Bilal Powell: Assessing RB's Fantasy Value With Jets Offense Struggling

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IOctober 3, 2012

Sep 16, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs the ball past Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy (29) and linebacker Jason Worilds (93) during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Through four games, the New York Jets rank 27th in the NFL in passing yards, 24th in rushing yards and 23rd in points, despite scoring 48 in their season opener. 

The Jets were shutout by the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at home, 34-0. 

Something needs to change within the Jets offense, and it doesn't involve throwing in a glorified fullback to play quarterback. 

But what are the other options, besides inserting Tim Tebow over Mark Sanchez at quarterback? One potential change could be at running back, where Shonn Greene has gotten off to another horrific start in 2012. 

Greene, once a playoff hero who was supposed to take the Jets' ground-and-pound offense to the next level, has mostly just grounded-and-pounded his own fantasy value to levels approaching zero. 

In four games, Greene has amassed 198 yards rushing on 68 carries (2.8 average). He has one touchdown, two fumbles and just six first-down runs on 68 carries. 

The Jets may want to take a look at what second-year back Bilal Powell can do in a more featured role. That somewhat happened in Week 4, when Powell played on 32 snaps and Greene just 18. 

In four games, Powell has 99 yards on 26 carries (3.8 average). Five of those 26 carries went for first downs. And despite putting together 69 total yards (45 rushing) on 12 touches against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3, Powell was given just four carries over his 32 snaps during the Jets' shutout loss against the 49ers. 

Meanwhile, despite the final snap counts, early on the Jets just kept slamming their heads on a brick wall, giving Greene 11 carries for 38 yards. 

But even if fantasy owners can tell it's time to make the switch to Powell, is there anything here that should interest owners? Does Powell have any real value right now?

Probably not, to be honest.

The Jets offense is such a current mess that putting any value on any player is probably risky fantasy business. Sanchez is obviously rattled, Santonio Holmes is likely gone for the season and the Jets offense line continues to be a lightning bolt for criticism. 

There's just not a lot to like from a fantasy perspective about anything the Jets have going on offensively.

The fact that the Jets have been hesitant to give Powell more overall touches—even when Greene is such a limited running back—is also worrisome. The chances they continue running Greene into a brick wall is just as good as the chance Powell gets a featured role at some time this season.

The improved snap counts for Powell is something to monitor, however. 

One change that may signal good things for Powell is if Tebow is inserted as the starter. 

The Broncos made Tebow the starter early in 2011, and Denver finished the season as the best running team in football. Running totals would make a jump. And maybe the Jets won't suddenly turn into a running juggernaut, but Tebow does give more options in the running game—and some of those opportunities could certainly go Powell's way. 

Still, as it stands currently, Powell is a limited fantasy option. 

Most of his snaps have come in the passing game (58) or in a pass-blocking role (33). 26 running snaps over 119 total is not the ratio you want in a fantasy running back.

There should be no rush to get him, either. Powell is currently owned in just over five percent of ESPN leagues, although that number has risen by four percent in the last seven days. 

Unless you are in a deep league, keep Powell on your waiver-wire watch list but continue waiting to make a move. Until Powell gets a more featured role in the running game, he's very limited in terms of his fantasy ceiling.