As training camps prepare to open this coming week around the NFL, fantasy football owners are busy pouring over their draft boards while preparing their strategy for the upcoming season. The running back position has evolved in the NFL game during recent years as rules now favor a passing game and teams shift to a running back by committee approach. There are still some running backs which shoulder the majority of the load for their teams, but for various reasons, if you select one of those backs, you should seriously consider his back up in later rounds of the draft.
Let’s take a look at some of the various “handcuffs” at the running back position this season-
Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings-
Peterson is returning from a serious knee injury and is likely to start training camp on the PUP list. Peterson has said repeatedly this offseason that he plans to be ready to go for the season opener, but that remains questionable. Can Peterson return to his old form after his injury? The selection of Peterson in your draft requires you to select Toby Gerhart in later rounds. Gerhart will start the season for the Vikings if Peterson is unable to go.
Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks-
Given the recent arrest of Lynch, the NFL could hand down a league imposed suspension of Lynch this season. Turbin could likely receive some significant playing time in Lynch’s absence. Something else to consider, according to a report this week, if Lynch is suspended, the Seahawks could terminate Lynch’s contract and demand he return his $17 million in guaranteed money. I doubt that Seattle makes that move, but it’s a possibility that’s out there. Turbin’s stock is on the rise and have you seen a picture of him? The guy is a beast.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate, Houston Texans-
I love Arian Foster heading into the 2012 season but over the last few years, the running back position for the Texans has been injury prone dating back to Steve Slaton. Ironically, Ben Tate was one of those running backs which sustained an injury. The Texans posted the second ranked running attack last season and don’t look for that offensive scheme to change in 2012. Tate filled in more than adequately for Foster last season and nearly posted a 1,000 yard season in just 175 carries.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars-
MJD wants a new contract from the Jacksonville Jaguars but the team doesn’t seem inclined to offer up new coin to the defending NFL leading rusher. Jones-Drew was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Jaguars offense last season. A report surfaced this week which stated former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor believes Jones-Drew will hold out, possibly into the regular season until he gets a new contract. Jennings is coming off an injury and would likely start for the Jaguars if MJD has a protracted holdout into the regular season. Monitor the contract status of Jones-Drew leading up to your draft.
Steven Jackson and Isaiah Pead, St. Louis Rams-
Jackson’s productivity has declined in each of the last three seasons. He only carried the ball 260 times last season, which is 70 less times than he toted the rock in 2010. During his career, Jackson has only played a complete season twice. Pead enters as the 2011 Big East offensive player of the year, rushing for 1,259 yards and 12 scores for the Bearcats last season. I expect Pead to contribute to the Rams offense right out of the gate but he’ll get the starting nod if Jackson suffers an injury.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush, Chicago Bears-
Matt Forte starts the 2012 season coming off a knee injury and after finally landing the long-term deal he’s wanted for several seasons. The Bears have added some new pieces to their offense this offseason and RB Michael Bush is one of them. Bush is capable of being a starter in his own right and is going to take carries away from Forte this season. I am planning on drafting Bush myself because I believe he’ll wind up being the Bears goal line back this season while Forte carries the ball between the 20′s.
Tagged with: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster Ben Tate, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Isaiah Pead, Jacksonville Jaguars, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Michael Bush, Minnesota Vikings, Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Steven Jackson, Toby Gerhart