Aug 312012
 

The St. Louis Rams used a 2nd round pick on Isaiah Pead in the 2012 NFL Draft, but it’s a different rookie running back who has outperformed him this preseason and Training Camp, Daryl Richardson, a 7th round pick out of Abilene Christian University. In the preseason, Richardson rushed for 126 yards on 31 carries, as opposed to 108 yards on 35 carries for Pead, who has reportedly frustrated the coaching staff with his unwillingness to run north/south. As a result, according to Fox Sports Midwest, the pair of rookies will split backup duties behind Steven Jackson.

It’s good news for Steven Jackson that Pead was unable to pose a serious threat to his workload. Definitely getting into the twilight of his career, Jackson is 29 years old and has 2138 career carries. However, he’s a very talented back and history suggests that he might have one more good season in him. I did a study on how elite running backs age. I took all of the top-25 all-time leading rushers who have played in the last decade and found that the average one has his last 1000 yard season in his age 30 season at 2602 carrier carries. Jackson currently 32nd all time in rushing yards and 1180 yards outside of the top 25 so he fits in this class of players, though I’d call him slightly below the average of the group. It wouldn’t be ridiculous and unprecedented for him to have one more big season.

However, it’s also possible he won’t and the fall could be hard for him. After the players in my study had their final 1000 yard season, they average just 169 carries per season at 3.5 yards per carry and just 5 touchdowns, so they’re really a non-factor as a back. If that happens, the Rams better hope that Pead and Richardson can be ready for significant snaps. In fantasy leagues, Jackson does have some upside outside of the first 3 rounds because of how weak this year is for running backs, but he’s got a clear downside and there’s no true handcuff for him anymore with Pead and Richardson sharing backup duties. This news is good news for his fantasy value because as long as he’s healthy, he should get the kind of workload he’s used to, but also bad because, if he gets hurt, there’s no obvious pickup to replace him with.

If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (standard league, draft day Sunday at 3 PM ET, 2 spots left). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2

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