Challengers ... meh
Through four weeks, Donald Brown (who's only played in three contests) comes in at 36th among running backs in standard scoring points so far with 23.0, while averaging a flat 3.6 yards per carry. In the points rankings, he's right next to Chris Johnson. That should tell you what his owners think of him.
I answer a ton of questions for weekly flex value involving Brown on our Twitter page. He's a perplexing commodity - talented with some flaws in a less than favorable situation. He's the likeliest to get the majority of touches for a shoddy Indianapolis Colts rushing attack. In the days of increasing backfield committees, it's not surprising Brown ranks behind two options from some teams.
One of the main criticisms of Brown's play has been his knee-jerk response to go to the outside upon seeing any interior resistance. He's a much better worker in space. Sometimes his bounce-outs create highlight moments, but more frequently they sputter out, a result of too much dancing and not enough authority to make plays up the gut.
Of course, his forward road has hardly been plowed by this struggling offensive line, which frequently leaves him hanging out to dry in the backfield. There are some mildly intriguing secondary options that also cap his upside.
The bulky Vick Ballard, a preseason sleeper in deeeeeeep leagues, has averaged 2.1 yards per carry and hasn't broken through to challenge Brown yet. Delone Carter has the build for goal-line work, as well, but he's buried on the depth chart. He might be able to muster enough improvement to work his way up the ladder sometime in the season's second half, but that's looking like a tough task. Mewelde Moore, a Bruce Arians holdover from his Pittsburgh days, typically stays in on passing plays because of his experience with blocking in this system.
They're bit players at this stage. The fourth-year Brown, despite his slow road to legitimacy, still has enough in his toolbox to retain the No. 1 job. No one else has challenged him, and he's at least shown some sparks. With plays like his late-game 39-yard release-and-catch from the backfield in Week 3, though, he'll stay on the field as much as possible. Arians is tailoring his offense to what fits Andrew Luck, and Brown at least gives the rookie slinger a reliable outlet, even if No. 31 is still learning the pass-blocking game. Arians' recent offensive patterns resemble what Brown did at Penn State. That's a reason he'll stick with him at least in the majority role.
What lies ahead?
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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