RB Glut, A Look Ahead
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
Is it just Yours Truly, or does it seem like the list of backs
getting dealt after the season for a 2nd round draft choice and
the opportunity to start elsewhere is growing by the week. Throw
in a 2005 rookie RB class that has some players capable of starting
right away, and The Gut Check believes there's a good chance of
an RB glut in the NFL next year. This means some fine running
backs will wind up the victim of circumstanceand without a starting
Here's the list of backs the media speculates will be commodities
in off-season trade scenarios around the NFL:
- Travis HenryFew thought
McGahee would take the job outright this year. Entering the
season, most in the media saw Henry as a back on the verge of
a good year and a better deal elsewhere. Yours Truly felt this
way about Henry, but now The Gut Check isn't sure Henry will
garner a 2nd round pick. Teams will bring up Henry's previous
injuries as a bargaining point. Although Henry has played through
injury, the frequency of his health problems is a possible sign
his body is breaking down and the minor injuries could lead
to the type of problems that keep him off the field. Henry is
one of the most physical runners in the league. Depending how
teams perceive his injuries, this will either be a blessing
or a curse for the former starter when the time comes to make
- Anthony ThomasThomas
wanted a trade leading up to 2004 after Thomas Jones was declared
the feature back. The A-Train has done a good enough job filling
in for Jones to garner some interest. This is a player that
should thrive away from Chicago. He has no history of major
injuries and is an underrated receiver out of the backfield.
The Gut Check thinks Thomas just isn't the best fit for the
recent offensive schemes in Chicago, although better quarterback
play during the last three years wouldn't have made this as
apparent as it is to everyone.
- Michael BennettPart of
a three-headed backfield with Smith and Moore, Bennett was the
clear-cut starter entering the season before sustaining a knee
injury. Bennett has great speed and good hands, but he's never
had great vision nor has he consistently handled the ball 20-25
times per game in the pros. Bennett may not get the Vikings
the best deal, but he'll be appealing to many teams. The Gut
check now thinks Onterrio Smith is off the market.
- Onterrio SmithSmith seemed
like the most likely to be traded prior to his failed drug test,
but it just might turn out to be a positive thing for the Vikings
in the long run. Smith is a big-play back capable of handling
the ball 20+ times per game. He can deliver both on the ground
and in the air and his work ethic during his suspension sent
a strong message to the Vikings that he's learning from his
mistakes and ready to become an important cog in the offense.
In contrast, Michael Bennett sulked over not getting his job
back when Mewelde Moore was running wild. The Gut Check thinks
Bennett with his injury history, being the eldest of the three,
sulking over lack of playing time, and the least promising all-around
game of the three backs is the most expendable option.
- Ricky WilliamsIt's been
mentioned that Williams will be back for at least a year. One
year isn't going to cut it for an NFL team. Unless the team
Williams manages join is on the brink of a Super Bowl, The Gut
Check doesn't see how an organization will be willing to invest
just one year into Williams. Then again, a one-year deal with
Williams and drafting a promising player behind him might not
be a bad way to go, either. But the NFL doesn't draft like a
fantasy league, so the likelihood of a team good enough to trade
for Williams and employ him for just a year and still acquire
a first-round talent in the draft is slim. Even if Williams
is able to convince a team to take a chance on him over the
long haul, it will take a special relationship between Williams
and his coach for it to work.
- Edgerrin JamesJames stated
he would like to play in Miami and if Indianapolis can't afford
him, it could happen.
- Shaun AlexanderIf the
Seahawks won't pay him, someone else willand will pay
- Lamont JordanA quality
back stuck behind one of the best of all time (Curtis Martin)
and has made it known how unhappy he is about it.
- Larry JohnsonSee Lamont
- William Green/Lee SuggsOne
of them will likely be elsewhere by training camp 2005.
Throw in the likes of Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Cedric
Benson and it begins to appear there aren't enough starting jobs
for all of them.
Here is the possible list of teams that could be looking for
a starter in the off-season:
- ArizonaEmmitt Smith is
having a surprisingly good year. Nonetheless, most speculate
Denny Green will be looking for a younger, more explosive option
for 2005 and beyond.
- OaklandWheatley is an
old, power back. Not a promising combination for the future.
Justin Fargas' health issues and lack of development on the
positional aspects away from the ball have made him a disappointment.
Right now, the Raiders are employing a committee of Wheatley,
Zereoue, Crockett, and Redmond. Norv Turnerif he's back
next yearwill want one back to handle the job.
- MiamiWilliams won't be
back and none of the current backs appear to be the answer.
- AtlantaWarrick Dunn has
been a pleasant surprise, but Duckett has not met the expectations
set for him as a first round pick. Neither seems like the best
match for the zone-blocking scheme.
- DallasInitially The Gut
Check doesn't see how the Cowboys could declare Julius Jones
a bust before he even gets a season to prove otherwise, but
the number of backs on the market could facilitate such a move.
Besides, Jones wasn't a first-round pick and could provide excellent
depthmuch like former 2nd round pick Lamont Jordan has
done for Curtis Martin and the Jets.
- CarolinaStephen Davis
is getting older and this is the second consecutive season he's
been banged up. Deshaun Foster has shown flashes, but the Panthers
might be concerned about his durability as well.
- EaglesWestbrook has had
moments, but Reid has always liked using multiple backs. The
Gut Check can almost hear Reid telling reporters that he feels
Westbrook used in spurts will actually raise his productivity
and create more problems for opposing defenses. Unless Westbrook
translates his Faulk or Barber-like potential into touchdowns
and tons of yards from scrimmage down the stretch, Reid will
once again look to a platoon system next year.
- Tampa BayRegardless of
Pitman's performance, Gruden likes having more backs available
to him. Look for them to make a move.
- IndianapolisThey'll need
a replacement for James if they lose him to free agency.
- SeattleMaurice Morris
is a good back, but it's hard to believe Holmgren will just
hand the starting job over to him if the Seahawks don't re-sign
So it's time to match the running back with the team. Here's
what The Gut Check thinks will happen and then what he would do
if he were the GM for any of these teams.
What Will Happen: The Gut Check
believes the five teams that will show the most interest in Henry
will be the Bucs, Dolphins, Raiders, Panthers, and Cowboys. All
five will likely want a power back that can carry the load. The
Gut Check doesn't think Parcells will want Henry due to his fumbling
history, and the Bills will be reluctant to trade within their
division. Yours Truly also believes John Fox feels Deshaun Foster
is capable of carrying the load and Jerry Richardson would rather
pursue a backup in the draft. That leaves the Raiders and Bucs.
The Gut Check believes Henry is the best combination of all the
backs Oakland has on their roster and instills a toughness that
Norv Turner wants from a runner. Al Davis has the picks to make
the deal, and both Davis and Wilson are old AFL guys. As for the
Bucs, Henry is a high intensity guy that makes yards after contact
and could also appeal to Gruden. If forced to pick, The Gut Check
would say Oakland, because Gruden is still in sharing mode with
his running game.
What The Gut Check Would Do:
He'd tell Al Davis to get Henry and let him run behind Gallery
for the next five years
What Will Happen: The Gut Check thinks Anthony Thomas gets serious
interest from the Dolphins, Falcons, and Raiders, but remains
with the Bears. Lovie Smith is building a winning attitude in
Chicago and Yours Truly thinks the coach will be reluctant to
get rid of the former rookie of the year. He'll find ways to incorporate
Jones and the A-Train into the offense next year. Then again,
it wouldn't be surprising to The Gut Check if Henry and the A-Train
wind up in the same place.
What The Gut Check Would Do: Yours Truly would try to beat Buffalo
to the punch and ship the A-Train to Oakland where the Bears can
stockpile more draft picks and Thomas can run behind that mammoth
Michael Bennett/Onterrio Smith
What Will Happen: The Falcons, Buccaneers, and Cardinals all
show interest but Denny Green and Bennett are the ones having
a reunion in 2005. Green drafted Bennett in 2001 and understands
Bennett's game better than any coach in the NFL. Likewise, Bennett
understands Green's offensive philosophy and should be a terrific
fit. Green's previous relationship with the Vikings and Minnesota's
desire to unload one of their backs should make this an easy deal.
What The Gut Check Would Do:
Yours Truly would inquire about Onterrio Smith just to see if
they can catch Minnesota nappingthen he'd settle for Bennett.
Onterrio Smith has a style reminiscent of Emmitt Smith, but The
Gut Check thinks the Vikings now know what they have and won't
be willing to come off him. S.O.D. will be the opening day starter
for the Vikings in 2005 with Moore getting extensive carries in
relief and as a third-down option.
What Will Happen: Alexander stays in Seattle. The Seahawks would
be nuts to let their best player get away. If anything, they are
discovering that they need to use him more than they have at the
beginning of the season! The Gut Check will be shocked if Seattle
even lets it get far enough for Alexander to seriously entertain
offers from another team. If they do, the offer will come from
Dallas and The Gut Check believes Alexander will be as good as
What The Gut Check Would Do: Shaun Alexander is the type of guy
Bill Parcells needs on the Cowboys. He's a good citizen off the
field and a guy that can carry the team in a game. If Yours Truly
were the Cowboys, he'd be praying the Seahawks screw up the negotiation
process. If The Gut Check were the Seahawks, he'd get the contract
signed before the Pro Bowl.
What Will Happen: To The Gut Check his is one of the greatest
mysteries in the NFL. The Jets have a guy with speed, power, cutback
ability, receiving skills, and no major injuries. He plays on
special teams and has little mileage. Why isn't the phone ringing
off the hook for this guy? Jordan has been perceived as a malcontent
and his lack of effort this preseason got him temporarily demoted
In Jordan's defense, the RB was considered a first-round talent
after his junior year but dropped because he had to carry a mediocre
Maryland team on his back with nagging injuries during his senior
year. Jordan has been sitting behind Curtis Martin and listening
to empty promises for the last three years that he'll get more
opportunities. It's not like the NFL is a job where a player can
just quit and find a new one with another team (Ricky Williams
possibly excluded here, and his process won't be an easy one).
Jordan has to be in New York to play NFL football.
The only mitigating circumstance The Gut Check can imagine here
is that Jordan has done some things in the locker room or practice
field that has circulated around the league but beyond media scrutiny
and gave him a bad reputation. Nonetheless, The Gut Check thinks
the Cowboys, Raiders, Bucs, and Eagles will all be inquiring about
Jordan's availability, but a deal won't be likely. The Gut Check
believes if anyone pulls the trigger on a deal it will be Dallas
or Oaklandwith Parcells and his Jet connections as the favorite
to make it happen.
What The Gut Check Would Do: The combination of Brian Westbrook
and Lamont Jordan could put the Eagles over the top. Jordan is
a guy capable of 20+ touches per game and has a good understanding
of the West Coast Offense. Reid needs a bruiser around the goal
line and short yardage situations. Plus, Jordan should come cheaper
than most backs of his talent, which will appeal to an Eagles
organization that has been savvy with their funds.
What Will Happen: The Gut Check will be surprised if Johnson is
still a Chief after the 2005 draft. Dallas and Miami may show
interested but it will be Tampa Bay that gets Johnson and gives
him a chance to prove his draft day value. Michael Pittman is
a good situational back, but Gruden was hoping to make Thomas
Jones his guy before the Bucs lost him to the Bears.
What The Gut Check Would Do: Yours Truly would wait and see what
happens in Seattle before unloading Johnson. If Alexander doesn't
sign, a back with Johnson's size and skills could be a good fit.
William Green/Lee Suggs
What Will Happen: The Gut Check thinks Butch Davis will lose
his job and the eventual replacement will come to a similar conclusion
as many of the Browns' players said in training camp: Lee Suggs
has game breaking ability and the team needs to benefit from what
happens when one back gets the bulk of the carries. That means
William Green will be expendable. The problem is the Browns won't
find much of a market by the time they reach this conclusion and
Green will be backing up Suggs in 2005.
What The Gut Check Would Do: Green to Atlanta would be a nice
fit. Green is not a runner with amazing vision or moves. He's
a downhill guy with nice build up speed and decent power. This
is a guy that will wear opponents down as the game progresses.
The Falcons' zone blocking scheme could be a good fit and Atlanta
would get a good deal for him.
What Will Happen: Purely from
the perspective of a football fan, The Gut Check dreads the thought
of James not finishing his career with Manning and Harrison. 2004
is the first year since his torn ACL that James is looking like
his old self. James has the ability to take over a gamehe
averages more yards from scrimmage than any back in the history
of the league. Realistically, the Colts may not be able to afford
him. James could take one for the team and agree to a smaller
deal, but that depends on whether he thinks the Colts are good
enough to win a championship. Looking at the Colts' defensive
performances this year, there doesn't appear to be a noticeable
improvement and this could influence James to go elsewhere.
The Gut Check sees the Cowboys and Dolphins drooling over the
prospect of acquiring James if the Colts can't find a way to sign
him. If this happens, the Edge goes to MiamiThe Gut Check
will explain later.
What The Gut Check Would Do: Tell Manning and Harrison ante up
for the good of the team and help get James signed to another
What Will Happen: It's said Ricky wants to play for the Raiders.
It's also said that Ricky only wants to recoup the cash he's lost
from his retirement debacle. It's rumored he's in good shape,
but not football shape (way below his former playing weight).
And it's been touted that Williams didn't want to be run into
the ground in Miami's offense.
The Gut Check finds it hard to believe Williams still wants to
play football for anything other than financial reasons. Is it
inconceivable that Williams could rediscover his love for the
game? No, but the situation will have to be right.
Yours Truly also thinks Williams "too many carries"
explanation isn't really what Williams meant. The Gut Check is
speculating here, but he thinks Williams didn't want to play in
an offense lacking balance. The play calling during Ricky's second
season in Miami set up the Dolphins' runner for failure. This
is not a back that should be thrown passes where he's going to
have his shoulders facing the sideline. This is a back that should
be able to set up the play action passing game. This is a back
that should be on the Indianapolis Colts.
Yes, that's right. The Colts. If Edgerrin James goes to Miami,
the Colts should trade for Williams. The Gut Check is not aware
of the financial implications that would bar this from happeningalthough
someone will likely point out what they could bebut let
the accountants figure it out. The Colts and Ricky need each other
if James bolts town. Ricky will play for one of the best players'
coaches in football. He'll also be on the most balanced offense
in the NFL and his skills fit the Colts better than any back not
named James. Peyton Manning and Dungy could help instill a sense
of fun back into the game for Williams. Williams is an intelligent
guyalbeit it very different and arguably immature with his
decision-makingand it stands to reason he needs to play
with players that challenge him on this level. Manning is that
guy. This deal would rock the NFL in the off-season, but if Indy
loses Edge they could get Ricky for a sweet deal.
Of course, what's best for Ricky is probably not what will happen.
He'll likely get his way and go to Oakland
What The Gut Check Would Do: Reach a settlement where Ricky keeps
some of the money and gradually pays back the rest and let him
go. The players association is already disputing the legality
of the arbitration and the Dolphins are trying to use the federal
courts to validate their contract enforcement. The Gut Check is
not an attorney, so he has no clue about what's valid. All he
knows is Ricky Williams only started to regret his decision when
he figured out he might owe money and the way he quit created
an outrage among his peers and fans. Whether this is why Ricky
wants to come back is only something he can say, but the change
of heart is as dramatic as the actions of his original decision.
The Gut Check only wants to see Williams play football if his
heart is really in it. He doesn't believe it is and the Dolphins
should draft a running back.
IDP Tidbit: Tony
Nowak does a great job providing IDP information for FFToday.
One of the players Tony mentioned this
week, Texans safety Glenn Earl, is a player The Gut Check
has his eye on. Earl was an excellent safety at Notre Dame. Although
the Texans drafted the Golden Domer in the 4th round, it was a
knee injury that dropped his stock. This is a rookie that the
Texans decided they'd make the investment in him this year with
the hope of a big return the next. When healthy, Earl was a known
as a big hitter that could play either safety position and considered
a 1st or second round pick close to the level of Browns' rookie
Sean Jones. The Gut Check believes the Texans got a steal in Earl.
As Tony mentioned, Earl is likely to get his first start of the
year. Based on his performance in training camp it's a surprise
on two counts. Earl was still rehabilitating his knee this summer
and missed a lot of practice-game time. The Texans appeared to
have the attitude that Earl wouldn't be a factor at all, but now
the rookie is healthy and has picked up the scheme to make an
impact. Although Earl was on the wrong side of a Kyle Johnson
catch and run for touchdown last week, fantasy owners looking
for a waiver wire bargain should consider him.