NFL Running Backs in Contract Year 2013
People familiar to fantasy sports know that contract years can play a major role in predicting a big year from a player. This years notable "contract year" running backs include:
Darren McFadden: When he stays healthy, he's a monster. The question is if he can actually play out an entire year. The Raiders are ditching the zone-blocking scheme of last year and are going back to a scheme that will allow McFadden to be the key to the offense. He will have to be amazing, especially with unproven Matt Flynn at the helm, for the Raiders to win games. Expect a big year from McFadden while crossing your fingers that he avoids the injury bug.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Last year was certainly a disaster for MJD. First his attempt to hold out ended up as a failure, then he got a LIsfranc foot injury knocking him out for the majority of the season, and just recently he gets in a fight at a bar. I doubt that management is going to extend him a new offer and he is likely playing for a new contract with another team. While he is still not practicing, expect a motivated year from him to try and make the Jaguars look stupid for not extending him.
Rashard Mendenhall: He couldn't get the multi-year contract that he wanted so is playing on a one year deal with the Cardinals. This is his chance to prove he can handle the RB1 load again. His main competition is Ryan Williams, who cannot seem to avoid injury. Now with Carson Palmer at the helm, the Cardinals offense may be in for a revival this season. Expect a healthy dose of run to keep pressure off Palmer and to utilize their new first round draft choice left guard Jonathan Cooper, who is known for his run blocking.
Ben Tate: The famous Arian Foster handcuff has not been able to showcase his skills as a RB1 as Foster has proven to be a pretty dependable back. Fumble issues have also lowered Tates opportunities to handle the rock in crucial situations. However with an extra year of experience, and another year of pounding for Foster, Kubiak would be wise to give Tate some extra carries this year to keep Foster fresh for the playoffs.
Marcel Reece: Marcel had a big year last year filling in for McFadden while he was injured. It would be wise for anyone drafting McFadden to handcuff him with Reece in the later rounds. Reece has proven he can be productive if given the carries and targets. If McFadden goes down early and Reece is able to start for a majority of the year, he could be in line for a big payday next year.
Joe McKnight: McKnight likely won't be able to get many carries with Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Mike Goodson all ahead of him on the depth chart. I would not draft him in any leagues. He will likely be used for special teams.
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