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This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Off-season Positional Landscape: Updated RB News

**Updated 3/12/08


[76] Marion Barber III DAL [R] 25.3 - RFA --> DAL
1/16/08: The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram believes the Cowboys do not want to rely on Marion Barber to be their only featured running back next season. Restricted free agent Barber is expected to be brought back as the 2008 starter, but his punishing running style may leave him more susceptible to injuries and exhaustion. The Cowboys could look to free agents Michael Turner, Chris Brown, Derrick Ward, or Vernand Morency to replace Julius Jones.

2/23/08: The Cowboys remain committed to the league-wide trend of the two-back system.he team envisions Marion Barber as the starter, but he will have a partner, likely a high draft pick out the running-back heavy class. As much as Jerry Jones might like Darren McFadden, the Cowboys are unlikely to trade up with so many quality backs available.

2/27/08: Dallas is expected to extend restricted free agent Marion Barber a first-round tender, not the first- and third-round tender. The deadline to tender RFAs is Thursday. Barber will be more attractive as an offer sheet signing at the lower tender. However, first-round picks are like gold in the NFL and it'd still be a surprise if Barber signs elsewhere. The first-round tag costs $2.017 million; the highest $2.562 million.

[53] Michael Turner ATL 26.5
3/2/08: Falcons agreed to terms with RB Michael Turner on a six-year contract. The deal includes $15 million guaranteed and is worth $34.5 million. Detroit and Chicago reportedly had interest, but Atlanta didn't let Turner leave town. The 26-year-old is a 5'10/237-pound back who fits OC Mike Mularkey's power scheme perfectly. He has a career YPC of 5.5 and has fumbled just twice on 228 carries. Turner will start in Atlanta. Warrick Dunn seems likely to get cut, with Jerious Norwood filling a change of pace role. The Falcons are highly unlikely to draft Darren McFadden at No. 3 overall now and are the favorites for Matt Ryan. Atlanta's offense has a lot of question marks, but look for Turner to get drafted as in the second or third round as a RB2.

[52] Jamal Lewis CLE

2/21/08: Browns re-signed RB Jamal Lewis to a three-year contract. The third year is likely an option year or contains an inflated salary. Re-signing gives Lewis his best chance to maintain RB2 value on an explosive offense behind a great line. The Browns should still start thinking about a long-term answer at the position, or seeing what Jerome Harrison can do on passing downs.

[29] Julius Jones SEA

3/7/08: NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports that the Seahawks agreed to terms with Julius Jones. Terms aren't disclosed. This should end the Shaun Alexander era shortly. It's a dream scenario for Jones, who gets a surprise chance to start again on a productive offense. Seattle could add a rookie, but Jones should play ahead of T.J. Duckett and Maurice Morris. Jones regressed in Dallas, but he's an upgrade from Alexander and could mature late like his brother. He won't play every down, but any Seattle starter is an intriuging fantasy prospect.

[27] Justin Fargas OAK

2/13/08: Raiders re-signed RB Justin Fargas. NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports the deal is for three years and $12 million, including $6 million guaranteed. Fargas, 28, gained 1009 yards on 222 carries (4.5 YPC) and scored four TDs in 2007. He's not a threat in the passing game and often runs too hard for his own good, but fits Oakland's zone system. Fargas now enters 2008 as the heavy favorite to start over Michael Bush. The best Bush could hope for is a carry split, which he'd have to earn with a big training camp and preseason.

[13] Derrick Ward NYG [R] 28.1 - NYG?

2/6/08: The Giants have begun negotiations with potential free agent RB Derrick Ward. Ward, who fractured his fibula in early December, could have returned for the Super Bowl with a fully healed leg. He appeared to be expendable after Ahmad Bradshaw's playoff coming out party, but the Giants want to preserve their depth if possible.

[6] Chris Brown HOU

3/12/08: NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports a deal between the Texans and free agent Chris Browns is expected to be completed by Thursday. It sounds like Houston may be offering Brown a multi-year deal, but we won't know for sure until the contract is finalized. The Texans seem set to use a running back by committee approach in 2008.

[3] DeShaun Foster SF

2/29/08: 49ers signed RB DeShaun Foster to a two-year, $1.8 million contract, according to ESPN's John Clayton. At this extremely low price, Foster isn't guaranteed anything, although he's the heavy favorite to backup Frank Gore in front of Michael Robinson and Thomas Clayton. Since he can play all downs solidly, Foster will make a fine handcuff for Gore, but nothing more.

[4] Tatum Bell DET
3/10/08: Lions re-signed RB Tatum Bell to a one-year, $1.6 million contract. It's telling this was the best he could do. Bell posted a career low 4.1 YPC on 44 carries, falling off the game day roster after the first five contests. Along with Brian Calhoun, he provides insurance behind Kevin Jones (ACL surgery). Bell could be worth a late flier in 2008 fantasy drafts, but probably nothing more. Detroit may still draft a running back.

[3] Mewelde Moore PIT 26.1
3/3/08: Steelers signed RB Mewelde Moore, formerly of the Vikings, to a three-year, $4.95 million contract. The deal includes $1.35 million to sign. Despite trying to trade for him last October, the Bucs never showed interest. Moore, only 25, hardly played in 2007 behind Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, but holds a career 4.9 yards-per-carry average and is an excellent receiver. He'll cut into third-down playing time of Najeh Davenport and Willie Parker, while competing to handle kickoff and punt duties.

[3] Musa Smith BAL (U) 26.3
3/4/08: The player rep for free agent Musa Smith says his client would like to return to the Ravens.
Smith has no visits lined up with other teams. "We’re in a wait-and-see mode with Musa," said his agent. "Hopefully, something can be worked out."

3/7/08: The Broncos have shown an interest in free agent RB Musa Smith. The Denver Post speculates that the team could sign him to a one-year deal. Smith would join a crowded backfield, but one that is notorious for for its turnover at starter. He worked in a zone-blocking scheme in Baltimore.

[3] Ron Dayne HOU (U) 30.5
3/4/08: The Texans' interest in Warrick Dunn is believed to be an indication that they don't intend to retain free agent Ron Dayne. Dayne averaged four yards a carry and scored six TDs last year, but hasn't drawn a hint of interest on the open market. He'd help a team like Carolina, which needs a short-yardage back to complement DeAngelo Williams.

[2] Vernand Morency GB [R] 28.6 - RFA

1/24/08: Vernand Morency isn't expected to remain the Packers' third-down back in 2008. Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn are the top in-house choices to take over on passing downs. Noah Herron, who spent 2007 on I.R., could also be an option, but is less of a threat with the ball in his hands. Morency, a restricted free agent, will get the lowest tender, if he's tendered at all.

2/22/08: Packers coach Mike McCarthy says he wants restricted free agent Vernand Morency to return to the club in 2008. It might only be as a camp body. Morency would probably be safe if he's tendered low ($927,000). He would battle for a roster spot this summer.

[2] Michael Bennett TB

2/15/08: Buccaneers re-signed Michael Bennett to a multi-year contract. A surprising move that suggests Michael Pittman won't be back in Tampa Bay. Bennett rushed 41 times for 189 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 54 yards and another score after joining the Bucs in an October trade last season. The team likely liked his speed as a compliment to Earnest Graham's tough running style. The signing could result in a higher draft pick being sent to the Chiefs, who traded Bennett to Tampa Bay.

[2] Warrick Dunn TB

3/10/08: Bucs agreed to terms with RB Warrick Dunn on a two-year, $6 million contract, according to NFL Network's Adam Schefter. Dunn will make $3 million in 2008. Dunn returns to where his career started, most likely as a third-down specialist and replacement for free agent Michael Pittman. Michael Bennett's roster spot is now tenuous, especially if Cadillac Williams can get healthy. Among all the Bucs' backups, Dunn has the best chance to be a valuable handcuff for starter Earnest Graham. He won't be a threat to Graham's job.

[2] T.J. Duckett SEA
3/4/08: NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports that the Seahawks and T.J. Duckett have agreed to terms on a five-year contract. We'd love to see the numbers on the deal first, but this could be a sign that Seattle is greasing the skids for Shaun Alexander. At the very least, Duckett is likely to steal some touchdowns. Duckett and Maurice Morris could also combine with a rookie to carry the load if Seattle chooses to cut Alexander in the offseason.

[2] Jesse Chatman NYJ
3/9/08: Jets signed RB Jesse Chatman to a one-year contract. Chatman, 28, revived his career in Miami last year, gaining 515 yards on 128 carries in six starts, with 27 catches. For depth, we'd pencil him in right behind Thomas Jones, though Chatman and Leon Washington would likely split duties if Jones goes down. The move makes the Jets a bit less likely to draft Darren McFadden. Chatman (5'8/222) can be a bruiser, but scored only one TD in 2007 and shouldn't be a major short-yardage threat.


[24] Travis Henry DEN 29.8

2/21/08: Travis Henry has agreed to a restructured contract that will keep him in Denver for the upcoming season. He gave up his entire $6 million option bonus, according to NFL Network. It's a smart move for Henry. The Broncos aren't ready to pass the starting job onto Selvin Young, and Henry staying makes it far less likely that they'll use a high pick on an RB. Henry's style still suits the one-cut system, and he was productive in 2007 when healthy, leading the NFL in rushing the for first month. While we're skeptical he'll be a great fantasy option, he'll come more cheaply this year and is the favorite to start and get goal-line carries.

[20] Edgerrin James ARI 30.1
1/1/08: The Arizona Republic writes that it's "questionable" how Edgerrin James fits into Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt's scheme. James lost work to Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington in 2007 and indicated after Sunday's season finale that he wasn't happy about it. "He got some carries, but we never got quite into the flow we thought we were going to," Whisenhunt said. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Cardinals add a power runner in the offseason and make James into a committee back next year.

2/8/08: The Cardinals say they haven't yet considered cutting or trading Edgerrin James. "As right now, we're factoring him in as being here," GM Rod Graves said. But then he spoke about how crucial it is for the team to lower Larry Fitzgerald's cap number and the impact that could have on others. "If not, we could very well be faced with some very tough decisions down the road." It sounds like James will probably be back, but it's not a sure thing.

[20] Rudi Johnson CIN [x] 28.9
2/13/08: The Bengals are encouraged that Rudi Johnson can return as an "invigorated, re-energized player" in 2008. Johnson was plagued by a hamstring strain throughout 2007. The Bengals could wait closer to training camp to gauge Kenny Irons' (torn ACL) progress before deciding what to do with Rudi. There still seems a chance he'll be cut.

[9] #Deuce McAllister NO [x] 29.7

2/24/08: Deuce McAllister's roster spot with the Saints should be safe at least until the summer, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Deuce's salary manageable, so he figures to return as Reggie Bush's backfield mate in 2008, barring an oustanding offseason from Pierre Thomas. "Our plans are full-speed ahead right now (with McAllister)," coach Sean Payton said. "He's rehabbing, and we fully intend for him to be a guy that we look at and have a chance to evaluate how he's come off his injuries."

[7] Lamont Jordan OAK [x] 29.8

12/13/07: LaMont Jordan has been icing his back every day since training camp. Jordan's back issues have become chronic and threaten to limit his trade value or free agent attractiveness if he's released in the offseason, which is a likely scenario.

[5] Shaun Alexander SEA [x] 31.0

3/10/08: ESPN's John Clayton calls Cincinnati an "interesting option" for Shaun Alexander if he's released by the Seahawks. More likely, it's when he's cut. Clayton, a former Seattle beat writer, says there have been rumors in the past of an Alexander trade to the Bengals. If dealt there, Alexander would battle a host of RBs for playing time.

3/11/08: KJR 950 in Seattle reports the Seahawks are close to releasing Shaun Alexander. Reporters met with coach Mike Holmgren at the team's practice facility on Tuesday and he acknowledged he was speaking to Alexander. However, Holmgren said no move is imminent because Alexander is injured. When asked outright if Alexander will be cut, Holmgren deferred to GM Tim Ruskell.

[4] Chris Perry CIN 26.7
11/28/07: Bengals did not activate RB Chris Perry from the Physically Unable to Perform list, ending his season. The former first-round draft pick from Michigan has been an effective third-down back when 100 percent, but that may never happen again. He will be fighting for his roster life against Kenny Watson and Kenny Irons next summer.

2/13/08: The Bengals are "hopeful" that Chris Perry will contribute in 2008. He didn't play in 2008 due to leg and ankle fractures. Because of his annual injuries, anything the Bengals get from Perry should be considered a bonus.

[1] Reuben Droughns NYG [x] 30.0

2/19/08: Reuben Droughns is due a $250,000 roster bonus on March 1. He probably won't get it. Droughns still has some short-yardage and special teams value, but the Giants are set with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw as their 1-2. If they can't hang onto free agent Derrick Ward, the Jints could go with Danny Ware or Kay-Jay Harris as a cheap third stringer.

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