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2006 Fantasy Football Sleepers - Running Backs
Huddle Staff
August 9, 2006
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

David Dorey's Running Back Sleepers

Frank Gore, SF – While perhaps there are still some questions as to who the starter is in San Francisco, the reality is that the question shouldn’t be hard to answer. Even as a rookie on a very bad team, Frank Gore gained 608 yards on just 127 carries last year for a 4.8 yard per carry average. Kevan Barlow ran 176 times and gained only 581 yards for a 3.3 yard average. That was a mirror to what he did in 2004 as well. With new OC Norv Turner in town, Gore gets a chance at a very nice season going against one of the weaker schedules in the NFL. One more thing – Gore was one of the first draft picks made by new UC Mike Nolan. Barlow’s sense of potential was over long ago with a different scheme and set of coaches.

Dominic Rhodes, IND – Sure, the Colts drafted Joseph Addai in the first round this year but that was the 1.30 pick and there’s reason to believe that they thought Maroney or Williams would slide to them. Addai rarely served as a fulltime back in college and that’s not going to be any easier in his rookie season in the NFL. Rhodes has already proven himself when he gained 1104 yards in 2001 when he was a rookie and Edgerrin James went down injured. Forget the three yard average last year; he had been safely over 4.6 yards per carry in any season where he had at least 50 carries. With Peyton Manning to protect, the Colts are not likely to depend on a smallish rookie back who wasn’t even fulltime in college.  James had a great rookie year when he was drafted as the first back taken with the 1.03 pick many years ago. Get over it. Rhodes has a much more defined chance to shine this year.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR – While Williams comes from a smaller school of the University of Memphis, he ended his career there with almost every school and conference record for rushing, all-purpose yards and scoring. He gained 6026 yards on 969 attempts which ranks fourth all-time best in NCAA history. He is slightly smaller than prototypical at 5’9” and 217 pounds but all the guy has ever done is produce despite the fact he was the only real weapon in Memphis. DeShaun Foster is the starter in Carolina but other than four games over the last three years, he has not been anything more than mediocre and that was when he was healthy which he has never remained for an entire season. Williams won’t be the starter in week one, but given the chance in that offense he will shine whenever he gets the opportunity. With only Foster ahead of him, that will likely come sooner than later.

David Dorey's Running Back Bust

Lamont Jordan, OAK – While Jordan will not be a complete bust, he won’t likely deliver the same fantasy value as he did last year and that means he’ll likely be over-drafted in most fantasy leagues this year by someone clinging to his receiving yardage of 2005. Jordan was the full-time back last year that never shared and yet he only gained 1025 yards on 272 carries for a 3.8 yard average. Jordan played in 14 games had three efforts over 100 rushing yards; they all came against teams he will not face in 2006. Where his fantasy value skyrocketed was in the passing game when he ended #1 in catches for a running back (70). Problem is that all those passes was a product of Randy Moss playing injured for much of the season and the immobile Kerry Collins just dumping the ball off to Jordan. With the mobile Aaron Brooks and a healthy Randy Moss, there would already be less reason to expect a repeat of 2005 and you can also throw in that Brooks has almost no experience throwing to backs (since he would rather scramble, fumble or throw an interception) and the Raiders are installing a new scheme this year that is almost anyone’s guess as to what it will be since Art Shell and OC Tom Walsh haven’t ran a Raiders team since 1994.

Mike Courter's Running Back Sleepers

Duce Staley, PIT  -- When Staley first arrived in Pittsburgh by way of Philadelphia in 2004, he actually wrested the starting job away from incumbent Jerome Bettis for the first seven games of that season, rushing for 707 yards and inspiring a fan-following, before an assortment of injuries turned him into an afterthought, and the job back to Bettis.  Two seasons later, with the Bus in his rearview mirror, Staley has only to beat career backup Verron Haynes for the short-yardage runner/ second string slot behind starter Willie Parker.  Considering that Parker (5-10, 209) will be in virgin territory this season as the full-time No.1 back, its not out of the question that he could struggle with injuries from the constant pounding, increasing opportunities for the running back listed directly behind him.  Even as strictly the short yardage back, Staley, running behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, could become a 7-10 touchdown back with limited yardage, making him infinitely more valuable than he’s been for several seasons in fantasy football.

Jamal Lewis, BAL – After failing to reach 1,000 yards rushing (906 yards on 2269 carries) and scoring only four times (three rushing, one receiving) in 2005, after experiencing another year of lofty fantasy draft status,  Lewis has deservedly been dropped on many 2006 draft rankings lists.  However, this is the year Lewis could finally deliver on expectations and make many fantasy owners that have soured on him pay for letting him slip by in their league drafts this year.  Consider that before the 2005 season, Lewis had missed considerable training and rehabilitation time for his knee and ankle injuries due to his summer prison stint, putting him behind the 8-ball before the season had even started.  Now with a full a full calendar year removed from the injuries, and a boat load of motivation to restore his superstar status, Lewis will also benefit from an improved passing game under new QB Steve McNair and playing for a team that should compete for a playoff spot, making for meaningful games during the latter part of the year (fantasy playoffs).

LenDale White, TEN – The Titans were ecstatic when White fell to them in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft and head coach Jeff Fisher has made no bones about the 6-1, 235 pound back’s potential to be their franchise back for years to come.  Incumbent starter Chris Brown’s injury history is well-documented and Travis Henry has played himself into depth chart oblivion, leaving the door open for the rookie from USC to receive meaningful playing time in his first season, at a skill position that has traditionally been the easiest for NFL rookies to adjust to and have the most immediate success in early on.

Mike Courter's Running Back Bust

Corey Dillon, NE – For years as a Cincinnati Bengal, Dillon made it clear that his primary motivation to continue playing was to win a Super Bowl ring and that seemed to fuel his powerful, punishing running style that eventually forced his way onto the New England Patriots and culminated in that long-awaited Championship ring in 2004.  Since that point, the 32 year old backfield warrior has started to see injuries linger longer and his statistical line start to descend (only 733 yards rushing in 2005, missing five games and only reaching 100 yards rushing in two contests).  Enter 2006 first round pick RB Laurence Maroney from Minnesota, a highly productive back who has already exhibited both breakaway speed and surprising power between the tackles in Patriots camp and it’s easy to see that the bottom could fall out quickly for Dillon this season, in what most certainly appears to be a changing of the running back guard in New England.

Paul Sandy's Running Back Sleepers

Cecil Sapp, DEN - Sapp is currently running with Denver’s first-team offense as the starting fullback. If he beats out incumbent Kyle Johnson for the starting job, I see two scenarios, both of which would yield great value for fantasy owners. Worst-case scenario: Sapp is used as a goal-line back and scores a minimum of 10 touchdowns. Neither Ron Dayne nor Tatum Bell has what it takes to carry the ball inside the 5-yard line. Best-case scenario: Dayne flops, Bell remains in the doghouse, and Mike Shanahan turns to his fullback to carry the load, as he has done in the past (see Reuben Droughns).
James Mungro, IND - The departure of Edgerrin James during the offseason left a sizable hole in the Colts offense. Most expect Dominic Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai to battle for carries. However, both have a history of injuries. Draft Mungro late and look for him to start the season as the goal-line back and eventually earn more carries as the season wears on.

Brian Calhoun, DET - Maybe I’m a bit biased, but I think Kevin Jones is soft. I was a Jones owner in 2004 and 2005 and watched him closely. Something tells me he’s going to have a career much like Michael Bennett. If Jones can’t stay on the field this season or runs tentatively, rookie Brian Calhoun should get some work. He’s an outstanding pass-catcher with Marshall Faulk-like versatility and he fits Mike Martz’s offense perfectly.

Paul Sandy's Running Back Bust

Edgerrin James, ARI - James seems like the natural fit for the Cardinals. Arizona’s passing game is among the league’s best and theoretically that should provide some soft defenses for James. However, as talented as they might be, the Cardinals are not the Colts. The offensive line continues to be a trouble spot. The team is one Kurt Warner concussion away from starting a rookie QB. Let someone else reach for James early.

Joe Levit's Running Back Sleepers

LenDale White, TEN – Here is how I see this: Chris Brown will start off the season with a couple of 100-yard games, but no scores. White will get those scores. Then Brown will get nicked up and his production will suffer. At about week eight he will sustain a more serious injury, one that keeps him out at least two weeks. In that time, White will get the majority of the carries, and the team will make Brown the new speed change-of-pace back when he is healthy again. White will be a big boon for fantasy owners late in the season.

Frank Gore, SF – Despite what I hear about Barlow running with the first team and there being a significant ‘battle’ at this position, I don’t buy it. It is clear to me that Barlow will never be the stud that was predicted just three years back. Gore runs tough and has some nice moves. If he can just stay out of the rehab room, he’ll take over the majority of the carries and not look back. This is the kind of player you should select in the middle rounds instead of trying to handcuff a backup who will likely not see the field enough to warrant the high selection.

Kevin Jones, DET – I am willing to write off the terrible season Jones produced last year to overall team malaise and incompetence. There is no chance for players to stick around this year who are prone to that behavior. Jones is not being drafted until the third round in some drafts. He is a huge bargain there, as he can easily get enough touches to potentially out-produce a player like Edgerrin James or Domanick Davis.

Joe Levit's Running Back Bust

Julius Jones, DAL – I guess I just don’t believe in his durability. I liked what I saw from Marion Barber when Jones was hurt last year, and I think anyone taking Jones as a second back will be disappointed once again this year.

Bob Cunningham's Running Back Sleepers

Domanick Davis, HOU - One quote attributed to Davis by has me convinced that this kid could go 15-10 (1,500 yards, 10 touchdowns). "Reggie Bush is a great back, but I honestly believe I'm better when you consider everything."  The importance of an NFL featured back is not break-away potential as much as it is the ability to tote the rock at least 25 times and average better than four yards a carry.  Davis will do both, find the end zone more often, and go a long way toward proving that Houston made the right decision passing on the Heisman Trophy winner with the first pick in the draft.

Dominic Rhodes, IND - I've been saying and writing for several years that Rhodes has the talent to be a productive featured back for at least 20 teams other than the Colts.  Well, with rookie Joseph Addai looking over his shoulder, it appears that Rhodes will get a full-fledged opportunity to prove himself with Indy.  If he's used even at 70 percent of how departed Edgerrin James was featured, he'll be an ideal second starter for a fantasy squad.

Duce Staley, PIT - The defending champion Steelers love power running.  Period.  Head coach Bill Cowher admires Willie Parker, probably respects him, too.  But he doesn't trust him to be the lone featured guy over an entire campaign.  Staley can ably replace retired Jerome Bettis around the goal line, and probably get 8-10 carries between the 20's as well.  And if Parker gets dinged, Staley could emerge as a top 10 back.

Bob Cunningham's Running Back Bust

Tiki Barber, NYG - I love Barber - workhorse guy who always runs hard and is multi-skilled.  But if falling well short of his 2005 statistics qualifies him as a bust, then he's my man here.  The Giants are inching more and more toward becoming a pass-oriented attack.  Barber is on the wrong side of 30, and coach Tom Coughlin likes both Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs enough to increase their touches in an attempt to keep Barber fresh throughout the campaign.  This also might be the year that someone (Jacobs) takes more goal-line touches.  This prediction might result in me dining on a certain large black bird,  but there are enough compelling circumstances to reach this conclusion.

Brent Clement's Running Back Sleepers

Steven Jackson, STL - Jackson is likely a late first round pick in most leagues, but if he can stay healthy in this new offense, he could be mentioned in the same breath as Larry Johnson this time next year. Jackson has all the tools, but hasn’t had a chance to be THE man to date, and when he had more carries a season ago, he was injured. This year if the stars align for him the way they did for LJ a year ago, he could be a top 5 RB.

Domanick Davis, HOU - New Head Coach Gary Kubiak brings his blocking schemes from Denver to Houston, which opened up holes for no name RB’s over the past 10 years, from Terrell Davis, to Mike Anderson to Olandis Gary. Remember Davis became a household name, but was a special teams guru to start his career as a 6th round draft choice out of the University of Georgia. Kubiak thought enough of Davis, that he passed on the incredible talent of Reggie Bush in last Aprils draft.

Kevin Jones, DET - Jones was simply a bust for fantasy owners last year, and many will not touch him this year. But former Lions HC, Steve Marriuci believed in RBBC, and never fed Jones the ball like most running backs need, to get it going. That and the fact Joey Harrington is no longer throwing ducks to Detroit WR’s, this offense can finally live up to its hype. Expect Jones to rebound in a big way from last years disappointment.

Brent Clement's Running Back Bust

Tiki Barber, NYG - Barber is on the wrong side of 30, and all of a sudden the defense’s in the NFC East have gotten better over night. Barber will still put up solid fantasy stats, but most redrafts have him going between 4 and 5, and he is going to disappoint those making that selection. Barber is coming off a career year, of 1860 rushing yards, and he will be most likely drop 500 yards off that total in 2006.

Todd Gray's Running Back Sleepers

Jamal Lewis, BAL – Chances are Lewis will slide too low in many drafts due largely to his career-worst performance a year ago, but also as the result of the health and character issues that he’s compiled over the past couple of years.  Regardless, there are simply too many pros stacked against too few cons to ignore Lewis’ potential to return to top-10 RB status.  He’s only two years removed from his 2,000-yard season, he’s 27 years old, he appears to be healthy, he’s in a contract year and the Ravens’ offense should be at least a bit better with the addition of QB Steve McNair.  Lewis has vowed a return to his 2003 form, and if he comes anything close to that, he’ll please fantasy owners who take him in the mid-second to early-third rounds.

Dominic Rhodes, IND – Little doubt some measure of a platoon system is brewing in Indy with Rhodes and rookie Joseph Addai both seeing action, but Rhodes is making a strong play to be the Colts’ feature back.  He’s a proven 1,000-yard runner, he knows the Colts’ offense as well as nearly anyone, and at age 26 he figures to have a lot of gas left in the tank.  Meanwhile, Addai may be a fantasy star in the making, but he’s none of the above just yet and will spend more time watching than playing if Rhodes can handle the punishment involved with full-time duties.

Frank Gore, SF – There seems to be no clear leader in the competition for No. 1 running back between Gore and incumbent starter Kevan Barlow.  However, head coach Mike Nolan has praised Gore’s attitude and his straight-ahead running style, yet he hasn’t seemed to say the same great things about Barlow.  The 49ers’ offense should remain below average this season, but that should be just enough for Gore to post 700-900 yards and 5-6 TDs.  Those numbers may not be good enough to merit fantasy starter status, but they do equate to a viable first RB off the bench in many formats.

Todd Gray's Running Back Bust

Edgerrin James, ARI – Those fantasy owners who plan to draft James over the likes of Tiki Barber and Ronnie Brown – currently par for the course in most fantasy drafts – may want to rethink that move.  The Cardinals are one Kurt Warner injury away from being an offense led by a rookie QB (Matt Leinert) and with a subpar offensive line, to put it kindly.  As great as James may be, those are big question marks for a running back whose career has been spent with one of the best QBs (Peyton Manning) and one of the best OLs in the NFL.

Scott Boyter's Running Back Sleepers

Mike Anderson, BAL – Call me bitter, but I’m thoroughly convinced that Jamal Lewis is nothing but a cancer to any fantasy team. His woman-like, little pitty-pat approach to the hole makes me ill. Maybe it’s because he’s nearly destroyed my team the last two seasons. He helped me to a title last season, though, because I was able to unload him on some poor sap and got Larry Johnson in return.

But I digress. Lewis will falter sooner or later. When he does, Anderson will be ready and willing to take over, and to take up where he left off last season with Denver when he ran for more than 1,000 and 12 TDs even though he split time with Ron Dayne and Tatum Bell. Anderson should be an excellent source of running back depth for your squad.

Lamont Jordan, OAK – The Raiders were horrible and Jordan still managed to run for 1,025 yards and nine scores. Surely Oakland won’t suck that bad this season, will they? The Raider O-line will improve, and the vertical game will be in serious play, so Jordan will get plenty of opportunities to produce. Now if they could just get rid of that Zack Crockett guy who steals way too many goal line carries …

DeAngelo Williams/Carolina – Williams will see a lot of playing time this season, if DeShaun Foster’s recent injury problems continue. Williams is a small runner but extremely tough, and will be worth a late round flyer.

Scott Boyter's Running Back Bust

Corey Dillon, NE – Maybe Dillon proves everybody wrong and lights it up, but facts don’t lie. He’s failed to complete a season two out of the last three years, and he has also failed to crack the 1,000-yard mark. Age waits for no man, especially if that man happens to be an NFL running back. Even though Dillon says there’s no competition between him and rookie Laurence Maroney, you know the Patriots are ready to anoint the Minnesota product the RB of the future. And that future may begin sooner than Dillon wants. Steer clear – even if Dillon doesn’t get hurt, odds are the Pats will employ Maroney a lot this season to ease the wear and tear on the vet.

Kevin Ratterree's Running Back Sleepers

Steven Jackson, STL - How can you call a guy that will be drafted in the first round a sleeper?  Let me get back to you on that one.  All I know is that Mike Martz and his pass happy routine is gone.  Jackson should get more opportunities now, and I think this is the year he really steps it up to the next level.  If I am drafting in a dynasty league I am putting Jackson up there right after the big 3.  And even in re-draft leagues I would probably have him top 6.  He has been going in the back half of the first round in most drafts I have seen, and that is a bargain pick.  Not a true sleeper, but a guy that will give you plenty of bang for your buck in the dreaded 7-12 hole this year.
Brian Westbrook, PHI - And right behind Jackson is Westbrook.  It is his show now in Philly.  I am making the prediction right now.  Westbrook will finally stay healthy this season and put up Tiki Barber type numbers.  If he falls to you in the 2nd round, grab him and chuckle under your breath.  You just got a first rounder on the cheap.

Dominic Rhodes, IND - I see Rhodes going around the 7th round in mocks, and a lot of times I am the guy drafting him.  I see it like this.  Addai is the highly touted rookie, and the fantasy community has anointed him.  Addai is being drafted around the 3rd round, while the guy that has been there.  The guy that has been waiting for his chance.  The guy that knows the system and has been successful when given the opportunity has been deemed second best in this race.  I'm not so sure it will shake out like that.  I'm not a huge fan of mid-round picks on running backs that MIGHT pan out, but even if a committee approach is in full effect, Rhodes will still justify a draft pick in the middle rounds.  I would rather take that chance on Rhodes, than take a chance on Addai much earlier in the draft.

Frank Gore, SF - Here is the story.  We have all seen enough of Barlow to realize that it just isn't happening for the guy that can't even spell his first name right.  Gore outplayed Barlow last season, and with that season under his belt, the only thing between Gore and the starting job are his surgically repaired knees.  If they hold out this season, Gore certainly will be a bargain pick in this years fantasy drafts.  

Kevin Ratterree's Running Back Bust

Willis McGahee, BUF - I drafted McGahee last season, even though I had a bad feeling about him.  I won't make that mistake again.  McGahee is not a bad runner, but he is on a team that is a strong candidate for the first draft pick next April.  Yet I see him being drafted in the top 20.  Here is my advice.  Pass on McGahee.  Draft a stud WR instead, and then take Gore later.  He will get you the same numbers a whole lot cheaper.
Lamont Jordan, OAK - This is a similar situation to McGahee.  Decent player.  Lousy team.  People will look at last years numbers for Jordan and pencil him in as a first round pick.  He is playing on a lousy team.  He has a new coaching staff that will likely reduce his receptions.  And Aaron Brooks is certainly no improvement over Kerry Collins, so the pressure will stay on Jordan.  I don't know if I would predict an all out bust, but it sure will feel like it when you take him as your RB1, and  he puts up 3rd round type numbers.

Fritz Schlottman's Running Back Sleepers

Willie Parker, PIT - Running the ball starts with the offensive line, and it doesn’t get much better than the Steelers.  The entire group is unchanged this season and is led by G Alan Faneca, who is one of the best in the business.  C Jeff Hartings went to his second Pro Bowl, LT Marvel Smith is top 5 at his position, and Kendall Simmons is a huge road grader.  The retirement of “The Bus” leaves Parker the unquestioned starter in Pittsburgh.  Parker is one of the fastest players in the league, and proved to be durable with 255 carries last season.  The Steelers brought in Duce Staley to replace Bettis, but Staley has all but vanished.  If Parker can some more goal line carries behind FB Dan Kreider (one of the best blockers in the game at his position), he could prove to be a number one RB on most fantasy squads.

Brian Westbrook, PHI - Westbrook is one of those players that never gets respect among the fantasy crowd.  Essentially, he’s the poor man’s Tiki Barber.  If you’re in a performance league that gives points for receptions and receiving yards, Westbrook is a nice little player that gives you steady numbers week-in week-out with the occasional monster day.  Playing on an Eagles team that throws the football over 60% of all plays, the little guy may be the Eagles best receiving option. The rap in the Eagles starting RB has been his durability.  He was lost for the 2005 season with a foot injury. If he can stay healthy, Westbrook will be a bargain in your draft.

Fritz Schlottman's Running Back Bust

Edgerrin James, ARI - New team, new system, bad offensive line (where have I heard that before?).  In 2005, the Cardinals were dead last in rushing.  First year OL coach Steve Loney will have his hands full trying to revamp a unit that finished 2005 with 71 average rushing yards per game.  The only additions to the line were free agent G Milford Brown from Houston and rookie 2nd round draft pick Deuce Lutui from USC.  Brown will probably be the starting RG and Lutui may work his way into the line-up as the Cardinals shuffle the interior of their line looking for answers.  .James will also have to do it without a lead blocker as full back continues to be a huge concern.  The good news is that second year RB J.J. Arrington looks like a flop and Marcel Shipp and his team best 451 rushing yards last season doesn’t look to challenge James.

Darin Tietgen's Running Back Sleepers

Willis McGahee, BUF – OK so McGahee is not really a sleeper per se’, but I believe he’s being grossly undervalued.  The QB situation is up in the air in Buffalo, but the RB situation surely isn’t.  McGahee proved his injury concerns are no longer an issue and will be a workhorse back yet again.  McGahee, despite more yardage last season than in his first, saw his TD total dip from his first season.  Expect a rebound.  With an average of nearly 4 yards/carry in his career, expect McGahee to keep getting the rock, and the TDs will come.  I would personally rather have the explosive McGahee over the workman-like Rudi Johnson or injury-prone Brian Westbrook or Domanick Davis, three backs who are being drafted ahead of McGahee.

Jerious Norwood, ATL – Forget about the T.J. Duckett trade rumors; the real reason Norwood is a sleeper is due to the guy ahead of him (Warrick Dunn) being on the wrong side of 30, and despite 2 seasons of 16 games each, is prone to injury.  Should Dunn go down, Norwood would step in, and according to scouts, Norwood is the real deal. Heck, he may eat into Duckett’s carries from the get-go.  If you draft Dunn, you better grab Norwood as insurance. 

Ryan Moats, PHI – Similar to the Dunn/Norwood situation, Ryan Moats would have a chance to shine as the Philadelphia featured back should their incumbent starter go down with injury yet again.  Moats proved he has the all-around skills and burst to be an effective back, although his size lends itself to not being an every-down back.  Those with Westbrook on their roster absolutely must draft Moats.

Darin Tietgen's Running Back Bust

Reuben Droughns, CLE – The guy busted onto the scene out of nowhere 2 seasons ago with Denver and then put up a decent amount of yards last season.  But the guy has never scored more than 6 TDs in a season and had a miniscule 2 last season. He gets a decent amount of receptions, but you have to think that QB Charlie Frye will still be riding the learning curve this season.  Let someone else deal with the frustrations he’ll bring.

Philip Gentles' Running Back Sleeper

Dominic Rhodes, IND – For those of you who can’t recall what Dominic Rhodes is capable of doing, while filling in for an injured Edgerrin James back in 2001 Rhodes, then a rookie, rushed for over 1,100 yards and 9 touchdowns. Now with James gone to Arizona, Rhodes will once again take over as the Colts’ starting RB and in this offense there is a chance he could put up good numbers. With all the attention being paid to the talented rookie Joseph Addai, Rhodes, who is an elusive runner and a pretty good receiver out of the backfield, has become a bit of an after thought in fantasy football circles. But according to reports Rhodes has been the most impressive running back in camp and baring an injury he will likely enter Week 1 of the regular season as the starter. Addai has promise and at some point he could develop into very good running back. But there are no guarantees that he will become that kind of a player this season. Rhodes knows the system and has experience as a featured back. So if you are looking for the Colts’ running back with the best chance of getting the bulk of the work this season, look no further than Rhodes.

Philip Gentles' Running Back Bust

Kevin Jones, DET – There’s nothing worse than having to draft a running back with durability concerns. Unfortunately for fans of Kevin Jones he might be one of the least durable tailbacks in the NFL. Jones missed 3 games last year and left a handful of others early with elbow and thigh injuries. He was in and out of the lineup all year and it drove his owners crazy. Now all it would take is a full season of injury-free football to erase questions about his durability, but even if he avoids the injury bug or learns how to play hurt he’s just not in a system that utilizes the running back very much. With Mike Martz joining the team the Lions are going to run an offense very similar to how Martz ran his offense when he coached the Rams. And even with a great running back like Marshall Faulk in the backfield Martz rarely gave him more than 15 – 20 carries per game. So even if Jones is healthy and on top of his game, he’ll still be less productive than than half the starting RBs in the NFL.

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