PROSE and CONS > Kevan Barlow, RB, SF (2004)
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - Ed Reaven and Stan Andruszkiewicz
Ed takes the PROSE and Stan takes the CONS as they tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Kevan Barlow
By Ed Reaven
San Francisco’s Kevan Barlow is currently considered by many to be in the third tier of fantasy running back options. But when you’re drafting your 2005 team, he’ll likely be knocking on the top tier’s door.
Running backs with this ability and experience level, combined with opportunity, are a recipe for a breakout season, and Barlow should not disappoint
Barlow enters his fourth season, but first as the true starter. He has always shown the talent and production that will make him a fantasy darling, and this is his season in the sun. His career 4.7 yards per carry average, when extrapolated over the course of a full workload, is 1,500 yards waiting to happen. He also catches enough passes to make him one of the league’s better receivers at RB.
Running backs of this talent and opportunity are usually drafted higher, but gems can be found -- Ahman Green in 2001, and Deuce McAllister and LaDanian Tomlinson in 2002. If you draft late this season, don’t you fret – just grab Barlow as your 1st RB or as a great 2nd runner.
325 carries, 1,560 yards, 10 TDs
57 receptions, 550 yards, 2 TDs
By Stan Andruszkiewicz
Can you think of any team in NFL history that lost its quarterback, starting running back, its #1, #2 and #3 receivers, and one quarter of their offensive line in a given year, never mind an off-season? I can’t. But it happened to the 49ers between January and June of 2004. Jeff Garcia, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Owens, Tai Streets, Jed Weaver, Derrick Deese and Ron Stone are gone and no longer wear the San Fran colors. That loss of talent in one swoop was the greatest break-up of talent ever in the NFL and now the 49ers expect to land back on their feet when they replace all of the above with Tim Rattay, Kevan Barlow, Curtis Conway and a host of rookies and unknowns.
While Kevan Barlow did succeed in breaking 1,000 yards rushing for the 49ers in 2003 (he finished with 1,024 and 6 touchdowns) he was able to pull that feat off with the above-mentioned veterans at his side. Garrison Hearst started the majority of games for San Fran (twelve in all) while Barlow grabbed the other four starts. Barlow outperformed Hearst in every way but it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise since Kevan is 8 years younger, bigger and stronger than the aging Garrison. Once he was able to establish himself, the 49ers finally agreed that it was his time to be the team’s single, premier running back.
That was then. This is now. In 2004, the 49ers will enter the league with as anemic an offense (at least on paper) as they have seen in some 20+ years. Fans will have a hard time trying to equate an already banged up Tim Rattay into Joe Montana or Steve Young – or even Jeff Garcia for that matter. Cedrick Wilson and Brandon Lloyd will have a difficult time trying to fill the shoes of a long line of WR greats in San Fran like Jerry Rice, John Taylor, and Terrell Owens. And Kevan Barlow will have to take the burden squarely on his shoulders if he is to carry the team to any height of success. As defenses key on him as the lone real offensive threat, expect a lot of hits, countless numbers of gang tackles and maybe an early injury exit for a running back that just won’t be enough to help the 49ers.
It isn’t that Barlow is a poor RB. He has great size and runs with power – even displaying some fancy footwork in tight spots. But this challenge for Barlow will just be too much. It was one thing to outdo Garrison Hearst for the starting job, it will be quite another to maintain the 5.1 yard average in the NFL when everyone knows the offense will begin and end with Barlow and the Niner rushing attack.
Already the team is 0-2 in the preseason. I agree that, for the most part, these games don’t mean much for the majority of the NFL. In the case of the 49ers, the guys you haven’t heard of that played in the games will be doing the same once the season breaks. There aren’t many veterans to keep healthy and safe on the sidelines. The Dorsey’s, Robertson’s, and Hicks’ will be the same guys you see when the team rolls out its starting lineup in September. Unfortunately, Barlow won’t be able to count on them the same way he did with Garcia, Hearst, Owens et al. Barlow is and will be a good running back but on a team that has just him as the star, he just won’t be able to maintain his pace from last season – and even those stats don’t make him any better than a top 15 rusher. Expect even less from him this season.