Mike Tanier

Going Deep

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Old faces in new places

Wednesday, October 20, 2010




Derrick Ward
The Lowdown: The Buccaneers released Ward at the end of the preseason, with Raheem Morris criticizing Ward's conditioning. The Texans signed him at the start of the season, and Ward has scored three touchdowns in three weeks as Arian Foster's backup.

A Deeper Look: Ward had runs of 38, 16, and four yards against the Chiefs on Sunday. If he could surround those carries with another 10-12 rushes, he could do some fantasy damage, but that's not going to happen as long as Foster is healthy and motivated. On the other hand, Foster has already had some minor injuries and a brief suspension for missing a team meeting, so the "healthy and motivated" thing carries no guarantees. Ward rushed for just 50 yards on 21 carries in the preseason, so it's not clear where this suddenly spry big-play machine came from.

The Final Word: Ward is only valuable as Foster insurance or a Foster handcuff, but that still gives him some value. Gary Kubiak has a quick hook with running backs: remember that Steve Slaton used to put up Foster-like numbers but is now relegated to kick returns. If Ward is still on waivers, consider signing him to "flip" him to the guy with Foster. If you are the guy with Foster, protect yourself.

Ladell Betts and Julius Jones
The Lowdown: Since Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush got hurt, the Saints have become a halfway house for running backs on their way out of the league. The team signed Betts in August, released him late in camp, then brought him back after Bush got injured. Jones started the season with the Seahawks, carrying 12 times for 30 yards before getting released at the start of October. But the Saints aren't picky.

A Deeper Look: Jones' longest carry of the year before Sunday's win against the Buccaneers was six yards. He had a 16-yard run in the second quarter against the Buccaneers, but most of his production – and there wasn't much of it – came when the Saints were coasting. Betts may look more appealing than Jones after carrying 23 times in two games and scoring against the Buccaneers, but he has been little more than a plodder. In one mind-boggling sequence against the Bucs, Chris Ivory limped off the field with the Saints in the red zone, and Betts and Jones needed five carries and a penalty to travel 11 yards. If you really want to be part of this mess, knock yourself out.

The Final Word: The player you want is Ivory, who rushed for 146 yards in the preseason and has the size to earn some goal-line opportunities when Thomas returns. Betts is toast. Jones could maybe, possibly, sort-of have some PPR value, but you have to live with receiving stat lines like the gem he produced in Week 12 last year: five catches, minus-three yards.

Trent Edwards
The Lowdown: David Garrard suffered a concussion on Monday Night for the Jaguars, leaving the Bills' Opening Day starter to come off the bench and throw for 140 yards and two interceptions.

Editor's Note: For early rankings every Tuesday morning, tons of exclusive columns, subscriber-only chats, full projections updated all week and much more, get our award-winning Season Pass.

A Deeper Look: You aren't really thinking of signing a guy who was cut by the Bills and just threw two interceptions during the garbage time of a 30-3 loss, are you?

The Final Word: If you are really scraping the dregs for quarterbacks, consider Ryan Fitzpatrick, who replaced Edwards in Buffalo. Fitzpatrick can run, has a creative coach, knows how to get the ball to up-and-comer Steve Johnson, and has made a career out of padding his stats in ugly games.


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