Monday, June 08, 2009

Will Barber get the red zone touches?


With a little extra time in the schedule lately, and my wife starting a new job at nights, I've taken to watching some old NFL Replays and Shortcuts saved from last year. I'm a huge dork.

I watched Bengals-Cowboys from Week 5 last night, Felix Jones' best game, and saw him replace Marion Barber once on third-and-goal from the four-yard line. He didn't get the ball, but it got me thinking. Could Barber lose his red zone touches this year?

Based on last year's numbers, the answer is no. During the time Jones was healthy, he saw only one touch inside the ten-yard-line, to seven for Barber. Barber had 25 red zone touches to only three for Jones, including all the targets.

Those numbers will change with Jones getting a bigger role, but Barber should remain the bell cow near the stripe. He's a better inside runner and pass blocker. Jones should get most of his work between the 20's.

My theory with Barber this year is that Jones' presence isn't so bad for him. Barber was a fantasy star in the past with only 250 touches because of his touchdowns and receptions. He's the rare back who may have more value with less work because he's more likely to stay healthy.

In fact, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where both Barber and Jones prove to be undervalued on draft day, ala the Titans backs last year.