Fantasy football: Rookie running back analysis

by Cory J. Bonini on June 10, 2009 @ 01:00:01 PDT


Rookie players often force fantasy football owners to make risky decisions on draft day, but that is all part of the game. offers you a snapshot of what to expect from notable rookies at their respective positions.

Running backs

RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver BroncosKnowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

Despite a cluster of mediocre tailbacks, Denver chose to draft the ultra-talented and versatile Moreno. He should be considered a fantasy contributor from Day 1, and we don't think you have to worry much about the unpredictability that plagued fantasy owners of Denver's backs under former head coach Mike Shanahan. Draft Moreno as a weak No. 2 or strong No. 3 fantasy back. He has more value in point-per-reception leagues, should the Broncos choose to use him out of the backfield in that role.

Chris Wells, Arizona Cardinals

The drafting of Wells led to the release of veteran back Edgerrin James. "Beanie" Wells is a bruising runner with breakaway ability. Fantasy owners should view him as a strong No. 3 back, but the Cardinals throw too much to make him an elite fantasy option in his rookie year. Plus, he will split some time with tailback Tim Hightower, likely on third down, which negates Wells' value in a point-per-reception league.

RB Donald BrownDonald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

Brown should pair with tailback Joseph Addai to create a dynamic backfield. Look for Addai to be the third-down back, while Brown is probably going to be the chain-mover. The new coaching staff has noted their desire to run the ball more. Fantasy owners should view Brown as a weak No. 3 or strong No. 4 back with a lot of upside should he glean enough carries.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

"Shady" was a second-round pick by the Eagles as a change-of-pace back to spell running back Brian Westbrook (ankle, knee), but a pair of recent surgeries for Westbrook could mean McCoy gets more work than initially planned. He is a versatile back with reasonable size (5-foot-10, 198 pounds). The Eagles are supposedly committed to running the ball more in 2009, but we'll believe it when we see it. McCoy is a must as a handcuff to Westbrook, and he could be drafted as a No. 4 running back in any format.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets

Highly productive for one year (1,850 yards, 20 touchdowns) at the University of Iowa, Greene is a big back (5-foot-10 1/2, 227 pounds) with amazingly quick feet for his size. Barring an injury to tailback Thomas Jones, who is 31 years old in August, Greene isn't likely to play a lot. Primarily, Greene should be stashed for the 2010 season for fantasy owners in keeper leagues. Take a shot on him with a late-round flier in 2009, since he has sleeper potential if all goes well. Jones owners would be wise to handcuff Greene.

Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers

The Niners are looking for a change-of-pace back to spell running back Frank Gore from time to time. His upright running style leaves Coffee susceptible to injury, however. In 2009, fantasy owners should view Coffee as a potential late-round handcuff option in deep leagues, but we envision the 49ers running so much this year that Coffee has mild value by default. His future value largely depends upon Gore's health, though.

Andre Brown, New York Giants

Brown (6-foot, 224 pounds) is almost the same size as former Giants tailback Derrick Ward (5-foot-11, 228 pounds), and Ahmad Bradshaw (5-foot-9, 198 pounds) is a home run hitter rather than a chain-moving back. New York boasts one of the best offensive lines in football, and bruising No. 1 running back Brandon Jacobs softens defenses but is soft himself on the injury front. The rookie from North Carolina State isn't being drafted, on average, yet. In the final round or two of your draft, take a chance on Brown as a flier pick for your roster.

QB | WR | TE

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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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