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Figuring Out The Raiders Backfield

Following up from my post yesterday on the Raiders' strange QB situation, the Raiders also have a strange RB situation which now includes more guys than the audience at a taping of The View.  

Lamont Jordan fought off a bad back early on in the season to roll up 350 rushing yards in his first three games.   Fantasy owners who took a risk on him bouncing back this season were ecstatic.

Hooray!  Lamont Jordan 2005 has returned!

Oh wait.  After his big start his rushing total has gone down the past five weeks in a row, culminating in a miserable 11 carries for 16 yards against Tennessee.  That is what you call a trend.  

Boo!  Lamont Jordan 2006 has returned!

While Jordan was stumbling around last week, longtime Raider Justin Fargas stepped up with a solid 12 carry, 61 yard performance.  Fargas has shown flashes of brilliance before (he rushed for 179 yards in Week 4) but usually crashes down to earth the next week.  And a few weeks after that.  Then, after fantasy owners have dumped him back to waivers, the Raiders give him 18 carries and he goes off. He's an extremely difficult guy to project.

This situation would be manageable for fantasy owners if it was just Jordan and Fargas, but there's also free agent-signee Dominic Rhodes coming off a four game suspension where he apparently sat around on his butt all day and watched Oprah.  Rhodes was terrible in his debut; other than an 11 yard run he had 8 carries for 10 yards.  He was so out of shape that the Raiders benched him last week to give Fargas a shot.  I don't expect the Raiders signed this guy to a two year, $7.5 million contract to see him third on the depth chart, but like JaMarcus Russell they seem to be paying a great deal of money to somebody who can't play the game right now.  

The last guy in this show is rookie Michael Bush who was taken off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list this week to begin practicing.  It's unlikely that he'll see any time this season, though there are some scouts who feel that if he's healthy he could be the best running back on the roster.  He's definitely somebody to grab now if you have a keeper slot in your league.

For fantasy owners the Raiders depth chart seems to say Jordan, Fargas, Rhodes and Bush, which translates roughly into Worn Out, Sporadic, Rusty and Injured.   That's not what you want to see.  Right now I can't recommend any of these guys as fantasy starters.  If you have Jordan on your team you'll probably use him as bye week fill-in and take your chances.  Fargas could be worth a bye week fill-in if Monte Kiffin came out and announced him as the starter, but that's not likely.  Nobody knows what the deal is with Rhodes.  

At best, the Raiders should settle into a two back system featuring Jordan and either Fargas or Rhodes.  At worst, they'll give the ball to whoever looks the best in the first quarter -- making every one of them a fantasy owner's nightmare.