Feb 23, 2007
It was disclosed last night that Patriot RB Corey Dillon will ask the Patriots for his release, and the Pats are expected to oblige. Dillon apparently still has an interest in playing for another team, but retirement is also a possibility.
Dillon’s status for 2007 will be known later in the year, but the story here is second year back Laurence Maroney.
Maroney’s stock will obviously rise significantly with this move. I think he has some issues, but the argument for making him a top fantasy pick is stronger than the one to avoid him as a player who might be overvalued. For one, as I mentioned in my Lessons Learned article, we’ve learned over the years, when there’s a small sampling of a younger back we should seriously take into consideration the team and the player’s supporting cast. Maroney’s is clearly excellent on the Patriots, and that fact along with his obvious talent will be enough for me to make him a high fantasy pick. Clearly, Talent + Opportunity equals success, and Maroney also has the benefit of playing on a team led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. But just to be safe, I’m inclined right now to consider him only a 2nd round pick. Maybe that’s 13th overall, which is very high, but I’m not quite ready to consider him a #1 pick, even in my RB-hungry leagues.
First, the positives with Maroney: Everyone knew he was a quality player coming out of college, but early in the season he looked like something of a steal as a late first-rounder. Maroney showed up bigger and stronger at the combine, and from Day One as a Patriot was even more explosive than even the sharpest scouts thought he would be at the next level. He’s viewed as more of a bigger RB than a speedy and shifty one, yet he’s also a slippery back with excellent cutback ability, and he certainly does have big-play speed.
Now the negatives: The Patriot running game looked unstoppable in the preseason and early in the regular season, but they leveled off as the season wore on, and Maroney was a part of that. They struggled to run the ball at times, and their line was in part to blame, but the big runs that defined the first couple of months of his career did not come the final 2-3 months of the season. He was a little tentative in his running, and he danced a little too much. His blocking/pass protection needs work, and while he did some things in the passing game, he’s not an accomplished receiver and seems to take too long to transition from catching the ball as a receiver and becoming a runner. He’s certainly explosive, but there are times when his short-area burst appears to be an element he needs to improve on. That could be a problem for him as a starter because there will be many holes that are open for a very short amount of time.
Injuries weren’t a problem for him in college, but he did miss a couple of games in 2006 and appeared on the injury report with a variety of ailments (back, ribs, knee, and a thigh).
Finally, Maroney is unproven as a lead back. Not only did he split carries with Dillon as a rookie, he also shared the load for two seasons in college with Cowboy RB Marion Barber. For what it’s worth, his YPC averaged dipped a full yard once Barber moved on to the NFL in 2005. Maroney, too, was known in college as being a guy who didn’t run aggressively on every single carry.
While it may seem like I’m down on him, I’m not. His 2006 season speaks for itself. There will be a ton of hype for Maroney this year and rightfully so. I’m just making a case to temper enthusiasm a tiny bit – just enough to keep him considered a 2nd round fantasy pick.