The league's most confounding platoon of 2006 won't be any easier to read in
'07. Last year Marion Barber took away starter Julius Jones's third-down and
short-yardage carries while scoring 16 touchdowns--including an NFC-leading 14
rushing TDs. In '07 he will get more looks on first and second downs. Both
backs will put up decent season stats, but as long as they're dividing the
carries, owners will run the week-to-week risk of getting burned.
JONES, 60%; BARBER, 40%
It's a fantasy nightmare: The oft-injured, 31-year-old Fred Taylor returns to
claim the starting job once again. How long before Maurice Jones-Drew, the
superior receiver and the greater goal line threat, takes over? A change could
come in Week 2--or Week 17. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter
promises to throw more too, so there will be fewer carries to go around. And
fullback Greg Jones, after missing all of 2006 with a knee injury, is back to
devalue everyone else in the red zone.
TAYLOR, 50%; JONES-DREW, 40%; JONES, 10%
Neither DeShaun Foster (above) nor DeAngelo Williams has put together a
1,000-yard season, and it's unlikely that either one will in 2007. Foster, a
five-year veteran, tops the depth chart and will have the bulk of the carries
as the season begins, but by midseason the balance could easily tip toward
Williams, a second-year player who cuts better and should excel in Carolina's
new zone-blocking scheme.
FOSTER, 60%; WILLIAMS, 40%
This doesn't look like fun. Incumbent Chester Taylor and rookie Adrian Peterson
should divide the duties fairly equally--although Peterson is expected to get
more work close to the goal line, where Taylor (six TDs) was unspectacular last
year. Mewelde Moore, who caught 46 balls in 2006, will also compete for
time. With so much uncertainty, the best hope for fantasy owners is that the
Vikings become this year's Saints, who had two strong and reasonably consistent
fantasy running backs in '06.
TAYLOR, 45%; PETERSON, 45%; MOORE, 10%
Coach Dick Jauron has said time and again during the off-season that he's
committed to using a committee. Just what fantasy players love to hear.
Marshawn Lynch, the 12th pick out of Cal, will get first crack at the top spot.
If he stumbles, Jauron will give more work to Anthony Thomas, whom he coached
for three decent seasons in Chicago (and a less-than-decent one in Buffalo last
year). Rookie Dwayne Wright, a fourth-round pick from Fresno State, will fill
in as a short-yardage specialist.