Tandem Back Most Likely to Break Out

Pierre Thomas figures to have a good chance to become a workhorse.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In most leagues, two running backs are required as starters, and many leagues also have a wildcard position to be used by either a receiver or running back. In a normal 12-team league, a minimum of 24 running backs are needed and more likely around 30 will be started in any given week.

However, with a limited number of "workhorse" running backs throughout the league, 15 at last count, finding a possible "breakout back" is all the more important.

With that in mind, I've combed through the tandem backfields to see who is most likely to take control of their "shared situation" and grow into a workhorse.

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans - With Mike Bell in Philadelphia, Lynell Hamilton suffering a torn ACL and Reggie Bush always hurt and more of the third-down back anyway, Thomas figures to have a good chance to become a workhorse. He only had 147 carries last year and produced 793 yards and six scores. If he gets just half of Bell's 172 carries, then we are talking 258 attempts, and at a 5.4 ypc average that's 1,393 yards. He's currently being drafted at the end of the third round (RapidDraft ADP 28.2).

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants - Last year's starter, Brandon Jacobs, is already hurt (stiff neck) and spent most of last season on the sidelines with knee problems. Meanwhile, Bradshaw seems to be winning over the coaching staff with his toughness, breakaway running ability and better receiving skills. My prediction is that Bradshaw is the Opening Day starter and gets more touches that Jacobs in 2010. With an ADP of 76.7, he should be on your list to pick in the seventh round.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago - As a No.4 overall pick in 2009 Forte disappointed fantasy owners by rushing for 929 yards and just four scores. Then in the offseason the team added Minnesota running back Chester Taylor. Fantasy owners are ignoring Forte (ADP 38.6) until the fourth round, and that could be a big mistake. Forte is still being given the opportunity to be the team's starter. An 89-yard touchdown run on Saturday showed that Forte is again healthy and ready to contribute to your starting lineup. Although he won't get 379 touches as in 2008, he should be a good No.2 fantasy running back.

Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit - Although Kevin Smith (knee) did play in this week's preseason game against the Denver Broncos, Best is clearly the starter while Smith will fight with Maurice Morris for the backup role. Neither Smith nor Morris has the big play ability of Best, who if he can stay healthy, could post a 1,000-yard season.

Michael Bush, RB, Oakland - In two game last season, Bush got 14 or more carries and in both of them he ran for more than 100 yards. With Darren McFadden nicked up again (hamstring) -- what else is new? -- and Justin Fargas gone, Bush figures to get enough carries to be a solid No.2 fantasy running back. Given his ADP of 94.4, he could be a "steal" as you usually can't find a starting running back in the eighth round.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.
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