Fantasy Football 2011: The Backup Files

A novice fantasy player might associate the term handcuff with the Cincinnati Bengals or Plaxico Burress. However, not knowing how to handcuff properly could put you in the equivalent of fantasy jail… Last place. An owner handcuffing his starting running backs to the backups is extremely important these days. Quite a few NFL teams have a clear backup runner and it’s usually pretty easy to identify them by hype or ADP. Of course there are the teams that use a multi-back system as well. This piece will discuss all of the teams that could, or have seen some changes to their depth charts at running back. Let’s quickly tackle which teams don’t have glaring issues at the RB1 and RB2 spots.
There will also be a note for which teams seem very likely to employ some sort of running back by committee (RBBC). This ranking is based on value in standard formats of the backup on his respective depth chart (second player listed):

1. San Diego Chargers: Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews (RBBC): Mathews is going off the board way too soon. In a perfect world, he still won’t be able to win the job at the goal line.
2. Miami Dolphins: Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas (RBBC): It feels like Thomas’ ADP has been steadily falling since camp started.
3. Carolina Panthers: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart (RBBC): DeAngelo got the money, but will the ankle be a problem?
4. Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden and Michael Bush: Run DMC has missed three or more games in all three seasons.
5. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson (RBBC): If Fred Jax gets traded, it would likely hurt his value. This is going to be a mess with both on the roster and it’s not like the Bills are going to be good.
6. New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs (RBBC): Jacobs, with his 5.6 YPC last year, looked great against the Bears. He’ll be climbing up draft boards.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings: Meniscus Jones-Drew is one low tackle away from IR. Jennings would be featured.
8. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Grant and James Starks: Reports are that Grant doesn’t look like his old self. This situation needs to be monitored heavily.
9. New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas (RBBC): Darren Sproles could also take quite a few snaps. Pierre isn’t getting work in the red zone and shouldn’t be off the board before 100.
10. Houston Texans: Arian Foster and Ben Tate: Houston has the talent and schedule to be the best fantasy offense.

Read more of The Backup Files after the jump:

11. New York Jets: Shonn Greene and Ladainian Tomlinson: Ladainian took a pay cut for a reason, but could still vulture touchdowns from Greene. Greene only had two scores last year.
12. Kansas City Chiefs: Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones: Charles is featured now and is the top pick in some circles. K.C. is going to run and T.J. shouldn’t be too far off his 896 rushing yards and six scores from last season.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown: Brown could be returning kicks for Philly. Return-yardage leagues take notice.
14. Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee: Willis has 1,541 career carries and his YPC fell from 5.0 in ’09 to 3.9 in ’10. The gruesome BCS knee injury will shorten his career.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner and Jason Snelling: Snelling gets the passing downs and would be featured. Turner is 29, but played in all 16 games for two of his three years in Atlanta.
16. Chicago Bears: Matt Forte and Marion Barber: So much for those Minnesota Gopher running backs becoming impact ball carriers. Maroney still hasn’t signed.
17. Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart: AD slipped to seventh in the ’07 NFL Draft for durability concerns (missed nine of 31 games at OU), yet he has played in 14 or more games every year.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman: Mendy going to get the ball a ton. It’s great for his value, but all the more likely he gets hurt.
19. Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott: Bengals have one of the best fantasy playoff schedules for a running back with Houston (W14), St. Louis (W15) and Arizona (W16). They are going to be horrible though.
20. St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson and Carnell Williams: Despite S-Jax’s adept skills out of the backfield, Caddy might get some third-down looks. Even if Jackson goes down, Caddy is too brittle to be a featured back.

Notable changes over the weekend

Miami Dolphins
Reggie Bush arguably took the largest jump in ADP among fantasy nation with his one preseason showing on Friday. His night included five carries for 48 yards and two catches for 33 yards in the first half. Bush looked great and was making some Panthers stink worse than Sex Panther by Odeon. Reggae Bush is one of those guys where someone in your league is now drooling over him. Chances are he is going to be off the board well before he should be. Don’t be that guy.
Bush went from the arguably the best situation possible with Sean Payton and the Saints, to a team that has gone on record that they will relentlessly run the rock. Yes, Bush is a running back, but the way he created value was in the passing game and he’ll likely need to do that again. That’s going to be easier said than done considering that the only thing Drew Brees and Chad Henne have in common is that they’re Big Ten products.
Bush does have some nice value in PPR and it is fairly justified that he goes in the top-25 backs, but probably about 10 percent of the fantasy community thinks that Reggie Bush is this year’s Arian Foster. It’s one game and maybe he was just motivated because Kim Kardashian was getting married. Atta boy, Kris Humphries. Bush shouldn’t be off the board before the 70th pick in standard leagues.
Daniel Thomas lost a bit of momentum with a pedestrian line of 52 yards on 12 carries. He looked a bit off on passing downs and didn’t make too many decisive moves in making blocks. Nevertheless, Thomas has some nice value considering he will lead the team is carries and the probability of Bush staying healthy is about the same as him getting his Heisman Trophy back. Thomas should be off the board first in standards, but it is a lot closer today than it was a week ago. Owners also shouldn’t be concerned with Larry Johnson.

Houston Texans So much for that hamstring injury, right? Arian Foster made his 2011 debut on Saturday night and didn’t disappoint with his performance of 47 yards on five carries with two touchdowns. Given the weakness of Minnesota’s offensive line and the CJ2K holdout, Arian has really made an overwhelming case as the top pick in drafts.
The bigger news was the explosion of Ben Tate Office Running Back. I think he’s Terry’s cousin. He killed the Joe and made some mo’ by torching the Saints D to the tune nine carries for 95 yards with a score. Tate looked like an upper-middle class version of Arian Foster making timely cuts and keeping second-level defenders guessing. It’s important to remember that there was some buzz that Tate could have been an impact fantasy asset last year before he fractured his ankle and was subsequently placed on IR. Last night’s showcase clearly put Tate as the handcuff for Foster. There has been nothing concrete that he passed Derrick Ward on the depth chart. The proof is in the pudding.
As illustrated above, Michael Bush and Rashad Jennings are the elite handcuffs that aren’t considered as RBBC options. Arian Foster owners will want to hedge their bets a bit and consider Ben Tate as the third handcuff on the list.

Denver Broncos
Willis McGahee broke in his new Mile High Salute by scoring two touchdowns against the Bills. McGahee’s second TD was a nice swing pass that he took to the house for 13 yards. The scores were on the highlight reel, but his six yards on five carries won’t be. McGahee will be 30 in October and he’ll need more than a fancy visor to look like a spring chicken. As much as it looked like there’s a chance the M&M combo of Moreno and McGahee an even split, it’s a bit unlikely. For what it’s worth, coach John Fox figures to try and run the ball quite a bit, so McGahee might still be able to get 12 touches and it’s almost a lock Willis gets the GL work. He has value in most leagues regardless of role.
Knowshon Moreno’s ADP has been all over the place in the past couple weeks. In the ESPN mocks, I’ve seen him go in the 26-to-30 range a few times (not in Yahoo! Because they have him incredibly low). Chances are Knowshon’s owner has a bad feeling, so it might be a good idea to try and send a low-ball offer. As for those that haven’t drafted yet, he’d be a nice value pick around the 45th selection.

Buffalo Bills
As the Buffalo preseason game started, it was announced that C.J. Spiller has supplanted Fred Jackson as the starting back on the depth chart. This should have come to the surprise of nobody based on how the Bills are nowhere near contending. Spiller was going after Fred Jax in almost every draft based on Jax’s strong season and Spiller failing to live up to the hype. Jackson still seems like a better fit on paper for his favorable skills in the passing game. The Bills figure to play from behind in the vast majority of games again this year and even in an ideal situation, Spiller will have a tough time getting most of the third-down work.
Now that Spiller is the "starter" he will garner much more attention in drafts because he’s in his second year and is the much sexier pick. While he should be coming off the board before Jackson for his upside, there’s no way Spiller should be one of the first 25 backs taken in your draft.

New York Jets
Not much changed at the top of the back rotation with Shonn Greene out due to a skin infection of his foot. He should be fine and should be a low-end RB2 in most formats. His elder partner in crime, Ladainian Tomlinson, looked like a guy that has run the ball 3,099 times in the career. LT looked about as flat as soda that was left open for the day by posting 16 yards on nine carries. He did add a nice 10-yard catch though.
Conversely, Joe McKnight looked fantastic against the Bengals. McKnight resembled his days back at USC with 36 yards on seven carries to go with a TD reception. This sounds great and all, but Joey Mac still has a lot to prove for the Jets and their fans. The draft pick used to get him was acquired by the Jets when they traded fan-favorite Leon Washington to Seattle. McKnight has been considered a bust at this point, but Sunday could be a sign of things to come for a guy that was once considered the best prospect coming out of high school.
The bottom line on this one is that Greene is looking safe as a fantasy starter at running back. Even if he goes down, Tomlinson could be splitting carries with McKnight. If Greene remains healthy, LT could still get the touches at the goal line and he does have some value as a desperation flex in 12-team leagues.

Chicago Bears
On Monday night Marion Barber looked like the Marion Barber that was expected to be the featured back a couple seasons ago for Dallas. He was running north-south and fearlessly took on tacklers at every chance he could.
Barber’s showing has put Matt Forte on thin ice for carries at the goal line and it has knocked Forte out of the third round (12-team, non-PPR leagues) with this development. The best thing going for Forte is not missing any games in his career. As for Barber, his upside really shouldn’t be that high with Chester Taylor likely to have another year left on the tires. Barber could be a nice flex option in deeper leagues for the short TD chances against weaker defenses.

Position battles at the RB2
Before we get down to business in discussing the muddled messes below, allow me just to say that I’m from the school of thought where I will never, ever draft less than six backs. I’ll almost always have eight on my team by the time the season starts regardless of format (I cut my kicker and often D/ST to make room) as well. Running back in the most boom-or-bust and volatile position in fantasy, so the more depth one team has the less likely that team will be in a pickle. Kind of like Jimmy Clausen. Not to mention RB depth gives an owner the edge in the trade market over those that neglect the importance of the position and only have one healthy back that’s truly start worthy.
Fantasy owners, especially owners in deeper leagues, need to be aware of all the competition at the second and third running back spots. At multiple points in the season a second-string back will become an must-start option over a multiple-week span. Guaranteed.
The unattractive thing about targeting second-string backs most of the time is that those backs tend to be on bad teams or teams that do not run the ball effectively. Well, fantasy is all maximizing talent in an optimum opportunity. See the Madden 2012 cover for an example. It’s no surprise when a guy that most fantasy players have never heard of has helped fantasy teams to a championship. Pat yourself on the back if you had Nick Goings on your team. The following, in no particular order, is a list of teams with some issues at their backup running back spot:

Arizona Cardinals
The biggest blow in a preseason game goes to the Cardinals. Friday night second-round rookie Ryan Williams tore his patellar tendon in the second quarter of action. The injury has ended his season and he was sadly placed on IR.
The patellar tendon is that bulky tissue that is directly below the kneecap that is connected to the top of the tibia (shin) and Ryan Williams will have a very tough time rebuilding from this injury. A tear of the patellar tendon is arguably the second-toughest injury to come back from following an ACL tear. A complete tear of the tendon will make it very difficult for Williams to straighten his leg. Williams should be a nice late-round pick in next year’s drafts.
Unless your league counts kick-return yards, chances are that not even 20-team leagues drafted a third running back on Cardinals behind Beanie Wells and Williams. The Cardinals are left with scat back LaRod Stephens-Howling and second-year player Alfonso Smith. LSH has shown flashes of brilliance in the passing and return games, but Coach Whiz would never allow a man of LSH’s stature (5’7’, 185) to run the rock more than nine times a game. If your league does count kickoff return yards, the injury to Williams makes LSH a very attractive add, also in deeper PPR leagues.
After watching the second half, Alfonso Smith became at least a lottery ticket for owners in deep leagues. Smith is another one of those one-cut-and-go backs that most head coaches like in their systems. He did a decent job of pass protection considering that Dom Capers had a field day sending blitzes to the inept Arizona offensive line. Smith made some smart blocks and did a lot better than expected. As it stands right now, he might be worth a flyer for owners that have nothing but garbage left on the wire. The probability that the Cardinals add a back via free agency is as close to 100 percent as it could get, but Smith is currently the handcuff of choice today. Which begs the question: Who will the Cardinals be looking to add?
The first person that comes to mind is certainly Clinton Portis. The U product was reportedly in worse shape than Miami’s program. OK, maybe not that bad. Portis would actually be a nice fit for the Cardinals as an above-average blocker and as a runner who hits the hole aggressively. Secondly, there has been no news about Kevin Smith in quite some time. He does have an ACL injury on his resume, but he is only in his third year and should have something in the tank, assuming he is healthy. He’d be a nice fit. The best of the rest includes: Laurence Maroney, Brian Westbrook, Julius Jones, and Tiki Barber. Beanie Wells is expected to get a heavy workload, which means the likelihood of an injury increases by a wide margin.
Side note: Beanie Wells is really a legitimate pick in the 40-to-50 range for his upside and lack of competition. He’ll obviously come with some risk, but a fairly weak schedule and an improved offense with Kolb at the helm makes him someone to target. It’s worth noting that I’m actually anti-Beanie.

Detroit Lions
The Lions also took an enormous blow when Mikel LeShoure suffered a torn Achilles in training camp. Like Ryan Williams, the injury will cost him the season and an Achilles tear is also one of the hardest injuries to rehab. Well at least he’s young.
The Lions still had some decent options in free agency to replace LeShoure and opted to sign Jerome Harrison to become Jahvid Best’s backup. Harrison is best remembered for his 286-yard, three-TD drubbing of the Chiefs in December 2009. He had a very quiet 2010 and was traded to the Eagles. He was able to muster a respectable 4.6 YPC, 320 rushing yards on the season and even had a 109-yard rushing performance against the Redskins (Vick’s monster game that allowed garbage time).
Harrison is thrust into an advantageous position this year, and ESPN rankings actually launched him to number 100 in their rankings, which is a bit high, but it is certainly justified. The main reason is all about the inability of Jahvid Best to stay healthy. Best’s career was cut short at Cal due to a concussion. Best did suffer a mild concussion in the game this weekend. The magnitude of Best’s concussion at Cal has forced Detroit’s hand to handle him with kid gloves. The injury history as a whole makes him one of the top-five backs most likely to miss time this year.
The other reason to like Harrison is the Lions have quite the explosive offensive. Matthew Stafford and Megatron should move the ball down the field effectively and put plenty of points on the board. The Lions don’t have a short-yardage back on their roster at this point, which bodes well for the prospects that Harrison would remain the short-yardage back in the event of a Best injury. The Washington State product should obviously be owned in all leagues, but only Best owners shouldn’t be willing to invest a pick around 100 on a guy that isn’t 100 percent assured to explode in an ideal situation. Mike Bell andMaurice Morris could sneak past Harrison on the depth chart as well. Morris already had his chance and Bell looked like a guy that has been hoping around from team to team since his Bronco days. Harrison is a must-own, just not around pick 100.

San Francisco 49ers
Kendall Parker was introduced to the majority of the fantasy community on Saturday with his 53-yard scamper that highlighted his evening of 105 rushing yards and a TD. Hunter is only 5-foot-7 and tips the scales at 199 pounds, so there’s really not enough upside for him to become an elite back. Especially when the Niners aren’t capable of being a passing team.
One takeaway is that Anthony Dixon isn’t exactly a draft-worthy handcuff in standard leagues. What’s more, one could make a case that Parker is more attractive given that Dixon has sort of fallen out of favor and had his chance. It’s also worth mentioning with a new regime in San Fran, Parker could become the man sans Gore. Kevin Garnett would agree that anything is possible.
As for Gore owners, they’re probably better off stealing someone else’s handcuff. Parker’s impact as a third-down back doesn’t quite impact Gore at all. The Inconvenient Truth is still a very good bet to be top-three in percentage of offensive for his team in the league. Gore accounted for 37 percent of San Fran’s yards from scrimmage last year. If you’re legitimately concerned about Gore asking for a trade and are in a deep league, there are worse options than scooping Parker.

Tennessee Titans
The Titans took advantage of the abominable run D of the Rams by toting the rock 35 times as a team. The Titan that stole the show was Clemson product Jamie Harper. Harper accumulated 83 yards on the ground and had a catch for 24 yards. He is a load at 233 pounds and will quickly draw some comparisons to LenDale White. Harper did show that kind of ability to push the pile with his TD and also broke off a 46-yard run in the game.
Javon Ringer is still out with a hip injury and he certainly lost a bit of his luster as a late-round pick. It’s looking almost obvious that Harper will be getting the GL work with CJ2K out of the picture for a holdout or an injury. Ringer still has slightly more value than Harper at this time. That could change rather quickly with another big game by Harper against the Bears on Saturday. Both are worth owning in deeper leagues since the Titans are going to run the ball quite a bit and Johnson’s contract issues are not resolved. If your league gives decent bonuses for 100-yard games or it’s a PPR, go Ringer. TD heavy or standard? Harper.
Johnson owners should not be worried about Harper impacting his touches or touchdowns. The holdout concern only moves CJ2K from the consensus third pick to the five-to-nine range.

New England Patriots
After Peyton Hillis, BenJarvis Green-Ellis was the most surprising 1,000-yard rusher in the league last year. This year the Patriot backfield depth chart has more names on it than "Guess Who?" Obviously not that bad, but the Pats have added rookies Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. Vereen has been dealing with a hamstring injury all camp and there’s a very good chance he finds his way on IR when the rosters get cut down on August 30th. He shouldn’t be owned in any league with less than 20 teams.
Believe it or not, Stevan Ridley has been impressing and it looks like he is running away with the second-string job. He could also be the favorite for short-yardage touches, including at the goal line. Ridley carried the pill 14 times against the Bucs amounting 84 yards. He is now someone that should be owned in 12-team standards or TD-heavy leagues.
Danny Woodhead looked pretty good this weekend with 63 yards on the ground on five carries. The beauty of Woodhead is his skills as a dump-off option for Brady. Woodhead averaged 11 yards per reception last year in his first season with the Patriots. A full season and a training camp should make Woodhead a near lock for 1,000 all-purpose yards with 50 catches.

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts, like the Pats, don’t exactly like to lean on the rushing attack. Joseph Addai has been a solid fit for the system with above-average pass blocking and receiving skills to boot. There’s a reason why ESPN has him ranked at 78 and Yahoo! has him 70 despite the fact of being the starting running back in the one of the best offenses. Addai is 28, has 977 carries in his career and he missed eight games last season. He’s not a terrible option for fantasy owners that badly missed the boat for a back.
Donald Brown, a former first-round pick from UConn, is looking like a wasted pick for the Colts. Brown had five yards in the negative direction on his only carry in Friday’s contest. That’s certainly not a husky load. Oh and former running mate Mike Hart is now coaching for Eastern Michigan.
Enter Delone Carter. The interesting thing about Carter is how the different platforms have him ranked so differently. Yahoo! has him at 124 while ESPN has the Syracuse product at 212. Personally, I split the difference and have Carter in the neighborhood of 165, depending on how bad the need is at running back or if Addai is on the fantasy roster. Carter should certainly be owned until this picture develops.

Cleveland Browns
The Brownies are all the rage lately with the way Colt McCoy is becoming everyone’s favorite sleeper at quarterback and Peyton Hillis on the cover of Madden. How is it that Peyton Manning doesn’t make the cover, but Peyton Hillis does? But I digress.
Montario Hardesty was supposed to be the Brown back that broke out last year. That was until he just broke. Hardesty is already dealing with a knee injury this preseason, the same knee that had ACL surgery last year, and the Browns are likely to limit his work until he proves he can handle it. He is a much more talented runner than any other player on the team not named Peyton Hillis. The problem is that the Browns are not likely to feel comfortable giving Hardesty a boat load of carries even if Hillis went down. He’s not really worth owning in 14-team leagues.
Brandon Jackson was all set to be one of the best waiver-wire scoops last year when Ryan Grant went down. Owners all over the world used their top priority on the wire to grab him. Of course nothing significant came to fruition for the Nebraska product. Jackson currently has a leg up on Hardesty because he actually has two healthy legs. He doesn’t have enough skills to become a featured back, so even if Hillis’ back flares up and Hardesty isn’t able to go, he won’t get 20 touches. Jackson also is dealing with turf toe, so the likelihood of him staying healthy isn’t all that high. There are about 70 backs that are worth owning over Jackson.

Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan. That name has driven more fantasy owners crazy more than any other. Anyone remember this cover from Fantasy Football Index? Classic.
Every person that considers himself (or herself; what’s up ladies?) a fantasy expert has spent hours on end trying to figure out who Shanahan’s new pet at halfback will be for the upcoming season. This year is arguably one of the messiest situations in a Shanny backfield ever. Ryan Torain entered camp as the top guy on the depth chart. He had ACL surgery back in 2008 and has major issues with saying on the field his entire career. The hand surgery he had this preseason already cost him his starting job and he’s going to need to slide to the 130th pick to even be considered worth drafting.
Tim Hightower unseated Torain and has done a good job as the starter in the small sample size. He had 10 carries for 44 yards in the opener and posted 70 yards this past weekend against the Colts. The fourth-year player out of Richmond has failed to miss a game in his career. Hightower looked the part against the Ravens as well and has solidified himself as a flex option. The durability and how he is currently holding the top spot on the depth chart make him the first Redskin back to target around the 65th pick.
Roy Helu was no slouch against the Colts as well. He cleared the 100-yard plateau with 104 rushing yards accompanied by four catches for 23 yards. Despite weighing 216 pounds, Helu hit top speed quickly and looked good in the open field. He shouldn’t be far behind Hightower in ADP and grabbing him around 110 seems logical.

Dallas Cowboys
Even though it’s not really a position battle, it’d be a bit of an injustice to not talk about Felix Jones. Mr. Jones looks committed to showing he can run in the A and B gaps for Dallas and he’s doing much less dancing in the backfield. The upside for him is sky high with Dallas expected to score a ton of points. If you’re feeling saucy, it’s OK to grab him in the third round. I’ll take him over guys like Forte or DeAngelo without even thinking about it.
The Cowboys don’t have much behind Jones. Tashard Choice (calf) and DeMarco Murray(hamstring) both debuted in training camp on Tuesday. The two figure to battle it out for the backup gig. Choice enters his fourth year with the Cowboys and hasn’t really done much in the past two years. The thing Choice has going for him is that he is a jack-of-all-trades back. He can block, read blitzes, catch, run between the tackles and could be used on short-yardage situations. The downside is that he’s not all that fast and doesn’t really have much of a ceiling. He’s certainly a nice reserve for Dallas, but he doesn’t have the skills to be the main man.
Murray is a complete unknown. He does have ideal size as a six-foot, 224-pound back. The Sooner ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and has the tangibles to be an asset in fantasy leagues. If Jones does go down, the durability of Murray could prevent him from becoming a breakout candidate. Having said that, Murray has a higher upside than Choice and should be owned in some 14-team formats.
Phillip Tanner and Lonyae Miller are also in the mix. Choice might not even make the team should one of these guys continue to improve. There isn’t much reason to own Tanner or Miller until further notice.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Plain and simple, the Bucs don’t have much behind LeGarrette Blount. Earnest Graham is slated to be the third-down back, which could be useful in very deep leagues since Blount only had 14 yards receiving last year. Even if Blount misses time, Graham is way past his prime at 31 years of age and likely isn’t going to be worth owning at any point this year.
Kregg Lumpkinis 27 and would likely get a crack at the majority of the carries with Blount in street clothes.

Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks brought in Tom Cable for the offensive line and they’re going to have run the ball a ton with Tavaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst under center. Marshawn Lynch is going to get most of the carries and isn’t feeling any pressure as the starter just yet.
Coach Pete Carroll has an affinity for Leon Washington. The Seahawks have already announced they will increase his reps on offensive to help give him more chances as a change-of-pace back to spell Lynch. Leon fractured his fibula in his last season with the Jets in 2009, but he had a huge year in 2008 for Gang Green. He had 5.9 YPC, scored eight offensive touchdowns and had 47 catches as the secondary option behind Thomas Jones. His big-play ability combined with the head coach’s love for him gives him hope as a player that would be an asset with an unhealthy Lynch.
Justin Forsett is still listed as the second back on the depth chart. The Cal Bear is an above-average receiver and have a major deficiency when the ball is handed to him. He did show he was capable of being a one-man show in 2009 as he carried the ball 22 times and dropped 130 rushing yards on the unsuspecting Rams. If Lynch has another year with 48 rushing yards per game, then the Cable Guy and the 12th Man could be clamoring for Forsett to take the reins. He and Leon are worth owning in 16-team leagues, but the slight edge for fantasy value goes to Leon with the recent buzz.

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for instant analysis and feel free to ask me anything about your fantasy team or upcoming draft.

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