We live in a strange new world of running backs sharing carries, running wildcats and not murdering their ex-wives. This ain’t your older brother’s NFL! So in fantasy football we do our best to decipher who will be the work horse in the running game. Now that we are 4 weeks into the season we have a little hard data to sink our teeth into, no, don’t bite into that flash drive!
Steven Jackson: 44% of team’s overall plays, 43% of red zone plays: So Mr. Jackson is on a team with absolutely no weapons besides himself so almost half of all the plays run through him. Hmmm, I wonder who the defense might look to stop? Keenan Burton? No! What are you thinking? SJax, even though the defenses key on him, still gets his yardage. And as long as he is healthy, Bulger or Boller or the Bay City Rollers couldn’t keep him from putting up decent fantasy points.
Michael Turner: 39% of team’s overall plays, 36% of red zone plays: The Burner is still getting his share of work and will be useful, but we can already see a decline from last year when he got 43% of red zone plays. Does this mean you trade him? Maybe, but his value is pretty low right now and he is still one of the rare backs who gets the ball on 39% of their plays.
Matt Forte: 38% of team’s overall plays, 42% of red zone plays: This is why we kept preaching to buy low on Forte. He is their guy no matter how bad either he or the offensive line rots. And take into account the play of Cutler and the play of Forte and he is still getting these kinds of looks and you have yourself an every down back with nobody vulturing carries from him.
Ronnie Brown: 29% of team’s overall plays, 48% of red zone plays: So you were worried about Ricky Williams stealing carries? Well, you were right! But he hasn’t taken away red zone carries where he is only getting 20%. Ronnie is set up perfectly. He gets a good chunk of the looks outside the red zone, but he’s not overloaded which should help him stay healthy and then he gets half the red zone looks! Run Ronnie run!!!
DeAngelo Williams: 27% of team’s overall plays, 50% of red zone plays: These numbers look a lot like Ronnie Brown’s, but DeAngelo hasn’t been getting into the endzone as much. DeAngelo is going to get a lot of work and that is good news for owners especially if he continues to see the ball in the red zone.
Knowshon Moreno: 24% of team’s overall plays, 36% of red zone plays: He leads Denver running backs in red zone looks and this was while he was hurting and learning the playbook. Now Buckhalter is hurt and these numbers will go up from here. Moreno is the full time back on a pretty good team with a good defense. It may be late to trade for him, but he’s worth trying.
Donald Brown and Joseph Addai: So, Addai has 66 looks to Brown’s 44 looks and that breakdown has stayed fairly consistent game to game. Addai has 38% of the red zone targets while Brown has had 30%, but Brown has had more opportunities inside the 5 yard line with 5 to Addai’s 3. If this exact 2/3 to 1/3 split keeps up I’d be surprised and I’d also start looking into some kind of conspiracy theory perpetuated by the Oreo company.
Willis McGahee and Ray Rice: Rice has seen 23% of the looks to 17% for McGahee. Of course McGahee is seeing the ball more when they get into the redzone, but only 33% to 25%. The total looks are in favor of Rice 73 to 49. Now those are a lot of numbers and my brain is starting to leak out my left ear, but when it comes down to it Rice is worth starting, often.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington: They are almost in a dead heat when it comes to targets. Jones is slightly ahead of Washington, but not enough to mean much. It doesn’t look like that will change too much in the near future. I was a big proponent of Leon and still am, but he isn’t pulling away like I thought he would. They are canceling each other out and until an injury occurs I don’t think either will be much more than flex players.