In this article series we will profile the ball carriers that will be changing uniforms in 2013 as well as a few potential impact rookies that could make a splash in their first season in the big leagues.
In Detroit, the Lions backfield has floundered amid multiple injuries as Javhid Best is unlikely to play again thanks to multiple concussions and Mikel Leshoure has a hamstring injury and averaged just 3.7 YPC last season. In steps former Kardashian arm candy Reggie Bush who by all accounts could be just what the doctor ordered in the pass happy Lion offense. Green Bay’s musical chairs at running back will get a shot in the arm from two rookies as Bama’s Eddie Lacy and UCLA’s John Franklin figure to form a Thunder & Lightning duo that could keep Aaron Rodgers off his backside (51 sacks in 2012).
Atlanta will look to get past the NFC Title game and will turn to a familiar weapon as Steven Jackson of the division rival Rams will replace cement footed Michael Turner. It’s hard to believe that Rashard Mendenhall is just 25 years old. He’ll unite with former Steeler OC Bruce Arians in Arizona and is penciled in as the starter ahead of Ryan Williams. Mendy will need to prove that the ACL tear suffered at the end of 2011 is a thing of the past in order to regain fantasy relevance as his performance in 2012 left a lot to be desired (averaged just 3.6 YPC over six games).
DynastyLeagueFootball.com are predicting that Mendy tops 1,200 yards despite playing in a dvision with multiple stout run defenses (SF, SEA, STL).
FFToday.com sees RB1 potential in Steven Jackson despite the fact that he’ll be 30 years in 2013 as he’ll be part of high flying Atlanta offense that averaged 26 PPG last season.
ProFootballTalk reports that the Lions plan to mirror Bush’s usage in New Orleans (averaged 59 catches his five years in New Orleans despite missing 20 games).
FootballPerspective concludes that both Packer rookies will be hard pressed to produce much better than RB3 numbers as they’ll likely be mired in a RBBC on a pass happy offense.
FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN:
Steven Jackson signed a three-year, $12 million contract with Atlanta but the deal contains no guaranteed money behind the first season. He should see a major boost in red zone chances vaults him into the RB1 discussion (Turner had 51 red-zone opportunities in 2012 compared to just 27 for S-Jax). Based on his current ADP of #30 overall we feel he’s being slightly overlooked and makes for a solid target in round 2 especially in PPR leagues (averaged 49 receptions over past 8 seasons).
Rashard Mendenhall will play 2013 on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. He will turn 26 in June and will be a full season removed from his ACL tear when 2013 kicks off. First year head coach Bruce Arians is a proponent of feature RBs as evidence by his usage of Mendy in Pittsburgh and Vick Ballard last season in Indy so this is a camp battle to monitor closely. Ryan Williams (38th overall pick in the 2011 draft) played in just 5 games last season (shoulder indjury) after missing his entire rookie year (knee injury). Williams struggled last season averaging just 2.8 yards per carry (58 carries) but is still viewed as a true 3-down option. Mendenhall looks to be solid value right now as he has RB2 potential and can be had in rounds 9/10 based on ADP data (RB32). Ryan Williams is going slighlty lower as his ADP has him coming off the board in rounds 13/14 (RB47).
He averaged 4.67 YPC in Miami over the last two seasons despite a very limited passing game. He’ll now be part of the most pass happy offense in the NFL and is a favorite to lead all RBs in receptions giving him solid RB2 potential in standard leagues and possible RB1 status in PPR formats. Bush was the Dolphins every-down back the past two seasons and posted 443 carries for 2,072 yards (4.68 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. Mikel Leshoure could vulture red zone touches (had 9 TDs last season) which leads us to target Bush as an RB2 for 2013. His current ADP has him coming off the boards in the early part of round 3 (RB18) which is a bit high for us based on his prior injury history (but the PPR upside is off the charts).
The Packers ground game ranked 20th last season and they decided to address the backfield early and often via April’s draft selecting Alabama’s Eddie Lacy in round 2 and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin in round 4. Both players went later than draft experts expected. Lacy is a bruising back that is the early favorite to start week 1 but Franklin will be close on his heels. The Packers backfield is crowded with DuJuan Harris and Alex Green also in the mix so we are not sold any Packer RB will be a consistent option in 2013. Franklin is better value currently (RB41 – ADP in rounds 11/12) to target as his 4.49 speed and a legit three-down skill set are intriguing especially if Lacy’s (RB 26, ADP in round 6) toe injury lingers this offseason.