Jamal Lewis. Yes, let me repeat myself … Jamal Lewis. I know, I know, you are all thinking what??? There is no way he is the most undervalued running back going into 2009. I could have gone with someone obvious, someone coming off a down year like Ryan Grant, or someone who was hurt and could bounce back strong like Darren McFadden, but I wanted to take a different approach and look outside the box a bit. Now you are saying ‘ok, I can see Lewis is a little undervalued but come on.’ He plays for the Browns, in the AFC North, plays
Maybe it’s just the optimist in me, but I see those 2,400 career carries in eight* years as a positive. (*Not including 2001 when Lewis missed the entire season due to an ACL injury) Lewis has a career average of 19.7 attempts a game and only twice in his career has he played less than 15 games in a season. One of those seasons being the previously mentioned 2001. Not many running backs in the Top 20 can say that, and in case you forgot Lewis is ranked 29th.
I keep hearing experts say that Lewis is not a home-run threat and that he doesn’t break the big runs. This may be true, but Lewis is a bruiser and incredibly consistent with a career average of 4.2 yards a carry. Not too bad when you consider he’s not too far behind LT’s career avg. of 4.4 yards a carry. Also factor in the almost 20 carries a game Lewis will get, and he is bound to break a couple of long TD scampers. I understand that historically Lewis is not a TD machine (only once in his career has he had 10+ TDs) but he is very consistent and does average 7.25 TDs a season. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to predict touchdowns in a given season. This could be the year that Braylon Edwards gets knocked out at the one-yard line multiple times, leaving Lewis to get the vulture touchdowns … you never know.
A couple more facts you need to consider before drafting. Only once in his career has he had less than 1,000 yards rushing. (2005-906 yards) Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Lewis does have a 2,000 yard season under his belt? With the addition of new head coach Eric Mangini, look for Lewis to take over the role that Thomas Jones had for the Jets last year. Mangini showed that he wasn’t afraid to give his power back the ball and let him run. Look for Jerome Harrison to take on a role like Leon Washington did last year for the Jets. If you are not on the Jamal bandwagon yet, look at his schedule down the stretch and I’m sure he will be moving up your draft board. He has a very favorable schedule the last seven weeks of the season and four of those games are against Detroit, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Oakland, who finished 32nd, 21st, 30th and 31st respectively in rush yards against last year. Just remember the name Jamal Lewis when you are creating your rankings this year; don’t forget the key to fantasy football is all about value, and Lewis could be a great value this year.
Soon to come will be articles on the most undervalued QB, WR, TE, K and DEF.