The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of running back woes, averaging around 13 rushing touchdowns each of the last three seasons. They have yet to find the perfect combination of running backs to be considered an elite running threat.
However, whether or not it is the absolute best situation in 2010-11, I feel Marion Barber will emerge as the Cowboys' leading fantasy running back this year.
Excluding his rookie year, Barber has recorded his most touchdowns (rushing) during the two years with the least attempts (135 attempts for 14 TD in 06-07 and 204 attempts for 10 TD in 07-08). Also, his two best years came at the time when Julius Jones was still a Cowboy.
Before you get ahead of yourself by saying Barber needs Good Ole’ Julius back, that is not my point. My point is the Cowboys need to use Barber correctly: A third-down, red zone, and goal line back, which means he should not be starting the game. It seemed like Dallas’ experiment to have Barber as the starting back failed because the last two years have been his worse. His two best seasons (2006-2008) were the years he started only once in 32 games played (in 08-09, he started 13 of 15, and in 09-10, he started in all 15 of his games).
Dallas’ current running back situation reminds me of the Julius Jones era, which is a good thing. Barber is in line to get third-down carries while Felix Jones is healthy and ready to start in the backfield. The addition of Dez Bryant and emergence of top wide out, Miles Austin, will also help the Dallas running backs spread the field, giving more room for Barber to gain extra yards and pound the ball in.
I actually tend to believe the production of Felix Jones and Barber has a direct correlation. When Felix’s rushing goes up, so does Barber’s. While Jones may rush for more yards and see more carries, that may mean Barber gets more at the goal line and less on routine first- and second-down plays.
Currently, Barber is being drafted as a low-end RB2/high-end RB3, but I think he should produce high-end RB2 numbers. He has the potential to reach high-teen touchdowns and near the 1,000-yard mark. I like Barber more than Rashard Mendenhall, Jamaal Charles, Beanie Wells, and LeSean McCoy this year (I know, call me bold…but it’s true), all of whom are being drafted ahead of him.
However, I’m an upside and experience-type of guy, both of which Barber has. So when it comes to snagging my second running back in the draft, I’ll gladly wait a few rounds, sip my soda, and announce my selection to the room…Marion Barber.
2009—Dallas was ranked seventh in rushing with 14 TD’s (436 attempts)
2008—Dallas was ranked 21st in rushing with 12 TD’s (401 attempts)
2007—Dallas was ranked 17th in rushing with 14 TD’s (419 attempts)
2006—Dallas was ranked 13th in rushing with 21 TD’s (472 attempts)
2009—214 at, 932 yd, seven td (Felix Jones: 116-685-3, Tashard Choice: 64-349-3)
2008—238 at, 885 yd, seven td (Felix Jones: 30-266-3, Tashard Choice: 92-472-2)
2007—204 at, 975 yd, 10 td (Julius Jones: 164-588-2)
2006—135 at, 654 yd, 14 td (Julius Jones: 267-1084-4)
Pure Rushing FP for MB3 (Without Fumbles)
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