Ward is a fantasy player to watch this offseason

(Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

(Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

There are several big names scheduled to become free agents this offseason, but the one most likely to leave his current team and make a significant fantasy impact next season is Derrick Ward.

The veteran back showcased his skills to the world last season, rushing for 1,025 yards with an incredible 5.6 yards-per-carry average. That’s the fourth highest average for any running back who has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark since the AFL-NFL merger.

Ward’s numbers are even more impressive when you consider he was the second option in a Giants backfield committee that included Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

If the G-Men retain Jacobs, who’s also slated to become a free agent, chances are that Ward will be in a different uniform in 2009.

Ward will be 29 at the start of next season, but he’s a very young 29 as far as running backs go. He saw a combined 35 carries in his first NFL three seasons and has averaged a mere 153 attempts since 2007, so he’s fresh and has very little wear and tear on his body.

A versatile back, Ward also recorded a career-best 41 receptions for 384 yards last season. That would give him added value in all PPR formats.

While it’s unlikely that he’ll land a true featured role with committees rampant around the league, I think Ward could still be worth as much as a second- or third-round selection if he lands with the right team.

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