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Playoff Extra: RBs have Super Bowl blues

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Go back to the regular season when Bernard Pierce would come in for Ray Rice, and you would get mad watching Pierce take away valuable Fantasy points from your No. 1 running back. The same could be said for Kendall Hunter giving Frank Gore a break.

Well, the 108 carries Pierce got during the year are going to help Rice in 2013. Hunter's 72 carries will also be beneficial to Gore next season.

Playing in the Super Bowl means a lot of additional work for running backs, which could affect their Fantasy value the following year. The good thing is we don't expect Rice or Gore to be worn down because they weren't overworked during the season or the playoffs. Both should be fine no matter how many touches they get in Super Bowl XLVII.

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Rice is at 321 carries (64 in three playoff games) coming into the Super Bowl with 65 catches (four in the playoffs). He's right on pace with his touches in each of the past two seasons, including the playoffs, since he had 332 carries and 81 catches in 2011 and 336 carries and 75 catches in 2010. He's had at least 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns each of the past two seasons, so he should be fine in 2013.

Gore heads to New Orleans with 302 carries (44 through two playoff games) with 30 catches (two in the playoffs). Including the playoffs last year, he had 309 carries and 30 catches, but his previous high was the 312 carries and 61 catches he had in just the regular season in 2006. There's more fear of Gore breaking down in 2013 because of his age (30 in May), injury history and the 49ers wanting to give more work to Hunter and LaMichael James. But a Super Bowl hangover isn't expected.

The biggest example of a running back struggling after a Super Bowl run was Rashard Mendenhall in 2011. He had 412 touches (385 carries and 27 catches) over 19 games in helping the Steelers to the Super Bowl in 2010, including 61 carries and four catches in the playoffs. Mendenhall's Fantasy points declined by 53 in 2011, and he suffered a torn ACL in Week 17.

Over the past six years there were 31 running backs who were significant contributors in helping their teams reach the Super Bowl. Of those 31, 14 saw a decrease in Fantasy points the following season.

In looking at the 12 starters for the majority of the season, eight saw a decrease in Fantasy points the following year (Brandon Jackson, Mendenhall, Pierre Thomas, Joseph Addai, Willie Parker, Edgerrin James, Laurence Maroney and Thomas Jones). And six suffered significant injuries the next year (Mendenhall, Jackson, Thomas, Reggie Bush, Addai and Maroney). 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. There were 12 running backs who played in the Super Bowl over the past six seasons that had at least 50 touches in the postseason.

When those numbers add up, there tends to be a problem, and we just hope Rice and Gore are OK. Rice projects as a Top 5 overall pick in 2013 and Gore remains a solid No. 2 running back worth a pick by Round 3.

Editor's note: All stats listed below are regular-season only.

XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
2011:
171 carries for 659 yards and nine touchdowns; 34 catches for 267 yards and two touchdowns; one fumble in 12 games (143 Fantasy points)
2012: 221 carries for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns; 23 catches for 245 yards; three fumbles in 14 games (143 Fantasy points)
Difference: Bradshaw would have been a Top 10 Fantasy running back in 2012 if it wasn't for Andre Brown and David Wilson. Both running backs took away significant production from Bradshaw. He had a lot of work in the postseason in 2011 (63 carries and 16 catches), but sharing time with Brandon Jacobs kept him fresh. He enters 2013 expected to be in a timeshare with Wilson. Bradshaw should be considered a low-end No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 4.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants
2011: 152 carries for 571 yards and seven touchdowns; 15 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown; one fumble in 14 games (105 Fantasy points)
2012: five carries for 7 yards in two games (0 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jacobs left the Giants following his Super Bowl win and landed with the 49ers. Instead of trying to win another ring this year, Jacobs was let go by San Francisco before the start of the playoffs. He suffered a knee injury in the preseason and he was slow to recover. Once he did, he never earned a prominent role and the 49ers felt his attitude was a detriment to the team. He is done as a viable Fantasy option even if he plays again.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots
2011: 181 carries for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns; nine catches for 159 yards in 16 games (132 Fantasy points)
2012: 278 carries for 1,094 yards and six touchdowns; 22 catches for 104 yards; two fumbles in 15 games (140 Fantasy points)
Difference: Green-Ellis left the Patriots in 2012 to sign with the Bengals. He got the chance to be a featured rusher, as his carries increased by almost 100, but his scoring chances were limited. He was a safe running back for the New England offense, but Green-Ellis doesn't have dynamic skills. He enters 2013 as a low-end No. 2 running back worth drafting in Round 4.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots
2011: 87 carries for 441 yards and one touchdown; three catches for 13 yards; one fumble in 14 games (42 Fantasy points)
2012: 290 carries for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns; six catches for 51 yards; four fumbles in 16 games (191 Fantasy points)
Difference: Ridley wasn't a significant contributor for the Patriots during their Super Bowl run, but he stepped up in 2012 when Green-Ellis left. He dominated carries in comparison to Danny Woodhead (76) and Shane Vereen (62), and Ridley has the chance to be a No. 1 running back in standard leagues. His value would be higher if he did more as a receiver, but it's difficult to ignore 1,300 total yards and 12 touchdowns.

Danny Woodhead, Patriots
2011: 77 carries for 351 yards and one touchdown; 18 catches for 157 yards in 15 games (44 Fantasy points)
2012: 76 carries for 301 yards and four touchdowns; 40 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (102 Fantasy points)
Difference: Woodhead improved after the Super Bowl because he did more as a receiver. He was a solid spot starter and reserve for Fantasy owners in PPR leagues in 2012 and his seven touchdowns look nice heading into free agency. If he returns to New England his role will be similar, but the Patriots could let him go with the emergence of Vereen. Either way, Woodhead is only worth drafting with a late-round pick.

XLV: Packers 31, Steelers 25
Brandon Jackson, Packers
2010: 190 carries for 703 yards and three touchdowns; 43 catches for 342 yards and one touchdown; two fumbles in 16 games (113 Fantasy points)
2011: Did not play
Difference: Jackson was the leading rusher for the Packers in 2010 since Ryan Grant suffered a broken ankle in Week 1. Jackson didn't play in 2011 because of turf toe and his run in 2010 was likely his one shining moment in the NFL.

James Starks, Packers
2010: 29 carries for 101 yards; two catches for 15 yards in three games (11 Fantasy points)
2011: 133 carries for 578 yards and one touchdown; 29 catches for 216 yards; one fumble in 13 games (71 Fantasy points)
Difference: Starks had his moments as a quality Fantasy running back in 2011, but he was limited by injuries to close the year. His postseason run in 2010 was great, but he has yet to recapture that magic, which has been frustrating to Packers fans and Fantasy owners.

Ryan Grant, Packers
2010: 8 carries for 45 yards in one game (four Fantasy points)
2011: 134 carries for 559 yards and two touchdowns; 19 catches for 268 yards and one touchdown; one fumble in 15 games (86 Fantasy points)
Difference: Grant wasn't the same player in 2011 after missing the majority of the year in 2010. When he broke his ankle in Week 1 his time as a relevant Fantasy option likely ended and he has struggled to regain his form ever since.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
2010: 324 carries for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns; 23 catches for 167 yards; two fumbles in 16 games (202 Fantasy points)
2011: 228 carries for 928 yards and nine touchdowns; 18 catches for 154 yards; one fumble in 15 games (149 Fantasy points)
Difference: We expected Mendenhall to struggle in 2011 after all the work he had in 2010. He also suffered a torn ACL in Week 17, which hurt his value in 2012 and could ruin his career. We'll see if Mendenhall can recover in 2013, but his days as an elite Fantasy option are likely over.

Isaac Redman, Steelers
2010: 52 carries for 247 yards; nine catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games (43 Fantasy points)
2011: 110 carries for 479 yards and three touchdowns; 18 catches for 78 yards; two fumbles in 16 games (60 Fantasy points)
Difference: Redman is the epitome of a what a backup running back should be. He had some solid moments as a replacement option for Mendenhall in the playoffs in 2011 and as a starter in 2012, but he doesn't have the skill set to be an every-down back. We doubt the Steelers will count on him as anything more than a reserve in 2013.

XLIV: Saints 31, Colts 17
Pierre Thomas, Saints
2009: 147 carries for 793 yards and six touchdowns; 39 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns; one fumble in 14 games (138 Fantasy points)
2010: 83 carries for 269 yards and two touchdowns; 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 2010. He missed the majority of the season but rebounded in 2011 as he shared time with Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. If Thomas had escaped the three-headed backfield in New Orleans he could have been an outstanding Fantasy option.

Reggie Bush, Saints
2009: 70 carries for 390 yards and five touchdowns; 47 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns; two fumbles in 14 games (100 Fantasy points)
2010: 36 carries for 150 yards; 34 catches for 208 yards and one touchdown; 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 in 2010. Bush finally looked like a standout Fantasy option once he went to Miami, where he was a star in 2011 and a quality option again in 2012.

Mike Bell, Saints
2009: 172 carries for 654 yards and five touchdowns; four catches for 12 yards; two fumbles in 13 games (83 Fantasy points)
2010: 47 carries for 99 yards; 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 2010 that he got with the Saints in 2009 and his Fantasy value is non-existent.

Joseph Addai, Colts
2009: 219 carries for 828 yards and 10 touchdowns; 51 catches for 336 yards and three touchdowns; one passing touchdown; one fumble in 15 games (184 Fantasy points)
2010: 116 carries for 495 yards and four touchdowns; 19 catches for 124 yards; one fumble in eight games (77 Fantasy points)
Difference: A neck injury ruined Addai's season in 2010, which is why his Fantasy production declined by 107 points. He was always a quality Fantasy option while playing with Peyton Manning, but once Manning got hurt in 2011 Addai's career began to decline.

Donald Brown, Colts
2009: 78 carries for 281 yards and three touchdowns; 11 catches for 169 yards in 11 games (47 Fantasy points)
2010: 129 carries for 497 yards and two touchdowns; 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 2010. He also played well in 2011 with Addai again dealing with injuries. But Brown never lived up to the high expectations many had for him as a first-round pick in 2009, and he has struggled to produce at a high level on a consistent basis.

XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Willie Parker, Steelers
2008: 209 carries for 789 yards and five touchdowns; 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; one fumble in 14 games (38 Fantasy points)
Difference: The emergence of Mendenhall in 2009 ruined Parker's season after leading the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in 2008, and his career was never the same.

Mewelde Moore, Steelers
2008: 140 carries for 588 yards and five touchdowns; 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; one passing touchdown in 16 games (30 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Parker, the emergence of Mendenhall took away Pittsburgh's need for Moore in 2009. He once had potential as a good third-down back, which helped his Fantasy value in PPR leagues.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
2008: 19 carries for 58 yards; 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; three fumbles in 16 games (163 Fantasy points)
Difference: Mendenhall was injured in his rookie season in 2008, but he took over early in 2009 and became a Fantasy star until 2011. We hope he can rebound in 2013, but his early days with the Steelers were impressive.

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

Tim Hightower, Cardinals
2008: 143 carries for 399 yards and 10 touchdowns; 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; four fumbles in 16 games (126 Fantasy points)
Difference: Hightower, despite splitting time with Wells in 2009, had similar stats to his rookie season. He was a versatile running back for his ability to work near the goal line and catch passes. It's too bad he never got the chance to be a full-time starter for 16 games.

XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Brandon Jacobs, Giants
2007: 202 carries for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns; 23 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns; four fumbles in 11 games (131 Fantasy points)
2008: 219 carries for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns; six catches for 36 yards; one fumble in 13 games (190 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jacobs scored three times in the postseason in 2007 and that carried over to his workload in 2008 when he had a career-high 15 touchdowns, which boosted his Fantasy production by 59 points. He hasn't been the same since and his career likely ended in 2012 with the 49ers.

Derrick Ward, Giants
2007: 125 carries for 602 yards and three touchdowns; 26 catches for 179 yards and one touchdown; one fumble in eight games (85 Fantasy points)
2008: 182 carries for 1,025 yards and two touchdowns; 41 catches for 384 yards in 16 games (138 Fantasy points)
Difference: Ward missed the Super Bowl in 2007 after he suffered a broken leg in Week 13, but he came back strong in 2008 as a great complementary option to Jacobs. He has struggled since leaving the Giants and his career is likely over.

Reuben Droughns, Giants
2007: 85 carries for 275 yards and six touchdowns; 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 2007 with Jacobs, Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw all missing time due to injuries, but he didn't play in the postseason and never returned in 2008.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
2007: 23 carries for 190 yards and one touchdown; two catches for 12 yards; one fumble in 12 games (15 Fantasy points)
2008: 67 carries for 355 yards and one touchdown; 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 2008. It took until 2009 for Bradshaw to become Fantasy relevant. He was a star in 2010 and 2011 for the Giants and Fantasy owners.

Laurence Maroney, Patriots
2007: 185 carries for 835 yards and six touchdowns; 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 2008 and he appeared to fall out of favor with coach Bill Belichick until a resurgence in the middle of 2009. The Patriots traded Maroney to Denver in 2010 and his career is now over.

Sammy Morris, Patriots
2007: 85 carries for 384 yards and three touchdowns; 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; one fumble in 13 games (114 Fantasy points)
Difference: Morris did well as an injury replacement for Maroney in 2008 when he had a career high in carries. Once Maroney returned in 2009, Morris went back to being a reserve and special teams contributor.

Kevin Faulk, Patriots
2007: 62 carries for 265 yards; 47 catches for 383 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (54 Fantasy points)
2008: 83 carries for 507 yards and three touchdowns; 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 2008, which was the reason for his 66-point increase in Fantasy production. Faulk remained a solid contributor in 2009, but he suffered a knee injury in 2010 and was never the same before retiring in 2011.

XLI: Colts 29, Bears 17
Joseph Addai, Colts
2006: 226 carries for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns; 40 catches for 325 yards and one touchdown; two fumbles in 16 games (169 Fantasy points)
2007: 261 carries for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns; 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 2007, 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 2006, Addai had more than 300 carries, including the playoffs.

Dominic Rhodes, Colts
2006: 187 carries for 641 yards and five touchdowns; 36 catches for 251 yards; three fumbles in 16 games (98 Fantasy points)
2007: 75 carries for 302 yards and one touchdown; 11 catches for 70 yards; one fumble in 10 games (28 Fantasy points)
Difference: Rhodes left the Colts for the Raiders in 2007 and he couldn't come close to his success in Indianapolis. Rhodes resurfaced with the Colts in 2010, but his career bottomed out soon after.

Thomas Jones, Bears
2006: 296 carries for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns; 36 catches for 154 yards; one fumble in 16 games (154 Fantasy points)
2007: 310 carries for 1,119 yards and one touchdown; 28 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (129 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jones left the Bears for the Jets in 2007 and he had a resurgence for Fantasy owners. His lack of touchdowns hurt his value in 2007, but he was a star in 2008 and 2009. He went to Kansas City in 2010, which was his last productive year in the NFL.

Cedric Benson, Bears
2006: 157 carries for 647 yards and six touchdowns; 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; two fumbles in 11 games (85 Fantasy points)
Difference: Benson didn't take advantage of becoming the full-time starter in 2007 and he didn't become a quality Fantasy option until going to Cincinnati in 2008. He had a great season in 2009 and played well in 2010 and 2011. He started 2012 with the Packers before suffering a foot injury, and his future in the NFL is now in question unless he signs with a team as a free agent.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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