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Oregon Ducks Running Back Situation: Who Is the Best Fantasy Pick?

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Oregon Ducks Running Back Situation: Who Is the Best Fantasy Pick?

by Kevin Mount: CollegeFootballGeek.com contributing writer

We all know how well the Oregon Ducks run the football and produce star fantasy running backs on a yearly basis. With all of the off the field turmoil, that status could certainly be in jeopardy. What can fantasy owners expect from the Ducks RB position in 2010?

Cast of Characters

LaMichael James (sophomore 2010)
Kenjon Barner (sophomore 2010)
Remene Alston Jr. (senior 2010)
Lache Seastrunk (true freshman 2010)
Dontae Williams (true freshman 2010)


What’s the Scoop?

The 2009 college football season started out with a bang literally as Oregon Ducks star running back LeGarrette Blount punched out a Boise State player after a tough loss on the blue turf.

With the subsequent suspension came the emergence of true freshman, LaMichael James. This speedster from Texas hit the ground running and wound up with an incredible season of 1714 total yards and 14 scores in 12 starts.

All seemed sunny in Eugene until the recent off-field legal issues for James and some of his teammates. The final legal verdict has James pleading guilty to a charge of harassment and being suspended for the opening game of the 2010 season.


Who’s Gone?

The biggest loss for the Ducks running game is the year-long suspension of starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. He was suspended for the entire 2010 season after pleading guilty to second- degree theft charges. This could have a huge impact on the offense, as it almost certainly won’t run with the same efficiency as it had under Masoli.


Who’s Back?

The entire offensive line returns to Eugene for the 2010 season. In fact, the Ducks did not lose a single lineman to graduation. This should go a long way in helping to ease in a new quarterback and count on the running game to carry the load this fall.


Oregon RB Distribution

Lets examine how the Ducks have distributed the ball over the past 3 seasons. This should shed some light onto what we might see this fall.

2009

Player Rush Atts. Team RB Atts.   Percentage of Carries
LaMichael James 230 410 56
Kenjon Barner 61 410 15
Andre Crenshaw 50 410 12



2008

Player Rush Atts. Team RB Atts.   Percentage of Carries
Jeremiah Johnson 168 393 43
LeGarrette Blount 137 393 35



2007

Player Rush Atts. Team RB Atts.   Percentage of Carries
Jonathan Stewart 280 469 60
Andre Crenshaw 82 469 17
Jeremiah Johnson 54 469 12


It is clear from these numbers that the Ducks run the ball often and will adjust the carries to the talent they field. In both 2007 & 2009 they fed the ball often to their main ball carrier, while in 2008 they used a two headed monster approach to run the football.


What to expect in 2010?

LaMichael James: This guy exploded onto the college football scene and appears headed for stardom as long as he can stay on the straight and narrow. It seems like the only thing that can stop James is himself, which is entirely possible considering his tumultuous offseason.

Assuming he keeps his nose clean, there is every reason to believe that he will once again be the focal point of a very potent rushing attack. The opening game suspension will hurt a bit, but he should take off after that. He should come near last year’s tremendous numbers in 2010.

Kenjon Barner: This freshman showed glimpses of just how good he can be for the Ducks. He ranked 8th in the Pac 10 in all- purpose yards in 2009. With another year under his belt, Barner should see an increase in his carries and should be a playmaker on offense.

Remene Alston Jr.: He should provide depth at the running back position. He has the most appearance of any RB on the roster with 19 appearances in three years. There should not be much expected from a fantasy perspective.

Lache Seastrunk: This blue chipper is the Ducks first five-star running back recruit since Jonathan Stewart in 2005. He is basically a clone of LaMichael James and should fit perfectly in the spread attack that Oregon implores. There is no questioning his ability; the only question is how quickly will he see the field.

Dontae Williams: The second uber running back recruit the Ducks were able to land in 2010. He is a four star prospect with a physical running style that will compliment the quicker backs nicely and should lead to early playing time and goal line touches.


If Your Fantasy Draft Were Today (03/23/10)...

The main Duck to have on draft day is LaMichael James. If all goes well between now and draft day, expect to spend a first round pick on Mr. James. He should prove worthy of that lofty status as the focal point in a terrific spread attack. Kenjon Barner is certainly draft worthy and could serve as a nice insurance policy should James falter off the field.

Both Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams are excellent keeper selections. They should see the field some in 2010, but owners will really be rewarded in 2011 when they have a bigger role in the offense. Obviously all of this depends upon the ability of LaMichael James to toe the line and not get booted off the team. Check back with us over the next few months to see how things are going up in the great Northwest. 

 

Kevin Mount is a contributing writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com , your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.

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