Sending a message to Rudi: Bengals Backup RB Kenny Irons
Last summer there was a lot of fantasy football discussion about Bengals RB Rudi Johnson and whether or not he would lose carries to Chris Perry. Perry, a first round draft pick in 2004, had looked good in limited work in 2005 averaging 4.6 yds per carry. The coaching staff was praising Perry and fantasy pundits were talking him up:
"Rudi still has Chris Perry, who should grab more carries this year."
- TheFantasyGM.com, July 4, 2006
"Chris Perry got a lot of looks near the goal line last year, that annoyed this former Rudi owner."
- SportingNews.com, Aug 16, 2006
"Keep an eye on Chris Perry's health - if healthy, he will cobble away at Rudy's statistical glory."
- NickBakay.com, Aug 24, 2006
This buzz depressed Johnson's draft value in early drafts. It all changed when Perry was abducted by a UFO, missing the entire 2006 season. Just kidding! He didn't miss the entire season. Despite multiple injuries he managed 10 carries across six games. So there. And without the impact of having Perry around, Rudi Johnson rushed for 1309 yds and 12 touchdowns.
Why am I telling you all this? Because during the draft, despite the fact they have a healthy former first round pick (Perry) and a guy who has rushed for over 4200 yds the past three years (Johnson), the Bengals spent their 2nd round pick on Kenny Irons (Cincinnati, 49th overall). Irons was generally considered to be among the top three running backs available in the draft.
Why? Why would the Bengals do this? The simplest answer is that the Bengals are planning to move to a partial running back by committee approach. Maybe they're concerned about wear and tear on Johnson or maybe they're planning for life after Johnson. Whatever the reason, it seems as though Irons will get his chance.
I'm going to be optimistic and assume that Chris Perry is either hurt or out of favor with management, so Irons will end up being the #2 RB. In that role, I would expect Irons to finish with somewhere around 80 carries for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns which means Irons doesn't have any fantasy value other than as a handcuff for Rudi Johnson owners. Throw in the Chris Perry factor and Irons' totals could be much lower.