Running Back by Committee

Each of the above Patriots backs led the team in rushing at least one week last season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The four words "running-back-by committee" might be the most feared words in all of fantasy football. Well, maybe not as bad as reconstructive knee surgery, but certainly the worst news you can hear about an active running back on your roster.

Over the past week we had evaluated the 15 "stud" running backs and the 13 "tandem" backs, which leaves us with four teams who appear to be ready to use the most painful strategy a fantasy owner can watch, running-back-by- committee.

The four teams are; New England, Houston, Buffalo and Seattle.

New England

The 2009 New England Patriots are a perfect example of "RBBC" with a backfield that consisted of Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk. Each of the four New England backs led the team in rushing at least one week during the season.

Maroney was the most valuable fantasy back of the four Patriots options, although he did nothing for the first five weeks of the season (total of 32 rushes for 99 yards and zero scores) and might even have been released by many owners before he got rolling. Over a six-game period from Week 6 through Week 12, Maroney posted 420 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns. He'll be the No.1 option in 2010, a contract year, but given coach Bill Belichick's propensity for featuring different backs, he's not a reliable fantasy starter even with a low RapidDraft ADP Ranking of 105.

If Maroney isn't a good fantasy selection, you can imagine where I rank his backups. Neither Morris, Taylor or Faulk have any fantasy value barring injury to one or more of the group.


In 10 on Houston's 16 games last season, they had a running back who got at least 15 carries. The problem is that they were evenly divided between three backs - Steve Slaton (four times), Arian Foster (three) and Ryan Moats (three). Moats is in Minnesota, but the Texans spent a second-round pick on another running back - Auburn's Ben Tate.

Currently, Foster (ADP 149) is on top of the Texans' depth chart, after running for 119 yards and two scores in the 2009 season finale, but nothing is set in concrete. Unless one of the three runners takes hold of this job, or injuries take out the other two, this appears to be a tough situation to predict from week to week.


The Bills actually have three running backs who could produce solid fantasy points if they were in a solo situation with a decent offensive line. Unfortunately, neither is the case in Buffalo. Fred Jackson (ADP 67) ran for more than 1,000 yards last season and has been getting work with the first team, but the Bills drafted C.J. Spiller (ADP 78) with the ninth overall pick so he figures to share in the workload. Meanwhile, troubled Marshawn Lynch is also looking for playing time and is a talented runner with two 1,000-yard seasons on his resume. The problem for all of them is up front where Buffalo really needed to add to their offensive line, particularly the left tackle, and didn't.


Under the old regime, Julius Jones (ADP 176) and Justin Forsett (ADP 59) each totaled around 600 yards on the ground. Then, in the offseason, new coach Pete Carroll brought in Leon Washington and LenDale White. White was quickly jettisoned, but it still leaves three capable running backs to share the load. Forsett used to have the edge over Jones in his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but Washington (ADP 148) might end up getting those third- down duties, which will probably make all three running backs, barring injury, impossible to start.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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