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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 15
Tim Van Prooyen
December 15, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Movin’ Up

Breakdown: The regular season of fantasy football is coming to an end in many leagues.  With that 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.

Aaron Brown (DET) – When Kevin Smith went down Sunday with what looks to be a very bad knee injury, it meant that Maurice Morris would move up to the starting role, but also meant that the team would have a chance to see what they have in their sixth round draft pick from this year, Aaron Brown.  Brown has had his ups and downs already this year, taken a turn in the coach’s dog house, etc., but he’s come through those things with his head up and has become more and more explosive when he touches the ball as the season has worn on.  Primarily used as a return man, he’s also taken a few turns in relief of Smith, and hasn’t done too shabby.  With Smith gone, these opportunities will increase.

The Lions are, it would finally seem, a team on the rise.  Though injuries have hit them hard this year, the talent they have amassed in the last couple of drafts is hard to miss.  Matt Stafford seems to be the real deal at quarterback, Brandon Pettigrew was just starting to show flashes of what he offered the league before being lost for the season, and Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league.   Kevin Smith, who hopefully will return by next year some time though we won’t know for a few days the full extent of his injury, is a solid back, but lacks some of the speed that Brown brings.  The fact that Maurice Morris turned 30 on the first of this month means that he’s not likely to become a long term feature back option for anyone, and even if Smith comes back at 100%, he’ll still likely take a while to regain his previous form, meaning all doors are open for Brown to start having a significant impact not just the remaining portion of this season, but into next season as well.  You’re probably not looking at a solid number one back, at least not for a while, but he’ll definitely be a solid number three guy to help in deep leagues, with number two back numbers within his reach.

Quinton Ganther (WAS) – I read something that I found almost hard to believe the other day in The Washington Post.  In an article discussing the team’s future at the running back position after the injury to Clinton Portis, it was stated that there had been 148 running backs drafted in the NFL since the team had last drafted one – Ladell Betts – in 2002’s second round.  Mind you, that 148 number does NOT include fullbacks…just primary running backs.  It went on to point out that at all of the other teams in the league, during that same time, had drafted two or more backs, with most taking at least five.  To make it even worse, as Portis has gotten older, the Redskins still haven’t drafted a running back, as accentuated by the fact that since 2007 every team but Washington has drafted one.  So, now they find themselves in a bit of a pickle.

Enter Quinton Ganther.  He’s not fast, so he’s not going to have many long runs, but he seems to be a solid back that coaches appreciate.  More importantly however, he’s in the right place at the right time.  When the Redskins passed on Larry Johnson a few weeks ago, they were banking on Portis staying healthy, so they missed out on that boat.  Ganther, drafted in 2006 by Tennessee, was named the starter for the Redskins last week and ran for 50 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders Sunday.  Ganther isn’t going to put up monster stats, he plays for the Redskins let us not forget, but he’s going to be the starter for at least the remainder of the season, meaning he automatically gets default value in fantasy leagues.  Looking ahead to next year, it is likely the team will draft a running back in the first round unless they make a big trade or sign a big free agent, either way putting someone in the running at a minimum to compete with Ganther.  However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Washington has traditionally been big on running backs who are big, solid, bruising type backs, not the scat-back types, so there is a fair chance that one way or the other, if he finishes this season strong, Ganther could be a factor even into next season as a goal-line or change of pace type-back. 

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