According to a famous movie line: "Assumptions make an ass out of you and me." The same premise holds true in fantasy football, where summer assumptions often lead to fall frustration.
Take the Pittsburgh backfield, for example. I know many of you assume Jerome Bettis is done and Amos Zereoue will assume workhorse duties for Bill Cowher's team, but you need to hold your horses. While it would be cool to see that happen, as Z is an emerging game-breaker and Bus is starting to break down, it is a mistake to assume Bettis won't be a factor in the Steelers' running game.
Bettis comes off the second-worst rushing season of his 10-year career, thanks in large part to a knee injury that required offseason surgery. He rushed for only 666 yards on 3.6 per tote, but has been working like a dog since January to resurrect his career. Count running backs coach Dick Hoak among those who are impressed with Jerome's best offseason in two years.
"He looks good," Hoak told the Pitsburgh Tribune-Review. "It looks like his weight's down. He had the surgery right after the season, which was good. He was here every day for a few weeks after he had that surgery, then he went out to California and trained with that trainer (track coach Bob Kersee).
"He's running well and his leg looks like it's all right; I didn't see a limp or anything, and his weight's down. I think he's way ahead this year, way ahead of where he was last year."
And that's exactly where Bettis needs to be, as Zereoue comes off a quasi-breakthrough performance in which he rushed for a career-high 762 yards, posted three 100-yard games, and scored four times. Zereoue also carried the ball 27 times for 122 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games, compared to Bettis' 12 yards on 13 carries in the past two postseasons combined.
Now that Zereoue has the look of a starter and Bettis is looking to regain his job, it should be an interesting summer in Pittsburgh.
"Other years we've gone into camp, Jerome's been the guy and deservedly so," Hoak said of the evolving depth chart. "He slipped a little bit last year because of the injury, so he's going to have to play his way back into that. There's nobody where we're going into camp saying, 'This guy's going to be No. 1.' We're going to let it play out."
That arrangement is fine by Zereoue, who welcomes the competition.
"It's always a competition, regardless of who's in front and who's in second," Zereoue said. "I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing and see what happens. "I definitely want to go in knowing I can definitely be the guy, that it's definitely going to be a competition. I'm willing to do whatever it takes."
Since the Steelers are being coy with their running back depth chart, it's up to us to read between the lines and speculate—without making assumptions.
First of all, it would be a mistake to assume Zereoue has the stuff of a workhorse. At 5-8, 207 pounds, Zereoue is more smurf than Clydesdale. Plus, he has played 16 games only once in four professional seasons and his career-best in carries is 193. I'm not saying Z can't be a workhorse, but I am telling you it's unsafe to assume he gets 20-25 touches per tilt and lasts the whole season.
Second, it would be asinine to assume Bettis gets completely iced out of the game plan. After all, we are talking about a future Hall of Famer with 11,542 rushing yards and 65 total touchdowns. Though he wasn't the focal point of Pittsburgh's offense in 2002, he still contributed nine touchdowns and started 11 games. Bettis probably won't reach double-digit touchdowns this season, but again, it's incorrect to assume he won't be a factor.
Hate to say it, freaks, but as long as Bettis stays healthy and fit, and Zereoue keeps making tacklers miss, the Steelers are likely to deploy both backs.
And why wouldn't they? With the 250-pound Bettis and the 207-pound Zereoue, you have the makings of a terrific one-two punch. Zereoue works the body during the drive before tag-teaming Bettis to come in and deliver the knockout punch at the stripe. The tag-team approach makes sense both strategically and physically, as it would keep defenses guessing and both backs fresh for the long haul.
That isn't good news for fantasy owners. But look at it this way: If the Steelers deploy a backfield-by-committee, at least you saw it coming.
GP and I both have been thinking steel town would go RBBC, looks like were not alone. (Though its good for the Steelers )