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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE

2007 Player Rankings: Running Backs
Updated: September 3, 2007
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Tier 1
LaDainian Tomlinson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 40%
Auction 12: 36%
2004 SDC 15 1776 18 339 1335 3.9 17 53 441 1
2005 SDC 16 1834 20 340 1464 4.3 18 51 370 2
2006 SDC 16 2323 31 349 1815 5.2 28 56 508 3
Avg   16 1978 23 343 1538 4.5 21 53 440 2
Proj FA   2050 23   1550   20 55 500 3

What’s left to say about a player that rushed for 28 touchdowns, caught three scores and even threw for two more. All this while being the #1 rusher in the NFL with 1815 yards and catching 56 passes for 508 yards. This was not the “guy of the year" to draft, he had the best season of all time in fantasy terms. And he only turns 28 this summer so he has several seasons of high production remaining. He’s an obvious first pick in every fantasy draft and anyone who skips him must be in collusion with the team drafting second. Even prior to his record season, Tomlinson had been rushing for 17 or 18 scores the previous two years with at least 1800 total yards.

Steven Jackson - ATL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 38%
Auction 12: 34%
2004 STL 14 841 4 134 673 5.0 4 18 168  
2005 STL 15 1366 10 254 1046 4.1 8 43 320 2
2006 STL 16 2334 16 346 1528 4.4 13 90 806 3
Avg   15 1514 10 245 1082 4.5 8 50 431 2
Proj ATL   1990 17   1450   15 56 540 2

Weird things happen when a team shifts their offensive focus from pass happy to a balanced attack. Both the rushing and passing evidently improve. Jackson had a solid 2005 campaign with 254 carries for 1046 yards and eight touchdowns with an added 43 catches for 320 yards and two more scores. That was merely a precursor of what was to come since Jackson was allowed to be a full-time, heavy use back last year and responded with 346 carries for 1528 yards (5th best in the NFL), ran for 13 touchdowns (tied for 4th) and also caught 90 passes (#1 among RB’s) for 806 yards (also #1) and three more scores. By the time everything is rung up, Jackson had 2334 total yards (also #1) and scored 16 touchdowns (#3). And that was in the first season of the new Linehan-inspired offense.

Oh yes, and he only turns 24 this summer. Hard to believe 23 teams in 2004 had someone else in mind for their first round draft pick. The scary part here is that once the offense was coming together later in the 2006 season, Jackson got even better. In the final three weeks, he gained a total of 419 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns and had 126 receiving yards with two more scores. He was the only way to beat the Tomlinson guy last year and it all came at precisely the right time. St. Louis will have a slightly tougher rushing schedule this year but Jackson’s role in the passing game merely shifts how he hurts opponents. The Rams did draft Brian Leonard who may play fullback and be a back-up for Jackson, but he’s actually about the exact same size as Jackson so there’s no need to make him a complementary back. There’s no reason to ever let Jackson slide past the third pick in any fantasy draft this summer and if the league gets reception points, it’ll be pretty hard to let him get past second.

Larry Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 28%
2004 KCC 8 859 11 120 581 4.8 9 22 278 2
2005 KCC 16 2093 21 336 1750 5.2 20 33 343 1
2006 KCC 16 2199 19 416 1789 4.3 17 41 410 2
Avg   13 1717 17 291 1373 4.8 15 32 344 2
Proj FA   1910 17   1600   16 34 310 1

Johnson entered 2006 with some question marks because of a shifting offensive line and a new offense ushered in by HC Herman Edwards. By the time 2006 was over, the Chiefs had lost their starting quarterback for most of the year and had their new back-up Michael Bennett also miss considerable time with hamstring and ankle injuries. That meant the offense turned even more to Johnson who carried the ball for an NFL record 416 times. No one had ever had more than 410. Johnson gained 1789 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He ranked #1 in carries, #2 in rushing yardage, #3 in total yardage for a running back (2199) and was #2 in total touchdowns (19). Were it not for LaDainian Tomlinson’s monster year, Johnson would be all the talk for 2007.

The Chiefs lost G Will Shields and that makes two Pro Bowlers gone now but the Chiefs remain optimistic that their line will not suffer. They added LT Damion McIntosh on the first day of free agency while John Welbourne will shift from RT to RG to take Shields place. The line will be different but the strong rushing game should not take too much of a hit.

That made it two straight seasons over 1700 rushing yards for Johnson and 40 touchdowns scored in that time. Johnson added 41 receptions for 410 yards in 2006 and Herman Edward’s way of limiting Johnson to keep him healthy is to evidently throw him the ball more instead of hand it off. The Chiefs want to use their tailbacks more in the passing game and with Damon Huard or potentially Brodie Croyle under center, it is an excellent idea that should prove productive.

The Chiefs have a softer rushing schedule this year and the new offense is in its second year. Johnson’s 416 carries will scare off some who remember that Jamal Anderson ran 410 times and imploded the next year with a blown knee and eventually a career but James Wilder had 407 carries for 1544 yards in 1984 and came back with 365 for 1300 the next year. Eric Dickerson averaged 366 carries for his first four years and that was with two games missed. But – he did miss seven games the next year. Johnson has only had two years of notable carries in his career and is only 27 years old. The offense will revolve around him and he has been durable so far. Add in the proposed increase in receptions for 2007 and there’s no reason to let him slide past the #3 pick in the draft.

07-27-20 Update: Johnson drops two spots out of tier one because of his continuing contract situation. He has already not shown up for camp and somehow Priest Holmes has been cleared to play and could be in the mix here. This is the worst of all situations - a potential #1 fantasy football player that may not even play this year. There are rumors of potential trades. Johnson is adamant that he is worthy of Tomlinson money and the Chiefs are adamant that he is not. This could get worse before it gets better. Johnson's potential if great, obviously, but his risk now makes him very hard to draft and yet hard to pass by. Expect him to move more in the rankings.

08-20-07 Update: The holdout continues and the closer all the fantasy drafts get, the more risky is it to take Johnson too early. He could sign at any time before the first game and be good to go this year - and a nice value for the drafter. But there is no guarantee to it and spending a first round pick should not make you cross your fingers.

08-21-07 Update: And he signs his six-year deal and is safe - finally - to draft.

Tier 2
Frank Gore - SFO YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 32%
2004                      
2005 SFO 14 744 3 128 613 4.8 3 15 131  
2006 SFO 16 2180 9 313 1695 5.4 8 61 485 1
Avg   15 1462 6 221 1154 5.1 6 38 308 1
Proj SFO   2050 12   1600   10 52 450 2

In his rookie season, Gore shared with Kevan Barlow and though he only had 128 carries, he gained 613 yards for a healthy 4.8 yard rushing average. That showing made the 49ers comfortable dumping Barlow and going with Gore as the starting back when the new offense from Norv Turner was installed in 2006. Gore richly rewarded the move, running 313 times for 1695 yards (3rd best in the NFL) and scoring eight times. All this for a team that did not have a feared passing game to prevent constant eight man fronts. Gore finished 2006 with a 5.4 yard rushing average – 4th best in the NFL and the best considering only 300+ carries backs. Last year Gore was the 49ers offense and yet few could stop him.

Gore turned in nine games over 100 rushing yards and three of those went for more than 150 yards. He also added 61 catches (4th best again) for 485 yards and one more score. That’s 2180 total yards for a team that had no other running back or receiver with more than 733 yards of offense. Considering total yardage, Gore only had six games that failed to reach at least 100 total yards and he topped the 150 yard mark eight times with receiving added in. With the passing offense almost certain to improve, Gore’s 2007 is shaping up to be another strong year except for two possible factors.

The 49ers will be playing a tougher schedule this year though Gore still had big games against CHI (120 yards) and DEN (185 yards) – that may not matter much. The more intriguing aspect is that HC Mike Nolan has said that he wants to limit Gore’s carries this year to help preserve him. Gore had major surgery done on both shoulders and knees in his past and after giving him a four year extension worth $28 million over the next five seasons, the 49ers reasonably want to protect their investment. They gave him a guarantee for $14 million. As scary a notion as that may be to Gore owners, take into account that he has dropped five pounds and will play lighter after LaDainian Tomlinson shared with him that it will help his durability and help keep him fresh. Also consider that almost every coach with a big-time stud running back says the same and when the games are decided by how well the back plays, they pretty much always end up with just as big of a season. Gore wants a 2000 yards season –perhaps optimistic – but even with Nolan’s idea of limiting Gore, there is no one else to turn to anywhere near his ability. Limiting carries is a great notion looking at a season but calling plays each game is all about what will help them win. One caveat here - Gore opens the season with games @PIT and BAL in the first five weeks - that will likely cause a slower start.

Joseph Addai - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 30%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 IND 16 1406 8 226 1081 4.8 7 40 325 1
Avg   16 1406 8 226 1081 4.8 7 40 325 1
Proj FA   1800 13   1240   11 61 560 2

(-Risk) (+Upside) The rookie Addai turned in a great first season with 226 carries for 1081 yards and seven touchdowns. That was a record itself since Addai broke the 1000 yard threshold and yet never technically started a single game. Dominic Rhodes ran for 641 yards on 187 carries himself and he was always the first back in – despite Addai having more carries. And Addai played well as a receiver, recording 40 catches for 325 yards and one more score. As impressive as that performance was, it is notable that he gained 171 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a single game when the Eagles showed up in week 12. Otherwise, he only had one other 100 rushing game thanks to sharing with Rhodes so much.

Now Rhodes has left for Oakland and the Colts have not acquired a new runner to replace him. The primary back-up is DeDe Dorsey who does not have a carry in his two NFL seasons. James Mungro may be back after losing last year thanks to a torn knee ligament. This is all pertinent because while HC Tony Dungy continues to talk about a committee backfield, the reality is that he has very little to use outside of Addai unless someone is added. And even then – how much would a new player figure in? Addai is the clear starter and the question to be answered by the end of training camp is if he will remain part of a committee with some yet unnamed other back or if he is allowed an "Edgerrin James" role where he takes the full load with very little left over for other players. Addai played well as a rookie but his success came with rarely carrying more than 15 times per game and trading off with Rhodes often. The opportunity is there for a great season but Addai still has yet to prove he can be a heavy-duty back. And the coaching staff repeated their desire for a committee approach again – they just have not determined who the other guy could be.

Shaun Alexander - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 28%
Auction 12: 26%
2004 SEA 16 1858 20 353 1688 4.8 16 23 170 4
2005 SEA 16 1958 28 370 1880 5.1 27 15 78 1
2006 SEA 10 944 7 252 896 3.6 7 12 48  
Avg   14 1587 18 325 1488 4.5 17 17 99 2
Proj FA   1640 15   1400   14 31 240 1

(-Risk) After leading the league with 1880 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2005, Alexander lost a couple of linemen and then suffered a nondisplaced fracture in the fourth metatarsal (cracked foot bone) and missed time from week four through ten until returning. He was less than effective in those first three games, gaining only 187 yards on 65 carries (2.9 YPC) and had another minimal game his first week back with only 37 yards on 17 carries. But then he ran 40 times for 200 yards against the Packers and never fell below 73 yards per effort the rest of the season. He ended with his worst season since becoming a starter in 2001.

Alexander’s foot is still an issue but he claims to feel no pain or experience any problems. He worked out with the team in minicamps despite the crack not being completely healed. Adding that into a still fluid situation on the offensive line drops Alexander’s upside this year but the Seahawks are happy with their left side of Pro Bowler Walter Jones and Rob Sims. The right side is where the training camp battles will be to determine the starters. Even ignoring his monster week 12 games, Alexander still averaged 94 yards per game for the last five weeks and scored four times. His 3.6 yards per carry was a huge drop from the 5.0 of 2005 though and Alexander may be even more needed with Darrell Jackson now with the 49ers and the passing game less stocked than before.

The loss of Steve Hutchinson is now old news and the Seahawks have been working to get the offensive line back up to form. Alexander’s foot still is not healed, but so far it does not appear to be a problem for him. More information should come out through training camp about his foot but Alexander is dropping in drafts thanks to his down year of 2006 and fears about his foot and offensive line. Hutchinson may be gone, but Alexander had 14 and 16 touchdowns in the two years before the guard became a Pro Bowl player. He still has little role in the passing game compared to other heavy use backs, but his penchant for double digit touchdowns is undeniable. He is one of the few backs out there with no questions about sharing the load or potentially losing his job to another player.

Willie Parker - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 24%
Auction 12: 24%
2004 PIT 6 202   32 186 5.8   3 16  
2005 PIT 15 1420 5 255 1202 4.7 4 18 218 1
2006 PIT 16 1716 16 337 1494 4.4 13 31 222 3
Avg   12 1113 7 208 961 5.0 6 17 152 1
Proj FA   1580 13   1380   12 24 200 1

With Jerome Bettis gone last year, Parker quickly dispelled the notion that he was just a yardage back and not capable of the tougher goal line runs. He ended 2006 with 1494 rushing yards (6th best in the NFL) and 13 rushing touchdowns (tied for 4th best). He even added three more scores via receptions despite only catching 31 passes for 222 yards. Parker was the complete back with the ability to break the long gainers at any time.

The offense will be changing at least a bit this year with WR-coach Bruce Arians promoted up to offensive coordinator but that should not have a huge impact on Parker. Arians was the OC in Cleveland for three years and never had a running back gain more than 887 yards or score more than half a dozen times but he never had the offensive line of the Steelers or Willie Parker. One oddity to consider with Parker is the difference between his play at home or on the road. When he was at home, he turned in five games over 100 yards and averaged around 120 yards per game. On the road, he only averaged 68 rushing yards and that was with two 130 yard games in Carolina and Cincinnati. He had four road efforts with less than 50 rushing yards but only had that happen once at home (against BAL).

Parker’s role won’t change with the new coaches if only because he is clearly the most successful weapon that the Steelers have. The Steelers rushing schedule isn’t the best but then again it is really no different than last year. Parker moves down a notch or so in reception point leagues but remember that his fine 2006 season came when he was given the full-time starting role for the first time. Now that he has a year of experience, he may just smooth out that road rushing problem and be even better.

Rudi Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 24%
Auction 12: 24%
2004 CIN 16 1541 12 362 1457 4.0 12 15 84  
2005 CIN 16 1548 12 337 1458 4.3 12 23 90  
2006 CIN 16 1432 12 341 1308 3.8 12 23 124  
Avg   16 1507 12 347 1408 4.0 12 20 99 0
Proj FA   1540 13   1350   12 26 190 1

Three seasons as the starter, three seasons with exactly 12 touchdowns. For three seasons, he’s always had between 360 and 376 touches and 1433 to 1538 total yards. Now that’s consistency. Johnson turned in a career low 3.8 yards per rush in 2006 but that’s mostly to blame on two bad games against the Steelers and Ravens – which he faces twice every season. But Johnson just turns out very good seasons every year and there’s nothing this year that should impact that other than the addition of the rookie running back Kenny Irons. That move was mainly for depth and more a statement against Chris Perry than anything to worry about for Johnson. Even in Perry’s best season, he only had 61 carries for 279 yards and no rushing scores so Irons will only be battling Perry for the back-up spot and the chance to get a little relief play. Expect Johnson to turn in another solid year – so far he has never varied from being a good fantasy draft pick. He’ll never be the top rusher in the league and he may not win you a championship, but with his productive consistency, he’s about as reliable pick as you can make that will never hurt you.

08-24-07 Update: Moves up a nudge to respect his consistency and lack of risk each season. Johnson has looked sharp in camp and without rookie Kenny Irons around he is even safer.

Travis Henry - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 22%
Auction 12: 22%
2004 BUF 9 371   94 326 3.5   10 45  
2005 TEN 9 452   88 335 3.8   13 117  
2006 TEN 14 1289 7 270 1211 4.5 7 18 78  
Avg   11 704 2 151 624 3.9 2 14 80 0
Proj FA*   1570 12   1380   12 22 190  

(+Upside) Travis Henry signed a five-year contract with Denver that included $12 million in guaranteed money. Does that sort of coin suggest that RBBC in Denver is over? It should. Henry comes off a 270 carry, 1211 yard season with the Titans where he gained 4.5 yards per carry on a team with no running game otherwise. That was the third time in Henry’s career than he exceeded 1200 rushing yards in a season. In the three years that he was the clear starter all year, he averaged 10 rushing scores as well. Henry has always ran well enough on the Bills and Titans but now ends up with the Broncos who feature the best offense yet and more importantly – the best offensive line he will have ever ran behind.

The Denver backfield has routinely turned out 1900 rushing yards or more from the running backs the last several years and that was using backs like Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns, Tatum Bell, etc.. Henry has a far more accomplished resume than those players and now has been paid the big dollars by a team that has shown commitment to him. He turns 29 this year but has only played three full seasons as the primary ball carrier – he has plenty of tread left on the tires. In many drafts Henry will likely fall more than warranted by so many fantasy drafters burned in the past by Denver backs but the stars are aligned in this situation for Henry to have a good year. More importantly – the dollars are aligned as well. Henry also rotates out of the NFL’s substance abuse program in week three of this season as long as he remains clean, so he wouldn’t be exposed to a year suspension with his next violation.

Brian Westbrook - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 22%
Auction 12: 22%
2004 PHI 13 1511 9 178 808 4.5 3 73 703 6
2005 PHI 12 1233 7 156 617 4.0 3 61 616 4
2006 PHI 15 1916 11 240 1217 5.1 7 77 699 4
Avg   13 1553 9 191 881 4.5 4 70 673 5
Proj FA   1580 11   780   6 76 800 5

Nothing like those injury reports. Westbrook sprained his foot in training camp and missed time until the season started. Then he had an inflamed knee that had him ride the injury report for a couple of weeks as questionable but he still played. He was held out week four and rumors were that he had a chronic problem and the season looked bleak to Westbrook owners. But magic happens evidently. Westbrook not only played the rest of the season but when McNabb went down injured, Westbrook suddenly became much more heavily used, running for an average of 20 carries per game over the final seven weeks of the season (excluding the meaningless final game). He had five games over 97 yards rushing. Adding in his receiving yards, he topped 100 total yards in all but three games last year. He set career marks in carries (240), rushing yards (1217) and catches (77). Prior to 2006, his best was only 177 carries for 812 yards.

The Eagles have a more challenging rushing schedule this year but that doesn’t impact Westbrook much since he is the premier pass-catching back over the last several years. He’ll always carry an injury risk since he’s never played a full 16 game season but he’s such an instrumental part of the Eagles attack that he’s always productive when playing – one way or another. The drafting of Tony Hunt could cut into his touchdown total but that’ll only keep him healthier for all those catches.

Tier 3
Cedric Benson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004                      
2005 CHI 9 275   67 272 4.1   1 3  
2006 CHI 15 701 6 157 647 4.1 6 8 54  
Avg   12 488 3 112 460 4.1 3 5 29 0
Proj FA   1630 10   1410   10 25 220  

(+Upside) The Bears have finally chosen to get a payoff on their first round pick in 2005 and after two “sit there and shut-up" seasons, any of the bravado that led Benson to his lengthy holdout is gone. Benson supported Thomas Jones again last year and gained 647 yards with six touchdowns in 2006. What’s intriguing is that Benson gained 4.1 yards per carry in both his shortened seasons and now takes over a rushing attack that produced 1856 yards between he and Jones last year with a total of 12 touchdowns. Before you decide that it all belongs to Benson now, realize that required 454 carries – about 40 more than the NFL record for rushing attempts.

To Benson’s benefit, the Bears have their typically soft rushing schedule and will once again feature a defense that will often hold the score down and allow the rushing game to take over. Thomas Jones has left for New York and while Adrian Peterson remains, this will be a heavy load season for Benson. Peterson has never had more than 76 carries in a season and that was pumped up by 24 rushes in a single game when Jones was out in 2005. This is Benson’s big opportunity only two years later than he thought it would come. The schedule is good, the depth chart is kind and the Bears like to run. Benson spent his entire life as a heavily-used running back so stepping up this year only returns him to a role he is used to playing.

Laurence Maroney - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 NEP 14 939 7 175 745 4.3 6 22 194 1
Avg   14 939 7 175 745 4.3 6 22 194 1
Proj FA   1450 13   1240   12 24 210 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Maroney comes off a rookie season that started with a bang – rushing 60 times for 294 yards in the first four games with three touchdowns scored. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry for the first month but then only had 451 yards on 115 carries for the rest of the season (3.9 YPC). He was held out in weeks 14 and 15 for what was termed a back injury that existed for much of the season. Herein lies the problem with Maroney – he has been injured before and he plays for the Patriots so there will be almost no reliable way to know how or even if he will play week to week.

Maroney is now the starter in New England with the departure of Corey Dillon and that should herald a big season for him given that the Pats have rushed for 15 or more touchdowns for many seasons (20 last year). Maroney only had six rushing scores in 2006. There is no doubt that he has the physical tools to get the job done, the question is will he always be able to use them and will he end up killing your fantasy team because of the deceptive nature that is the Pats injury report. You can almost guarantee that he will be on the injury report every week. Maroney was reported, ever so briefly, to have undergone offseason shoulder surgery that found “significant damage" and that was actually his “back" injury. The Pats would not confirm if Maroney has been taking part in the off-season conditioning program.

Maroney also suffered from torn rib cartilage and a minor knee sprain during the season which impacted his production that started so well. His injuries extended into the playoffs as well since he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry on his 31 postseason carries. An issue with Maroney is that he is a very tough runner and will take on defenders and yet that resulted in so many of his injuries last year. There is no question that Maroney has the physical skills here for an outstanding fantasy season and he plays on a great team for opportunities. But – he was constantly nicked up last year and the reliability of Maroney each week will be very risky thanks to the deceptive non-disclosure of the Pats. There’s been no other report allowed by the Pats regarding his shoulder surgery and no comment outside of a single report which is not surprising. And yet the Pats acquired only Sammy Morris so how concerned are they really?? Maroney is going very early in drafts considering his weekly risk but he could end up richly rewarding his fantasy owner – or just be another frustrating start each week because you cannot afford to sit him and yet can never truly know what he will do. Big reward but big risk. Make sure you grab Sammy Morris if you have Maroney.

Reggie Bush - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 NOS 16 1306 8 154 558 3.6 6 89 748 2
Avg   16 1306 8 154 558 3.6 6 89 748 2
Proj DET   1620 10   760   6 85 860 4

(+Upside) Reggie Bush had a successful rookie season with 155 carries for 565 yards and six rushing scores and he added 88 receptions for 742 yards and two more touchdowns. He ranked #2 in receptions among all running backs (tied for 9th best among all positions) and his receiving yardage also ranked 2nd among running backs. He gave rich rewards for those in reception point leagues. Like Maurice Jones-Drew, he is being drafted as early as mid-first round this year based on those stats from 2007 that were actually accumulated later in the season during a very productive stretch which cloaked what happened in most games.

Bush turned in three big games – week 13 vs. SF (37 rush yards, 131 receiving yards), week 14 in DAL (37/125) and week 16 at NYG (126/23). Those three weeks accounted for 479 total yards and six of his eight touchdowns. He averaged 67 rushing yards and 93 receiving yards in those games. The other 13 weeks were a bit less impressive, averaging only 28 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards with only two total touchdowns in those efforts. It is easy to remember the final weeks of the year and Bush was developing his NFL skills as the season progressed, but the bulk of his work doesn’t support him suddenly being a mid-first rounder. His three big games were great, but he won’t play DAL or NYG this year and the SF game will be on the road this year. And McAllister ran for over 100 yards in all three of those games last year – he topped 100 rushing yards only one other time.

Bush was a great weapon for the Saints and one reason why Brees led the NFL in passing last year. But he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry and did the biggest damage as a receiver. In leagues without reception points, he drops even more. That all said, the Saints have a fairly soft rushing schedule this year and Bush is already an integral part of the offense but Deuce McAllister is still there and averaged 4.3 yards per carry and ten rushing touchdowns after blowing out an ACL the previous season. He’ll be even farther removed from injury. Bush was very consistent with at least 70 total yards per game and he is so ingrained in the passing game that he should be more shielded from a sophomore slump since he is a double threat, but taking him over several other running backs in the first round is making too much of three games last year and not realizing that 13 games says he’s just good so far – not yet great and not yet in a situation that grants him more than around 15 touches in most games.

08-24-07 Update: Bush moves up a few spots not only because he looked great against the Chiefs, but mostly because the entire Saints offense has looked very sharp in the preseason and the more success the Saints have in other areas of the offense, the more running room that Bush will get this year.

Edgerrin James - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004 IND 16 2031 9 334 1548 4.6 9 51 483  
2005 IND 15 1843 14 360 1506 4.2 13 44 337 1
2006 ARI 16 1376 6 337 1159 3.4 6 38 217  
Avg   16 1750 10 344 1404 4.1 9 44 346 0
Proj FA   1660 9   1380   8 28 280 1

(+Upside) James is 29 years old and is four years past his knee injury in 2001. James rushed for 1159 yards last year but had only a 3.4 yard average – not that shocking for a Cardinal’s runner and even a bit impressive compared to previous years. What is hidden inside that total is that James only gained 2.9 yards per carry in the first eight games but had 4.2 YPC in the second half of the season. He turned in three 100+ yard rushing games over the final five weeks as well. The offensive line was starting to come together better later in the season.

The change to HC Ken Whisenhunt from Pittsburgh can only spell better days for James contrasted to the wide open offense of Denny Green. James had 337 carries last year – coincidentally the same number as Willie Parker had last year with Whisenhunt. But Parker gained almost an additional 350 yards thanks to a better offensive line. One of the first steps Whisenhunt and company made was to acquire OT Mike Gandy and draft OT Levi Brown with their 1.05 draft pick. They acquired C Al Johnson from the Cowboys to compete with Nick Leckey. If there is one area that should show improvement with the addition of Whisenhunt, is that the offensive line controlled by Russ Grimm will be an upgrade from last year. If they can replicate their success in Pittsburgh, this line eventually could become better than any ever seen in a Cardinals uniform. And that all directly benefits James.

Ronnie Brown - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004                      
2005 MIA 15 1139 5 207 907 4.4 4 32 232 1
2006 MIA 13 1281 5 242 1005 4.2 5 33 276  
Avg   14 1210 5 225 956 4.3 5 33 254 1
Proj FA   1680 9   1310   8 38 370 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Coming off his second NFL season, Brown now has a 1000 yard effort to his credit – but just barely. Brown ran for 1008 yards on 241 carries in 2006 and missed all or part of five games due to a groin injury early in the season and later a broken bone in his hand that required surgery. He still managed to gain 4.2 yards per carry on the year and his very slow start turned around by mid-season when he had four games over 100 rushing yards after week five. Brown’s production was inconsistent though thanks to his injuries and the overall problems with the offense in 2006.

As a rookie, Brown had shared with Ricky Williams and yet still managed to gain 907 yards on 207 carries for a 4.4 yard average. Last year is not a good measuring stick for what the Fins will do in 2007 and pretty much anything with Nick Saban’s stamp on it is dismissed, ignored or outright cursed. Brown now gets to play in an offense designed and called by HC Cam Cameron who engineered the offense in San Diego for the last four years. That means that Brown is now the new Tomlinson for Cameron. Cameron is shaping every aspect of the offense and none will be more closely worked on than the running game.

This year is a turning point for Brown and a chance to show that being the first back drafted in 2005 was a prudent move by Miami. Cameron has already directed Brown to lower his body fat percentage and be in better shape after Brown showed up in the off-season overweight at 240 pounds, up about eight pounds from last year. This will either be Brown’s year or he’ll have a hard to justifying his draft pick. To add to the excitement that a Cameron offense should provide for running backs, the intention is to use Brown more as a receiver than he has the last two seasons when he caught around 30 passes each season. Brown’s ranking and projection is made on the assumption that he will take advantage of a golden opportunity and get in shape to fulfill his potential. He’s a more of a risk than an established top back but he has undeniable upside in this offense.

08-29-07 Update: Brown is taken down a few notches because the Miami coaches continue to talk about mixing in Jesse Chatman into the backfield as remarkable as that seems. While Brown should be good this year, he carries a little more risk of sharing if only in the initial weeks.

Maurice Jones-Drew - OAK YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 JAC 16 1377 15 166 941 5.7 13 46 436 2
Avg   16 1377 15 166 941 5.7 13 46 436 2
Proj OAK   1450 12   1050   11 38 400 1

(+Upside) The season started very slowly for Jones-Drew with only 12 yards on four carries in the first four games. Then he had 103 yards against the Colts on only 13 carries because of a few long runs but then went back to only three yards on three carries in week four. By midseason, Jones-Drew had run for only 320 yards in the first eight games with much of that the one Colts game in week three. Jones is vividly remembered for his tremendous effort in 2007 that ended with a total of 941 yards on 166 carries for a 5.7 YPC (3rd best in the NFL) and that he scored 13 rushing touchdowns and had two more scores as a receiver where he had 46 catches for 436 more yards. Great numbers and some very big games. But…

Maurice only gained an average of 42 rushing yards per game through the first 12 games with around four catches per week and 35 receiving yards. He had scored a total of seven rushing scores and two receiving touchdowns – pretty good by itself for a rookie that wasn’t a starter. But in the final four games, Fred Taylor was nursing a sore hamstring and only had 37 carries for 270 yards and that included 131 yards against the Colts. Jones-Drew had 71 carries during those final four match-ups with a total of 441 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He also added 14 catches for 119 yards. Those final four games included match-ups with IND (and Taylor had his 131 yards first), TEN, NE and KC (just 46 rushing yards). The New England game offered up an impressive 131 yards on 19 carries, but 74 yards came on one run. Otherwise, Jones-Drew only had 56 yards on 18 carries (3.1 YPC).

Is Jones-Drew the next LT? Of course that is very premature. But Jones-Drew did the one thing fantasy players love to remember – got red hot right during the fantasy playoffs. That happened when Taylor had a hamstring strain and the Jaguars just resigned Taylor to a three-year contract for $23 million. That wasn’t to be a bench guy. Jones-Drew has two characteristics that have huge fantasy benefits – he is the touchdown scorer and he can bust a long run or catch. In a long-term sense, he looks like a great keeper to own. For 2007, Taylor won’t always have a hamstring strain (at least probably) and the schedule is much tougher this year. Expect to see Jones-Drew productive and there’s no reason why his touchdowns will not continue even if Greg Jones is healthy again. But unless Taylor is out or very limited, then don’t expect Jones-Drew to be quite the wunderkind he was last year. To his benefit, he still goes against TEN and IND who he tore up last year. But Taylor’s extension and the way that Jones-Dew played in most games has to be considered.

Willis McGahee - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2004 BUF 15 1297 13 284 1128 4.0 13 22 169  
2005 BUF 16 1425 5 325 1247 3.8 5 28 178  
2006 BUF 14 1146 6 259 990 3.8 6 18 156  
Avg   15 1289 8 289 1122 3.9 8 23 168 0
Proj FA   1540 10   1360   9 25 180 1

(+Upside) The big change for the Ravens is Willis McGahee – nothing else on this offense is likely to be much different. The Bills were willing to let him go to avoid what would undoubtedly be a costly negotiation next year when he was due to become an unrestricted free agent. McGahee only cost a third and a seventh round pick last April and comes off his worst season in the NFL since he only ran for 990 yards and six scores. He missed two games last year and played injured in others due to broken ribs and a later ankle injury but his 3.8 yards per carry in 2006 was exactly the same as 2005. In fact he has never averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in his career.

McGahee has the ability to turn in long scores and at 6-0 and 228 pounds, he is just the right size for an NFL running back. Most of his promise was displayed in 2004 when he ran for 1128 yards on 284 carries and scored 13 times – more touchdowns than the last two years combined. Now he is with the Ravens who will undoubtedly want to run him 350+ times and they have a better line since Jonathan Ogden decided to return this year. What McGahee will mostly answer is how done is Jamal Lewis? If McGahee comes in and merely repeats his previous seasons, then he will make for just an average fantasy back. If he can show more form and better running than Lewis has recently, then McGahee could be a sleeper this year playing for a team that loves to run and that has a defense which holds opponents scoring down so the Ravens can run heavily.

McGahee leaves a team perpetually struggling offensively and now plays for a playoff contender. Even in Buffalo, McGahee had a couple big games last season and has flashed the form that only lacks consistency. That mostly will come from the situation his team is in every week. With the move to Baltimore, you should get nothing less from McGahee and the opportunity is there for him to have a much bigger year. Some risk from his lack of big stats in the past, but much upside is here with a far better team.

Brandon Jacobs - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2004                      
2005 NYG 13 99 7 38 99 2.6 7      
2006 NYG 15 572 9 96 423 4.4 9 11 149  
Avg   14 336 8 67 261 3.5 8 6 75 0
Proj FA   1460 11   1240   10 28 220 1

(+Upside) After watching Tiki Barber run wild for the last two years, Jacobs is finally given his shot at being the primary back for the Giants. So far he’s been mostly a short-yardage, goal line back that has scored 16 times over his two seasons and last year ran 96 times for 423 yards and nine scores with a YPC of 4.4. His role in the passing game is almost non-existent with only 11 career receptions. But Jacobs is a load to bring down at 6’4" and 260 pounds. He’s much less likely to turn in a long gainer with a high of only 21 yards as his longest run after 134 career carries though in fairness many were of the short variety. Jacobs ran a 4.4 at the combine in 2005 and is fast for a player his size.

The Giants acquired Reuben Droughns in a trade for Tim Carter and he will assume the #2 role since it fills a big need. There have been overtures that the Giants will opt for a rotation with both Jacobs and Droughns, but what that ratio will be remains to be hammered out this summer. While Jacobs is underrated because many consider only his size, Droughns is likewise overrated from being a Denver back and getting a 300 carry year with Cleveland. Expect the Giants to get everything they can out of Jacobs and use Droughns to fill in the rest.

Jacobs also enjoys one of the softest rushing schedules in the NFL this year which should help. The Giants signed Rueben Droughns in the offseason in a trade with the Browns and that could be an issue if Jacobs fails to get off to a strong start but so far he’s been a very strong runner who has surprising and the power of a bulldozer.

Thomas Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 CHI 14 1375 7 240 948 4.0 7 56 427  
2005 CHI 15 1478 9 314 1335 4.3 9 26 143  
2006 CHI 16 1363 6 297 1209 4.1 6 36 154  
Avg   15 1405 7 284 1164 4.1 7 39 241 0
Proj FA   1510 10   1280   9 27 230 1

The Jets acquired Jones to help out a rushing attack that ranked 30th in average yards per carry – only 3.5 yards. Jones has been in the league for seven years and at the age of 29 has finally had two decent seasons. In 2005 in Chicago, he ran for 1335 on 314 carries and nine scores – all career marks. Last season while he shared more with Cedric Benson, Jones only gained 1210 yards and had six touchdowns. That’s still light years away from what any Jets back could do in HC Eric Mangini’s first season as a new head coach.

Jones will take the primary role here but he won’t be alone thanks to the brief success of Leon Washington who will provide a nice complementary style to the power rusher of Jones. The Jets running backs combined for 426 carries in 2006, so there’s still plenty of room for Jones to get a full load but the offensive line is still coming together and the passing game has yet to be anything more than mediocre. Expect Jones to play much the same role as he did in Chicago with similar results on a team that will focus as much on stopping opponents as they will outscoring them.

08-24-07 Update: Jones drops a couple of spots from his calf injury which has kept him off the field. The team still contends that he will be ready for week one but HC Mangini has been livid that anyone has mentioned anything about Jones injury because he wants the New England model of "I ain't saying" when it comes to injuries. That makes Jones a higher risk each week to rely on.

Clinton Portis - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 WAS 15 1550 7 343 1315 3.8 5 40 235 2
2005 WAS 16 1732 11 352 1516 4.3 11 30 216  
2006 WAS 8 693 7 127 523 4.1 7 17 170  
Avg   13 1325 8 274 1118 4.1 8 29 207 1
Proj FA   1500 10   1200   9 34 300 1

Portis suffered a triple whammy in 2006 when he was lost for the second half of the season due to a torn labrum that required surgery and a six-month rehabilitation. Then his replacement Ladell Betts shined in his opportunity, running as well or better than Portis had. And finally, the NFL was ruled by teams with dual backfields in 2006 and success begets replication. His recovery still sets him ready for training camp without a problem but he also was diagnosed with patella tendinitis in his knee that kept him out of some team workouts this spring. Team doctors do not expect it to be an issue this year, but it is troublesome that Portis continued to have health problems even when the season was over. The Skins restructured his previous eight-year, $50 million deal and Portis could now become a free agent at the end of 2008.

Portis was very effective in 2005 when he missed no games and ended with 1516 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. But last year Portis only had one game over 100 yards (as did Betts that week) and prior to his injury, he only had averaged 17 carries a game for 71 yards. He did score seven times in his first seven games, but the yardage was lagging as the new offense was being installed by Al Saunders. Some of Betts success could be attributed to the offense coming together better in the second half of the season, but the Skins have already claimed to be using a two back offense this year and it is not hard to reason why given how well Betts played and the desire to keep Portis fresh and injury-free. The Skins will have a powerful rushing attack this year and Portis will be the primary contributor, but unlike in 2005 when Betts only had five games with more than five carries, Portis will have a tag team buddy to a much greater extent.

08-24-07 Update: The longer Portis is bothered by his knee, the more risk he presents. He's already in a potential sharing situation with Ladell Betts and throwing in a knee condition makes him even less attractive.

Marshawn Lynch - SEA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 8%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj SEA   1560 8   1210   7 39 350 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) The Bills spent their 1.12 draft pick on Lynch and with that should enjoy their most talented back since the days of Thurman Thomas. Lynch is also the only rookie back with a nearly guaranteed starting spot in week one. He’s not only a dynamic runner (137 yards per game last year at Cal) but he’s an accomplished receiver as well with 34 catches for 328 yards and four scores last year. He ended his career with 68 receptions for 600 yards and six touchdowns while average around 1300 rushing yards in his final two years. He was only a junior when he left.

Lynch has all the markings of a good NFL back that can turn into a nice fantasy producer with his receiving ability. The Bills only used McGahee for 18 catches last year, but he’s not nearly the pass catcher that Lynch has been in college. Lynch is going in the third round or so in most twelve team drafts and for more than NFL inexperience. The Bills have the worst rushing schedule of any team in the NFL and the blocking last year only paved the way for a 3.7 yard per carry average by Buffalo running backs – 27th best in the league. Lynch should be the real deal but his first season will be as big a challenge as any runner in the NFL will have.

Adrian Peterson - MIN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 8%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj MIN   1500 9   1100   8 42 400 1

(+Upside) Peterson was taken by the Vikings with the 1.07 pick in April and he was clearly the consensus best back in the draft. He’s big at 6’2" and 218 pounds and dominated at Oklahoma – when he was healthy. He battled injuries for the past two seasons and comes off a broken left collarbone but he was cleared to practice and despite concerns, he did not require surgery on the shoulder as was feared. Let other teams focus on his supposed injury risk, when he plays he is about as unstoppable as any runner coming out of college for the last several years. Some of his injuries stem from him taking on defenders head on to gain the extra yard instead of step out of bounds. He runs like the defense has insulted his mother and now goes to team with two Pro Bowl blockers in 2006.

Of course, Chester Taylor is still there and signed a four year contract in 2006. Maybe Taylor believes that Peterson is just there to offer quality back-up and relief but Taylor’s deal was only for $14 million overall. The seventh pick in the 2007 draft will be going for more than $14 million for four years and the fact that the Vikings passed on a top quarterback to get Peterson shows the pick was less about need and more about the quality of the player. HC Brad Childress has already talked about using both Taylor and Peterson in the same backfield and if you have followed the NFL, this almost never happens and usually ends up meaning that the kid is probably going to swap places with the #1 running back. The notion that Taylor will hold Peterson off all season long is held solely by those in the immediate Taylor family. Peterson gets to ply his trade in a division full of light Cover 2 defenses. Just to make it even better, Peterson was rarely used as a receiver in college but showed impressive catching skills in minicamp already. Any rookie running back is a risk but with that line and what could prove to be the softest rushing schedule of any team, Peterson deserves the leap of faith.

Tier 4
Deuce McAllister - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004 NOS 14 1302 9 269 1074 4.0 9 34 228  
2005 NOS 5 452 3 93 335 3.6 3 17 117  
2006 NOS 15 1255 10 244 1057 4.3 10 30 198  
Avg   11 1003 7 202 822 4.0 7 27 181 0
Proj FA*   1310 11   1150   11 20 160  

McAllister ran for 1074 yards and nine touchdowns in 2005 but suffered a torn ACL in week five of 2005 and lost the season. He returned after rehabilitation for 2006 and despite having to share with the rookie Reggie Bush, he picked up right where he left off, gaining 1057 yards and scoring ten times. He only carried 244 times for his lowest in a full season but gained 4.3 yards per carry on a reconstructed knee. He required arthroscopic surgery in the offseason to clean out scar tissue and repair a partially torn meniscus but should be completely healthy by training camp.

McAllister is limited by Reggie Bush to some degree but he is the end zone runner in a very productive offense. In a reception point league, Bush is a better choice. In a TD-only league, McAllister is the preferred player. McAllister turns 29 this year and still has tread left on the tire – if he avoids injury. After six years in the NFL, McAllister has played all 16 games only once – he usually gets dinged up. Last year he lasted all season but was held out of the meaningless final game and his health is helped out by not having to carry the ball 350 times in a season. While the duo of McAllister and Bush may decrease what either could do alone, they play two distinctively different roles and actually help each other to remain healthy. The Saints have one of the softest rushing schedules in the league this year and McAllister should improve on a surprisingly effective 2006.

Ahman Green - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004 GBP 15 1438 8 259 1163 4.5 7 40 275 1
2005 GBP 5 402   77 255 3.3   19 147  
2006 GBP 14 1439 6 266 1059 4.0 5 47 380 1
Avg   11 1093 5 201 826 3.9 4 35 267 1
Proj FA   1460 7   950   6 48 510 1

(-Risk) Green came over to the Texans in the offseason and signed a four-year deal worth a reported $23 million. That’s a lot of money for a 30-year old back who hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2003. The Texans ranked around 20th in rushing yards per game (105) and per carry (3.9) last year and Green should offer an upgrade – even if it may not last for the entire season. He has run for more than 1000 yards in every season since 2000 except for 2005 (due to injury of course).

The offense under Kubiak and OC Mike Sherman enters its second season which should already create a better offensive line and Green is a definite upgrade to the motley crew there in 2005. He’s a mild surprise to be the starter given his age and injury history but he’s a nice fit that can also figure into the passing game as a receiver. The Texans should be better with him, but with a new quarterback and only one wideout of any real known talent, it’s a tall order to expect too much from Green this year. In league’s offering reception points, he could make a suitable #3 flex RB but as a starter you better be plenty strong in other positions this year. He’s a slightly bigger injury risk than the average tailback and hits the magic 30 year mark last February.

Carnell Williams - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004                      
2005 TBB 14 1259 6 290 1178 4.1 6 20 81  
2006 TBB 14 994 1 225 798 3.5 1 30 196  
Avg   14 1127 4 258 988 3.8 4 25 139 0
Proj FA*   1340 7   950   6 44 390 1

After two seasons in the NFL and one jersey in the Hall of Fame, Cadillac has actually had two mirror image seasons if you ignore those first three games when he had 434 rushing yards in 2005. Take those away and he’s been right at around 800 rushing yards a season with a couple if scores in each. He increased his receiving totals in 2006 but that still only accounted for 30 catches and 196 yards with no touchdowns. Williams managed one game over 100 yards for 2006 but nine times he came in under 50 rushing yards per effort.

With fantasy playoff match-ups against HOU, ATL and SF, Williams could be of value down the stretch and his schedule overall is much lighter than in 2005 but aside from three magic games to start his career, Williams last 25 games in the NFL have only averaged 3.6 yards per carry and were only 3.5 yards per carry in 2006. There are some in your league that is still impressed with his three game explosion to start 2005. The remaining 25 games say that was a very big aberration.

08-10-07 Update: Williams gets a minor bump with Mike Alstott being placed on injured reserve. Williams has the very best rushing schedule this year that he has ever had in the NFL and the removal of the couple of touchdowns by Alstott can only help.

Jerious Norwood - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 ATL 14 735 2 99 633 6.4 2 13 102  
Avg   14 735 2 99 633 6.4 2 13 102 0
Proj FA   1200 9   980   8 24 220 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Perhaps a small surprise in the NFL draft was that the Falcons did not select a big back to run the ball. HC Bobby Petrino comes in with a penchant for a huge offensive linemen and big running backs but Norwood is only 205 pounds. He has the speed to run the distance but Norwood is not going to knock anyone out of the way. He led all NFL tailbacks last year when he averaged 6.4 yards per carry on his 99 runs in 2006. That was boosted by two games with over 100 rushing yards despite having less than 10 carries in each. On the fast track of the Georgia Dome, Norwood is a burner when he gets free so he’s a surprising choice to head up the rush attack for the Falcons. But compared to Warrick Dunn who rings in at only about 180 pounds and 32 years of age.

With Dunn aging, Norwood is the best option in this offense though initially Dunn could be given more carries. But there’s no future in a smallish 32 year-old back so Norwood should supplant him as the primary back sooner than later. The NFL is full of two man backfields and the Falcons are likely to be yet another under Petrino. Until there is a more clear indication from the team, the best assumption is that Norwood and Dunn split carries at least initially with Norwood taking a slightly heavier share as the season progresses. There is definite upside here with Norwood having a shot at playing well and pushing Dunn down to a third down back but there’s also risk that the duo just split all year and Petrino just gets his big back in the draft next year.

07-27-07 Update: Norwood only bumps up a spot but he is looking great in camp and just as importantly, Warrick Dunn is not there as he recuperates from back surgery. This is a new offense and Norwood is doing the right things at the right time.

Jamal Lewis - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004 BAL 12 1122 7 235 1006 4.3 7 10 116  
2005 BAL 15 1097 4 269 906 3.4 3 32 191 1
2006 BAL 16 1247 9 314 1132 3.6 9 18 115  
Avg   14 1155 7 273 1015 3.8 6 20 141 0
Proj FA   1240 7   960   6 34 280 1

The Browns acquired Lewis this offseason to recharge a lethargic rushing attack but unless they can also turn the clock back to 2003 (and acquire a new offensive line), the results may not meet expectations. The Browns only gained 83 rushing yards per game in 2006 to rank 31st in the NFL and their 3.6 yards per carry ranked only 29th. Lewis only gained 3.6 yards per carry himself in 2006 and that was even up from 3.4 yards in 2005. The Browns have not had more than four touchdowns by running backs since HC Romeo Crennel came to town. While Lewis may be better than Reuben Droughns, consider the change that Droughns had when he swapped the Broncos for the Browns.

Making this even a little worse, the Browns have a very tough schedule yet again this year including an opening stretch against PIT, CIN, OAK, BAL and NE. The Browns used their first pick on OT Joe Thomas to help out their traditionally bad line play along with a couple of other free agents but the team is installing a new offense, has new players and may even have a new quarterback. Lewis hasn’t shown much since his record setting 2003 season despite only being 28 years old this year. Tough spot for Lewis to turn his career back around. Lewis had arthroscopic surgery to clean out some bone spurs in his ankle but that is not expected to impede his ability to gain 3.6 yards per carry again this year.

Marion Barber - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2004                      
2005 DAL 12 653 5 138 538 3.9 5 18 115  
2006 DAL 16 850 16 136 654 4.8 14 23 196 2
Avg   14 752 11 137 596 4.4 10 21 156 1
Proj FA   920 12   750   11 24 170 1

(+Upside) Entering into his second season last year, Barber had already been impressive in relief of Julius Jones as a rookie and truly found his calling when Parcells made him into the goal line back. While Julius Jones continued to do his damage largely between the 20 yard lines, Barber ended 2006 with 14 rushing scores – 3rd best in the NFL behind only Tomlinson and Larry Johnson. Considering that Barber only had 135 carries, he was more like a touchdown machine when he came into the game. Barber gained a respectable 654 rushing yards and added 196 more on 23 catches during a year that Dallas had a significant decrease in passes to the running backs (thank you Terrell Owens).

Barber had a 4.8 yard rushing average as well to rank 9th best for backs over 100 carries while Jones only managed only 4.1. If either back were to outplay the other and gain the lion’s share of work, it would be Barber but there’s been no word to that effect and really no reason for it to happen. If Barber and Jones could be melded together, it would be as good as any back in the NFL. But barring any unforeseen medical advances in advanced cloning, this powerful duo will again share the load in 2007 and post good numbers overall while diminishing what each other could have done – particularly for Barber. Of the two players, Barber has the most upside since he could horn in on more carries away from Jones and with his outstanding scoring ability, Barber has little risk.

DeAngelo Williams - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 4%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 CAR 13 814 2 121 501 4.1 1 33 313 1
Avg   13 814 2 121 501 4.1 1 33 313 1
Proj CAR   1100 5   800   5 33 300  

(+Upside) The Panthers drafted Williams with their 1.27 pick in the 2006 and it was expected that he would challenge and likely overtake DeShaun Foster for the starting tailback role. After all, Williams had an NCAA record 34 rushing games over 100 yards and gained over 6000 rushing yards at Memphis. But it never happened. Instead, Williams only had 121 carries for 501 yards and just two touchdowns. He was the best receiving running back with 33 receptions for 333 yards but expectations had him gaining that much total yardage by mid-season. He suffered a high ankle sprain in week five and missed the next three games. What was hard to fathom was that the Panthers just did not use him. He had 13 carries for 74 yards at Minnesota (5.6 YPC) but then only had four carries the next week. He had a three week streak of games with 114, 63 and 74 yards starting in week 11 with at least 17 carries in each but then only was given two carries in the next two games. Then 21 carries for 82 yards. They never committed to using him for reasons unknown since the five games in which he had at least 13 carries, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

This year the Panthers are installing a new offense by OC Jeff Davidson that not only uses zone blocking, but has a scheme very similar to the one that Williams ran in college. The entire team is excited about the new direction for the offense and perhaps none so much as Williams. The Panthers suffered though offensive line problems for much of the year and a general sense of malaise set in offensively. 2006 was no measuring stick as to what this offense – or Williams in particular – can do. The stage is set for Williams to make good on the expectations of 2006.

Lamont Jordan - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 39
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2004 NYJ 14 591 2 93 479 5.2 2 15 112  
2005 OAK 14 1588 11 272 1025 3.8 9 70 563 2
2006 OAK 9 508 2 114 434 3.8 2 10 74  
Avg   12 896 5 160 646 4.3 4 32 250 1
Proj FA   1170 6   870   5 35 300 1

Lamont Jordan was a fantasy gem in 2005 when he had 70 catches for 563 yards and 1025 rushing yards with a total of 11 touchdowns. With HC Norv Turner gone and Art Shell changing the offense to a bed-n-breakfast formation, Jordan seemed to be a lot less effective (an understatement which extended to the entire team) but in terms of rushing, he had the exact same 3.8 yards per carry average both years in Oakland. What fell away was his role as a receiver which garnered him much value in reception point leagues. In nine games played, Jordan only had ten catches for 74 yards. And like in 2005, he was unable to play the full 16 game season thanks to a torn meniscus and a back injury.

The Raiders are going to a cut-blocking scheme in 2007 which should help the rushing game but always takes time to install fully. The prized first round left tackle Robert Gallery is being moved to guard and the offensive line is bound to be improved if only because they were 29th in yards rushed and 32nd in sacks allowed last year – no where to go but up. But Jordan has been injured both years that he played as the primary runner and now must contend in some measure with Dominic Rhodes taking playing time. And eventually, Michael Bush will be getting an opportunity as well. Jordan’s stock is low this year and his future outlook appears even worse. Like other career back-up running backs, he had his shot and had some success but appears to have already peaked. Consider Jordan only as a back-up running back to be safe. The new offense should be improved but there are other options now in the backfield. The new scheme being installed will be much like the one in Atlanta thanks to OC Gregg Knapp but the Falcons never threw to their backs either – and there goes the one plus that Jordan brought to the table in 2005. As a sign of how entrenched Jordan is in Oakland, he had to reduce his 2007 salary from $4.75 million down to $3 million or the Raiders would have cut him.

07-03-20 Update: Perhaps the best news yet for Jordan is that Dominic Rhodes will miss the first four games thanks to a suspension handed down by the NFL. That means Jordan should take a major share of all running back work in September which includes home games against the Lions and Browns.

08-20-07 Update: Jordan gets a small bump up from looking surprisingly effective against the 49ers when he ran eight times for 67 yards and a score. There's still the specter of Rhodes returning in week five, but Jordan looks a little safer now.

Ladell Betts - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 4%
2004 WAS 13 479 1 90 371 4.1 1 15 108  
2005 WAS 12 416 2 89 338 3.8 1 10 78 1
2006 WAS 16 1599 5 245 1154 4.7 4 53 445 1
Avg   14 831 3 141 621 4.2 2 26 210 1
Proj FA   1060 5   700   4 40 360 1

(+Upside) After spending four years with the Redskins as little more than a relief player, Betts got the call in 2006 when Clinton Portis was our injured and responded with a thoroughly impressive 1154 yards on 245 carries for a 4.7 yard rushing average. He also added 53 catches for 445 yards with a total of five touchdowns last year. Portis has never had more than 4.3 yards per carry as a Redskin.

That fine performance resulted in Betts signing a five-year, $11 million contract extension in the offseason and while many trade rumors existed, he remained with the team. With Portis slated to return for 2007 assumedly healthy, the team could opt to demote Betts back into his 90 carries per year as a back-up player – that is unlikely. Betts not only had a string of five straight games over 100 rushing yards, he also had a 124 yard effort in week three in Houston. That game was notable since it was when Portis was also healthy and playing. Portis ran for 112 yards in that game as well and yet had 27 carries against the 16 for Betts. With the productivity of Betts in 2006, the Redskins are already planning on using the two back template of so many successful teams from last year.

Portis will remain the primary back while healthy – never a certain thing – and Portis has been far more effective scoring touchdowns. But Betts success in 2006 has bought him an elevated perspective by the coaching staff, a right to more carries and role of being 1B to Portis’ 1A. Oddly enough, Betts is a bigger back and better suited to a goal line role but that has not been the history of the Redskins. Expect an expanded role for Betts that will leave him as a marginal fantasy back-up but for his added work to detract from what Portis will accomplish in 2007. The Skins are into the second season of installing the KC-style offense and the rushing game should be improved – and it will use both backs to get the job done.

Fred Taylor - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 JAC 14 1569 3 260 1224 4.7 2 36 345 1
2005 JAC 11 870 3 194 787 4.1 3 13 83  
2006 JAC 15 1388 6 231 1146 5.0 5 23 242 1
Avg   13 1276 4 228 1052 4.6 3 24 223 1
Proj FA   1090 4   880   3 20 210 1

The 31-year old Taylor hangs on for one more year at least and he comes off a rather standard year with only one game missed and 1146 rushing yards with five touchdowns (his highest since 2003). Of course everyone else was watching Maurice Jones-Drew catch on fire mid-season and end up rushing for 13 touchdowns - more than Taylor has scored since his rookie season in 1998. But playing with the rookie actually helped Taylor be more effective. His 5.0 yards per carry in 2006 was a career high and 8th best in the NFL.

As if determining the ratio of sharing between he and Jones-Drew wasn't hard enough, the Jaguars have a new offensive coordinator with Dirk Koetter and a whole new scheme which should be no less heavy on the run. Training camp should help sort this out more but after the performance by Jones-Drew in the second half of the 2006 season, it would be ridiculous to assume that Taylor is going to take a heavy load and Jones-Drew is just going to offer relief. Taylor nursed a balky hamstring for the final month of the season and Jones-Drew racked up six scores and 441 rushing yards for those final four games. But the Jaguars just signed Taylor to a three-year extension worth $23 million so there's no expectation that Taylor is riding the pine this year. He may not fulfill that contract completely, but he'll be in the mix this season. That will decrease what Jones-Drew alone could have done but Taylor won't have nearly the proportion of carries that he once had.

Chester Taylor - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 BAL 16 898 2 160 714 4.5 2 30 184  
2005 BAL 14 779 1 117 487 4.2   41 292 1
2006 MIN 15 1502 6 304 1214 4.0 6 42 288  
Avg   15 1060 3 194 805 4.2 3 38 255 0
Proj FA   1040 4   750   4 28 290  

(-Risk) Taylor was given a four-year, $14 million contract in 2006 to be the new starting tailback for the Brad Childress led Vikings and he responded with a season that dwarfed anything he had in Baltimore as a back-up to Jamal Lewis. Taylor ran for 1216 yards on 303 carries with six touchdowns and also caught 42 passes for 288 yards. He ranked 9th in the NFL for rushing yardage and became the main focus of the offense that wasn’t setting any records with their passing game (at least not any good records). He enjoyed one of the better offensive lines going against one of the softer schedules and ended with a 4.0 yard rushing average – a bit lower than seemed appropriate.

The problem was that Taylor started out much better than he ended. Through the first twelve games, he averaged 22 carries for 92 rushing yards but over the last half of the season, but he wore down as the season started to end and suffered some bruised ribs. HC Childress wanted to reduce the workload of Taylor and spell him more this year so the team drafted “the" best running back in Adrian Peterson. Burning a 7th overall pick in the draft is not usually done to obtain a “relief player". Taylor will be the starter entering the season but it would be no surprise to see him end as the #2 back with the talented Peterson running against the same defenses behind the same offensive line.

Taylor is a definite need pick if you own Peterson (and vice-a-versa) but he’ll likely come as a good value in drafts since Peterson has the hype to make people heavily discount Taylor. Granted - there is a huge risk that he may lose more and more playing time to Peterson, but at a minimum his early season work should have fantasy value and if Peterson continues to have injury problems as he did in college, then Taylor is right back where he was in 2006. Peterson could keep Taylor fresher for longer and actually be a reason why Taylor plays as much for the whole season.

De'shaun Foster - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 CAR 4 331 2 59 255 4.3 2 9 76  
2005 CAR 15 1251 3 205 879 4.3 2 34 372 1
2006 CAR 14 1056 3 227 897 4.0 3 32 159  
Avg   11 879 3 164 677 4.2 2 25 202 0
Proj FA*   1010 4   730   3 29 280 1

(-Risk) Conventional wisdom had Foster losing his job to DeAngelo Williams last year but that never happened. In fact, Foster enjoyed his career best season which unfortunately still only amounted to 897 rushing yards for just three touchdowns. Foster hasn’t changed in production level in the last couple of years and has never rushed for more than three touchdowns in a season. His role in the passing game has stalled around 33 receptions per year.

The offense is changing this year to a zone blocking scheme under new OC Jeff Davidson and once again, it appears that Williams would be a better fit and a better back than Foster. The best you can hope for with Foster is what happened the last few years – around 850 rushing yards and only a couple of touchdowns. That is the high side. The risk is that the second-year Williams excels in an offensive scheme similar to what he ran in college and Foster becomes just a relief player.

Julius Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 DAL 8 928 7 197 819 4.2 7 17 109  
2005 DAL 13 1211 5 257 993 3.9 5 35 218  
2006 DAL 16 1226 4 267 1084 4.1 4 9 142  
Avg   12 1122 5 240 965 4.1 5 20 156 0
Proj FA   1000 4   850   4 19 150  

(-Risk) Julius Jones has managed a nice progression in his three seasons in Dallas, increasing his games played finally to all 16 last year and increasing his carries and yardage every year up to his 1084 rushing yards in 2006 – his first 1000 yard season. As great as that must feel, the reality is that he only scored four touchdowns last year while teammate Marion Barber had 14 to place 3rd best in the NFL. And Barber also gained 654 rushing yards last year. Now that HC Wade Phillips has arrived from San Diego, he finds that he has another LaDainian Tomlinson… it just requires two players combined to get those numbers.

While the offense is due for some scheme change under new OC Jason Garrett, there’s absolutely no reason why it won’t remain largely the same and especially in the backfield. Jones has far more speed than Barber has and can break a long gainer at any time. He’s had runs of at least 50 yards every season. But Jones style and ability does not lend itself well to goal line duty where he pales in comparison to what Barber does. There were rumors that Jones was on the trading block this year which were refuted by the Cowboys and he will remain as the starting tailback in a true RBBC scheme. There’s just no reason to change what works well. Jones even lost his role as a receiver in 2006 when he ended with only 9 catches for 142 yards. Consider Jones as a bit higher risk from the chance that Barber could be used more this year.

Brandon Jackson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   970 4   700   4 31 270  

(+Upside) Jackson was considered by most draft scouts to be second day talent but the Packers grabbed the Nebraska product with their 2.31 pick which pits him against the somewhat inexperienced Vernand Morency for the starting tailback job in Green Bay. The Packers feel that Jackson will be suited for the zone blocking scheme but he’s also the same sort of back as Morency. Both weigh 210 normally (Morency has added some bulk in the offseason) and Jackson was only a starter in about a third of the games he played in college. He only gained a little over 400 yards in his first two years at Nebraska and came out after his junior year.

Jackson only scored eight touchdowns last year and only had four games over 63 yards. He rolled nice yardage in those four games as Cornhuskers like to do but he had seven games with seven carries or less – he just wasn’t used much outside of those four big games against Oklahoma St,, Colorado, Iowa State and Missouri. His resume wasn’t nearly as impressive as most rookie tailbacks in the draft.

Jackson will get a shot at playing time and likely will enter into a rotation with Morency. He could end up taking the starting job outright with a great training camp and some good games early in the year but he’s not much different than Morency in size and style and Morency will get the opportunity to hold on to the primary spot. Jackson has to be considered to have upside in the way that the opportunity is there and he could come through, but his college career doesn’t suggest that he will be much more than part of a committee backfield. As deeply as you can draft him, he’s worth a spot in your depth in case he does develop.

08-05-07 Update: Jackson has looked sharp in training camp and in the preseason scrimmage. WIth Morency out for at least a few weeks, Jackson is making the most of his chance to show that he deserves more playing time this year. He's also showing some surprisingly good hands as a receiver as well.

Tatum Bell - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 DEN 9 476 3 75 396 5.3 3 5 80  
2005 DEN 14 1025 8 173 921 5.3 8 18 104  
2006 DEN 13 1140 2 233 1025 4.4 2 24 115  
Avg   12 880 4 160 781 5.0 4 16 100 0
Proj FA   1020 3   640   3 38 380  

(+Upside) The speedy Bell came over from the Broncos in exchange for Dre’ Bly (with a 5th round pick and an offensive tackle thrown in by Detroit). Bell will be the primary back-up for Kevin Jones who is recovering from a Lis Franc injury last year. That means that Bell could be anything from an occasional relief player to being the starter for the entire season. Even if Jones does heal up and starts early – how long before he is injured again?

Bell comes off his first 1000 yard season and he’s never gained less than 4.4 yards per carry thanks to his penchant for breaking long plays. Bell is a mandatory pick by the fantasy team with Kevin Jones and makes a worthy draft steal if that owner takes too long to acquire him. Bell is obviously worthy as a back-up running back for your team and one with much upside given the situation with Jones. He'll need to learn to catch the ball more since he has never had more than 24 catches in any NFL season, but he’s a nice fit in this offense with T.J. Duckett also there in case a short yardage gain is needed.

Warrick Dunn - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 ATL 16 1399 9 265 1106 4.2 9 29 293  
2005 ATL 16 1636 4 280 1416 5.1 3 29 220 1
2006 ATL 16 1310 5 286 1140 4.0 4 22 170 1
Avg   16 1448 6 277 1221 4.4 5 27 228 1
Proj FA*   870 4   720   3 16 150 1

(-Risk) Now that Tiki Barber is retired, Dunn has a firm grip on being the player most devalued in drafts only to surprise. Every year as a Falcon no less. But the Falcons are installing a new power rushing offense complete with a big beefy front line and the smaller, older Dunn hardly looks like a great fit for the offense. Under the zone blocking scheme employed by Atlanta the last three years, Dunn has turned in the best three seasons of his career. He has never failed to run for at least 1100 yards and has enjoyed a nice bang at the end of his career. But – he is 32 years old and will be 33 at the end of the season. That’s undeniably a factor in what the plans are with the new coaching staff. .

Dunn won’t be benched in favor of Jerious Norwood, but his role is certain to decrease. While he has never been used as a receiver in Atlanta that could change a little with the new offense. Assuming that HC Petrino will aim as something similar to what he had at Louisville that should result in at least a small uptick from the 25 or so passes that Dunn would usually catch in a season. Dunn carries much risk this year since the new offense is not designed to use a back like him, but Petrino has already said he fully intends to use both Dunn and Norwood this season and the lack of any movement in the draft only proves that more. Expect Dunn to retain a role in every game, but a lesser workload from sharing with Norwood which has a chance of decreasing sharply by the end of the season when you would want him most. Dunn is due to be paid $3.25 million this year and $4 million in 2008 when he will be 33 years old. Chances are too high that he may not reach that final paycheck next year.

07-27-07 Update: Dunn injured his back this week and needed surgery. He will miss three to four weeks which makes him miss most if not all of training camp - the one that he really needed to attend as the new offense is installed. Dunn is still expected back for the start of the season but he could be watching Norwood take the primary spot earlier than anticipated.

Tier 5
Leon Washington - TEN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 44
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 NYJ 15 920 4 151 650 4.3 4 25 270  
Avg   15 920 4 151 650 4.3 4 25 270 0
Proj TEN   740 3   400   2 35 340 1

The smaller Washington proved to be the most productive back for the Jets last year when he ran for 650 yards on 151 carries and scored four times. His 4.3 yards per carry average dwarfed what any other tailback did for the Jets last year and his 25 catches for 270 yards was almost twice that of all other running backs combined. He offered a spark to the offense but was given 15 or more carries only four times last season because he lacked the ability to be an every down back all year.

Washington provides a nice complementary style to Thomas Jones and will continue in his role as a relief player and third down receiver. The Jets once again have a tough rushing schedule, so his yards via receptions will be central to his fantasy value this season. In leagues offering points for receptions, Washington could make a decent bye week filler for your roster but in the event that Jones misses games, it’s most probable that he will merely continue his role with minor increases while Cedric Houston comes in for the tougher inside running.

LenDale White - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 TEN 13 304   61 244 4.0   14 60  
Avg   13 304 0 61 244 4.0 0 14 60 0
Proj FA   730 3   650   3 10 80  

The reuniting of White and OC Norm Chow did little to rekindle the glory days at USC. After gaining over 3500 yards and 52 touchdowns in college, White only posted 244 yards on 61 carries and still is waiting for his first NFL touchdown. He suffered though numerous injuries last year to include an ankle sprain, the stomach flu and a hip flexor. He already had a hamstring strain during mini-camp and that's without pads. He never had more than nine carries in any game nor gained more than 48 yards. It was an inauspicious start to his career and White spent most of the year on the bench watching Travis Henry do what White was drafted to accomplish.

Since Travis Henry left, White becomes the starting running back by default but that doesn’t necessarily mean too much since HC Jeff Fisher has already stated he intends on using both White and the rookie Chris Henry. The re-signing of Chris Brown also could send White backwards in the depth chart as well. The Titans have one of the worst rushing schedules in the NFL and their best bet currently is White and his 244 yards from last year. White’s fortunes will revolve around Chris Henry. If the rookie is able to deliver on his perceived potential, then White could lose out again this year. Short of White making huge strides this summer, he has done little to suggest he is capable of being the primary runner.

White showed up at the team organized activities weighing 260 pounds this spring and later was absent for the opening of a minicamp drawing ire from Fisher publicly. With a great opportunity before him, White still has not done much to indicate he is willing to put in the effort to step up his play.

Vernand Morency - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 42
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 HOU 6 271 2 46 184 4.0 2 10 87  
2006 GBP 13 552 2 96 434 4.5 2 17 118  
Avg   10 412 2 71 309 4.3 2 14 103 0
Proj FA   790 2   580   2 24 210  

(-Risk) After one year in Houston, Morency arrived in Green Bay to be Ahman Green’s primary back-up and to help cover for the loss of Tony Fisher as well. Morency had very little role in the passing game with only 17 receptions for 118 yards and a mere 6.9 yards per catch. He ran for 434 yards on 96 carries for a healthy 4.5 yard average but he only scored twice and they came in the same game. He replaced an absent Green in week four and gained 99 yards on 26 carries but then followed that up with only six carries for 15 yards in week five when Noah Herron had his big game (and only good game) against the visiting Rams. He recorded a 101 yard game on just 11 carries against the visiting Cardinals but Green had 106 yards and two scores in that game as well.

With the departure of Ahman Green, Morency moved to the top of the depth charts but the Packers also drafted Brandon Jackson from Nebraska with their 2.31 draft pick. Morency showed up to mini-camp at 220 pounds – up ten pounds from last year but there is some concern that he will be able to hold onto that weight through camp. By the same token, Jackson is only around 210 as well. The top job is open and only Morency and Jackson are realistic competitors but HC Mike McCarthy has already indicated he may go to a committee backfield with the duo this year regardless. Morency has never proven himself capable of carrying the full load and about the best he can hope for is that Jackson does not play so well that Morency is dropped back to the support player he has been during his two years in the NFL. Morency has the leg up on Jackson entering training camp and Jackson was hardly a distinguished running back in college. Morency has some risk of having Jackson exceed expectations but he should hold the rookie off at least in the early stages of the season. The worst case, which may be the most likely, is that both Morency and Jackson spend all season reducing what the other could do if they did not have to share the ball.

08-05-07 Update: Morency injured his knee in training camp and later reports are that it is more serious than initially thought. Morency is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks and this could extend to the end of training camp. That only gives the rookie Brandon Jackson more opportunity with the first team to merit playing time.

Sammy Morris - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 49
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 MIA 12 647 6 132 523 4.0 6 22 124  
2005 MIA 8 112 1 16 58 3.6 1 8 54  
2006 MIA 12 562 1 92 400 4.3 1 21 162  
Avg   11 440 3 80 327 4.0 3 17 113 0
Proj FA   560 3   440   3 14 120  

(+Upside) Morris signed a four-year, $7 million deal with the Patriots that included a $1.5 million signing bonus. He will provide back-up to Laurence Maroney thanks to Corey Dillon’s departure and ends up on a team that has used more than one back to create a rushing attack for several seasons. That alone should give Morris some fantasy value this year. The Pats had been interested in him for many years but never had the right situation to bring him in. It speaks to his value to the team when they have played against him when he was with Buffalo and Miami – they know what they are getting.

Morris has never ran more than 132 times in a season but twice in his seven years he totaled five or more rushing scores. He’s also a capable receiver when used in that capacity which has not been that extensive in recent years. His main value now is being behind Maroney who was often banged up last year and now will shoulder the primary load for the Pats. Morris is a much needed insurance pick for Maroney owners. He is also a decent steal deeper in the draft given the durability problems of Maroney as well since Morris is clearly the second best back on the roster.

07-27-07 Update: Morris looked strong against the Panthers this week and he had two nice catches for 23 yards as well. If Maroney needs any relief or replacement, Morris is looking better as someone to fall back on and he still could see use in all games depending on how much Belichick wants to mix up the backfield or give Maroney a breather.

Tony Hunt - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 40
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   500 4   370   4 14 130  

(+Upside) Buckhalter served as the short yardage back last year and Dorsey Levens had the role in 2004, but now the Eagles used their 3.27 draft pick to take Tony Hunt from Penn State. This move makes perfect sense for an offense that needs to keep Brian Westbrook fresh and not overused. Hunt us 6’2" and 233 pounds – plenty big enough to move the pile and do the things that Westbrook cannot. He ran for 1386 yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior year and his only downside is that he’s not the fastest running back. He only had 4.66/40 at the combine but considering his size, his speed is adequate and he can get the extra yard when he meets defenders. He can also run outside better than the 40 time suggests. He also can catch well, recording 47 receptions for 465 yards and three scores in his final two seasons at PSU.

Hunt will get playing time this year as the short yardage back and should get some goal line duty as well. He won’t replace Westbrook by any stretch, but in the event that Westbrook does lose any time, Hunt will be the primary replacement and his fantasy value will shoot up. Hunt is a reasonable back-up pick for Westbrook owners and a decent steal if the Westbrook owner takes too long.

Kevin Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 36
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 DET 15 1313 6 241 1133 4.7 5 28 180 1
2005 DET 13 773 5 186 664 3.6 5 20 109  
2006 DET 12 1209 8 181 689 3.8 6 61 520 2
Avg   13 1098 6 203 829 4.0 5 36 270 1
Proj FA   610 2   440   2 18 170  

(-Risk) Jones suffered a Lis Franc dislocation in his foot near the end of last season and missed the final three games. He had surgery in January and the prognosis for his injury ranges from being ready in time for training camp to missing the entire 2007 season – all depending on whom you ask. Jones claims to be ahead of schedule and has the goal of being ready for training camp but the situation bears monitoring and offers big risks for those of you with early summer drafts.

Jones only gained 689 yards on 181 carries (3.8 YPC) last year before being sidelined for the rest of the season. He scored six rushing touchdowns in the 12 games played though they only came in four different games. He added two more scores via receptions and was becoming equally as dangerous as a receiver with 61 catches for 529 yards. He was a good fit into the new Martz offense but as always, his season ended early thanks to injury. Jones is a definite watch in training camp to see how well he is recovering and what his 2007 may or may not hold. The Lions acquired Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett in the offseason, so there’s less reason to rush Jones back if not needed. After three years in the NFL, Jones still has yet to play a full 16 game season. Depending on his health, he could be a nice pick-up in leagues with reception points that would be cheaper to draft and yet could come on later in the year at worst. As of June, Jones has progressed to running and doing some cutting so his goal of being ready for training camp still exists. If he takes longer and yet still is ready for the first week of the season, he'll be fine with that but it makes the injury prone back a big risk to draft with undeniable upside.

08-01-07 Update: Jones has started training camp on the PUP list and his return date is not yet known. The risk for Jones is no less though the team has hinted he could be back soon. "Could" is the operative word here. He can run straight but still does not have confidence with cutting.

08-31-07 Update: Jones is strongly speculated to be placed on the PUP list to start the season which would have him miss the first five games. Once returned, he could be a surprise until he gets hurt again. But his risk is so big he should only be RB depth for you and even then not one to rely on to cover a bye week.

Michael Pittman - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 46
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 TBB 13 1317 10 219 926 4.2 7 41 391 3
2005 TBB 16 736 2 70 436 6.2 1 36 300 1
2006 TBB 16 650 1 50 245 4.9 1 47 405  
Avg   15 901 4 113 536 5.1 3 41 365 1
Proj FA   650 1   300   1 37 350  

Pittman has always been one of the later round draft picks made to get someone - anyone - that can get you a couple of points per week in the worst case. Especially in reception points leagues. Since Carnell Williams started, Pittman's role has reduced in the running game since he has not needed to step in mid-season and cover for the current injured starter. He's only averaged 60 carries for around 300 rushing yards for the last two years with just one rushing score in each. His role in the passing game continues to support him as that guy to get you a few points, catching about 40 passes for 350 yards since Cadillac showed up. His touchdowns have almost disappeared and his rushing yardage is far below an acceptable fantasy level but same as many years now - he'll get you a couple of points per week in a reception points league.

Ron Dayne - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 46
Keeper: 51
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 NYG 11 186 1 52 179 3.4 1 1 7  
2005 DEN 8 287 1 53 270 5.1 1 3 17  
2006 HOU 10 689 5 151 612 4.1 5 14 77  
Avg   10 387 2 85 354 4.2 2 6 34 0
Proj FA   380 4   260   4 14 120  

Dayne was the starter for six games last year and played in 11 during the frustrating Texans backfield of 2006. He ended with a team leading 612 rushing yards with five touchdowns. That was almost entirely gained in the final four weeks of the season when he carried 89 times and never fell below 87 rushing yards. All five scores came in a three week span from weeks 14 to 16. He was easily the most effective runner based on that one month but the Texans acquired Ahman Green which sends Dayne back to his familiar bench.

Dayne will be the primary back-up and the relief player. And the 30-year old Green is hardly the most durable back in the league. But as long as Green is getting the job done, Kubiak will rely on his new tailback and Dayne will carry little fantasy value.

Garrett Wolfe - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 47
Keeper: 47
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   510 2   280   1 23 230 1

(+Upside) The Bears used their 3.30 pick to select this Northern Illinois phenom who had fallen in the draft for one small reason – he’s only 5’7" and weighs 177 pounds. While Maurice Jones-Drew is also only 5’7" but weighs 212 pounds. Yet Jones-Drew was also snubbed in the draft until the Jaguars tabbed him with their 2.28 pick in 2006. All Wolfe did last year was to lead the nation in rushing yards (1928 on 309 carries) and surpassed Michael Turner as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 5136 yards. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry in college. But he’s short and small. And fast since he’s ran sub-4.4 40’s.

The current forecast for Wolfe is to play as a situational back, likely on third downs and obvious passing situations since he had some success in college as a receiver and was impressive in mini-camps. He’s not been a kick returner before so any role on special teams would be new to him. Figure on Wolfe adding a new, speedy dimension to the Bears offense as a third-down back type. The legacy is long of small runners who excel in college and then flop in the NFL, but Jones-Drew has caused many teams to rethink their standards. Wolfe is one to watch in training camp for a better idea of how much playing time he may get this year and if he can supplant Adrian Peterson for playing time – if not the outright back-up job to Benson by the end of the season.

08-31-07 Update: While still only worthy of fantasy depth, Garrett has been impressive as a receiver and could figure in with some third down work. If Benson gets injured during the season, Wolfe could be very interesting.

Chris Brown - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 48
Keeper: 54
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 TEN 11 1214 6 220 1067 4.9 6 20 147  
2005 TEN 15 1178 7 224 851 3.8 5 25 327 2
2006 TEN 5 160   41 156 3.8   2 4  
Avg   10 851 4 162 691 4.2 4 16 159 1
Proj FA   540 1   400   1 16 140  

The Titans re-signed Brown in mid-June and the move immediately makes him the most likely primary back for the Titans - whatever that actually means this year. Brown has been as good as 1067 rushing yards and six scores back in 2004 but was almost entirely phased out in 2006 when Travis Henry took over.

With only the unproven rookie of Chris Henry and the portly disappointment of LenDale White to compete against, Brown should be a lock for playing time at least early in the season and could last all 16 games so long as Chris Henry doesn't show up well in training camp and later in season games. Brown opted to sign again with the Titans because of his opportunity to be a starter again, boost his value this year and then sign with another team as a 2008 unrestricted free agent. He has the motivation to perform well this year and apparently the opportunity. But Brown still remains an upright runner who too often gets dinged up and after four seasons in the NFL he still has yet to play for a full 16 game season.

Brown makes an interesting depth pick for a fantasy team but the Titans schedule is fairly brutal this year and nothing he has done in the past says he is good for more than a handful of decent games with a few others lost due to injury.

Brian Leonard - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 49
Keeper: 48
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   430 3   180   2 26 250 1

Leonard started his years at Rutgers as a running back and had success and was a freshman All-American but was swapped to fullback and played the next three years as a blocker, rusher and receiver. Leonard is a load when he runs and while he doesn’t have great speed, he has enough to get downfield and put the hurt on a smaller defensive back. There was some speculation that he would be turned back into a running back in the NFL or at least become an “Alstott" type but going to the Rams will likely decrease what he could have done as a rookie. He is a definite back-up pick for the Jackson owner that could surprise if he gets the opportunity. Leonard caught at least one pass in 47 straight games and brings his multi-dimensional talents to the Rams where the offense is already clicking well.

Reuben Droughns - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 50
Keeper: 61
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 DEN 16 1481 8 275 1240 4.5 6 32 241 2
2005 CLE 16 1601 2 309 1232 4.0 2 39 369  
2006 CLE 14 927 4 220 758 3.4 4 27 169  
Avg   15 1336 5 268 1077 4.0 4 33 260 1
Proj FA   440 2   360   2 10 80  

Droughns came over from the Browns in the offseason where he last had only run for 758 yards on 220 carries with a paltry 3.4 YPC in 2006. The seven year veteran had back to back 1200 rushing yard seasons in Denver and Cleveland but only managed to score six times in his two seasons in Cleveland. The Browns “went in another direction" and Droughns now will be the back-up to Brandon Jacobs to offer veteran skills even if it only comes at a 3.4 YPC clip lately. He’s a reasonable back-up for Jacobs owners but likely not worth stealing until the late rounds in your draft. The Giants have spoken about using both Droughns and Jacobs this year and while that could happen to some measure, too that Jacobs is actually faster than Droughns. The rookie Ahmad Bradshaw is also impressing coaches with his ability as a receiver and a change of pace runner, so he too could limit Droughns. Training camp should clear this up more, but it's highly unlikely the Giants use a three player rotation at running back. Figuring on Droughns to be much more than a back-up quality player is taking an excessive risk.

Najeh Davenport - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 51
Keeper: 69
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 GBP 10 392 2 71 359 5.1 2 4 33  
2005 GBP 5 108 2 30 105 3.5 2 2 3  
2006 PIT 13 414 2 60 221 3.7 1 15 193 1
Avg   9 305 2 54 228 4.1 2 7 76 0
Proj FA   320 4   300   4 4 20  

Davenport came over to the Steelers last year but only had 60 carries for 221 yards and one touchdown though he had a career high 15 catches for 193 yards and another score. He rarely had more than two carries a week though the only two times he was given 12 or more carries he responded well with 78 yards on 12 runs against Cleveland and 62 yards on 14 carries against the Panthers. Otherwise – he was nearly invisible and was not used at the goal line to relieve Willie Parker. Now the Steelers have signed Kevan Barlow so expecting even the paltry numbers from 2006 are unreliable. Leave him alone in your drafts.

Ahmad Bradshaw - IND YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 52
Keeper: 55
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj IND   330     150     20 180  

(+Upside) The Giants selected Bradshaw in the seventh round and typically those backs amount to little more than camp legs that will not make the team but there is a chance that Bradshaw does make the team and even contribute in 2007. The 5’10", 198 pound back from Marshall ended his junior year at Marshall as the nation’s sixth-leading rusher when he ran for 1523 yards last year with 17 rushing touchdowns. More important, he also had 56 catches for 381 yards as a sophomore before becoming more of a rusher in 2006. This matters since the Giants are now without the faster Tiki Barber who also figured into their passing equation – Brandon Jacobs has yet to prove himself as a receiver and only Reuben Droughns stands in the way.

Bradshaw is worth at least a watch during training camp because he has been very impressive during mini-camps and could become the third down back or more if he can convince coaches during August that he belongs on the team. One reason his stock fell in the draft was two brushes with the law that were both later dismissed. One was for under-aged drinking and last year started with him arrest for burglary and petty larceny. Bradshaw is a slashing type runner with good open field moves but likely will lack the bulk to become an inside runner. Given the situation and the early returns on him in mini-camps, he’s worth keeping an eye on him.

08-31-07 Update: The rookie has shown some intriguing flashes in preseason though mostly against opposing scrubs. But on a team that is looking to re-establish the backfield after Tiki left, Bradshaw is worth a fantasy roster spot and could end up with some third down duty.

Jesse Chatman - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 53
Keeper: 63
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 SDC 11 409 3 65 392 6.0 3 2 17  
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   11 409 3 65 392 6.0 3 2 17 0
Proj FA*   440 2   340   2 12 100  

Though Chatman has not played since 2005, he has been brought back to the Dolphins by new HC Cam Cameron who coached him in his last active season of 2004 when Chatman had a 6.0 yard rushing average as Tomlinson’s back-up and ran for 392 yards with three touchdowns. Chatman literally ate himself out of the league but has lost weight and returns for his second chance. He may end up as Browns back-up but the rookie Lorenzo Booker could very well beat him out of that job in addition to likely serving in some third down capacity. Leave Chatman alone in drafts unless he makes the team and clearly has a primary back-up role.

08-30-07 Update: Despite Chatman only having 428 rushing yards over six years in the NFL, Cam Cameron continues to state that Chatman as a shot as a starter. It seems highy unlikely he will be the primary but he's becoming a mandatory handcuff for Brown owners. Lorenzo Booker will still figure in as well but Cameron is insisting that the 28 year old player with almost no NFL game experience matters.

Michael Turner - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 54
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 SDC 2 112   20 104 5.2   4 8  
2005 SDC 12 335 3 57 335 5.9 3      
2006 SDC 13 549 2 80 502 6.3 2 3 47  
Avg   9 332 2 52 314 5.8 2 2 18 0
Proj FA   430 2   400   2 4 30  

While Turner was the subject of many hot trade rumors in the offseason, none transpired to allow the restricted free agent to leave. In the background of Tomlinson’s record setting year, Turner’s 6.3 yards per carry ranked second in the NFL last year to only Jerious Norwood (6.4). He gained 502 yards on 80 carries and scored twice in support of Tomlinson. He actually out-performed LT in week two when he ran for 138 yards on only 13 carries while Tomlinson only had 71 yards on 19 runs. Turner’s role was small last year and often came at the end of games after Tomlinson was tired of scoring multiple touchdowns but he was thoroughly impressive with any work that he did get. After three years in San Diego, Turner still has never averaged less than 5.2 yards per carry for a season. He would be a goldmine to steal in a draft if the unthinkable happened to Tomlinson but short of that, he has no significant fantasy value other than insuring the first pick in your draft.

07-27-07 Update: Turner drops a couple of notches from getting a high ankle sprain that will extend into the start of the season. He's still mandatory insurance for Tomlinson owners but is a little less attractive to teams wanting to "steal" him in their draft.

Michael Bennett - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 55
Keeper: 56
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 MIN 10 483 2 70 276 3.9 1 21 207 1
2005 MIN 16 597 5 126 473 3.8 3 27 124 2
2006 KCC 10 277   36 200 5.6   9 77  
Avg   12 452 2 77 316 4.4 1 19 136 1
Proj FA   420 2   250   2 20 170  

The Chiefs brought Bennett in last season and were treated to his typical fare – a strong 5.6 yard per carry average, just 36 carries for 200 yards and no touchdowns. Bennett suffered from hamstring strains and an ankle sprain last year and only suited up for 11 games. Whenever he had more than three carries in a game, he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry. Whenever he had just two or three carries in a week, he averaged 12.4 yards. The more he was used, the worse he became. Naturally that led to Larry Johnson setting the NFL record for carries in a season (416) and since that cannot happen again (and keep Johnson healthy), the Chiefs are planning on using Bennett for “100 carries or more" according to HC Herman Edwards.

Bennett should see more action in 2007 but in the words now repeated by Edwards – "if he is healthy". Bennett should see more use both as a runner and a receiver potentially but just to cover the "just in case", the Chiefs also drafted Kolby Smith with their 5.14 pick and still have Ronnie Cruz and Dee Brown on the roster. If you draft Johnson, then taking Bennett should be mandatory. The problem there though is that you probably should take either Cruz or Smith as well. Maybe both. Bennett has been faithfully working in the off-season conditioning program and Edwards wants to use more than just Larry Johnson this year. He’s first in line as long as he doesn’t excuse himself to visiting the trainers when you need him most.

07-27-07 Update: Bennett has to be viewed more favorably with the contract situation of Larry Johnson. Priest Holmes is not being added to the rankings yet because his true situation has yet to proven. If Holmes does appear "back" and Johnson continues to hold out, Bennett too will be moving.

Kenton Keith - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 56
Keeper: 52
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   410 2   290   2 15 120  

No analysis available.

Dominic Rhodes - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 57
Keeper: 53
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 IND 12 278 1 53 254 4.8 1 2 24  
2005 IND 10 206 4 40 118 3.0 4 13 88  
2006 IND 16 892 5 187 641 3.4 5 36 251  
Avg   13 459 3 93 338 3.7 3 17 121 0
Proj FA   350 3   300   3 6 50  

Rhodes signed with the Raiders on a two-year contract worth up to $7.5 million and he’ll mix in with Lamont Jordan in the new Raiders’ backfield. Rhodes comes off a solid season in Indianapolis where he ran 187 times for 641 yards and five touchdowns and added 36 catches for 251 more yards. He was instrumental in the Colts Super Bowl victory and now goes from first to worst by joining the Raiders. The new offense installed by OC Greg Knapp should be similar to the same one he has run in Atlanta which is a west coast variant that doesn’t make much use of running backs as receivers. This should be a little clearer by the time the season starts, but the expectation is that Rhodes will work in the mix with Lamont Jordan and even eventually Michael Bush. Rhodes is a solid but unspectacular runner who is a bit undersized for goal line work at only around 200 pounds, particularly with the much bulkier Jordan and Bush on the roster. Rhodes pled guilty to reckless driving in the offseason and had the drunken driving charges dropped. It is not expected to impact his availability this season.

07-03-20 Update: Rhodes has been suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league's substance abuse policy. He can still attend training camp and play in preseason games, but then must leave the team for the first month. This obviously puts a dent in his season totals but he will still be a part of the backfield when he returns.

Kenny Watson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 58
Keeper: 64
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CIN 15 329 1 25 158 6.3   25 171 1
2005                      
2006 CIN 16 351 1 25 138 5.5 1 23 213  
Avg   16 340 1 25 148 5.9 1 24 192 1
Proj FA   400 2   200   1 21 200 1

With Irons missing the 2007 season and Chris Perry still on the PUP list and never reliable when he is not, Watson stands to benefit the most with Irons out of the picture. The Bengals will use Watson as a speedy change of pace back and he should figure in as a back-up for Rudi Johnson if he is injured.

Selvin Young - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 59
Keeper: 50
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   320 2   280   2 5 40  

No analysis available.

Jerome Harrison - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 60
Keeper: 57
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 CLE 9 107   20 60 3.0   9 47  
Avg   9 107 0 20 60 3.0 0 9 47 0
Proj DET   360 1   220   1 18 140  

Harrison comes off his rookie year with only 20 carries for 60 yards but at 5’9" and 199 pounds, he wasn't big enough for the power rushing game of the Browns. Harrison has bulked up in the offseason, going from 190 as a rookie to 212 pounds. He still has to show that he can block and that the weight gain doesn't have any negative impact to his performance, but he's very likely to pass Jason Wright as the primary back-up for Lewis.

Ovie Mughelli - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 61
Keeper: 66
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 BAL 3 13           3 13  
2006 BAL 9 232 2 12 50 4.2   21 182 2
Avg   6 123 1 6 25 2.1 0 12 98 1
Proj FA   160 4   160   4      

Barring any future player additions, the fullback Mughelli is in a nice spot for goal line duty and possibly short yardage in the power running game of HC Bobby Petrino that is currently without any other running back on the roster over 210 pounds. Warrick Dunn (180) is hardly a pile mover and even Jerious Norwood (204) is a smaller back that was injured often last year. Not wanting to subject him to any more pounding than necessary could spell better things for Mughelli if only by default. .

Mughelli has been in the league for four years and only has a grand total of 12 carries for 50 yards which all happened just last year in Baltimore. He’s never scored an NFL touchdown but it would be no surprise to see him get at least a little more work than just blocking. At 6-1 and 255 pounds, he at least has the size needed for consideration.

Kevin Faulk - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 62
Keeper: 58
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 NEP 11 503 3 54 255 4.7 2 26 248 1
2005 NEP 8 404   51 144 2.8   29 260  
2006 NEP 15 479 3 25 123 4.9 1 43 356 2
Avg   11 462 2 43 174 4.1 1 33 288 1
Proj FA   330 1   100     23 230 1

Faulk continues to figure into third down and passing situations as an outlet for Brady and comes off a 43 catch, 356 yard season in 2006. One of many factors which make Faulk usually insignificant for fantasy purposes is that he almost always gets dinged up every season and on the Patriots, you could never be sure if he is going to play week to week. He has not played in all 16 games of a season since 2000 and usually misses one or two contests at a minimum. His entire value stems from being a receiver out of the backfield and in point per reception leagues, he can make for a “if nothing else" waiver pick to cover a bye week but he could be even worse this year since the Pats have completely restocked the receivers and may not need the outlet for Brady this season.

Adrian Peterson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 63
Keeper: 62
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CHI 3 49   6 19 3.2   2 30  
2005 CHI 13 439 2 76 391 5.1 2 7 48  
2006 CHI 7 129 2 10 41 4.1 2 6 88  
Avg   8 206 1 31 150 4.1 1 5 55 0
Proj FA   320 1   240   1 8 80  

While the door may seem open for Peterson to get more playing time this year, the departure of Thomas Jones does not necessarily mean all running backs bump up once on the depth charts. Peterson has never had more than 76 carries in a season and has started only once in his five years in the NFL. Last year Peterson only accounted for 10 carries for 41 yards. In the meaningless week 17 game last year, he had no runs and only one catch. While HC Lovie Smith repeatedly said last year that he had three viable options at running back, he only used two of them – and not Peterson.

The Bears drafted Garrett Wolfe with their 3.30 pick in the draft this year with the aim to make him a situational back and – according to Lovie Smith – a possible #2 running back to support Cedric Benson. Wolfe is only 5’7" but has impressed in mini-camps already. Peterson’s fantasy value relies on Benson getting hurt and even then, it is not as certain that he will step up to be a full-time back. Training camp will hopefully straighten this out but anyone assuming that Benson-becomes-Jones and Peterson steps up is going to be disappointed. The Bears have no intention on having Peterson be anything more than positional depth and an occasional relief player for Benson – if that.

Michael Robinson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 64
Keeper: 60
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 SFO 14 163 2 38 116 3.1 2 9 47  
Avg   14 163 2 38 116 3.1 2 9 47 0
Proj FA   230 2   160   2 12 70  

Robinson will serve as the primary back-up for Frank Gore but in the same capacity in 2006, he only had 116 yards on 38 carries for a paltry 3.1 yard per carry average. Robinson was in his first season as a converted college quarterback so he should improve, but he has no fantasy value unless Gore is injured. The 49ers have stated that they want to limit Gore’s carries during the season and that would benefit Robinson but he won’t carry any real value to anyone besides the Gore owner.

T.J. Duckett - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 65
Keeper: 67
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 ATL 12 524 8 104 509 4.9 8 3 15  
2005 ATL 14 443 8 121 380 3.1 8 6 63  
2006 WAS 9 148 2 38 132 3.5 2 2 16  
Avg   12 372 6 88 340 3.8 6 4 31 0
Proj FA*   210 2   170   2 5 40  

Duckett has banged around the league for five seasons so far and is on his third NFL team after a remarkably mediocre year in Washington despite the injury to Clinton Portis last year. Duckett has never gained more than around 500 yards in a season since 2003 when he last had a starting job but his role has always been more as the short yardage/goal line back. His final three seasons in Atlanta posted no less than eight touchdowns per year. His role in Detroit will rely mostly on the health of Kevin Jones. If somehow Jones remains healthy all year, then Duckett won’t be needed but if Tatum Bell is made the starter, Duckett could pick up some goal line action and account for some touchdowns. He’s never been much of a receiver with a high of only 11 catches in a season, so his main value is only in touchdown-only leagues and even then, he’ll need the right situation to develop and deliver.

Maurice Morris - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 66
Keeper: 68
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 SEA 14 179   30 126 4.2   9 53  
2005 SEA 11 336 1 71 288 4.1 1 5 48  
2006 SEA 16 650   161 604 3.8   11 46  
Avg   14 388 0 87 339 4.0 0 8 49 0
Proj FA   330     240     10 90  

Morris only needed to wait for five years in order to see Alexander get injured and need replacing. His 604 yards on 161 carries were both career marks as was his rushing average – 3.8 yards per carry (his worst that is). But Morris did turn in two games with more than 120 rushing yards in relief of Alexander. 161 carries dwarfed any other year for Morris and yet – he still never scored a touchdown. He only has one rushing score in his entire career. He’s still the primary back-up for Alexander and a necessary insurance pick considering the foot injury of 2006, but he’s not a 1:1 replacement either.

Chris Henry - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 67
Keeper: 65
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   310     250     10 60  

(-Risk) (+Upside) If nothing else, Henry should prove to be the most interesting rookie running back. While most had him projected for the fourth round, the Titans elected to take him with their 2.18 pick and believed he was worthy of being a first rounder. At 5’11" and 230 pounds, he’s a big package that can run a sub-4.4. He has all the apparent physical tools to succeed but at Arizona he played in 36 games but only started six. He gained 204 yards on 29 carries against Oregon last year but only had one other 100+ game when he ran for 110 on 35 carries against Washington State (3.1 YPC). He ended the year with only 688 yards on 165 carries. He only had 366 yards total in his first three years. He spent most his time backing up Mike Bell and Gilbert Harris. In 2006, he was benched and was suspended for one game before finally returning as the starter for the final four games.

Henry had a great combine and impressed many scouts – including obviously the Titans who made him the 4th running back drafted overall, ahead of Brian Leonard, Brandon Jackson and Tony Hunt. He has the physical measurements to excel. He’s been a “problem player" in the past. And he did far less in college than any other running back drafted this year. And yet, he gets an excellent shot at being a starter this year. He gets to answer the question – what is better? Potential and measureables or having actually done it before? Tennessee is willing to find out.

Henry had more fantasy value before Chris Brown re-signed with the Titans since he only had LenDale "Porky" White ahead of him but the presence of Brown will likely make Henry start out very slowly and could ruin his fantasy value for the year. But it does allow the Titans a chance to see what Henry can do without sacrificing their backfield because they can use Henry is small doses now instead of relying heavily on him.

Lorenzo Booker - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 68
Keeper: 59
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   320     120     20 200  

(+Upside) The Dolphins spent their third round pick (3.07) on the Florida State running back and coming after only Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck signals that Booker is already in the plans for the Dolphins. Booker is a bit under-sized at only 5’11" and 191 pounds but he’s built for speed – not pounding the ball. Booker ran a 4.46/40 at the combine last spring and brings not only a change of pace run style; he’s also expected to become the Fins third down back. Booker caught 114 passes for 995 yards while at Florida State and will be developed for that role. He’s elusive in the open field and can catch the corner in a hurry – a nice complement to the power runner of Ronnie Brown.

Booker will have to beat out Jesse Chatman to be the primary back-up to Ronnie Brown but regardless he will have value in reception point leagues as a pass catching back. If he is installed at the clear #2 back in all facets, then he is a must pick for Brown owners that will still offer up some fantasy points weekly even with Brown healthy and successful.

Mike Bell - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 69
Keeper: 75
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                      
2005                      
2006 DEN 14 835 8 157 677 4.3 8 20 158  
Avg   14 835 8 157 677 4.3 8 20 158 0
Proj FA   240 1   170   1 10 70  

The undrafted Bell started 2006 out as the #1 running back but that quickly became a frustrating and confusing committee with Tatum Bell. While he had as high as 136 rushing yards in a game, he would invariably follow that up with a sub-par performance. Twice he had 90 or more rushing yards and two scores in a game and then only had exactly 28 yards and no scores the following week. Bell ended the year on a higher note with three straight efforts of 60+ rushing yards and three scores, but his pattern use last year was almost undecipherable. Bell finished with a total of 677 rushing yards and an impressive eight touchdowns with six of those coming two at a time in three different games. His week to week performances graphed out like a Chris Henry polygraph test.

While Mike Bell ran 157 times last year, Tatum Bell turned in 233 yards for 1025 yards as the primary back (such as it was in that offense). Mike actually had more carries and yardage in the final three games and easily outscored Tatum eight to two in touchdowns scored. But while the speedy Tatum departed for Detroit, the Broncos brought on Travis Henry who had all the yards of Tatum and all the scores of Mike. Does this spell yet another RBBC for the Broncos? Maybe. But maybe not. Travis Henry is a far more accomplished runner than any in Denver since Clinton Portis left. He already has been to the Pro Bowl and ran for 1000+ yards three times in his career. His style of running is well suited to Denver and maybe more importantly, unlike Tatum Bell, he is not a complementary sort of runner to Mike Bell. Drafting a Denver back will always come with risk until the next Portis shows up, but Henry definitely has the look of someone capable. Figure on Mike Bell to only play a support role this year with less action than in 2006. Mike’s eight scores were impressive, but Henry has scored up to 13 in a season before.

09-01-07 Update: Bell has lost his #2 spot to the rookie Selvin Young.

Musa Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 70
Keeper: 70
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 BAL 4 79   12 48 4.0   2 31  
2005 BAL 1 5           3 5  
2006 BAL 12 288   36 153 4.3   22 135  
Avg   6 124 0 16 67 2.8 0 9 57 0
Proj FA   170 1   130   1 7 40  

Musa Smith was one of the more coveted back-up running backs in fantasy drafts last year but the reality was that like so many other situations every summer, the team just stuck with their primary runner (Jamal Lewis) and all the preseason hype about getting the player on the field this year just never happened. Smith only carried 36 times for 153 yards and never scored. His 4.3 yards per carry was a team high, but he never had more than seven carries in any game and often only three or less. He also missed time because of a head and neck injury later in the season.

Smith is a decent fantasy pick only very deep in the draft and only for the McGahee owner looking for some insurance. Smith has flashed some nice form in the past but the Ravens are obviously not sold on him being anything more than a situational player again this year.

Anthony Thomas - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 71
Keeper: 72
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CHI 12 536 2 122 404 3.3 2 17 132  
2005 NOS 9 105   43 92 2.1   4 13  
2006 BUF 14 517 2 107 378 3.5 2 22 139  
Avg   12 386 1 91 291 3.0 1 14 95 0
Proj FA   160 1   140   1 3 20  

Thomas was the starting tailback after Willis McGahee left but that only lasted until the Bills tabbed Marshawn Lynch with their 1.12 draft pick. Thomas will get some playing time this year and could even begin the season as the starter or at least with decent playing time but it will only last until the Bills are satisfied that Lynch is ready for the full load which will be sooner than later. Thomas is an insurance pick for Lynch owners, but one that won’t likely result in much fantasy value regardless what Lynch does. With Dwayne Wright taken with their 4.12 pick, there is no guarantee that Thomas wont’ fall to #3 by the end of the year.

Michael Bush - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 72
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   130 1   100   1 5 30  

(-Risk) (+Upside) Michael Bush was flying high after the 2005 season in Louisville after gaining 1143 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. He was a contender for the Heisman Trophy and considered a high first round draft pick material in 2007. But the 2006 season started with Bush gaining 128 yards on 17 carries and scoring three times by the third quarter before breaking his leg when a Kentucky defender horse-collared him. He was lost for the season and needed two operations and a titanium rod inserted into his leg. The injury was enough to convince every NFL team to let him sit until day two of the draft. And then the Raiders made him the very first Sunday selection.

Bush is 6’2" and weighs around 240 – he’s a load to bring down (except for illegal tackles). He has run as fast as a 4.55/40 in the past but has been rehabbing since the injury. Bush is scheduled to resume full-contact practice in time for training camp and his surgeon has written that Bush is already 99 % healed and will become the same player as he was before. But caution is warranted here since it was a serious injury and he hasn’t been playing football since that fateful day last September. The Raiders already have Lamont Jordan, Dominic Rhodes and Justin Fargas to start the season so Bush will likely be brought along slowly until he undeniably back to shape. Once that happens? Many pundits claimed Bush was the steal of the draft with the 4.01 pick. Surprisingly, Bush was not taken by his ex-coach Bobby Petrino now with the Falcons but Bush’s injury scared off every team for the first day.

Bush is a big, powerful runner who will be a steal for the Raiders if he returns to form. For 2007, consider Bush as likely only a bit player that won’t show up at all until later in the season but in keeper leagues, his value is much greater. 2008 should be the year when the real Bush is let loose on the NFL.

09-01-07 Update: Bush was placed on the PUP list to start the season.

Kolby Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 73
Keeper: 71
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   130 1   100   1 6 30  

Smith was drafted with the 5.11 draft pick and comes over from Louisville where he took over for the fallen Michael Bush in 2006. Smith had injury problems earlier in his collegiate career but led the Cardinals last year with 862 rushing yards on 154 carries (5.5 YPC) with seven scores and had 24 catches for 217 in the power offense last year. Smith will work into the depth chart for Kansas City that already has Larry Johnson and Michael Bennett entrenched but Bennett has not been the most durable player and Ronnie Cruz and Dee Brown were unimpressive in brief play last year. Keep a casual eye on Smith in training camp to see if he can ascend the depth charts at all but realize he’s likely to have no fantasy value this year.

Correll Buckhalter - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 74
Keeper: 79
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005                      
2006 PHI 16 601 3 83 345 4.2 2 24 256 1
Avg   16 601 3 83 345 4.2 2 24 256 1
Proj FA   130 1   60   1 10 70  

(-Risk) Buckhalter finally managed to last an entire season and came away with 345 rushing yards and just two touchdowns in 2006. That in itself was a victory since he missed both 2004 and 2005 from knee operations. But the Eagles drafted Tony Hunt last April and he’ll be a perfect fit to take over as the short yardage/ relief back for Brian Westbrook. Buckhalter may get some playing time, but he’ll give away more and more to Hunt. No upside here and plenty of downside starting with the chance for yet another knee injury.

Noah Herron - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 75
Keeper: 73
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 GBP 4 123 2 48 123 2.6 2      
2006 GBP 14 361 3 37 150 4.1 1 29 211 2
Avg   9 242 3 43 137 3.4 2 15 106 1
Proj FA   180     100     12 80  

Herron’s claim to fame was rushing for 106 yards and one touchdown in week six when the Rams came to visit. Otherwise, he only had 17 carries for 44 in 2006. Herron had a chance to be the primary back-up this year but the drafting of Brandon Jackson ensures that Herron will only get spot play unless both Jackson and Morency are injured. The Packers will probably only keep three backs on the active roster and Herron will have to hold off Arliss Beach, DeShawn Wynn and P.J. Pope for the final roster spot.

Marcel Shipp - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 76
Keeper: 76
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 ARI 15 706   157 451 2.9   35 255  
2006 ARI 9 101 4 17 41 2.4 4 6 60  
Avg   12 404 2 87 246 2.7 2 21 158 0
Proj FA   90 1   60   1 5 30  

Shipp will remain as the primary back-up for Edgerrin James but last year that only meant 17 carries for 41 yards. James just does not need much resting. Shipp is a prudent fantasy pick only if you own James and have the roster depth to stash him away. And should you need him – he’ll likely only provide marginal numbers.

Greg Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 77
Keeper: 78
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 JAC 14 175 3 62 162 2.6 3 3 13  
2005 JAC 14 640 4 151 575 3.8 4 10 65  
2006                      
Avg   14 408 4 107 369 3.2 4 7 39 0
Proj FA   90 1   90   1      

(-Risk) Greg Jones suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last August and missed the 2006 season. It was the same injury that he suffered as a junior at Florida State. Jones was coming off a solid 2005 season where he had ran 151 times for 575 yards and four touchdowns but in his place the rookie Maurice Jones-Drew was nothing short of electric.

Jones is reported to be quickly coming along and has already been running and cutting. He should be well enough for training camp where the knee will get more tested. His role this year depends greatly on his knee but also on what the new offensive scheme will employ. With the break-out year of Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor hanging on for at least this year, even a healthy Jones doesn’t hold much promise for fantasy points this year.

Mewelde Moore - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 78
Keeper: 74
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 MIN 7 617   65 379 5.8   27 238  
2005 MIN 14 1001 3 155 662 4.3 1 37 339 2
2006 MIN 16 599 1 24 131 5.5   46 468 1
Avg   12 739 1 81 391 5.2 0 37 348 1
Proj FA   150     60     10 90  

After three seasons with the Vikings, Moore was already locked into being a support player and the drafting of Adrian Peterson says that Moore’s fall down the depth chart has not ended. Moore only had 24 carries for 131 yards and no scores in 2006 – It’ll be hard to expect anything that good for 2007. He played as the third down back along with Chester Taylor and had a career high 46 catches for 468 yards but Peterson already wowed the coaching staff with his ability to catch in minicamps. Moore’s back to being merely depth.

Jason Wright - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 79
Keeper: 77
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 ATL 2 10   3 10 3.3        
2005 CLE 2 42 1 11 27 2.5 1 3 15  
2006 CLE 8 271   62 189 3.0   6 82  
Avg   4 108 0 25 75 2.9 0 3 32 0
Proj FA   120     50     10 70  

Wright was the primary back-up for Jamal Lewis but he’s been in the league for three years and only scored once while gaining a total of just 226 yards. He’s also never gained more than 3.3 yards per carry. He fits right in for the Browns. Very marginal fantasy value unless Lewis is injured in which case he then has minimal fantasy value. The Browns are leaning towards using second-year player Jerome Harrison more this year and that should leave Wright out of the equation this year.

Mike Anderson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 81
Keeper: 81
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 DEN 15 1226 13 239 1014 4.2 12 18 212 1
2006 BAL 13 237 1 39 183 4.7 1 9 54  
Avg   14 732 7 139 599 4.5 7 14 133 1
Proj FA   50     40     2 10  

Last year the backfield seemed jumbled with the newly acquired Anderson, Jamal Lewis and Musa Smith all vying for time. HC Brian Billick threw more fuel to the fire by stating he fully intended on using all three backs in 2006 and that all were capable of carrying the load. Once again, the reality was far less diversified. Anderson only had 39 carries for 183 yards and one score. He rarely had more than three carries in a game and proved to be a wasted pick in fantasy drafts.

Now that McGahee is on board in Baltimore, the chance that Anderson could have a meaningful season is even less. At the age of 33, his best days are not only behind him, he may not even make it out of training camp with the team. Stay away from Anderson and forget the Denver years.

J.J. Arrington - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 82
Keeper: 82
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 ARI 15 509 2 112 370 3.3 2 25 139  
2006 ARI 12 77   14 19 1.4   8 58  
Avg   14 293 1 63 195 2.4 1 17 99 0
Proj FA   40     30     3 10  

Since Marcel Shipp takes the primary back-up role for Edgerrin James, Arrington has now been demoted to just spot play on late game third downs. No fantasy value here without injuries to both James and Shipp. Arrington has already proven he is not up to playing at the next level. He's mostly just roster depth and since HC Whisenhunt wasn't the one to spend a high draft pick on him, there'll be even less reason to use him this year.

Tyson Thompson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 83
Keeper: 83
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                      
2005 DAL 8 198   46 182 4.0   3 16  
2006 DAL 3 30 1 13 30 2.3 1      
Avg   6 114 1 30 106 3.2 1 2 8 0
Proj FA   40     40          

Tyson ranks third on the depth charts in Dallas and since Marion Barber and Julius Jones are firmly entrenched above him, he’ll only be roster depth barring multiple injuries to the backfield. Tyson had more playing time in 2005 when he carries 46 times for 182 yards but only managed a paltry 13 carries in 2006. He’s a deep waiver wire guy with no fantasy value unless the backfield situation changes dramatically.

   
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