by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that, every year, there’s at least one or two RB who enter the year outside the Top 10 who ultimately breakout (to see our current rankings, click here). Who are the most likely candidates to join the party? Let’s take a look:
Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals
The question with Ellington is going to be how often the team is willing to give him the football. Last season they were clearly limiting his touches, with 118 carries for 652 yards and 3 TD and 39 receptions for 371 yards and 1 TD. At 5’9″ and 199 lbs. it makes some sense, as they strive to keep him healthy, but we’d anticipate the gloves coming off a bit in 2014.
According to Kent Sommers of the Arizona Republic (click here for the article):
“The Cardinals would like to get the ball to Ellington 20 or so times a game, but want to limit his carries inside the tackles. He’s more dangerous “in space” as a receiver, plus they want to keep him healthy the entire season.”
There’s no questioning his electricity with the ball in his hands. Last season he averaged about 6.5 yards per touch. Even if he has 18 touches a game, that’s 288 touches for the season. If you want to be pessimistic and assume he loses a full yard per touch, that would equate to 1,584 total yards. If he maintains last year’s rate, you are looking at 1,872 total yards.
There’s the risk that he has touchdowns vultured, but there’s no reason to think he won’t break a few big plays and find the end zone. As long as the Cardinals stick to their plan, Ellington has a good shot of performing like a Top 10 running back.
That’s the rub, however, and keeps him outside of the Top 10 at the outset.
Rashad Jennings – New York Giants
Last season in Oakland was his first as a true lead running back, showing that he can handle the load. He carried the ball 163 times for 733 yards (4.5 YPC) and 6 TD, while adding 36 catches for 292 yards.
With the Giants moving to a more quick drop, West Coast based offense, we have to expect more screen passes using Jennings ability. That’s obviously going to be a big boost to his value, especially with there being questions regarding Andre Williams’ hands.
With David Wilson forced to retire, the Giants depth is thin. That should mean even more carries for Jennings, who doesn’t have the typical wear and tear on his body that most 29-year old backs have. He’s averaged 4.3 YPC for his career and, with 200 carries likely in his future, the chance is there to break the 1,000 threshold. When coupled with his ability to catch passes, that puts him in contention to crack our Top 10.
The big concern, like with Ellington, is going to be seeing TD vultured away from him. However, at 6’1″ and 231 lbs., that’s hardly a given. He should be put in position to score, further bolstering his potential value.
Sources – ESPN, Arizona Republic
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: