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FANTASY FOOTBALL nfl draft coverage

NFL Draft: Player Profile - Felix Jones
John Tuvey
April 11, 2008
Running Back - Arkansas

Combine Height: 5-10
Combine Weight: 207
Combine 40 Time: 4.47
Carried 133 times for 1,162 yards (that’s 8.7 yards per carry) and scored 11 touchdowns as a junior.

Skill Set:
The speedy Jones spent his college career in the shadow of teammate Darren McFadden, averaging 11 carries per game and topping 15 totes just twice in his final season at Arkansas. When he did touch the ball, though, he was ultraproductive; he averaged better than 10 yards per carry five times and reached triple-digit rushing yardage on six occasions—802 yards in games where he carried a total of just 72 times. He’s a lightning-quick home run hitter… but he not built to be a 20-carry per game workhorse.

The NFL hasn’t shied away from job-sharing college backs before; Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams went in the first round, as did Laurence Maroney, Joseph Addai, and Reggie Bush. But Jones projects more like a Jerious Norwood type, used in a backfield committee on a limited basis in hopes of getting maximum bang from minimum carries. Not that Jones couldn’t be a full-time feature back, especially in a one-cut-and-go zone blocking system. However, we just haven’t seen it yet—and, given his smallish size and upright running style, there is plenty of reason to be concerned.

Possible Destinations:
Many mocks have Felix as the Cowboys’ “consolation prize”, attempting to satisfy Jerry Jones’ Razorback obsession. The potential roadblock to that plan might be in-state rival Houston, who run the zone-blocking system in which Jones would flourish. The Chargers are looking for a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson, but a first-round pick might be too aggressive a move to fill that need. And if Jones is still on the board at No. 28, the Cowboys will have a second opportunity for Jerry to make the Hog call.

Fantasy Impact:
The Texans’ scenario seems a bit unlikely, as Gary Kubiak comes from the Denver school of turning late-round backs into success stories and Houston has other more pressing needs to address. That means Jones will almost certainly enter the NFL under circumstances similar to those he left behind at Arkasas: the lightning complement to a veteran “thunder” back. In a yardage-heavy league, or a league where long-distance touchdowns earn bonus points, Jones might contribute enough to get regular fantasy burn this season, but the likelihood of him ceding goal line carries puts a crimp in his overall value.

Jones’ kick-return skills should add extra value to his immediate impact, but you’ll have to be comfortable with him seeing 10 touches per game; it works for Maurice Jones-Drew, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Long-term, you’re in the minority if you’re projecting Felix to be anything more than the long-ball half of a tag-team backfield… and you know how fantasy folks feel about tag-team backfields.

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