Chris Wesseling

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AFC Projected Carries

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oakland Raiders
Coach: Tom Cable | Average Rushes/Year: 395
Projected 2010 Carries: 390

It's hard to get a read on Cable's tendencies. He's been hamstrung with JaMarcus Russell at quarterback and a patchwork offensive line. One would think the former line coach's loyalty would be to the ground game, but last year saw a tremendous dropoff in both rushing attempts and ratio. He should have a better shot at balance this year with Jason Campbell and an improved defense.

Michael Bush: 190
Darren McFadden: 170
Michael Bennett: 30

Cable has given mixed signals on his intentions for the backfield, mentioning both a tandem attack and a "best man wins" competition. Bush is clearly a stronger inside runner while McFadden operates much better in space. My gut tells me McFadden is in for a breakout season, but Bush is the safe bet to lead this team in carries. Create your own fantasy league.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Coach: Mike Tomlin | Average Rushes/Year: 413
Projected 2010 Carries: 410

Team president Art Rooney II wants to return to the Steelers' blue collar roots by running the ball more. Tomlin wants to run the ball more. Even Hines Ward wants to run the ball more. The man with the keys to the offense, coordinator Bruce Arians, isn't so sure that's the answer. There will be an effort to lean on the ground game until Ben Roethlisberger returns, but Arians' pass-heavy unit finished as the most dominant offense in franchise history last year. And he knows it.

Rashard Mendenhall: 300
Mewelde Moore: 45
Isaac Redman: 40
Jonathan Dwyer: 25

Job security. Mendenhall has it. By my count, the Steelers' starter is one of only seven every-down backs in the NFL heading into the 2010 season. Moore is a pure backup, best utilized as a two-minute drill specialist. Dwyer's training camp has been just short of disastrous. Redman is picking up buzz for the second straight August, but he didn't even make the team after starring in preseason action last year. This is Mendenhall's backfield. He's a strong RB1 with star potential.

San Diego Chargers
Coach: Norv Turner | Weighted Average Rushes/Year: 413
Projected 2010 Carries: 400

Turner has traditionally boasted a stellar ground game with a designated feature back carrying the load. LaDainian Tomlinson's decline phase and a poor run-blocking offensive line were difficult hurdles to overcome last season. We should start to see a turnaround this year with fresh legs in the backfield.

Ryan Mathews: 270
Darren Sproles: 75
Mike Tolbert: 45
Shawnbrey McNeal: 10

Mathews was drafted as the successor to franchise icon Tomlinson, and he'll step right in as the lead back and a borderline RB1. Sproles is arguably the most effective and explosive passing-down back in the league, so his role figures to stay the same. Keep an eye on Tolbert as a short-yardage vulture. He ran as the first-team tailback at the goal-line in the preseason opener.

Tennessee Titans
Coach: Jeff Fisher | Weighted Average Rushes/Year: 428
Projected 2010 Carries: 430

The NFL's longest-tenured head coach is a throw-back in facial hair and offensive philosophy. Johnson isn't a prototypical smashmouth back in the vain of "three yards and a cloud of dust" Eddie George, but he held up just fine to a league-leading 358 carries. The O-Line, already one of the league's elite units, actually upgraded on the interior.

Chris Johnson: 335
Javon Ringer: 70
LeGarrette Blount: 25

Johnson's transformation from exciting RB1 to "CJ2K" coincided with Vince Young's ascension to the starting lineup and LenDale White's banishment to the bench. With White out of the picture altogether, Ringer is more of a pure backup as opposed to a battering ram complement. Johnson is a good bet to the lead the NFL in carries for a second straight season. Be sure to grab Ringer as a "handcuff."

For further redraft and Dynasty league discussion, follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.

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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