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2008 Running Back Prep: Ryan Grant, Brandon Jacobs, Laurence Maroney

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Everybody seems to be focused on the "playoffs" and the "Super Bowl" and figuring out who the "best team" in the NFL is.  Bah!   Why worry about that when there's 2008 fantasy football planning to be done?  

Yes, I'm serious.  It's what I do.

This weekend has highlighted some of the big running back questions that we'll face heading into the 2008 fantasy football season.

Laurence Maroney, New England - It will be very difficult to evaluate where to draft this guy next season.  People will tend to remember these playoff games, especially if the Patriots lean on him for the rest of the post-season.  Everybody will forget that he  had 15 or fewer carries for seven straight games, or that he didn't have a rushing touchdown until November 18th.   Right now I think he's a #2 running back for fantasy purposes.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay - This guy should be the stud that replaces Maroney in the late first round of fantasy drafts if, and that's a big IF, Brett Favre returns next season.  If The Man retires and Aaron Rodgers takes over at QB, Grant probably drops to the second round.  I wish we had a better idea of just how good Rodgers is, because Grant could be a fantasy steal in the second round.

Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants - He is the man in the Meadowlands and could be a late first round fantasy pick next season.  The problem is that he had some injury issues and the Giants liked to give other RBs the ball even when Jacobs was healthy.  It will be interesting to see what happens to Ward and Bradshaw in the off-season.

Marion Barber, Dallas -  Here's a guy who could and should be a first round fantasy pick, if only something unfortunate would happen to Julius Jones.  Barber demonstrated what he can do when he's given the ball, rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.  Including that game, Barber has had only six games where he was given more than 15 carries.  In those six games he averaged a fantastic 4.83 yards per carry average and a rushing touchdown in all but one game.  This guy is a top five back in waiting.  

Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay - OK, his team didn't play this weekend but I'm adding him anyway.  What the hell do the Bucs do with this guy?  Or maybe the question is what the hell the Bucs do with Cadillac Williams?  I think the best answer is to bench the overrated Williams and let Graham be the starter, but the Bucs can't be happy about paying Cadillac to the sit in the garage. This will be a tough call for fantasy owners all summer.