IS AHMAN GREEN
THIS YEAR'S EDGERRIN JAMES?
Last year it
looked as though Arizona's signing of top free agent Edgerrin James (far
right), then 28, from the Colts would bring some life to Arizona's lackluster
running game. But those pricey new wheels (which were actually old wheels)
couldn't break free behind the Cardinals' shoddy offensive line, which had
ranked 32nd in rushing in 2005 (and wound up 30th last season). Houston's
situation with Green (right) looks uncomfortably similar. Even with the
addition of the 30-year-old free agent, the Texans' 21st-ranked rushing attack
won't improve much behind a line that boasts zero inspiring acquisitions
through the draft and free agency. Further, Houston's offense is in transition
with new QB Matt Schaub and still only has one dangerous wide receiver, Andre
Johnson, to stretch the field. In five years only one Texans back has ever
topped 1,100 yards. Green's situation is as bad as James's--at least.
IS CEDRIC BENSON
OR JOSEPH ADDAI THIS YEAR'S RONNIE BROWN?
Williams gone in 2006, Brown was set to get more carries in Miami in his second
NFL season. He got the carries--but he didn't do much with them, totaling just
1,008 rushing yards. This year Benson and Addai are young backs who will get
more touches after the departure of, respectively, Thomas Jones from the Bears
and Dominic Rhodes from the Colts. But really, that's where the comparison
ends. Benson, unlike Brown, thrived as a solo back in college. ( Brown split the
load at Auburn with Cadillac Williams.) And while Addai's carries will
increase, Tony Dungy will still rotate backs and keep Addai rested. Here's an
added bonus for both: With the exception of Indianapolis's Tarik Glenn, who
retired, their teams' Super Bowl offensive lines will return intact. Expect
bigger numbers from these two.
ARE RANDY MOSS,
DARRELL JACKSON AND JOE HORN THIS YEAR'S TERRELL OWENS, JAVON WALKER AND DEION
A change of locale
was supposed to be just what receivers Owens, Walker and Branch needed in 2006.
Owens hated his team, Walker hated his contract, and any Branch fantasy owner
had to hate the way the ball was spread around in the Patriots' offense. But
none of the above met expectations in his new home--which should come as no
surprise. A new team means a new quarterback, a new coach, a new system. It's
the rare free-agent WR who thrives in Year One in his new home. We've already
been down this road with the Patriots' Moss, who arrived in Oakland two years
ago seemingly ready for a monster season and instead began his slow decline in
production. Don't expect the Falcons' Horn, 35, or the 49ers' Jackson, 28, to
break the pattern.
WHO WILL BE THIS
YEAR'S MARQUES COLSTON?
ODDS ARE, no one.
The seventh-round pick, who finished in the top 25 in every major receiving
category his rookie season, was an exceptional case. There are, however,
several unheralded players who will likely go undrafted by fantasy owners but
deserve attention. Watch their progress and pluck them from the waiver wire
early. They are: WR James Jones, a Packers third-round pick from San�Jose
State who has developed an early rapport with Brett Favre, enabling Green Bay
to cut Robert Ferguson; second-year RB DeDe Dorsey, who picks up the carries in
Indianapolis that don't go to Joseph Addai; and Dolphins RB Jesse Chatman, a
fifth-year veteran who was out of the league last year and has never had
fantasy significance but is pushing Ronnie Brown for carries--in part because
he knows Cam Cameron's system from their three seasons together in San
Diego.-- David Sabino
IS LARRY JOHNSON
DUE FOR A BREAKDOWN?
LJ SET AN NFL
record with 416 carries last year, which set off alarms because the other four
players to rush 400 or more times in a 16-game season-- Jamal Anderson, Eric
Dickerson, Eddie George and James Wilder--saw significant drops in production
the following year. If you include postseason carries in season totals, the
trend is worse. Of those nine backs who rushed more often than LJ, only Terrell
Davis ran for more yardage the next year. Throw in other Chiefs negatives, such
as the loss of G Will Shields and T Jordan Black; their inexperienced skill
players; and LJ's long holdout, and drafting Johnson high looks like a risky