In the NFL, the more you handle the ball, the more you are at risk for injury. As those touches build up, the risk of injury appears to increase. Let’s take a look at the 15 biggest carriers (running backs) over the past three years and determine who we should be concerned about:
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – 960 carries
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – 925 carries
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – 907 carries
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – 888 carries
- Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – 866 carries
- Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – 836 carries
- Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – 811 carries
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – 808 carries
- LaDainian Tomlinson – New York Jets – 743 carries
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – 672 carries
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – 668 carries
- Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – 602 carries
- Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – 590 carries
- Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – 589 carries
- Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – 585 carries
- Is anyone actually going to shy away from Adrian Peterson because we are afraid he’s carried the ball too much in recent years? I don’t think so, but having the thought in the back of your head should help you make sure to lock down Toby Gerhart as a handcuff, just in case.
- The case of Chris Johnson is becoming more and more concerning, however. You have a significant number of touches over the past few years coupled with a holdout that could get ugly. There is beginning to look like there is a possibility that this extends into the regular season, which is almost unfathomable. As it is, let’s not forget about Darrelle Revis’ situation from a year ago. Maybe we shouldn’t be drawing any comparisons, but Revis was holding out and, while he did come back prior to the start of the season, he ultimately suffered an injury and was hobbled much of the year. They play different positions, but could the lack of work in the preseason help contribute to injury? I’m not dropping him yet, but it could be coming soon.
- I’d be a lot more concerned about Thomas Jones and LaDanian Tomlinson if they were still be used as every down backs. Considering that, at best, they are sharing carries and are much more like RB2 on their own roster makes them easier to ignore.
- The most concerning name on the list is probably Michael Turner. While he may not have the same wear and tear on his body as many 29-year-old backs, you can’t ignore the number of carries he’s had over the past three seasons and his age. If you have the choice between Turner and a relatively similar back (like Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy), I’d play it safe and bypass Turner.
- It’s interesting to see the drop-off between No. 9 and No. 10 in the number of carries. A lot of that is due to previous injuries, especially when it comes to Frank Gore (no more than 240 carries in a year the past three seasons) and Ryan Grant (only eight carries in ’11). The history of injuries bring concern, but not enough to bypass them when they are currently available in drafts. Gore may be a slightly riskier pick (according to Mock Draft Central he currently has an ADP of 15.77). In regards to Grant, with an ADP of 54.56 (after BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Fred Jackson), there is way too much upside to worry.
- When you couple Maurice Jones-Drew’s workload with the surgery he has already had on his knee, you get a huge red flag. Along with Turner, he’s the biggest risk when it comes to potential injury based on the number of carries.
Make sure to check out all of the early rankings from Rotoprofessor: