You’re all familiar with Blair Thomas right?
Well, if you weren’t aware of him, Thomas was a celebrated running back out of Penn State who was drafted by the New York Jets with the second overall pick in 1990.
Thomas’ hype was off the charts (think a modern day Trent Richardson) but he never lived up to his billing, only rushing for 2236 yards and scoring seven touchdowns in six seasons.
When it comes to fantasy, you always want to steer clear of busts (like the infamous Blair Thomas) and in this column I will evaluate three running backs with enough red flags to be considered busts.
Reggie Bush: Miami Dolphins
Prior to a relatively healthy season in 2011, Bush played in 14 games or more just twice in his career.
While Bush should be lauded for the season he is coming off of (1,086 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 296 receiving yards and one touchdown), he has never been a model of consistency. For a Dolphins team in transition and not armed with a lot of weapons at their disposal, opposing teams will be gearing up to stop Bush and he’ll have troubling trying to carry this club.
Plus, with early-round drafts picks Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller also on the roster, the Dolphins will want to eventually want to know what they have in them, and the two of them could cut into Bush’s touches.
You’re playing with fire if you want to rely on Bush as your #2 running back. At best, he is a flex back.
Frank Gore: San Francisco 49ers
There are so many red flags attached to Gore’s name that it would best to stay clear of him this year.
Now 29, Gore seems to slowing down. Although Gore also had a relatively healthy season in 2011, he is usually a good bet to miss a few games.
Gore had 282 carries last year, which is 79 more than the previous year and the most he has had since his second year in the league. The 49ers’ will want to keep Gore fresh for a potential Super Bowl run, so don’t expect him to be the workhorse like he has always been.
With Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James also on the roster, expect Jim Harbaugh to spread the ball around in the 49ers backfield.
Don’t get me wrong, Gore is still the lead back and is worthy of drafting in the middle rounds of drafts, but his load will be severely lessened.
Beanie Wells: Arizona Cardinals
While I don’t want to say that Wells’ career year (1,047 rushing yard and 10 touchdowns) in 2011 was a fluke, the chances of a repeat season appear to be slim.
Prior to being the leading rusher in Arizona last year (and basically getting competition from no one) Wells never separated himself from the pack in the two years he played with Tim Hightower. Now Wells will have Ryan Williams to contend with.
Williams had to sit out his rookie campaign last year due to a ruptured patella tendon but he is ready to open camp, as he is in great shape and eager to compete for playing time alongside Wells.
Now that Wells has a running back that can truly challenge him for touches in the Cardinals’ offense (unlike last year) again, expect a regression to the mean this season.
Wells should be treated as a very low-end No. 2 running back. If you draft Wells, be sure to handcuff him with Williams.
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