Dallas Cowboys – Felix Jones
Boy things sure got shaken up in Dallas this off-season. I’m not going to talk about Roy Williams, since he…well…isn’t a sleeper. At first, I considered slotting in Patrick Crayton as my sleeper pick for Dallas, but his regressive production last year and competition from Miles Austin for playing time hinders his value. That said, I am going to choke up on the bat and make my pitch for Felix Jones.
In 5 games in 2008, Jones rushed for 266 yards on 30 attempts (8.9 ypc). Now that he is fully recovered from his toe injury, he is expected to double his touches per game. This will be a crowded backfield with Tashard Choice fighting for carries behind Marion Barber, but word is Jones will receive double digit carries per game next year.Never having more than 9 carries in a game, Jones managed 62, 76, and 96 yards in weeks 1, 3 and 5, respectively.He makes the most of his carries and, in addition to those big yardage games, broke off TDs, as well.
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Something else of note is that Felix Jones will be the focal point of the Cowboys’ version of the Wildcat offense.While the Cowboys may not be planning on using their self-named “Razorback” offense too often, any chance of success cannot be ignored and any chance to give Felix the ball should be taken.Jones will make for a fantastic RB3 or flex player, as well as a decent complement to an RB1 or RB2. Should Barber get injured, however, Jones quickly rises to a lower RB1 in terms of potential.
Fantasyfootballcalculator.com currently has Felix Jones’ ADP at 67, making him the 32nd RB taken overall in 10 team leagues, often landing in the eighth round. Jones has too much upside to be so far down, and he makes a smart pick up in the 7th round, or even late 6th if you’re desperate for RB help.
New York Giants – Ahmad Bradshaw
I’m going over some SoS reports from fftoolbox.com, and there is a lot to like about the Giants passing game. Eli has the 7th best schedule for allowing fantasy points to QBs, while Jacobs and Bradshaw have the 13th most friendly schedule to RBs. The Giants offense has suffered as a whole with the loss of Plaxico Burress. And while Eli Manning has enough talent to keep defenses honest, he does not have the ability to take what he wants the way Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler can.That being said, this could be Ahmad Bradshaw’s year.
Brandon Jacobs is the man in NY, but is yet to make it through a full season as a workhorse.Even so, the offense remains run-first during his absences. Even though Jacobs played in 13 games last season, his backup, Derrick Ward, managed to amass over 1400 yards of total offense as backup last season. With Ward set to be the starter in Tampa Bay, Bradshaw is penciled in as his successor. The Giants, with their run-heavy attack and Jacobs’ shaky history, expressed a lot of confidence in Bradshaw, passing on a RB during the draft until the fourth round. While Bradshaw can be looked at as a handcuff to Brandon Jacobs, he fits the bill as a high-upside player that can be snatched in the mid-late rounds of your draft. If he’s available in the 9th round and you do not have a lot of faith in your RBs, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Bradshaw.
Philadelphia Eagles – DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson came in and had a solid rookie season for the Eagles, quickly asserting himself as McNabb’s top weapon, and hauling in 62 passes for over 900 yards. Word on the streets is that he has begun truly dedicating himself to football, and is reportedly running faster and is showing a more can-do attitude. He has had a year to adjust to the pros, get more acclimated to the playbook, build chemistry with his quarterback, and improve himself physically.
Despite all this, Jackson has the potential to slip in drafts. As a member of a team that constantly rotates other WRs into the top pass-catching spot, and as somebody who failed to make a splash last postseason, Jackson’s WR2 status and WR1 potential makes him a steal during the middle rounds of the draft.If he’s available, and you are looking for a WR, don’t be afraid to take him over a Hines Ward, Roy Williams, or, contrary to what Steve says, Donald Driver.
Washington Redskins – Ladell Betts
The Redskins have the 3rd most favorable rushing schedule of all the teams in the NFL, something likely to give a boost to Clinton Portis’ long-time backup, Ladell Betts. Betts has been known for his production as a backup, and has totaled a respectable 4.1 ypc in over 700 carries.A 9-game injury to Portis led to a 1,600 yard season for Betts, underlining his value as a handcuff to Portis owners.
Current word out of Redskins camp is that Coach Zorn has been keeping an eye out on Portis, and has picked up on some fatigue, courtesy of back-to-back 370+ touch seasons. While Portis owners will likely look to handcuff Betts by rounds 11-13, don’t be afraid to allot an open bench spot to Betts if he is available any later, as he is a safe bet to get good trash yardage when the Redskins have favorable matchups. Should Portis go down, Betts instantly becomes RB2 material.