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Following up a Super run

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It might be a good thing that Ryan Grant didn't play in Super Bowl XLV. His absence was probably for the better for his Fantasy value in 2011.

Running backs who played in the Super Bowl the previous five seasons prior to 2010 season haven't exactly fared well the next year. Since Grant (ankle) was out after being placed on injured reserve following Week 1, he should be just fine in 2011. However, Rashard Mendenhall could be in trouble.

From Super Bowl XL through Super Bowl XLIV, there were 25 running backs who were significant contributors in helping their teams reach the Super Bowl. Of those 25, 12 saw a decrease in Fantasy points the following season and two did not play again (Jerome Bettis and Reuben Droughns).

In looking at the 10 starters, seven saw a decrease in Fantasy points the following season (Pierre Thomas, Joseph Addai, Willie Parker, Edgerrin James, Laurence Maroney, Thomas Jones and Shaun Alexander) and five suffered significant injuries (Thomas, Bush, Addai, Maroney and Alexander). Four of the running backs who saw an increase in Fantasy points the following season were injury replacements (Donald Brown, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and Maurice Morris).

The biggest reason for Super Bowl running backs seeing a decrease in production the next year is likely wear and tear. On top of all their carries during the regular season, they get as many as four games worth of additional touches in the playoffs. There were 11 running backs who played in the Super Bowl over the previous five seasons that had at least 50 touches in the postseason. For Alexander, he had 370 carries in the regular season in 2005 and then 60 carries in the playoffs. No wonder he couldn't make it through 2006.

Mendenhall went into the Super Bowl with 371 carries and 26 catches in 18 games, and the Steelers didn't let up on him in the loss to the Packers. Mendenhall got an additional 15 touches (14 carries) in the big game. Even though he's only 23 and has just two full seasons of work under his belt, he could be headed for a letdown in '11. Based on what we've seen from starting running backs in the Super Bowl, you might want to lower your expectations for Mendenhall next year.

As for Grant, he's in the clear. He missed out on the Super Bowl experience, but his status in 2011 should be fine.

XLIV: Saints 31, Colts 17

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
2009: 147 carries for 793 yards and six touchdowns, 39 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns and one fumble in 14 games (138 Fantasy points)
2010: 83 carries for 269 yards and two touchdowns and 29 catches for 201 yards in six games (54 Fantasy points)
Difference: Thomas' 84-point decline in Fantasy value was due to an ankle injury in '10. He missed the majority of the season and never returned to form, and he heads into the offseason as an impending free agent. Where he plays in '11 will determine his value.

Reggie Bush, New Orleans
2009: 70 carries for 390 yards and five touchdowns, 47 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns and two fumbles in 14 games (100 Fantasy points)
2010: 36 carries for 150 yards, 34 catches for 208 yards and one touchdown and one fumble in eight games (36 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Thomas, Bush missed time with an injury -- suffering a broken leg early in the year -- which is why he declined by 64 Fantasy points. Bush's contract will determine where he plays in '11. If he doesn't take a pay cut, the Saints could cut ties.

Mike Bell, New Orleans
2009: 172 carries for 654 yards and five touchdowns, four catches for 12 yards and two fumbles in 13 games (83 Fantasy points)
2010: 47 carries for 99 yards and seven catches for 67 yards in 16 games (10 Fantasy points)
Difference: Bell left New Orleans for the Eagles and was then traded to Cleveland. He never got the same opportunity in '10 that he got with the Saints in '09 and his Fantasy value is minimal in '11. Don't plan on drafting him in any leagues.

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis
2009: 219 carries for 828 yards and 10 touchdowns, 51 catches for 336 yards and three touchdowns, one passing touchdown and one fumble in 15 games (184 Fantasy points)
2010: 116 carries for 495 yards and four touchdowns, 19 catches for 124 yards and one fumble in eight games (77 Fantasy points)
Difference: A neck injury ruined Addai's season in '10, which is why his Fantasy production declined by 107 points. Addai is an impending free agent this offseason, but the Colts will likely keep him. He is still worth drafting as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in '11 as long as he returns to Indianapolis.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis
2009: 78 carries for 281 yards and three touchdowns and 11 catches for 169 yards in 11 games (47 Fantasy points)
2010: 129 carries for 497 yards and two touchdowns and 20 catches for 205 yards in 13 games (71 Fantasy points)
Difference: Brown took advantage of Addai being out to show off his skills in '10. He might have another increase of 24 Fantasy points in '11 if Addai returns as a free agent, but he could see a boost if Addai leaves. Brown is worth a late-round pick in all leagues.

XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh
2008: 209 carries for 789 yards and five touchdowns and four catches for 15 yards in 11 games (101 Fantasy points)
2009: 98 carries for 389 yards, six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and one fumble in 14 games (38 Fantasy points)
Difference: The emergence of Mendenhall in '09 ruined Parker's season after leading the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in '08 and his career hasn't been the same since. His days as a viable Fantasy option are over. Don't draft him in any leagues in '11.

Mewelde Moore, Pittsburgh
2008: 140 carries for 588 yards and five touchdowns and 40 catches for 320 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (111 Fantasy points)
2009: 35 carries for 118 yards, 21 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns and one passing touchdown in 16 games (30 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Parker, the emergence of Mendenhall took away Pittsburgh's need for Moore in '09. He remains a good third-down back for the Steelers, but he has minimal Fantasy value heading into '11. Don't draft him in any leagues.

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Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh
2008: 19 carries for 58 yards and two catches for 17 yards in four games (three Fantasy points)
2009: 242 carries for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns, 25 catches for 261 yards and one touchdown and three fumbles in 16 games (163 Fantasy points)
Difference: Mendenhall was injured in his rookie season in '08, but he took over early in '09 and has become a Fantasy star. He could be in trouble in '11 based on his use in '10, but he should still be drafted toward the end of Round 1 or beginning of Round 2 in all leagues.

Edgerrin James, Arizona
2008: 133 carries for 514 yards and three touchdowns, 12 catches for 85 yards and two fumbles in 13 games (64 Fantasy points)
2009: 46 carries for 125 yards and three catches for 19 yards in seven games (six Fantasy points)
Difference: James helped the Cardinals reach the Super Bowl in '08, but they didn't need him in '09 after drafting Beanie Wells. James played with Seattle his last year in the NFL, but '08 proved to be his last serviceable season for Fantasy owners.

Tim Hightower, Arizona
2008: 143 carries for 399 yards and 10 touchdowns and 33 catches for 230 yards in 16 games (106 Fantasy points)
2009: 143 carries for 598 yards and eight touchdowns, 63 catches for 428 yards and four fumbles in 16 games (126 Fantasy points)
Difference: Hightower, despite splitting time with Wells in '09, had similar stats to his rookie season. He remains a versatile running back for his ability to work near the goal line and catch passes. Plan on drafting Hightower with a late-round pick in '11 since he will again share work with Wells.

XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14

Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
2007: 202 carries for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns, 23 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns and four fumbles in 11 games (131 Fantasy points)
2008: 219 carries for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns, six catches for 36 yards and one fumble in 13 games (190 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jacobs scored three times in the postseason in '07 and that carried over to his workload in '08 when he had a career-high 15 touchdowns, which boosted his Fantasy production by 59 points. He hasn't been the same since, but he's still a No. 3 Fantasy option in '11.

Derrick Ward, New York Giants
2007: 125 carries for 602 yards and three touchdowns, 26 catches for 179 yards and one touchdown and one fumble in eight games (85 Fantasy points)
2008: 182 carries for 1,025 yards and two touchdowns and 41 catches for 384 yards in 16 games (138 Fantasy points)
Difference: Ward missed the Super Bowl in '07 after he suffered a broken leg in Week 13, but he came back strong in '08 as a great complementary option to Jacobs. He has struggled since leaving the Giants and has minimal Fantasy value heading into '11. Don't draft him in any leagues.

Reuben Droughns, New York Giants
2007: 85 carries for 275 yards and six touchdowns and seven catches for 49 yards in 16 games (60 Fantasy points)
2008: Did not play
Difference: Droughns was good for the Giants as a reserve in '07 with Jacobs, Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw all missing time due to injuries, but he didn't play in the postseason and never returned in '08.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants
2007: 23 carries for 190 yards and one touchdown, two catches for 12 yards and one fumble in 12 games (15 Fantasy points)
2008: 67 carries for 355 yards and one touchdown, and five catches for 42 yards and one touchdown in 15 games (41 Fantasy points)
Difference: Bradshaw turned into New York's No. 2 running back in the playoffs with Ward out, but he didn't build off that success in '08. It took until '09 for Bradshaw to become Fantasy relevant, and then he was a star in '10. He should shine once again in '11 as a No. 2 Fantasy option.

Laurence Maroney, New England
2007: 185 carries for 835 yards and six touchdowns, and four catches for 116 yards in 13 games (119 Fantasy points)
2008: 28 carries for 93 yards in three games (four Fantasy points)
Difference: A shoulder injury ruined Maroney's season in '08 and he appeared to fall out of favor with coach Bill Belichick until a resurgence in the middle of '09. The Patriots traded Maroney to Denver in '10, and his Fantasy value is minimal heading into next season.

Sammy Morris, New England
2007: 85 carries for 384 yards and three touchdowns, and six catches for 35 yards in six games (50 Fantasy points)
2008: 156 carries for 727 yards and seven touchdowns, 17 catches for 161 yards and one fumble in 13 games (114 Fantasy points)
Difference: Morris did well as an injury replacement for Maroney in '08 when he had a career high in carries. Once Maroney returned in '09, Morris went back to being a reserve and special teams contributor. He has minimal Fantasy value heading into next season.

Kevin Faulk, New England
2007: 62 carries for 265 yards, and 47 catches for 383 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (54 Fantasy points)
2008: 83 carries for 507 yards and three touchdowns, and 58 catches for 486 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games (120 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Morris, Faulk was an injury replacement for Maroney in '08, which was the reason for his 66-point increase in Fantasy production. Faulk remained a solid contributor in '09, but he suffered a knee injury in '10, which leaves his status in doubt for '11.

XLI: Colts 29, Bears 17

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis
2006: 226 carries for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns, 40 catches for 325 yards and one touchdown and two fumbles in 16 games (169 Fantasy points)
2007: 261 carries for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns, and 41 catches for 364 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games (220 Fantasy points)
Difference: Addai became the full-time starter for the Colts in '07, which was his second year in the NFL, and he is one of the few Super Bowl running backs to see a significant boost the next year after a heavy workload. In '06, Addai had over 300 carries, including the playoffs.

Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis
2006: 187 carries for 641 yards and five touchdowns, 36 catches for 251 yards and three fumbles in 16 games (98 Fantasy points)
2007: 75 carries for 302 yards and one touchdown, 11 catches for 70 yards and one fumble in 10 games (28 Fantasy points)
Difference: Rhodes left the Colts for the Raiders in '07, and he couldn't come close to his success in Indianapolis. Rhodes resurfaced with the Colts in '10, but he has minimal Fantasy value heading into '11. Don't plan on drafting him in any leagues.

Thomas Jones, Chicago
2006: 296 carries for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns, 36 catches for 154 yards and one fumble in 16 games (154 Fantasy points)
2007: 310 carries for 1,119 yards and one touchdown, and 28 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (129 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jones left the Bears for the Jets in '07, and he had a resurgence for Fantasy owners. His lack of touchdowns hurt his value in '07, but he was a star in '08 and '09. He went to Kansas City last year and should return in '11, but he's just a Fantasy reserve at this point in his career.

Cedric Benson, Chicago
2006: 157 carries for 647 yards and six touchdowns, and eight catches for 54 yards in 15 games (95 Fantasy points)
2007: 196 carries for 674 yards and four touchdowns, 17 catches for 123 yards and two fumbles in 11 games (85 Fantasy points)
Difference: Benson didn't take advantage of becoming the full-time starter in '07, and he didn't become a quality Fantasy option until going to Cincinnati in '08. He had a great season in '09 and played well in '10, and he's a free agent heading into '11. He's expected to return to the Bengals, but his status will be determined on where he plays.

XL: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh
2005: 255 carries for 1,202 yards and four touchdowns, and 18 catches for 218 yards and one touchdown in 15 games (157 Fantasy points)
2006: 337 carries for 1,494 yards and 13 touchdowns, 31 catches for 222 yards and three touchdowns and five fumbles in 16 games (242 Fantasy points)
Difference: When Jerome Bettis retired after the '05 season, Parker became a star. He didn't have to worry about losing touchdowns to Bettis and his Fantasy value increased by 85 points. This was one of two Super Bowl victories for Parker in his career.

Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh
2005: 110 carries for 368 yards and nine touchdowns and four catches for 40 yards in 12 games (89 Fantasy points)
2006: Did not play
Difference: Bettis retired after winning the Super Bowl, but he was great for Fantasy owners in '05. For the season, Bettis had 12 touchdowns, including the playoffs. He should be considered a Hall of Fame running back -- for the NFL and Fantasy owners.

Shaun Alexander, Seattle
2005: 370 carries for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, 15 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown and one fumble in 16 games (351 Fantasy points)
2006: 252 carries for 896 yards and seven touchdowns, 12 catches for 48 yards and three fumbles in 10 games (123 Fantasy points)
Difference: Alexander is the classic example of wear and tear catching up with a running back. He suffered a broken foot after his MVP season in '05 and was never the same. That's what 430 carries, including the playoffs, will do to a star running back.

Maurice Morris, Seattle
2005: 71 carries for 288 yards and one touchdown, and five catches for 48 yards in 16 games (29 Fantasy points)
2006: 161 carries for 604 yards, 11 catches for 46 yards and one fumble in 16 games (51 Fantasy points)
Difference: Morris saw a 22-point increase in Fantasy production as an injury replacement for Alexander in '06. He proved to be a serviceable option in standard leagues for the six games that Alexander was out.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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