Runners – Redskins

Fantasy Breakdown
Thinking about drafting a Redskin Running Back? Buy some Tylenol.
Ryan Torain  (ADP- 87)
2010 Season (Redskins)
Rushing: 742 Yards, 4 TDs  | 18 receptions, 125 Yards, 2 TDs
In 10 games (and only 8 starts) last season, Torain racked up over 850 yards and 6 Total TDs. The 3rd year runner out Arizona State burst on to the scene last season, but as usual, his plight was frought with injury. In Broncos camp as a rookie, Mike Shanahan (who is not one to pile praise on anybody) compared Torain to Terell Davis. From the onset, Ryan Torain will have to compete for “bellcow” status given the depth behind him, his injury history, and Mike Shanahan’s deep-seeded hate for fantasy owners of running backs in his system.

VERDICT – Low-tier RB3/RB4 with upside to be a middle-of-the-road RB2 (if he can hold onto the goal-line carries) Current ADP WAY TOO HIGH!  AVOID until Mid-8th round in standard 12-team leagues.

Tim Hightower (ADP -117)
2010 Season (Cardinals)
Rushing: 736 Yards, 5 TDs  | 21 receptions, 136 yards
Tim Hightower co-headlined a two-headed rusing attack in Arizona with Beanie Wells last season. It did not end well. It actually could not have ended worse. Arizona finished 32nd in rushing offense, and Hightower was shipped off to Washington to make room for Rookie Ryan Williams in Arizona. It is not fair to blame Hightower and/or Wells for all of Arizona’s rushing woes. They had the worst QB play I have ever seen, and defenses would beg them to throw by stacking the line against the run. Tim Hightower did though, at many points, look like the better runner than Wells…. and certainly does not fumble as frequently. He is a surprising producer that runs with an upright, powerful style similar to Steven Jackson, but without the high-knees to people’s facemasks. He’s a one cut back that makes a good fit for Washington’s current scheme. Looks like Shanny is getting ready to stick it to fantasy owners with a full blown committee. Do you want to avoid this backfield yet? Wait til you hear about the rookies.

VERDICT – On the rung just below Torain, but I could see them finishing the season with very similar numbers if the two can collectively hold of Helu and Royster for significant carries. For his ADP, he represents more value currently than Torain, but AVOID until the late 9th, early 10th round of standard 12-team leagues at the earliest. He can represent value here, especially with any injury to Torain- which history says WILL happen.

Roy Helu Jr. (ADP 124)
(Rookie- Nebraska)
One-cut back (see a pattern here?) with straight-ahead speed and swivle-head vision. At Nebraska, he was never a “feature back”, but showed the North-South ability at the point of attack to lead many in league circles to believe he could eventually attain this status at the NFL Level. He plays with high pads (see a pattern here?) but is a threat to go the distance any time he gets the ball in open space. He was not a huge recieving threat in college, but has showed good hands in team drills if nothing else. He is an undisciplined route runner out of the backfield, and is even worse at recognizing defensive schemes in order to effectively pass block. This does not get easier in the NFL. So, he is not a 3rd down-type back currently. If he’s going to fight for carries in 2011- it’s going to be on first and second downs. And for this to happen, he’s going to have to show he can hold onto the ball and become better at breaking tackles.

VERDICT – The guy is still raw, and he reminds me of a Jerrious Norwood-type player without the same ability to make himself “small” through the LOS. While Shanny’s committee approach is a fantasy owner’s nightmare, he is great at developing runners with the cut-and-go instinct. And with the fragility above him on the current roster, he might find himself playing sooner than some think, he has the physical skills to be a serious playmaker. His current ADP has him over-valued.  PULL THE TRIGGER on picking Roy Helu as a late-round flyer beginning in Round 12 of standard 12-team leagues.

Evan Royster (ADP- 144)
(Rookie – Penn State)
Let’s further complicate things. 6th round pick Evan Royster has been taking preseason snaps ahead of Melu, and was recently compared by Shannahan to Terrell Davis. (See a pattern here?) Royster was a 3-year starter at Penn State, and is their ALL TIME leading rusher. That says something, especially running against Big 10 pro-style defenses. For all these accomplishments, he doesn’t seem to have much tread on the tires- and possesses an instinctive acceleration with low pad level that is hard to teach. He does not have the top-end speed of a Melu, or represent the same type of home-run threat.

VERDICT – Royster draws frequent comparison to Matt Forte. They share the same agent, and like Forte, he trains with speed coach Pete Bomarrito in Florida. Top-End speed is an issue with Royster (4.65 at the combine), but he plays faster than that, and the historical body of work he produced at Penn State gives us greater comfort in predicting he will establish a role and offensive identity of some kind in 2010. While I think Melu and Royster are both significant gambles to become much more than spot flex-plays. His current ADP is about right, and represents a greater value than Melu for when he will be available. PULL THE TRIGGER on Evan Royster and stash in Round 12 or beyond of standard 12-team leagues.

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