Aug 25, 2011
For the rest of the preseason, we will be posting and review the results of our polls a couple of times each week. Today we look at our most recent poll, which looks at four possible players, who could are #2 fantasy RB candidates. Here are the results of that poll:
After what has been a strong training camp for him and impressive performance on national television last weekend, I can’t say I’m surprised to see Cowboy RB Felix Jones lead the way. While he’s been somewhat of a disappointed over the first three years of his career, there’s no doubt Jones has a lot of talent, as well as the size and physicality to be a lead back. Even though he does have the ability to take it to the house, it seems like some have been blinded by that idea and don’t think Jones can be much more than that or are disappointed when he doesn’t routinely bust off big runs. What doesn’t get discussed about enough is Jones’ role in the screen game, which is where he really excels as one of the best backs in the league when it comes to those situations. With none of the other Cowboy RBs looking like any real threat, Jones should be the lead back this year and get enough touches to warrant selecting him as a #2 fantasy back.
I admit to being surprised that Shonn Greene finished second and by a wide margin over Ryan Matthews and Beanie Wells. Greene was projected as a low-end 1st-round/high-end 2nd round pick last season, but fumbling issues early on in addition to being outplayed by LaDainian Tomlinson saw Greene become the team’s #2 back for much of the season. In PPR formats, he ended up finishing 52nd among RBs in FPG (7.9). However with Tomlinson wearing down in the 2nd half of last season, it was apparent that he could no long carry the load for the ground-and-pound Jets, which is why Greene has been given the role of the team’s lead back for 2011. We’re told Greene will have a longer leash this season, but he may not need it since he’s looked good in training camp and has apparently improved his skills in the passing game. The skin infection he had on his foot is already behind him, so he should enter the season healthy and ready to handle the load. With the Jets going through a few changes in the receiving corps with a still developing QB Mark Sanchez, Greene looks like he’ll play an important role in 2011 and that volume should make him a solid option for fantasy.
Coming in third was Charger RB and Fantasy Public Enemy #1 in 2010 (well maybe tied with Todd Haley) Ryan Mathews. We know had a rookie year to forget between his injuries, struggles to pick up the NFL game, and sharing the backfield with Mike Tolbert, but he does have talent and the Chargers do believe he’ll be an important contributor in 2011 and beyond. Even through all the bad last year, he still finished 25th in FPG (12.2), which puts him just out of #2 RB range in a 12-team PPR league. Tolbert isn’t going anywhere nor should he be, so while Mathews won’t get the volume to be a #1 fantasy back, the improvements he’ll make in his second year in addition to being healthy should be more than enough to leap him into the top-20 RBs, if not higher. Reaching for Mathews in your drafts isn’t necessary, but if there’s any leftover hate from your competitors, he could be a nice value. If you step back and look at the big picture, as opposed to holding a grudge based on one season, it makes perfect sense to project Mathews as a solid #2 fantasy back with upside in 2011.
Beanie Wells rounds out the list, and much like Mathews, has been hated by the fantasy community for failing to live up to expectations, except he’s got an extra year under his belt. Unlike previous seasons, we’ve heard positive reports about Wells coming from the Cardinal coaching staff and they had no problem trading RB Tim Hightower away with Wells looking good and rookie RB Ryan Williams ready to step in and contribute right away. Obviously that changed in a hurry when Williams was lost to a torn patella last weekend in Green Bay. Now, Wells has no real competition for touches unless the team brings in a veteran through trade or signs a back cut later in the preseason. It’s probably fair to put him fourth in this group since he’s playing for the worst team with a shaky OL. However, Wells does have the talent to be one of the best lead backs in the league, but the question has always been if he can be that guy consistently instead of what we’ve seen from him over the last two seasons. With volume coming at a premium for RBs in the current landscape of the NFL, Wells has to move up draft boards because of the increased opportunities he should get in Arizona. Add the talent we know he has, and the potential to be a fantasy starter is definitely there. Will he finally come through?