FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Before the 2010 season commenced for the Jets, there was about as much hype to their second-year running back as the team itself. Yes, they brought a former Super Bowl MVP, an All-Pro cornerback , and even a future Hall-of-Famer to back-up him up. But it was Shonn Greene, and not LaDanian Tomlinson that was garnering the attention.
Fresh off a playoff performance that gave enough confidence in the Jets front office to let 1,400 yard rusher, Thomas Jones, run to the Chiefs, analysts and pundits alike pegged Greene as the next big running back. Fantasy Football leagues had him ahead of perennial powerhouses such as Stephen Jackson, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne.
So when he stumbled out of the gate and fumbled twice against the Baltimore Ravens (he hasn’t fumbled since) and with Tomlinson looking like a champion Clydesdale again, everyone started to wonder what Greene’s role would be. Before the season started it was believed that Tomlinson would be the third down back or check in for long yardage situations–making use of his exceptional pass-catching abilities.
Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, maintained that team Dash & Bash would split the carries 50:50, however once Tomlinson took over the starting role the playing time went 75:25 in favor of LT. And who could blame him? Tomlinson was showing that electrifying elusiveness that made him one of the game’s best in San Diego. In the first five games he didn’t average less than 4.7 yards per carry and 105 total yards per game.
However in his last three games, he has posted averages of 3.7 vs Denver, 3.4 vs Green Bay, and 3.7 against the Lions. In those three games Tomlinson hasn’t had a total yardage higher than 7o. Meanwhile, Greene has shrugged off the “bust” label and continues to quietly be a model of consistency. He’s made the most of his carries (roughly 11 per game) having posted a 4.6 yard per carry or higher in four of his last five games.
The formula of success for Team Dash & Bash has been to force defenses to chase the lightning quick Tomlinson early on, and then have Greene knock over a ragged, dragging defense. This way, Tomlinson saves some tread on his 31-year-old tires and offers Greene the opportunity to get some confidence behind him after the rocky start.
With that logic, as we hit the third quarter of the NFL season, now is the time to get Tomlinson his rest (for the playoffs?) and let Greene’s hard running, north-south style take over against opposing defenses. He’s not only shown that he can fall for four yards up the gut, but when he turns the corner on outside runs he’s gaining speed and running through the defensive secondary.
For all the depressed fantasy owner who plucked him in the first two rounds (I know I did; even if it was due to auto-draft after losing connection when it came time for my pick), now is the time to get your use from him. Watch his yards per carry and how he runs this week. I wouldn’t suggest starting him, as the Browns have only allowed one rushing touchdown all year. Don’t believe me? Even the Talented Mr. Roto, Matthew Berry, agrees.
Shonn Greene is a top-15 fantasy running back the rest of the way. My thinking is he’s running better and the Jets need to keep LT fresh.
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