Tashard Choice has many of the attributes to become a successful featured back in the NFL.
He has good size (5’10” and 215 pounds) and is extremely versatile.
He possesses the strength to run between the tackles plus the explosiveness and quickness to break to the outside.
He has excellent hands to contribute in the passing game and also has the tenacity and vision to be an effective goal line back.
Choice was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
He had a successful college career at Georgia Tech and led the ACC Conference in rushing yards in each of his final two years.
Projected as a second or third round pick, Choice was disappointed he fell to the fourth round and was the eleventh running back taken in a draft class that was deep at his position.
Instead of getting discouraged, Choice used this as extra motivation and has waited for his opportunity to prove what he could accomplish if given the chance.
Opportunities have been tough to come by for him, however.
Sitting at third on Dallas’ depth chart behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones, most of his chances in his first two NFL seasons have come when injuries struck Barber and Jones.
So far, Choice has combined for 156 rushes for 821 yards and five touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons, while also adding 36 receptions for 317 yards.
His 5.3 average-per-carry is an impressive number.
What really stands out is what Choice has done when Barber or Jones were out with an injury.
Last season, most of Choice’s opportunities came early in the season when Barber missed his only game of the year (week 3) and Jones missed two games (weeks 4 and 5) due to a knee injury.
During that three game span, Choice rushed the ball 40 times for 207 yards and scored two touchdowns and also contributed nine receptions for 83 yards.
Then in the playoff win versus the Philadelphia Eagles, Barber did play some but he was severely limited with a knee injury and again Choice scored a rushing touchdown to go along with his 48 total yards.
In his rookie 2008 campaign, Choice got most involved starting in week 14 after Barber was listed as inactive with a toe injury and Jones had been on injured reserve since week seven.
Although Barber returned in week 15, he was clearly limited and he handled just 18 touches the remainder of the season.
Over these final four games, Choice averaged 122 total yards per game, scored two touchdowns, and accumulated 17 receptions.
Despite rumors that Barber would be traded either before or during the 2010 NFL Draft, the day has come and gone and it looks like he is here to stay for at least another year.
Jones continues to be hyped up by the organization and has a good chance of taking over the starting role for the upcoming season.
This leaves Choice once again at the bottom of the depth chart, patiently waiting for his chance to contribute.
His attitude is refreshing, however, and although he has expressed displeasure with his role, he has not created any distractions by demanding a trade or making public demands for more playing time.
He says he is happy in Dallas, and just wants to win.
He recently told ESPNDallas.com:
"It's just that the situation that I'm in, man, it's hard. I only get to actually run the football when the other two guys get hurt, and I don't want the other two guys to get hurt. I want them to play well and be on top of their games."
While those are great sentiments for his teammates and the Dallas organization, Choice will not be winning any fantasy titles if he is sitting on the bench.
He remains a player to watch in case there is an injury suffered by Barber or Jones in the preseason, but ultimately he is to be drafted as a handcuff in re-draft leagues.
If Choice is still sitting there in your fantasy draft in the final few rounds, I couldn’t blame anyone for using a pick on him at that point because the upside is tremendous should injuries once again befall the other two Cowboys running backs.
Just be sure you are not betting your fantasy season on that happening.
Choice is a player who would be great to stash in dynasty leagues if you have the roster space available.
He is a tremendous talent who will eventually get his chance, whether it is in Dallas or another NFL team.
The situation reminds me of Michael Turner sitting behind LaDainian Tomlinson for all those years; an explosive player just waiting for his chance.
It may be a luxury to keep Choice on your roster, but if you can afford to do it, it will pay off in the long run.
The only question is how long do you have to wait before it happens?
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