Chris Wesseling

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AFC Projected Carries

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm so used to playing in keeper leagues that my outlook often defaults toward a long-term view where talent trumps situation. It's a mandatory mindset in Dynasty leagues, but it can be dangerous to look at redraft leagues through that distorted coke bottle. In this era of committee backfields, situation and expected workload are often a better predictor of fantasy production. Pure talent is worthless without the ball in its hands.

This column, and its NFC cousin to follow next Wednesday, will project the workload for every team. Consider it advanced draft preparation. Remember, the average rushes per year for each coach is only at their current job. For coaches with four years or more at their current locale, the past two years have been weighted against the previous average. We are only counting attempts from running backs

Baltimore Ravens
Coach: John Harbaugh | Average Rushes/Year: 470
Projected 2010 Carries: 415

This offense belongs to one of the league's premier coordinators in Cam Cameron. He's ready to take the reins off third-year signal caller Joe Flacco, now with Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth at his disposal. Cameron still leans toward the run, though, and his stellar track record with LaDainian Tomlinson, Ronnie Brown, and now Ray Rice speaks for itself.

Ray Rice: 255
Willis McGahee: 105
LeRon McClain: 45
Jalen Parmele: 10

I'm not buying the McGahee trade talk. His $3.6 million salary is prohibitive and contenders aren't typically in the business of trading quality depth. I expect Rice, McGahee, and McClain to return in the same roles as last season. Why mess with the fifth most successful ground attack in the game? The offensive line has been in flux throughout training camp, but it remains one of the top ten units in the league.

Buffalo Bills
Coach: Chan Gailey | Average Rushes/Year: 450
Projected 2010 Carries: 445

The Bills have one of the most bleak offensive outlooks in the league, but there is a silver lining here. Gailey has been a football nomad since his first stint as the Steelers' offensive coordinator in 1994, and he's been successful with moderate talent at every stop. It's true that Gailey has a strong history of saddling up one workhorse as the primary back. It's even more true that Gailey has a knack for adapting his philosophy to his personnel.

Fred Jackson: 190
C.J. Spiller: 150
Marshawn Lynch: 105

F-Jax is "shooting for" for a return from his broken hand by the season opener, which is on the optimistic end of the scale. I took 10 carries from his projection and split them between Spiller and Lynch. Jackson should remain the primary inside runner. He's clearly outplayed Lynch for two years, and Spiller doesn't run between the tackles.

Cincinnati Bengals
Coach: Marvin Lewis | Weighted Average Rushes/Year: 399
Projected 2010 Carries: 435

Lewis always wanted a smashmouth offense to go with a hard-hitting defense, and it finally came together in 2009. It was just in time, too, as it coincided with Carson Palmer's fall from elite quarterback status. The upgrades at receiver and tight end bode well for a slight bounceback from Palmer, but this will remain a run-heavy attack.

Cedric Benson: 310
Bernard Scott: 110
Brian Leonard: 15

Benson will hit that mark if he stays healthy, but that's a big "if." He's never played a full 16-game season, and he was one of the most overused backs in the NFL last season. Scott has earned a bigger role in a change-of-pace capacity, and that total marks an increase of 36 carries.

Cleveland Browns
Coach: Eric Mangini | Weighted Average Rushes/Year: 401
Projected 2010 Carries: 415

The Browns ran the ball 55 times more than they passed the ball in Mangini's first season, largely because they were the one team in the league that could commiserate with the Raiders' quarterback situation. If Jake Delhomme manages to hold onto the starting job, it's not going to be much different in Mangini's final season.

Montario Hardesty: 175
Jerome Harrison: 170
James Davis: 35
Peyton Hillis: 35

Hardesty's recent knee "tweak" killed his offseason momentum, leaving Harrison as the favorite to open the season as the starter. Ultimately, this figures to be a "hot hand" situation. Mangini spent all of last year looking for reasons not to crown Harrison as the feature back, and he loves the way Hardesty is "slapped together" at 220-230 pounds. Don't expect weekly reliability out of either back.

Editor's Note: Did you know you can get the Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide on your iPhone and iPad? Get our Top 200 rankings, Cheatsheets, Tiers, and more in a convenient on-the-go package!

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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