We all have heard the theory that running backs tend to slow down when they reach 30-years old. While it isn’t a hard and fast rule, there certainly is data to help support it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a couple of running backs who are close (or over) the magical age to try and determine if they are worth drafting or not:
Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – 31-years old
He did rush for 934 yards in just 10 games last season as a 30-year old. He also added 39 receptions for 442 yards and scored a total of 6 TD. So is he the exception to the rule?
It is possible, as he doesn’t have the same wear and tear on his body that many backs do at his age. He has only had two years of at least 200 carries and a total of 817 throughout his career. Not taking on a major role till later in his career has likely preserved his body compared to his counterparts.
While C.J. Spiller could eat into his touches, Jackson proved last season that he is a dual threat. He is going to play a major role in Buffalo and definitely should not be avoided.
Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
You don’t think it was an accident that the team stock piled backs, do you? Gore has carried the ball over 1,600 times during his career and at least 200 times each of the past six seasons. Throw in 287 receptions and you can imagine the pounding his body has taken throughout the years.
He has had problems with injuries in the past and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 49ers starting to pass the baton at some point this season. Kendall Hunter is a great add as a depth option in any format as he figures to be the first back to try replacing him. Don’t be surprised if he takes over lead back duties before 2012 has come to a close.
Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – 30-years old
He has not looked good this preseason, which will just fuel the fire. After getting over 300 carries in three of the past four seasons it really wouldn’t be a surprise if the pounding has caught up to him.
With the offense going more pass oriented as it is and reports out of Atlanta reporting that he is a step slower, this is definitely one older back to pass on. He’ll likely show flashes, but it’s impossible to imagine him being a productive workhorse once again.
Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – 30-years old
McGahee had seen a lot of touches early he went three years under 200 prior to 2011, as he backed up Ray Rice in Baltimore. In this case, The age is actually the least of out concerns. How will the presence of Peyton Manning limit his attempts? Throw in using a high draft pick on a running back, and you have to wonder how many attempts he’ll actually get.
He proved last season that he has something left and can be considered a RB2, but do so knowing there are some risks involved.
DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
He has already been passed by Jonathan Stewart (when healthy), he loses touches to Cam Newton and now has Matt Tolbert to contend with. Is anyone really buying no matter what the age? He is bench fodder, at best, but there are other players I would rather target.
What are your thoughts on these backs? Who would you target? Who would you avoid?
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: