Greene with Envy

We’re obviously still very early in the off-season process, but there’s going to be a lot for us to digest in the coming weeks and over the next two months. For now, I’m personally getting some behind-the-scenes stuff done, as well as taking on the depressing task of doing my taxes.

As for the rookies, the combine is just wrapping up and we’re in the process of gathering our information and intelligence on this year’s class. We’ll need a couple more weeks to scout the players out, and then we’ll break out our Pre-Draft Rookie Report.

Next week, however, things will start to heat up with free agency, and we’ll be covering that extensively. Once the first wave is done, we’ll reshape the dynasty and keeper league landscape for those in keeper leagues.

But I did want to chime in on one player who’s climbing the fantasy ladder, and he’s doing so in a major way: Jet RB Shonn Greene.

With the expected release of Thomas Jones, and with Leon Washington’s shaky status coming off his injury and also as a free agent, Greene’s going to be the guy – and as we know these days there’s a lot to be said for “volume” for a RB in terms of fantasy.

Greene isn’t a dynamic or overly creative runner, but he has very powerful legs, a good short area burst, and he’s athletic and fast enough to outrun some defenders. He’s very good at breaking tackles due to his balance and body control. He’s a sustaining, and that’s really intriguing because that’s exactly what the Jets want on offense, which is why they drafted him in the first place. It certainly helps that the Jets have arguably the best OL in the business (I’m still amazed that Damien Woody is a pretty damn good RT).

It’s all looking really good for Greene, so the question is: where does he stack up now at the position for fantasy?

The answer is pretty damn high.

However, I do have two concerns that, for now, will prompt me to be somewhat conservative with Greene. The first concern is whether or not he can do much in the passing game. His blocking is pretty good, but the guy caught 0 passes in 2009, and he had only 4 pass targets all year. He also caught only 11 balls in college, so he has little experience as a receiver. That’s a concern if Washington is back and healthy because Washington is a heck of a player. So while it’s clear Greene will get a ton of carries no matter what, Washington is a very good receiver and he commands the ball, too. Washington had 10 or more carries in 5 of his 6 full games in 2009, and it was clear head coach Rex Ryan was committed to getting him the ball. Remember, it was a broken leg (not a knee) for Washington, so if all goes well he should be 100% himself by season’s start.

The other concern is his knee, which Greene had trouble with in college. While he’s actually handled a light workload over his college career, which is obviously very good, those I’ve spoken to said he slipped a little in the draft because of a rumor (or it might be fact, I’m not sure) that he’s “bone-on-bone” with the knee, which is a concern. The Jets clearly feel okay about the situation, though, so I’m not overly apprehensive about the possible issue for the short term.

Jet RB Shonn Greene's a lock to get 250+ carries in 2010 if healthy, and he looks like a top-10 fantasy back on the run-heavy Jets

Green’s obviously going to be a high pick based on his new role and his playoff production, but I might not go quite as high as others are willing to go, which apparently is at high as a very early 1st round pick.

Curious to where I’d slot him off the top of my head, I took a look at al 32 teams and found a spot where I’m comfortable with him right now.

Here’s what I got.

1. Chris Johnson

2. Adrian Peterson

3. Maurice Jones-Drew

4. Steven Jackson

5. Ray Rice

6. DeAngelo Williams – He’s splitting time, but the guy’s so damn good and dynamic. He looked great in 2009, and the team was a mess.

7. Michael Turner – More wear and tear but more experience than Greene, so he’s probably a safer choice.

8. Shonn Greene

9. Matt Forte – I could rank him over Greene if the OL is upgraded simply because Forte could easily hit 1700-1800 total yards given his receiving. If Forte’s healthy, he’s going to be a yardage machine under Mike Martz. In PPR, he’s over Greene.

10. Frank Gore

11. Rashard Mendenhall – He’s more talented than Greene, but I’d probably trust Greene and their identity on offense over RM.

12. Jamaal Charles – Could have more upside; we’ll see what FA and the draft has in store for this backfield.

13. Cedric Benson – One word: volume.

14. Chris Wells – Big upside but far from a sure thing.

15. Ryan Grant – Nothing special, but he’s the guy and a great offense.

16. Jonathan Stewart – The guy’s just so damn good.

17. LeSean McCoy – We’ll see who else they bring in.

18. Knowshon Moreno – If he improves as a player, he should be fine. Probably not great, but pretty solid.

19. Ronnie Brown – Gotta see about the health.

20. Joseph Addai/Marion Barber

And here’s the good news for 2010: As this appealing top-20 shows, this year’s going to pretty solid for the RB position. It’s a cyclical league, and while the RBBCs are bad, I think this coming year’s going to be much better than 2009. Guys like Fred Jackson, Felix Jones, Kevin Smith, Jerome Harrison, Laurence Maroney, Pierre Thomas, Ahmad Bradshaw, Chester Taylor, and Justin Forsett could all be good options, yet they don’t even crack the top-30

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15 Responses

  1. JBeau says:

    I like this initial top 20, no problems with it. I am not worried about Greene and his receptions either. TJones only had 10 receptions all year, and still was a great #2. I do think Charles could rise into the top 10 IF the Chiefs don’t bring in anyone else. PPR, I think Forte is gonna be a steal in Martz offense, because of his down year last year. Getting him as a #2 is gonna be great.

  2. Camperhead says:

    Can’t deny that Steven Jackson is a beast (and the only true weapon that team’s got). But after three straight seasons of falling WELL short of expectations, isn’t it about time to stop ranking him in the top 5?

  3. JBeau says:

    SJax was still in my top ten in a PPR league, despite the horrendous year the Rams had. It can only get better in St. Louis. I think he still belongs in the top 5 in a PPR league. Maybe a little lower in a non-ppr

  4. John Hansen says:

    Can’t ignore a complete back who can do it all and will get 90% of his teams touches at the position (at least) and the OL isn’t that bad. I can’t rank a guy like Rice over him because Rice played on a team with a guy in McGahee who scored 14 TDs last year. Rice does a lot in the passing game, but with McGahee a threat to score 10+ times easily again, that could wind up being a problem for Rice.

  5. baltreign says:

    John – With respect to Forte, how concerned are you about L. Smith’s recent comments about the Chi RB situation last year? He indicated that they weren’t happy with their situation last year and are looking around at other RBs. C. Taylor’s name was mentioned in the article, but of course lot of teams will be fighting for him. Do you think Chi will look to upgrade their stable of back-up RBs or are they looking for someone to complete with Forte?

  6. John Hansen says:

    I think it’s more about their need to find someone to take some pressure and workload off Forte, not severely chip into his playing time. Losing Kevin Jones was actually pretty big last summer; he was actually looking great before the injury and could have nicely spelled Forte. Forte’s really smooth in the passing game, so I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a major factor as a receiver under Martz. I think everything went wrong for Forte last year: he was injured, OL was terrible, and the offense lost a lot of it’s sustainability with Cutler’s problems. I agree with JBeau, he should be a decent value in 2010. The guy’s not a true stud, but he’s pretty damn good.

  7. MI-5 says:

    Word on street is that Chargers have changed their mind and gave a high tender to Darren Sproles.

    He ain’t going anywhere now.

  8. Stretch says:

    What about my guy Ricky Williams RB? I know you mentioned R.Brown health issues. But Ricky excells in the wildcat offense. I ranked Ricky well ahead of Joseph Addai/Marion Barber, LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, and the alikes.

    Plus, if R.Brown has a slow start in training camp because of his nagging injuries. Ricky stock will shoot through the roof.

    Run Ricky Run as they say in Miami.

  9. Ferg says:

    Hey John – I’m wondering about Barber in the 20 spot. Word out of Dallas seems to be that Jones will take over the “lead” role and get 20 touches. seems like MB3′s touches will go down. So why MB3 over FJ?

  10. JBeau says:

    Stretch, I love my man Ricky. I’m a Dolphins fan, and love how he came through for us the past couple years. Its gonna be interesting to see how much of the wildcat we see this year. THey will be slowly taking the reigns off of Henne and as a result, I think we see less of the wildcat. We won’t see much of it at all if R. Brown isn’t in there. But Ronnie is still the main rusher so I can’t see Ricky being abouve Ronnie in the rankings or any of the other guys because they are the main cogs in their offensive backfield. But I do think Ricky ends up in the top 20 again.

  11. JBeau says:

    C. Taylor to the Bears. 4 year 12.5 Mil deal, makes me think that he will not just be relegated to the backup role. He is a very versatile back and can protect the passer on 3rd down. Time to drop Forte out of the top 10.

  12. John Hansen says:

    No question the Taylor signing was a shock, and I think it was dumb. This move and the Peppers move will come back to haunt them. Not that Taylor’s a bad player, but I just don’t see how they can have such serious doubts about Forte. Quality backups and role players are a dime a dozen, so their money would have been better served elsewhere. Peppers can be dominant, but he can also disappear for like two months. There’s a reason the Bears have been mediocre overall for a long, long time, and their spending spree this week to me shows that.

    As for Barber/Jones, I loved Jones to a fault last summer, and he could easily rise up over Barber (he’s very close as it is). I’d probably want him over Barber for the upside, but the fact remains Jones has to prove he can stay healthy and Barber’s still going to get the bulk of the goal line work, although that wasn’t as much of a factor in 2009 as it was in the past.

  13. visigoth says:

    Do you see Steve Slaton return to form in Houston, or is the team going in another direction? Where would you rank him?

  14. John Hansen says:

    Slaton in the high-20s. But that could go up if they don’t get a bigger back of note from now through the draft. He’s always going to have top-20 potential in a PPR league, however. They drafted him as a great 3rd down/changeup back and he proved to be much more in 2008. In 2009, he proved to be just a little more.

  15. Bill Cervi says:

    Do you think the Jets will try to re-sign TJ and what role do you see for Chauncey Washington? Any inside scoop on NE persuing Leon Washington?

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