NFL Running Back platoons to watch

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers walks off the field after the Panthers defeated the New Orleans Saints 23-10 at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Two running back systems are becoming more common in the NFL, much to the dismay of fantasy players.  RB’s take a hell of a pounding and the good ones cost a pretty penny, so many teams are using the more is better approach.  Here are some of the more interesting platoons heading into training camp.

Carolina Panthers
DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart

Talk about doppelgangers, Williams had 1117 yards and 7 TDs with 216 carries. Stewart had 1133 yards and 10 TDs on 221 carries. I give Stewart the edge, he is younger (cheaper) and the last 3 games of the season he went for 109, 205, and 125 to Williams 40, 82, 13. You almost can’t just have one on the roster, but if you have both it guarantees you will always pick the wrong one. You almost root for one of them to go down so the other can have the monster season that could lead to a championship (for your FF team, not the lowly Panthers).

Kansas City
Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones

Charles will be the starter, but what of Jones who is coming off his best season as a pro racking up 1400 yards for the Jets? He may be a 32 year old dinosaur, but he has had 6 consecutive seasons of 1000+ yards. It could just be as simple as having a veteran to help out the young buck. Whatever the case it means split carries, and that hurts Charles fantasy value.

New York Jets
Shonn Greene and LT

The Jets send Thomas Jones and his career best numbers packing in favor of a promising sophomore and someone who has been who at one time was simply the most dominating back in the game. Last year Greene had 500 yards on 100 carries, resulting in an impressive 5 yards per carry. Is he ready for the full load in prime time? What of the 800 pound gorilla that is LT? He saw the writing on the wall his every down days are over, but exactly how much will he be on the field? If he is the definite every 3rd down and 2 min back, that is going to slice into Greene’s numbers and thus his fantasy viability. I still don’t see Sanchez as a guy that is going to win games on his own, he is a pretty good game manager so he needs a solid run game to get play action going. This is something we need to see on the preseason field before making any decisions. I have seen Greene going as high as 7th RB taken, which just seems too high for something so unproven.

San Diego
Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles

A rook and a tiny man will share PT. Sproles is coming off his finest year, benefiting from LT’s decline. Most of his yards come off of screen passes, as his stature most likely keeps him from being an every down guy. At 5’11 220, Matthews has the body to be an every down running back, but its hard to use an early draft pick on a rookie runner. We shall see how quickly he can get into the flow of the San Diego offense.

Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown

Anyone who said Ricky would have his best year since 2003 was most certainly smoking some kind. So the question is with Ronnie Brown coming back from yet another injury, what is in store for this duo? My theory on this one is that one of them (cough Brown cough) will get injured in the preseason making one of these guys a 4rd-5th round steal.

Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard

With Benson going on his Austin punching spree, it is almost assured he will feel the cold hand of Goodell to the tune of at least 4 games. When this happens it leaves the Bungles backfield in total disarray, with two young unproven backs to pick up the slack. Leonard hasn’t done much of anything in his previous three NFL seasons, and Scott has 74 carries and 321 yards for his rookie year. The real question will be when is Benson coming back and is it worth a late round stab to have him on your bench for the first part of the fantasy season.

New Orleans
Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush

We now know after a few years that Bush is not going to be an every down back for the Saints, that leaves the ground game to Thomas now that Mike Bell is out of the picture. The question is if Thomas can hold up for a full season, he has yet to suit up for all 16 games in his 3 years. Drafting Bush is agonizing, by the time he finds the end zone odds are he is on your bench.

Felix Jones and Marion Barber

Both are fine players that just so happen to split the carries 50/50. Again its a situation where you want one to get dinged up so the other can play to his true fantasy potential. Where do you draft either one of these guys? At this point I see them both as #3 guys used to fill in for bye weeks, you just have no freaking clue which one is going to go off and which will ride the pine.

Joseph Addai and Donald Brown

The Colts offense lives breathes and dies by Payton Manning, but before Brown arrived, Addai was a serviceable #2 fantasy RB. With Donnie sneaking in grabbing 300 yards and a couple TD’s from Addai in his rookie year, Joe is suddenly is much less appealing. Brown preformed admirably enough that I’m sure he will get some more carries, which makes Addai’s draft stock drop.

Arian Foster, Steve Slaton, and Ben Tate

Stevie Franchise had a banner rookie year and followed it up with a sophomore crash riddled with fumbles and injury. Fortunately for Slaton, the other RBs in the mix are more inexperienced, so barring any set backs he should find himself #1. Either way with two young backs on the roster, carries will be hard to come by, making it hard to pick a good draft position for any of them,

Whew, and that’s not even getting to places like Denver, Seattle, Cleveland, and Oakland who all have major questions going into the year at RB. All in all it is gong to be a hell of a time fielding 2 starters to play every week.


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