Ahmad Bradshaw - Fantasy Football Sleeper?

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Rotoworld’s Fantast Football guru Evan Silva had a live chat today, and the question of his Top 10 running backs came up. He said that his same list from June still holds up — despite some unknowns now being answered. Here is that list and my take on it follows.

The Running Backs

1. Jamaal Charles – I’ll take his situation-talent combo over any back’s in the league.
2. Arian Foster – Another great situation and talent; he’s neck and neck with Charles.
3. Chris Johnson – He’ll play in a better offense than Peterson behind a superior line.
4. Adrian Peterson – Workload a growing concern but too much ability to rank lower.
5. Darren McFadden – No. 2 RB in points/game last year; could bump AP from top 4.
6. LeSean McCoy – More explosive than Ray Rice; 2,000 all-purpose yards potential.
7. Ray Rice – Line should be better, but Ravens will bring in veteran RB to poach work.
8. Rashard Mendenhall – Was No. 7 last year and has a true breakout season in him.
9. Jonathan Stewart – DeAngelo isn’t coming back; good enough to overcome 8 in box.
10. Frank Gore – Always a safe bet to miss time but the clear focal point of his offense.

Not bad overall. Some risks were taken but that’s his personal opinion.

Now, I happen to have the first pick in one of my fantasy drafts coming up next week — and for me it’s going to be a running back. Could be CJ, could be AF, could be AP — we’ll see what the ol gut says come draft night. One thing it won’t say is ‘Ahmad Bradshaw is the #1 pick’ because I don’t think hes going to go for 3,000 total yards or anything like that. But he DEFINITELY belongs on this top 10 list.

Jonathan Stewart making it ahead of Bradshaw (and his own teammate DeAngelo Williams who IS back in Carolina) that’s a straight wtf moment right there. Mendenhall, I could say the same thing about AB44. The list is pretty solid other than that though.

Here’s what we know about Bradshaw heading into 2011, if we can make a case for him as a top 10 fantasy football running back:

• He’s young and healthy. Coming off more surgeries doesn’t seem to be a problem for AB44 — every year he gets the ‘junk cleaned out’ of his legs/ankles and comes back looking stronger and quicker every year. We know he’ll run hard between the tackles, and we know he can still get around the edge. Power and speed are all still there.

• He ran for over 1,200 yards last season in a makeshift offensive line. Let’s be honest – Bradshaw kept a lot of those drives alive last year all by himself. Busted plays turned into sizable gains because his individual efforts got it done. With a dozen different o-line configurations he excelled all year.

• Like the rest of the Giants offense, he’s committed to less turnovers. Fumbles killed, especially in the red zone. But that doesn’t mean a fluke season all around for Giants turnovers translates to more of the same in 2011. If anything, I expect a dramatic turnaround from Eli and Bradshaw when it comes to turnovers — because it’s well known that has been the #1 focus this preseason. Win the turnover battle.

• Brandon Jacobs is still the #2 back. BJ27 is still going to get about 10-12 carries a game, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Keeping him healthy and getting a different style runner in there to nip off huge gains from a quick and powerful running back is still a working strategy for the Giants. Over 200 yards against a stout Bears run defense last week, and 200 last year when they played them at home. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But Bradshaw getting the majority of snaps is critical because he can block and do more things on passing plays than Jacobs can. More on that next…

• Eli is going to check it down a lot more. He’s said it, we’ve said it, everyone knows it — and we’re starting to see it more on the field now. More short passes to safe outlets and designed screens when the defense isn’t giving you anything else. No more forcing it 20 yards downfield between 3 defenders and a tipped ball going the other way. We’re expecting MUCH more 5 yard dump offs to the running backs and that’s why Bradshaw is going to have a big year not only running the ball, but catching out of the backfield. There is a myth that he doesn’t have good hands, can’t catch, etc…. it’s just that – a myth. Bradshaw is downright dangerous with the ball in his hands, no matter how he gets it, and he’s going to have a whole heck of a lot more receptions, yardage, and TD’s in 2011 than he ever has.

Conclusion: Bradshaw may not be worthy of a #1 pick just yet, but based on the likelihood of what’s to take place in 2011 he certainly is a top 10 running back in the NFL as far as Fantasy Football is concerned.

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