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2010 NFC Rush Camp

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
Tennessee, Toby Gehart of Minnesota and Rashad Jennings of

get selected? The runningbacks for these teams will go in the top 3. With the depth at runningback these days, it is better to grab players that are getting carries rather than a handcuff that sees little action on game day. I am suggesting this strategy for those owners who do not have a top 5 runningback, as well as those who stock up on other teams backups in hopes of an injury. Ray Rice is the runningback in the top 5 whose backup will cost you the most, as Willis McGahee is more than capable of stepping in to shoulder the load if Rice were to go down with an injury.




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

by proving he could be a viable backup to starter Cedric Benson. Since his back-to-back monster seasons in 2005 and 2006, Johnson has been a disappointment as a fantasy starter. He will be 30 this year. Sitting in third for now is once-fast Willie Parker who had a very poor year in 2009 dealing with injuries and losing his starting job. With back-to-back disappointing seasons, Parker is no longer a fantasy option and might not even make the team. The Redskins have talked about adding Brian Westbrook, who is also dealing with injuries and concussions, but would push Parker off the roster if he signed.



There is a new era in

as two of the main starters, Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb, are no longer leading this team. Westbrook has been released and may sign with Washington or some other team before the start of the season. Last year, rookie runningback LeSean McCoy took over the runningback duties while Westbrook missed time, but he struggled in most games and ended up splitting time with fullback Leonard Weaver. McCoy still needs to prove that he can handle the full workload. He is currently going in the late third round and is veru tough to pass on, since he will be the starter. I would take Chris Wells ahead of McCoy. Also, on the roster is Mike Bell, who produced in a limited role in New Orleans as the third runningback, so keep an eye on him should McCoy suffer an injury.

Dallas Cowboys

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.

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