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Pre-season Running Back Value Changers

August 4, 2006 | By Andy Goldstein | comment on this post
Kellen Winslow Jr. is healthy again for the Cleveland Browns.
Andy is just like Kellen Winslow Jr. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

Hey guys, we’re new here at, but we’re certainly not new to Fantasy football. We have a podcast and blog on the subject called MVP Fantasy Football. You can also get the podcast via iTunes. Our job here, however, will be to give you some of the best Fantasy football content on the web. RotoRob told us we were one of the many all-stars features. We told him that we were just a soldier like Kellen Winslow Jr., but he wasn’t having any of that.

Anyway, let’s start things off by looking at how some running backs have already had their Fantasy value significantly change since training camps began a week ago.

Reuben Droughns: Poor Cleveland. In the offseason the Cleveland Browns retooled their offensive line, bringing in all-world centre LeCharles Bentley along with tackle Kevin Shaffer. With Droughns running for over 1,200 yards in 2005, expectations with Bentley in place were on the rise. And then the Browns started training camp. Bentley tore his left patellar tendon on the very first play of the very first practice of the very first day of the Browns’ training camp. Droughns had been going in the third or fourth rounds of many drafts before the Bentley injury, but the upside he once had is souring. You can knock his value down a few pegs on your cheat sheets.

Cedric Benson: Thomas Jones hurt his hamstring while taking a team physical. Riiiiight. Enter Benson, Chicago’s 2005 first round draft pick. We know the former Longhorn has all the tools to succeed at the NFL level, but last year was relegated to the bench due to Jones’ surprise complete season. The Bears, of course, want Benson to be the starter (even if they won’t officially say it, you don’t pay your backup running back $30 million), so whether Jones’ ‘injury’ is real or an excuse to get Benson into the starting role gracefully, it shouldn’t matter to Fantasy owners. You probably should still handcuff Jones to your drafting of Benson, but if you can get Benson in the third or fourth round (or even later) on draft day, don’t think twice about it.

Larry Johnson: So Willie Roaf retired. You know offensive linemen don’t get any respect because the biggest question now is what to make of Johnson. Before Roaf’s announcement, LJ was the closest thing to a consensus first overall pick in Fantasy circles. If you take Johnson’s stats from the last eight games of 2005 and extrapolate them out over a full 16-game season, he would crush every running back record on the books. (Well… most of them at least.) Now there are caution flags. During those eight games, Roaf missed three due to injury. LJ was fine, running for 150 yards per game over the Roaf-less stretch. But a deeper look shows it was against three of the worst run defenses in the league (Oakland, Buffalo and Houston). The only game that Roaf missed when the Chiefs played a legitimate run defense was Week Three against Denver. LJ and Priest Holmes combined for 74 yards on 22 carries. That all said, Johnson is still a top three back, but LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander have crept up to LJ’s value.

‘Till next time… be safe and don’t join any football squads where Will Demps is your ‘teammate.’

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