Fantasy Football: Forecasting the Value of LenDale White

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Fantasy Football:  Forecasting the Value of LenDale White
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After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Tennessee Titans, LenDale White was sent to the Seattle Seahawks as part of an NFL Draft day trade.

White will now be reunited with his former college coach Pete Carroll, who was hired this offseason to be the new head coach of the Seahawks.

White spent his rookie season with the Titans mainly backing up running back Travis Henry, and seeing some time as a change-of-pace back.

He finished with a little of over 300 total yards and no touchdowns that year.

The following year, in 2007, White began to show signs that he could become a featured back in the NFL as he carried the ball 304 times for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns.

But in 2008, the Titans drafted Chris Johnson and White’s role was reduced to being part of a time-share and the team’s goal line back.

White was still an important part of the backfield as he rushed for 773 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His rushing touchdowns ranked him tied for third among running backs that year.

Last season, however, White took a back seat to Johnson as he watched him take over the running back position for the team and lead the NFL in rushing, and basically become one of the most electrifying players in the league.

White was clearly not happy with his new role as a backup, as he rushed the ball only 63 times and scored just two touchdowns.

It became crystal clear that Johnson was now the featured back for the Titans, and this led to White being traded to Seattle.

White appears very motivated to become a starting running back for the Seahawks.

He is reportedly in excellent shape, and showed up for team’s first mini-camp at 218 pounds which is 17 pounds lighter than last season, and 42 pounds lighter than his playing weight in 2008.

In an interview with the Seahawks’ official web site, White said: “I’ve come here to start…I didn’t come here to sit the bench anymore…So I hope the other guys are ready."

While White is exhibiting the type of competitive nature that Coach Carroll loves to see in his players, he sure has his work cut out for him.

He is entering into a crowded running back rotation which includes Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington.

Despite popular opinion that Julius Jones was sure to be released after the additions of White and Washington, he is currently still with the team and it has been reported that Jones was taking the first snaps at running back during Seattle’s first mini-camp.

Second-year player Forsett exhibited excellent play-making abilities his rookie season, and is sure to get plenty of playing time, especially on passing downs.

Leon Washington is still recovering from a broken fibula and tibia in his right leg, suffered last October.

It remains to be seen whether he will be ready for training camp, or the season opener, but Seattle seems to be optimistic that he can return to pre-injury form.

If Washington is ready for the 2010 season, that leaves four running backs in the Seahawks’ rotation.

There is no official depth chart at this point of the offseason, and there are many questions regarding how things will shape up in the Seattle backfield.

White’s fantasy outlook is cloudy at this point, and monitoring the situation throughout the offseason and training camp will be necessary to get a good feel of what White’s fantasy value will be heading into 2010.

The best case scenario for White’s fantasy outlook would be for the team to trade or release Julius Jones.

If this were to happen, White would almost certainly be the starting running back and also get most of the red zone looks, while giving way on passing downs to Forsett.

If Washington does return healthy, expect him to cut into Forsett’s third down role rather than take away from White’s early down work.

In this type of arrangement, White would see plenty of action and could be considered a No. 3 fantasy running back or a flex option with the potential to finish as a No. 2 fantasy back if the Seattle offense plays well and gives White plenty of scoring opportunities near the goal line.

In a worst case scenario, the team keeps Jones and White will be part of a three or four back rotation, seeing playing time in a specialized role as the team’s short-yardage and goal line back.

When White played for Carroll at USC, he set the school record with 52 career rushing touchdowns, so Carroll likely targeted White for that reason and would feel comfortable utilizing him in this role.

If White’s role is limited in this fashion, then he is a very risky fantasy play and his production will be highly inconsistent.

Basically, if you do not get a touchdown out of him, you are looking at just a fantasy point or two for a given week.

In this scenario, consider him as a depth player with a low ceiling.

White is 25 years-old and highly motivated, making him someone to consider in dynasty leagues.

A commitment by the Seahawks to make him their starting running back would go a long way towards boosting his long term fantasy value.

The biggest concern is whether the Seattle offense as a whole can be productive.

If the team can score points and build early leads, then it is conceivable that White could produce double-digit touchdown seasons, and pile up yards in a “closer” role. 

That is an enormous if considering how things went for Seattle in ‘09, however, and it may be prudent to target safer and more consistent options in all keeper formats. 

In touchdown-heavy leagues, White could be a solid option as a starting fantasy running back.

It is in this format that he has the most upside.

Again, a lot depends on the success of the Seattle offense as a whole, but if the team can consistently move the ball inside the opponent’s ten yard line, White has proven in both his college and professional career that he has the vision, power, and determination to be successful breaking the goal line when they call his name down by the stripe.

White is full of potential to score touchdowns, but he needs his surrounding cast to provide him the opportunities. 

 

For more in-depth fantasy football analysis visit Fantasy Football Trader. 

 

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