Fantasy Football Profile: #4 Running Backs
Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks – Perhaps JJ should be ranked higher, but I just don’t trust him. He has yet to show he can handle a full load and he doesn’t reach the end zone. He did very little out of the backfield last year, which doesn’t even give him much of a bump in PPR leagues. T.J. Duckett will handle the red zone duties and handle the Closer role. Second-year back Justin Forsett will likely handle some of the carries available because of Maurice Morris’ departure. At the end of the day I don’t see JJ with more than 200 carries. His best matchups are in Weeks 1 & 12 vs. the Rams, Weeks 6 & 10 vs. the Cardinals, and Week 9 against Detroit.
Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers – Sproles will have solid numbers, but it will be unsure how many touches he’ll get week to week. If he doesn’t break a long one, you’re likely going to be stuck with under 50 yards of total offense. Of course if LT gets hurt it’s a different story. Sproles will be a hot commodity after the way he finished the season so it’s likely he’s gone before I’m ready to take him. His best matchups are in Weeks 1 & 8 against Oakland, Weeks 6 & 11 against Denver, Weeks 7 & 12 against KC, Week 13 against Cleveland, and Week 15 against Cincinnati.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers - Willie Parker is in a contract year so if the Steelers are going to give Mendenhall the opportunity to prove that he can handle the load. He would be a more reliable backup RB option if the Steelers didn’t have Mewelde Moore, who is an near perfect Third Down RB. Mendenhall should get around ten carries a game, and will likely be given a chance to handle goal line duties. The Steelers have plenty of good matchups against Cincinnati in Weeks 3 & 10, Cleveland in Weeks 6 & 14, Detroit in Week 5, Denver in Week 9, Kansas City in Week 11, and Oakland in Week 13.
Donald Brown, Indianaolis Colts - It’s pretty clear that the Joseph Addai cannot carry the load without a solid running mate. He’s just too injury prone. Dominic Rhodes has moved on to Buffalo, which opens a spot for Donald Brown, Indianapolis’ first round pick, to contribute right away. There is a decent chance that Brown could even supplant Addai as the starter, which would skyrocket his fantasy value. His best matchups come in Week 3 against Arizona, Week 7 against St. Louis, and Week 14 against Denver.
Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals - Hightower will have tougher competition this yearfor the starting gig as Beanie Wells is better than Edge at this stage in his career. Even if Beanie gets the bulk of the carries, Hightwower should still be a threat in the red zone. His best matchups come against St. Louis in Weeks 11 & 16 and Detroit in Week 15.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles - Brian Westbrook has become such an injury risk that you have to make sure you have plenty of solid RB options if you use an early pick on him. One of those option could be his new teammate, LeSean McCoy. McCoy is a complete Back that should gain yards on the ground and through the air. If Westy goes down with an injury, McCoy gets a serious bump. Even if Westbrook does stay healthy, there will be plenty of opportunies for McCoy. His top matchups are against New Orleans in Week 2, Kansas City in Week 3, Oakland in Week 6, and Denver in Week 16.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants - With Derrick Ward moving on to Tampa Bay, Bradshaw should move up to the backup role in the three-headed monster (with lead back Brandon Jacobs and Rookie Andre Brown filling Bradshaw’s former role). I doubt that Bradshaw can run for 1000 yards like his predecessor unless Brandon Jacobs is sidelined for a significant amount of time. The best opportunities to use Bradshaw appear to be in Week 4 vs. KC, Week 5 vs. Oakland, Week 6 vs. New Orleans, Week 7 against Arizona, or Week 12 against Denver.
Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens - The last time we saw Willis McGahee, he was taking a vicious hit in the AFC title game. McGahee easily had the worst season of his career last year, and it looks like he’s yielded the starting gig to ray Rice. He likely won’t even have goal line duties as Le’Ron McClain will likely serve in that capacity. What does that leave for McGahee? About ten carries a game. If Rice or McClain get injured his stock will rise, but it appears McGahee’s fantasy run has ended.