Maybe I'm just going through pre-draft paranoia, but there seem to be an inordinate no. of unresolved running back situations this year. I for one am hearing those dreaded words "RB By Committee way more than I want to. I thought I'd take a look and ask the cafe faithful to place some bets on these guys:
Controversies that probably ain't:
Carolina- Stephen Davis is on the wrong side of 30, but he still looks like he's running downhill against the opposition. I still expect him to start for another year but see DeShaun Foster gradually eat away his carries and TD's.
Buffalo- Willis McGahee is poised to be the comeback story of the year but Henry hasn't done anything to lose the job. Still, it's a contact year for Travis Henry and the Bills may have to give McGahee a look if they think they can't resign Travis. The team probably is not big enough for the two of them.
The Peanut Butter and Chocolate, or Two Tastes that Taste Great Together Award: Some teams seem to function just fine with RBBC, defying all conventional wisdom and frustrating fantasy owners.
Philly- Buckhalter and Westbrook both get their share of carries, and McNabb's like a third running back under center. It doesn't work for us, but so far it's been cool for the Eagles.
Atlanta- See Philly. When Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn are both healthy, all the same things I said about Philly apply. Any coach is crazy not to have the most talented athletes out there at any given time that he can. Of course, Dunn's always an injury candidate so Duckett could easily step right into the starting role when he trips up.
Tampa Bay- Mike Alstott could be the hoss if could ever stop fumbling. Charlie Garner could be because Gruden likes him. Michael Pittman could be if he stops having trouble off the field- eesh.
Oakland- If you actually had to pick up Troy Hambrick and are relying on him for something, I pity you. And they have Tyrone Wheatley and Antonio Fargas and- yeah, not looking forward to any of those guys.
Denver- Quentin Griffin looks like the man so far, but his size will continue to be a question. Garrison Hearst is there but I think he's carrying his right leg in his left arm these days. Mike Anderson is always a threat if needed, and rookie sleeper Tatum Bell is still asleep with two pins in his broken right hand. Whoever the Broncos choose will be a productive back, but good luck figuring out who they'll choose.
Detroit- Kevin Jones will have every opportunity to prove he was worthy of a lofty draft pick, but Shawn Bryson's among other candidates waiting impatiently in the wings. I hope they go with Jones because that young offense with him, Harrington and Charles Rodgers could be something to watch.
Minnesota- We got Michael Bennett, and Moe Williams, and Onterrio Smith, and wasn't Remo Williams in there somewhere too? These are the kind of depth charts that makes fantasy owners weep audibly.
Miami- The least expected of any of these logjams could be the most painful to watch, as NONE of these guys were prepared to step in and probably still won't be when the season starts. Ricky Williams told his agent Leigh Steinberg they'll be fine with Travis Minor, but he could have been high at the time.
Does it matter?:
Cleveland- Lee Suggs or William Green. I'm not gonna joke about Green getting stabbed by his wife, I'm not gonna joke about Green getting stabbed... Well, that's over. I can't tell whether the Browns will be vastly improved or the same train wreck we've come to expect. Garcia's already on Kellen Winslow's bad side, and appears to be on the downside of his career. At least it's not a QB controversy in Cleveland this year.
Pittsburgh- Duce Staley or Jerome Bettis. I went to sleep, woke up and the Steelers were a pass first team. This platoon is supposed to summon a return to smashmouth football. I'm not holding my breath, but I'll bet Steelers offensive coaches are.
Chicago- The suddenly resurgent Thomas Jones versus the derailed "A-Train." Thomas supposedly doesn't fit the offense, which is shorthand for "we think you suck." I mean, you've never heard anyone complaining that Thurman Thomas or Barry Sanders in their prime didn't fit the offense, have you?
Tennessee- Let's see, you wanted to get rid of an aging back whose best days were behind him and you pick up Antowain Smith? Did Franco Harris not return any of Jeff Fisher's phone calls? Smith's cheaper capwise, I guess, but you generally get what you pay for in this league. If there's any justice Chris Brown wins this job outright and relegates Smith to the scrap heap where he belongs.
Arizona- God, Emmitt, please hang up the pads in the name of all that's sacred. But with Marcel Shipp being hurt he's the Canaries best option. With Anquan Boldin out too, Dennis Green may make a joint suicide pact with Dave Wannstedt.
And I saved maybe the best for the last:
Dallas- Young Julius Jones vs. Veteran Eddie George. These guys both bring some skills to the table, and will probably catch similar amounts of playing time until Julius comes into his own. With that in mind, fantasy owners can't get excited about either's potential stats just yet. As far as tutors go, Jones couldn't have a much better one. Eddie's always played the games the right way.
Is it just me, or are there this many controversies every year and I just don't realize it? And with the Panthers and the Patriots, both committee members at points during the 2003 season, making it to the Super Bowl will we continue to see more of this horrible fantasy trend? Seems a shame that Shaun Alexander, Ahman Green, and Priest Holmes had to watch Antowain Smith running in the big game.
"We sucked. We couldn't do diddly-poo out there..." Jim Mora