Yet Another Sleeper Article: RB's
Thomas Jones NYJ
In a down year last season, Jones scored only 1 rushing TD. He did go over the 1,000 yard mark though. The Jets offense will be better this year & they do expect to make the playoffs. For that to happen, Jones will have to be a big part of the offense. Jones is only a year removed from a 1,200 yard 6 TD year & 2 years removed from a 1,300 yard 9 TD year. Jones is currently being drafted around the 5th or 6th round in most 12 team drafts. If Jones can return to at least 1,200 yards & 6 TD’s (which I expect him to), that’s pretty good value. Another positive with Jones is that he basically has no competition for his job & he has some nice newcomers to the offensive line in Faneca & Woody.
Julius Jones SEA
Seattle has named Morris & Jones co-starters for now. I expect Jones to set himself apart in the near future though. Jones is playing with a chip on his shoulder & that’s never a bad thing for RB’s. 2 years ago in Dallas when Jones & Barber split carries, Jones ran for 1,000 yards & 4 TD’s. Jones couldn’t repeat those numbers last year, but that was mostly attributed to the effectiveness of Barber. Jones gets a new start in Seattle & he should turn some heads in a somewhat weak division. Hailed by many because of his poker player like ability to read an opposing player’s defensive or offensive moves. Expect Jones to dominate the first quarter of the season.
Earnest Graham TB
I decided to add Graham to list not because I think he’s a sleeper, but more of a player that will be on the rise soon. Currently Graham is being selected in the 4th rd. of most 12 team drafts. Rumors have Dunn splitting carries with Graham, but I don’t see that happening when the regular season rolls around. The biggest factor for adding Graham to this list is that Tampa Bay seems to be the front runner to obtain Favre’s services. Favre has turned RB’s like Dorsey Levens, Ahman Green & Ryan Grant into household names. Graham could be the next great RB to lineup behind Favre.
The Not So Obvious
Ryan Torain DEN
I believe that Torain is the best one year prospect out of the rookie RB pool. Torain is a player that is a bit risky in keeper leagues, but in redraft leagues, he makes perfect sense. I won’t go over the well documented past Denver RB situations. We all know how that story starts & ends. Torain has been one of the bright spots in Broncos camp so far. I don’t see Selvin Young as being much of a hurdle for Torain to get over. ***While writing this article Ryan Torain sustained what is believed to be a shoulder injury in camp. I’m not going to take him off the list as it is not a leg injury which would have been devastating.***
DeAngelo Williams CAR
Most people seem to be on the Jonathan Stewart train right now, but DeAngelo isn’t going to just give the Rookie a starting position. We have to also remember that John Fox is a coach that historically puts more stock in experience than ability. When Stepehen Davis was in town, DeShaun Foster had to take a backseat. When DeAngelo Williams was drafted, he had to sit behind Foster. There is no indication that this year will be any different.
Jerious Norwood ATL
Norwood has always been an intriguing player. He has great speed and can be a gamegreaker. The Falcons brought in Turner to be the main RB in Atl., but he is an unproven starter. I don’t think anyone questions Turner’s ability, but nobody really knows how he will be as a starter. Turner could be more of a Dave Megget or Kevin Faulk type player than a Tiki Barber or LaDainian Tomlinson. If Turner can’t handle the load as a starter or suffers an injury, Norwood will see plenty of playing time. Atl. has already stated that Norwood needs to see more touches as it is.
Tim Hightower ARZ
Edgerrin James quietly put together a nice campaign last season, but definitely showed his age at times. Hightower will be the primary backup to Edge this season & will end up stealing carries, but more specifically, goal line carries. Should Edge suffer an injury, the Cardinals will feel safe plugging Hightower into the starting lineup. Hightower probably doesn’t translate to a real good fantasy RB this season unless Edge get’s hurt. His value will come in keeper leagues & with Edge owners. If you own Edge, you MUST own Hightower.
Chris Perry CIN
Chris Perry has a ton to prove this season. When on the field, Perry has been a dynamic player for the Bengals, but he just hasn’t been on the field. Perry has missed roughly 65% of Bengal games since entering the league. 2008 marks the first time Perry has been healthy since entering the league. Perry might not produce in the rushing game, but will produce in the passing game. In 2005 Perry recorded 51 catches in 14 games. Perry should be able to build on those numbers plus add some in the rushing game. If Rudi does go down with another injury & Perry can stay healthy we could see another dual threat ala Reggie Bush.
Chris Taylor HOU
The Texans coaching staff were really high on Taylor before a knee injury ended his 2007 season. This season the Texans brought in former Titan Chris Brown & drafted home run hitter, Steve Slaton. Still, the coaching staff wants to give Taylor some touches. He has been worked out at fullback to get him playing time, but his value will come in the running game. Ahman Green is getting older & Chris Brown is an injury waiting to happen, so it isn’t inconceivable that Slaton & Taylor could jump over them on the depth chart. By mid season, I believe that either Green or Brown (possibly both) will be broken down, opening the door for the youngsters. If that is the case, Taylor should see the bulk of the carries with Slaton coming in as a change of pace.