Back in 2004, Football Outsiders first talked about the “Curse of 370.” Basically, running backs who carry the ball 370 or more times in a season fail in the following season. In fact, 21 runners have hit that mark, and 16 had significant decreases in each major fantasy stat. Nine had major injuries. We’ve talked about it before on this site in regards to Larry Johnson.
Well, after a respite last season, it looks like a couple coaches are ready to toss their prime time backs to the monster that is the unrelenting curse of 370. Dynasty leaguers might want to seriously consider trading these two.
Clinton Portis – Up until last week, Portis was on pace for 374 carries. While that number is down somewhat now, I expect it to rise as the Redskins play close NFC East games down the stretch. Considering Portis already has a lot of miles in the NFL, this is an extremely troubling development. Obviously, his value is extremely high right now. Dynasty owners might be able to get a good young wide out (Calvin Johnson or Roddy White) or a quality quarterback.
Michael Turner – Turner is only on pace for 352 carries or so, but if last week’s 31 carries is any indication, the Falcons are content to ruin his career in his first year as a starter. Over the last four games, Turner has averaged more than 24.5 carries per game, which is an absurd 16-game pace of 396 carries. I guess they still have time to work Jerious Norwood into the games, but Norwood got a lot of touches last week and they still ran Turner too much. Anything over 25 in a game is flat out irresponsible coaching. All that said, he’s got plenty of value right now and dynasty owners might be better off cashing him out sooner rather than later.
Okay, if your league-mates don’t know the terrible history of NFL backs with more than 370 carries in a season, it might be prudent to wait until the offseason. Otherwise, it’s really not so absurd.
Tyler Thigpen, Kansas City Chiefs (@ Chargers) – Quick, how many touchdowns (throwing, rushing, or, umm, receiving) does Thigpen have over the last three weeks? Well, if you said “the same number as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees,” then you’d be right. If you said “six,” you’d also be right, but not quite as cool. Anyway, it helps that he has the uber-talented Dwayne Bowe to toss the ball to. It also helps that the Chargers are just about the worst team in the league at stopping the pass. But I didn’t just put Thigpen here because of the Charger matchup! He’s been a fantasy beast lately! Okay, maybe not a beast. But he’s been adequate! Fantasy adequate! I promise, that is actually a compliment.
Ryan Torain, Denver Broncos (@ Browns) – Three carries for one yard. Okay, Torain didn’t exactly come out of the gates blazing. That’s okay. Every other running back on the Bronco roster is hurt. So basically, even if Torain had 20 carries for no yards, he’d still be in line to get a major dose of touches against Cleveland. At this point, I should give you my disclaimer, which is that this is the Broncos. They are coached by a guy who lives to screw my fantasy advice up. I think he reads my column and then does the opposite. Maybe it has to do with the curse of 370, which he relegated Terrell Davis to fall to. And Davis will never make the Hall of Fame because of it. Way to go!
Matt Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Lions) – Not suspended yet? Okay, good. Just a reminder.
No one! It’s Week 10, people. There’s no more getting cute. This is fantasy crunch time. Your players should either be returning from byes or returning from injuries. In the mean time, sit back and relax. This is when it gets really easy. Just start your best players and hope for the best. I’ve been in situations where I try to make “fancy” starts, and it usually ends poorly during this crunch time.
Good luck in Week 10!