Keeper League Buy Candidate: Could T.J. Yeldon Step Up As Lead Back In Jacksonville?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

At this point last year T.J. yeldon seemed to be all the rage. He was an early round draft back who was going to be thrust into the starting role of an offense that appeared primed to take off. What wasn’t to like?

Fast forward 12 months and the outlook is drastically different:

  1. Chris Ivory was signed to a big free agent contract
  2. Yeldon failed to impress in his rookie season, rushing for 740 yards and 2 TD

Those two things, when combined, have sent his value spiraling in the wrong direction. Of course he still was a second round draft pick and battled injuries last season (limited to 12 games), so to think that the Jaguars will simply give up on him is a major mistake.

Ivory may carry the load in 2016, but remember he’s a 30-year old veteran so it’s highly likely he doesn’t have many miles left. Will he operate as the lead back in 2017? Maybe, maybe not, but by 2018 (at the latest) the reigns should be turned over… Maybe…

Yeldon did show the ability to make plays last season, both running and catching the football (36 receptions). At the time of the draft Yeldpn was described by NFL.com as:

“Instinctive, athletic running back who has the foot quickness to create for himself when lanes constrict or blocks are missed. Yeldon lacks the ball security, top-end speed and desired tackle breaking to be a full-time starter. He’s a versatile, rotational back with the ability to step in and step up.”

If he best fits as part of a committee, this season will be the best thing for him. That said the upside is there for him to flourish. Just look at the performance from the two in the all important third preseason game:

  • Yeldon – 5 carries for 34 yards
  • Ivory – 4 carries for 4 yards

Could Yeldon ultimately take early down work, with Ivory operating as the goal line option? ¬†That would put a limit on Yeldon’s value, obviously, but there’s reason to think that we may not have to wait for him to emerge as the leader. ¬†Especially in keeper leagues, trying to buy low and seeing what develops is a prudent decision.

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

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