Last season the Houston Texans had running backs Ahman Green, Ron Dayne, Darius Walker, Adimchinobi Echemandu (Oakland Raiders) and Samkon Gado (Miami Dolphins) in their backfield arsenal. Green was the Week 1 starter but was only able to see action in six games (five starts) due to a lingering knee injury, which allowed Dayne, Walker and Echemandu (Gado was cut after Week 7) to see time in the backfield. The team released Echemandu and has yet to re-sign Dayne, who is an unrestricted free agent. The Texans decided to add free-agent running back Chris Brown (Tennessee Titans) to the mix for the upcoming 2008 NFL season. Brown spent the last five seasons with the Titans but hasn't seen a lot of playing time due to injury, failing to play a full 16-game season in his five-year career. The current stable for Houston has a long injury history.
Green is the frontrunner to land the starting job because the team signed him to be the starter last season before suffering an injury. He is an experienced back with good speed and is one of only two backs in NFL history with multiple touchdown runs of 90-plus yards (Bo Jackson). However, Green has been injury prone of late and likely had his best days with the Green Bay Packers. Last season he had 70 carries for 260 yards and two touchdowns in six games and finished the season on Injured Reserve.
Brown might have a shot to land the starting job if he can produce in the preseason but will likely be more of a compliment to Green barring any setbacks. Brown is a physical runner but has just four starts and 17 game appearances to his credit in the past two seasons. He had 102 carries for 462 yards and five touchdowns, along with 19 receptions for 128 yards in 12 games (one start) with the Titans last year.
Walker played his college ball at Notre Dame, but he is not big enough to be a full-time back. He could see some playing time on third downs but is not an exceptional receiver. He played in four games, starting two, last year for Houston and recorded 264 yards and one touchdown on 58 carries.
Dayne was supposed to serve as an alternative for Green last season but was thrust into the starting role where he amassed 773 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games (eight starts) with the Texans. As noted above, Dayne has not been re-signed and will likely be with another team this season.
The Texans also have running back Chris Taylor, though he is unlikely to play much of a role with the club in 2008.
The Texans have the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Texans may look to target a running back with this pick but may also look to address their secondary, with cornerback Dunta Robinson (hamstring, knee) possibly out until midseason with hamstring and knee injuries. They also need to address the offensive tackle position to help protect QB Matt Schaub and block for the run. A couple names to keep in mind if they choose to draft a running back are Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall, considered by some to be the best available back in the 2008 draft class, and Oregon's Jonathan Stewart. Were either to be added or a different back to be taken in the second round it could significantly change the fantasy values of those already on roster.
If the season were to start today then Green could have decent fantasy worth, if he was able to stay healthy. Green was once a top-tier back, but he has a lot of mileage on his body and injuries have become the norm rather than the exception. Brown will likely be the team's No. 2 back and could see a workload similar to what he had with the Titans, while Walker could serve as a third-down back.
Obviously things could change with the upcoming draft, but for now view Green as a very shaky No. 3 option or a decent No. 4 choice. Brown is a No. 4 at best, and Walker could have limited value in point-per-reception leagues but is not worth drafting at this point.
About Fraser Lovat
Fraser is a Hot off the Wire Analyst with KFFL and has been with the company since 2007.
Don't miss these great reports....