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Is It Time To Dump Ryan Grant?

Ryan Grant’s impact on the fantasy football world during the second half of the 2007 season was nothing short of tremendous. He had received his first start for the Green Bay Packers during a Week 8 Monday night road game against the Denver Broncos, rushing 22 times for 104 yards. Following the contest, you could almost hear the footsteps of every interested fantasy owner in

America scrambling to a computer to put in a waiver-wire request for this totally unknown player. Grant went on to average 18 carries for 92.9 rushing yards and 0.8 touchdowns per contest in 10 starts. His consistent fantasy production helped lift some teams to second-half respectability and helped propel others into the playoffs. After watching the 6-foot-1, 224-pound Grant shred the Seattle Seahawks with 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns during a cold and snowy National Football League playoff game, it looked like we had witnessed the emergence of another standout running back and future fantasy star.

 

Those of you who had selected Grant in your 2008 drafts – probably with a first – or second-round pick – obviously thought you knew what you were getting. Grant, however, has been one of the biggest busts to date. He has amassed just 269 rushing yards (53.8 yards per game) in five starts and has not scored. Trading or cutting a high-round pick is never an easy decision, but with close to a third of the fantasy football season behind us, you’re probably wondering whether it’s time to make a move with Grant.

 

What Is Your Grant IQ?

 

Surprisingly, not many fantasy owners know the skinny on Grant’s football background. He played his college football at Notre Dame between 2001 and 2004 but hardly qualified as an All-American or a Heisman Trophy candidate.

 

RYAN GRANT – COLLEGE CAREER

RUSHING

RECEIVING

YEAR

ATT

YARDS

AVG

TD

REC

YDS

AVG

TD

2001

29

110

3.8

1

2

7

3.5

0

2002

261

1,085

4.2

9

9

22

2.4

0

2003

143

510

3.6

3

9

64

7.1

0

2004

127

515

4.1

5

6

51

8.5

0

TOTALS

560

2,220

4.0

18

26

144

5.5

0

 

Grant did not play much during his freshman year, but he blossomed during his sophomore season. The

New York state native started 12 games, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. In 2003, Grant split time with Julius Jones (Seattle Seahawks), starting just the first five games of the season before losing his job to Jones. Although Grant was named a team captain during his final season, he split time with Darius Walker, playing in nine games.

 

Grant was clocked at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but the scouts did not consider him fast or much of a prospect. He was not selected in the 2005 NFL Draft. The New York Giants signed Grant as an undrafted free agent and placed him on their practice squad. Did you know that Grant missed the entire 2006 season after suffering a freak injury that almost killed him? According to an article published at nytimes.com, Grant was dancing at a night club when somebody accidentally knocked him down. Grant cut his left arm on several champagne glasses, severing an artery, a tendon and the ulnar nerve, and almost bled to death. Doctors feared that Grant would lose the use of his left hand, but he did fully recover.

 

The Giants traded Grant to the Packers in September 2007, just before the start of the regular season, in exchange for a future sixth-round pick. Between Week 1 and Week 7, Grant was

Green Bay’s No. 3 back behind Vernand Morency and DeShawn Wynn. With Wynn sidelined due to an injury in Week 8, Grant received his first start with the Packers.

 

RYAN GRANT – 2007 REGULAR SEASON STARTS

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

ATT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

Week 08

@Denver

W, 19 – 13

22

104

0

3

7

0

Week 09

@Kansas City

W, 33 – 19

19

55

0

4

37

0

Week 10

Minnesota

W, 34 – 00

25

119

1

5

20

0

Week 11

Carolina

W, 31 – 17

20

88

0

1

2

0

Week 12

@Detroit

W, 37 – 26

15

101

1

6

31

0

Week 13

@Dallas

L, 27 – 37

14

94

2

1

4

0

Week 14

Oakland

W, 38 – 07

29

156

1

2

6

0

Week 15

@St. Louis

W, 33 – 14

18

55

1

2

3

0

Week 16

@Chicago

L, 07 – 35

14

100

1

2

9

0

Week 17

Detroit

^

W, 34 – 13

6

57

1

0

0

0

 ^Did not play the entire game

 

Why Has Grant Struggled In 2008?

 

Here are Grant’s 2008 numbers to date:

 

RYAN GRANT – 2008 REGULAR SEASON STARTS

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

ATT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

Week 01

Minnesota

W, 24 – 19

12

92

0

0

0

0

Week 02

@Detroit

W, 48 – 25

15

20

0

0

0

0

Week 03

Dallas

L, 17 – 31

13

54

0

0

0

0

Week 04

@

Tampa

Bay

L, 30 – 21

15

20

0

2

-4

0

Week 05

Atlanta

L, 24 – 27

18

83

0

0

0

0

 

Grant has been a disappointment because of a combination of the following four issues:

 

1. The Hamstring Injury

You’ve undoubtedly heard the story about Grant’s hamstring ailment. He had held out of training camp, seeking a much more lucrative contract. After he and the club agreed to a deal, Grant returned and suffered the injury. If you believe what Grant and

Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy have said, the hamstring was healed up by Week 4. It’s worth noting that Grant did rush 18 times for 83 yards against the Atlanta Falcons. McCarthy has also said Grant has struggled to find his rhythm in the offense due to missing so much time in the preseason. From my perspective, Grant has not been able to find the cutback lanes like he did last season. Fumbles have been an issue, too. Grant obviously needs to do a better job of securing the ball.

 

2. The Offensive Line

The offensive line has been hampered with some recent injuries and has frequently played at a less-than-stellar level. There is the belief among some that Brett Favre had used his veteran savvy and quick release to make this unit look much better than it actually was. Even with Favre in the fold, the

Green Bay O-line always was a stronger pass-blocking group than a run-blocking group. Tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are two of the better ones in the league.

Clifton, Tauscher, guard Daryn Colledge and guard Jason Spitz, however, are not top-notch run-blockers. Center Scott Wells is rock-solid in all areas.

 

3.

Enemy Defenses Don’t Respect Aaron Rodgers’ Deep Ball – Yet

When opposing defenses faced the Packers with Favre under center, we all knew that they were scared silly of his ability to throw deep. They had game-planned with the goal of stopping Favre and were willing to concede yardage on the ground. Rodgers does not have Favre’s big arm, but Rodgers can stretch the field to a lesser degree. However, this year, enemy defenses are not afraid to set up a little closer to the line of scrimmage to stop Grant, as evidenced by how well the Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers contained him in Week 2 and Week 4, respectively.

 

On the subject of Rodgers, it may take a little more time for him and his teammates to jell as a unit. Don’t forget – he has started just five regular-season games. In addition, Rodgers does not seem interested in throwing to his running backs, which has hurt Grant’s value to a small extent.

 

4. The

Green Bay Defense Is Struggling

An otherwise healthy Packers defense struggled mightily in Week 3 against the Cowboys. Injuries set in and really hampered this group in Week 4 against the Buccaneers and in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. It’s hard to run the ball consistently when you need to throw to catch up on the scoreboard.

 

Grant’s Fantasy Forecast

 

I’m sure you figured out on your own that Grant is no longer a weekly must-start. He looks like a risky start against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. Granted, the Giants offense torched the Seahawks defense with 254 rushing yards at the Meadowlands in Week 5, but

Seattle usually plays much better at home.

 

In the long-term, I think there are better days ahead for Grant, and he should become modestly more productive. At this point, however, I doubt he will match the weekly numbers that he posted last season. Grant is finally healthy, and I suspect McCarthy will make every effort to improve the O-line play. Rodgers – assuming he stays reasonably healthy – should improve and throw down the field more frequently as he becomes more comfortable as the starter.

 

I have two concerns: The injuries on defense and the Packers’ upcoming schedule. The injury to cornerback Al Harris (spleen) has received a lot of attention, but not many are talking about the season-ending injury suffered by defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (torn pectoral). If you take a defensive lineman away from a defense, it cripples that unit more than you would think and makes it more susceptible to the run. We saw that happen last week when the Falcons rolled up 176 rushing yards on the Packers at Lambeau Field. As I said, you can’t run the ball regularly when you have to throw frequently to stay in the game.

 

Here is

Green Bay’s remaining schedule:

 

DATE

WEEK #

OPPONENT

Oct. 12

Week 06

@ Seattle

Oct. 19

Week 07

Indianapolis

Oct. 26

Week 08

BYE

Nov. 02

Week 09

@ Tennessee

Nov. 09

Week 10

@ Minnesota

Nov. 16

Week 11

Chicago

Nov. 24

Week 12

@ New Orleans

Nov. 30

Week 13

Carolina

Dec. 07

Week 14

Houston

Dec. 14

Week 15

@ Jacksonville

Dec. 22

Week 16

@ Chicago

Dec. 28

Week 17

Detroit

 

Should you release Grant? No. Do you really think you’ll find a better running back on the waiver wire? Should you trade Grant? It depends your team’s running back depth, and it depends on what you are offered. Grant will face the Colts terrible run defense at home, which is his best chance to post some strong numbers. This should raise his value in the eyes of some owners, which is why, in my opinion, you should strongly consider trading Grant at that point – if you want to make the move. His schedule after the bye week looks heavy on tough matchups.

Tennessee,

Minnesota,

Chicago,

Carolina and

Jacksonville all currently rank in the Top 15 in stopping the run.

New Orleans and

Houston are softer matchups.

Detroit is too, but most fantasy leagues have wrapped up in Week 16. Bottom line – it’s hard to see Grant living up to what are turning out to be overly-optimistic preseason No. 1 fantasy running back expectations, and he does not make a particularly safe No. 2 back with such a challenging schedule. If you can’t trade Grant, it’s not the end of the world for your fantasy team. I think he will play somewhat better as the season progresses, but, as mentioned, a majority of the matchups that he will face do not look favorable.

 

 

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