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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 12
Tim Van Prooyen
November 24, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Movin’ Up

Breakdown:  The bye weeks are now beyond us.  The regular season of fantasy football is almost two thirds done in many leagues.  With these things in mind we realize that, minus the opportunity that may arise due to injury, the players with something to bring to the table this fantasy season are pretty much well known to all.  Therefore our perspective must change a bit, leading us to look beyond just this season but to next season as well.  Whether for keeper league purposes, trade purposes, or whatever other purposes may be pertinent, we’ll be taking a weekly look at players and situations that fantasy owners should be aware of in order to be on top of their game moving forward.

Jason Snelling (ATL) – Michael Turner hung around in San Diego for four years behind LT and, when called upon due to injuries, performed quite nicely, and then went back to the shadows.  When the opportunity arose he took over as the primary runner for his own team and had an explosive season followed up by what has been a solid follow up effort.  Now that he is out for a game or two with an injury, a third year Snelling is getting his chance to shine.  Not as quick as Turner, Snelling is still considered a very solid all around back, and his numbers so far don’t dispute that.  So what does his future look like in fantasy football?  I would say it looks relatively good, and here is why.

Turner is signed through 2014, so there isn’t likely to be an opening in Atlanta for a while.  However, Snelling will be a restricted free agent after this season, putting the Falcons in a bit of a situation.  His fellow ‘Michael Turner backup’, Jerious Norwood, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, meaning the team will be needing to do something with the backup spot going forward, likely choosing between one or the other of these guys.  Norwood, it could be argued, is the better match to back up Turner, and would likely be the team’s first choice, but it may end up being cheaper and easier to keep Snelling unless he gets a nice offer for another team, which could happen.  Either way, whether he stays or goes, his situation is likely to be much better, either as a feature back or as a back getting more touches per game than he’s been getting as a sort of 2b player for Atlanta.  Look at him as a player with solid upside looking forward both this year and beyond.

Jamaal Charles (KCC) – One thing is fairly certain in Kansas City.  They most certainly will draft a running back relatively early in the draft next season.  However, it is no guarantee that they’ll draft that back in the first round, or even the second, as the needs on the team are many.  Another reason they won’t be in such a rush to grab one early is the emergence of Jamaal Charles.  With the departure of Larry Johnson, Charles has finally been able to get more than a few carries a game in order to prove himself capable.  He’s not a big back, but the second year guy has plenty of tools, including being a threat in the passing game.  He’s grabbed twenty-three passes so far, much of that in a backup role to Larry Johnson, now in Cincinnati.

Charles, it should be noted, is averaging slightly over five yards per carry over his year and a half old career.  This certainly is better than a whole lot of other running backs currently starting in the NFL.  Kolby Smith will get some time for the rest of this year, but after surgery likely isn’t anything more than a possible goal-line back.  So again, looking ahead to next year, unless the Chiefs draft a running back with their first pick, something I’d argue is unlikely, Charles will be the starter and should be at least worth consideration as a third back/flex back, or a second back in deep leagues.

Kahlil Bell (CHI) – One of the hottest names in fantasy football this week is Kahlil Bell.  He’ll be flying off waiver wires across the country this week after his big night Sunday.  As this is a moving up column, this qualifies him as someone we should discuss.  However, before serious fantasy owners take him for anything other than a safety net for Matt Forte, a few things should be noted.

Everyone knows that Forte is having a less than stellar season by his own single season standard.  He’s down a half a yard per carry in average.  He’s averaging twenty-five yards less a game rushing than he did last year, and he’s only scored three touchdowns this season compared to twelve last year.  The thing is, however, the Bears are a one running back team.  Most of the league has gone to the running back by tandem approach, but the NFC North is still the one division that adheres to the old school ideology of one primary back who gets most of the touches.  Minnesota has AP, Detroit has Kevin Smith, and Green Bay has Ryan Grant…and Chicago has Matt Forte.  Don’t expect this to end anytime soon.  The Bears have had a few good backs, most of which have proven themselves in spot duty, over the past couple of years, but they still have remained a feature ball carrier team.  If Bell had been that good he wouldn’t have been on the practice squad over Wolfe and Peterson, he would have been on the active roster. 

It is true that many players have used an injury to another player as a platform to launch a career, but this is not likely to be the case in this situation.  While Bell seems to have some skill and is faster than Forte, there is no bright window ahead for Bell from a fantasy standpoint minus an injury to Forte himself.  If you have Forte, you should be grabbing Bell right now.  If you don’t have Forte, the only thing you’re likely picking up is a bench warmer.

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