The New York Jets experimented with letting Mark Sanchez take greater control of the offense last season, and it was relatively disastrous. Slowly, the focus shifted back to a run-first mentality and relied more on Shonn Greene as the season moved along.
Enter Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator, and you can be certain this ground-and-pound approach will remain in effect in 2012. This is partially because of his affinity for a ground-control offense but also because of New York's ineptitude at signal caller. Sanchez not only has to contend with his own shortcomings but has to deal with some dude named Tim Tebow breathing down his neck.
I don't expect the Jets will bring in anyone to compete with Greene for touches, although a mid- to late-round draft selection on the position can be anticipated. Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell make for nice change-of-pace options, but the real threat to an excited Greene's production will be none other than Tebow. Count on a lot of a wildcat plays, and Tebow could be a goal line vulture.
A risky 2012 sleeper
Greene really started to pick it up last year when the Jets gave him meaningful carries. His overall numbers in 2011 are not impressive on the surface, but when you look at his games with at least 20 rushing attempts you begin to perceive the situation a little differently.
Looking at games in which Greene broke the 20-carry barrier, he found a rhythm and the results showed for it. The former Iowa bruiser toted the rock 20 times or more in five games, either breaking 100 yards or scoring at least one time on the ground in four of those matchups. His yards-per-carry average dipped below 4.0 in only one of those games - the same one he failed to score or break 100 yards - against a tough Miami Dolphins run defense at that point in the season. In the other games that he averaged less than 4.0 per pop, six of them came when he rushed no more than 16 times in each contest.
We pegged Greene as a sleeper in 2011, and while he had a career year, it was not quite what we had in mind. As long as Tebow doesn't scarf too many goal line looks from the fourth-year back, Greene should capitalize on his '11 numbers and become a consistently effective No. 2 fantasy back all season.
This all could go south if Tebow outright takes the job from Sanchez, as the offense will have to be adjusted to better fit Tebow's skill set. Also, if Tebow is extra successful early on and Greene has troubles in short-yardage once again, we could see Timmy T. take over around the stripe.
Draft Greene with caution as a third fantasy back.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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