Four teams, seven possible starting running backs. That's the situation in the NFC South. That makes for some tough decisions for fantasy players, so we'd better start studying.
Atlanta (#1 - Warrick Dunn) - The Falcons had one of the best running games in the league last season and it was led once again by Dunn. But Dunn is now 32 years old and new Head Coach Bobby Petrino is changing the offense to feature more passing and more razzle-dazzle on offense. Enter second-year back Jerious Norwood, who burst onto the scene last year with 633 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Norwood will feature in the offense this season so you likely won't get him as a handcuff if you have Dunn. Considering Dunn's age and the wear and tear on his body after 10 seasons, an injury wouldn't be a surprise - making Norwood even more valuable.
New Orleans (#1 - Deuce McAllister) - Yeah, I don't need to tell you about Reggie Bush. Just draft him. But keep in mind that he's a different back if McAllister goes down and Bush has to be the #1 rusher. He never consistently carried the ball 20-25 times a game in college and carried it more than 15 times only once last year. He performs best when he has a bruiser to run the ball between the tackles, not when he is expected to be the guy running between the tackles. If he has to fill that role, it won't be as glorious as some people seem to think. Without McAllister, the Saints' bruiser options would come down to veteran Aaron Stecker and rookie Antonio Pittman. With Bush being a #2 that performs like a #1, keep an eye on Pittman as the practical #2 and as a handcuff for McAllister.
Carolina (#1 - DeShaun Foster) -- This is a tough situation. While Foster is the #1 RB, DeAngelo Williams looked very good while splitting time with Foster. If Williams ever had a consistent 20-25 carries a game he would be a fantasy star. Unfortunately, he seems to be stuck in an uncomfortable RRBC where neither guy really understands his role. As a result, the Panthers running game has underperformed the past few years. Williams will be drafted in the middle rounds by teams desperate for a #2 or #3 RB so if you draft Foster know that you'll be vulnerable.
Tampa Bay (#1 - Cadillac Williams) - Cadillac Williams is one of the least exciting #1 RBs in the league. Are there any fantasy owners out there who would be happy with Williams as the #1 RB on their fantasy team? If I had Peyton Manning and Terrell Owens, I wouldn't be happy with Williams as my number one. The Bucs coaching staff may start to feel the same way. Which means there may be an opportunity for the #2 to take over the starting role if (when??) Williams stumbles. Unfortunately -- damn! - the #2 is the uninspiring Michael Pittman. In the past two years he's played in all 32 games but only totaled 120 yards and two touchdowns. He's not going to take over. If anybody is going to tow the Cadillac out of the way, it's rookie Kenneth Darby. He's a long shot, and Pittman has to be penciled in as the #2, but if you're drafting Cadillac Williams you may want to take a long, hard look at Darby as a late round flyer/handcuff.