 21 17 69 0.6 4 3 23 0.1
Tiki Barber 16 82% 84% 79% 27 22 116 0.6 4 3 33 0.1
Rudi Johnson 16 71% 83% 30% 23 21 91 0.8 2 1 6 0
Ladainian Tomlinson 16 78% 81% 69% 26 21 92 1.1 5 3 23 0.1
Shaun Alexander 16 75% 80% 38% 25 23 118 1.7 2 1 5 0.1

While this season may seem to contain a lot of RBBC situations, there are the same number as last year at this time. What makes drafting running backs a little more difficult is that there are only nine teams which have not been RBBC, have not changed their offensive scheme or primary runners - that is about as low (28%) as we have seen in many years. The above table shows which runners were the biggest part of their team's running games and of the 12, James has switched teams to the Cardinals and Curtis Martin is in a situation that appears almost certain for more committee work this year.

Not surprisingly, those 12 running backs above are also likely the top 12 running backs in your draft other than Ronnie Brown who has a new situation this year with Ricky Williams gone. These are the stud running backs for their own NFL teams. Just because a player is in an RBBC situation does not mean he has no fantasy value by any means, it mostly means he will not produce as much as he could have with a heavier workload.

You may disagree with some of the categorizations and that fine - several will change before the season starts and others will evolve as the season progresses. The changing of eight different offenses alone indicates the risk and unknowns that exist for one out of every four teams this year. Throw in the two or three teams which fall apart each season and it does not get any easier - nor do those top 12 players become any less valuable.