Monday, May 17, 2010

Felix Jones leads the Cowboys' three-head backfield into the 2010 season

Running Back Report Preview

Team Analysis: Marion Barber suffered through a second-straight injury-marred season, allowing Felix Jones to emerge behind a 178-yard breakout game against the Eagles in the playoffs. Beat writers have unanimously declared that the more explosive Jones is now the favorite to lead the backfield in carries in 2010, with the more physical Barber possibly moving into the long-discussed "closer" role. Hanging around as perhaps the finest No. 3 back in the league, Tashard Choice could also work his way into third-down duties. This has all the making of a three-headed monster, limiting the fantasy value of all three even in one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league. Jones is a risk/reward RB2, Barber more of a flex option, and a Choice a RB4 with injury upside.

Future: Depending on who you believe, Barber may or may not have been on the trading block this offseason. While it's unlikely that the contending Cowboys would pare their backfield depth, it is clear that Barber is no longer as esteemed as Jones in Dallas. Jones has arguably as much big-play ability as any back in the NFL, but there are legitimate concerns that he'll never be a "carry the load" type. His dynasty league upside is capped by durability and workload concerns. Choice has shown in small sample sizes that he can be just as effective as Barber, if not more so. Barber is due $4.25M in 2011 and $5.75M in 2012 while Choice will earn a meager $550K in 2011 before hitting restricted free agency in 2012. It wouldn't be surprising to see Choice outlast Barber as Jones' tag-team partner.