Welcome to the second rushing camp edition of the Brew Crew Corner. Training camps have opened and fantasy drafts are around the corner. Last article we discussed the AFC outlook at the runningback position. While we are discussing runningbacks, is the strategy of handcuffing your stud runningback becoming less of a draft rule these days? It seems that there are few teams that have a true featured back which forces owners to have to reach for some runningbacks in order to lock up that team’s backfield.
In the past, you would draft a Shaun Alexander in the first round and then take Maurice Morris a round earlier then his average draft position at the end of a draft to handcuff Alexander. The situation has now changed as teams drafting a DeAngelo Williams must grab Johnathan Stewart two rounds later. Where will guys such as Javon Ringer of
The Patriots have the NFL’s oldest group of runningbacks, but the Redskins are right behind them with a group of former stud backs. Clinton Portis, who should be the starter, will have to make amends with new coach Mike Shanahan who traded the runningback away earlier in his career. Portis was injured in Week 9 last year and missed the final seven games of the season. When healthy he can produce as he’s averaged 1,422 rushing yards his last three healthy seasons. He had a concussion last season and under the new guidelines would miss significant time if he sustained another blow. Portis is currently going in mock drafts around the ninth round, after busts like Darren McFadden and often injured Cadillac Williams. I’d gamble on Portis that cheap. If could be a very valuable flex option like Ricky Williams was last season. Behind Portis are the ghosts of fantasy first rounders past. Larry Johnson saved his career playing in
There is a new era in
Hidden by the recent drafting of Dez Bryant and the hosting of this years’ Super Bowl is the fact that the Cowboys have a really good 1-2-3 punch in the back field. Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice combined to lead the Cowboys to the league’s seventh-best rushing team. Barber has been a forgotten man in fantasy leagues. He is not a featured back, but his stock has fallen even though he out performed Jones last year. Barber has fallen to the sixth round and is drafted around Justin Forsett, Jerome Harrison and Ben Tate. If he’s there for me in the sixth, I’m grabbing him because Barber is still a productive runner that will get you at least 7-8 scores. Last year, Barber had some injuries but still rushed for almost 1,000 yards. Jones is the flashier pick, but won’t be the starter unless there is an injury to Barber. Jones has durability concerns as well, but is going in the fourth or fifth round. Choice has had his moments when stepping in for both Barber and Jones and can give you 70-90 yards and a score should he get an opportunity to start a few games. The Cowboys should press teams more in the passing lane which will allow the runningbacks to find room to run. This unit will be in the top 10 once again, but as a runningback by committee. Still, Barber’s value should not be passed up.
New York Giants
What a difference a year makes. In 2008, the Giants finished as the No. 1 rushing team and then in 2009 they finished 17th. The dropoff was because the team found new life in the passing game and had some injuries to Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Entering camp, Bradshaw is coming off of three surgeries and is still not healthy. That means Jacobs can once again carry a bigger load. The Giants like to work their runningbacks similar to Dallas and Carolina, where they can hit you with a bruiser or they can make you chase with speed. Jacobs needs to get back to his 2008 form where he rushed for 15 touchdowns. Bradshaw will be limited and may not be healthy all season. D.J. Ware, Andre Brown and Gartrell Johnson will battle it out for the third option. The Giants running game has value in drafts. I like Jacobs around where Barber is going.