Is 30-Years Old Over the Hill for RB’s?

Sep 4, 2013

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By Nelson Sousa, scoutPRO fantasy football expert
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Anyone who has ever watched an NFL game can second the notion that playing running back is no walk in the park. Your body takes a physical beating, whether it is running between the tackles, taking on a blitzing linebacker in pass protection or getting wrapped up by a 300-pound defensive lineman. A number that is often bounced around in the NFL media regarding RB’s is 3, which signifies the average career of an NFL back. One day a guy can be on top of the world, and then all of a sudden he can disappear in the abyss. An example of this would by Priest Holmes. From 2001 – 2004, Holmes rushed for 5,482 yards (1,370 per year) and scored 70 TD’s (17.5 per year) for the Kansas City Chiefs. After 2004, he only played in 11 more games and ended up retiring in 2007 due to reoccurring neck and head injuries.
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When Week 1 kicks into full swing this week, there will be a number of RB’s who are at least 30 years old playing a significant role in their team’s offense.  Here is how I think they will perform, along with scoutPRO’s innovative fantasy point projections for Week 1:
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Steven Jackson
Age:  30
Week 1 Opponent:  at Saints
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As good as the Saints are on offense, they are equally as bad on defense.  In 2012, they finished last in the NFL in rushing yards given up per game (147.6 YPG).  In 6 career games against New Orleans, Jackson has averaged 5.17 YPC and scored 6 TD’s.  During his days in St. Louis, he was often the focal point of the opposing defense’s game plan.  They would put 8 or 9 guys in the box and make somebody else try and beat them.  If teams plan on stacking the box when they play Atlanta, Matt Ryan and company will tear them apart in the passing game.  With that being said, Jackson will probably see the most running room of his career and could put up some big numbers in the Falcons high-powered offense, starting with Week 1 against New Orleans.
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Darren Sproles
Age:  30
Week 1 Opponent:  vs. Falcons
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This dude might be little, but man is he quick.  He doesn’t factor into the run game much, but he has caught 161 passes and 14 TD’s in two years with the Saints.  However, he hasn’t had much success against the Falcons (only 11 catches and 1 TD in 4 games).  Despite that, he is always a threat as a pass catching RB.  Like the Saints, Atlanta isn’t known for their defensive prowess.  Sproles has 23 games with 5+ receptions as a Saint, so maybe Week 1 will be his first big game against Atlanta.
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DeAngelo Williams
Age:  30
Week 1 Opponent:  vs. Seahawks
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With Jonathan Stewart on the PUP list and out at least 6 weeks, Williams will be the RB1 in Carolina.  His production has really slipped over the past few years due to poor offensive line play and the presence of Cam Newton.  Despite a lack of touches, he still has had a respectable 4.6 YPC over the past 3 seasons.  He finished 2012 with a bang, rumbling for over 200 yards against New Orleans.  While the situation looks good for him, it could get off to a rough start against the physical Seahawks defense.  Williams managed only 6 yards against them last year on 6 carries.  With Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert always a threat to steal TD’s in the red zone, Week 1 might not be the time to put him in your lineup.
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Frank Gore
Age:  30
Week 1 Opponent:  vs. Packers
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Gore has been a model of consistency during his career, rushing for 1,000 yards in 6 out of 8 seasons in the NFL.  In 2012, he ran for 231 yards and scored 2 TD’s against Green Bay in 2 games (6.1 YPC).  Heading into this season, the 49ers have one of the best offensive lines in the league and are a run first team.  Combine that with their uncertainty at the WR position due to the Michael Crabtree injury, it looks safe to say that they will be running the ball quite a bit.  Behind him on the depth chart are Kendall Hunter (coming back from an Achilles tear) and LaMichael James (out for a few weeks with a knee injury).  If Gore can stay healthy, he should have a good chance at another 1,000-yard season.
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Want more player analytics and predictions? Subscribe to scoutPRO today and use the code LESTERSLEGENDS to receive 10% off now through September 15, 2013.
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Nelson Sousa is one of the most trusted experts in fantasy football.  From the National Fantasy Football Championship, Fantasy Football Players Championship and Fantasy Football World Championships, Nelson has years of experience at the highest level.  His scouting tactics include watching and analyzing every NFL game to grade player performance and determine players of interest.  With such in depth analysis, Nelson has won over $100,000 in the past three years.
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