Will Cowboys use backfield committee in 2009?

(Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

When the Dallas Cowboys let Julius Jones leave as a free agent last season, the move was supposed to mean a greater level of statistical success for Marion Barber.

Instead, it turned out to be a detriment.

Barber saw decreases in rushing yards and touchdowns compared to his 2007 numbers, and an injured toe hurt his numbers down the stretch. He also saw his yards-per-carry average tumble from 4.8 to 3.7, which was the lowest of his NFL career.

While in a committee situation with Jones from 2006-2007, however, Barber scored 28 total touchdowns as the Cowboys’ goal-line and late-game runner.

Only the great LaDainian Tomlinson had more visits to the end zone in that time.

The fact that Barber broke down at the end of his first season as a featured runner means that he could return to his “closer role” in 2009. Looking at his past, Barber has been more of a committee runner going back to his collegiate days at Minnesota when he shared the workload with Laurence Maroney.

Now he’ll split at least some of the carries with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

Jones is a versatile and explosive back who can score anytime he touches the football. Choice showed immense playmaking skills late in his rookie season, totaling a combined 424 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, Giants and Ravens in consecutive weeks.

All three of those defenses were ranked in the top five against the run in 2008.

With three backs on the roster with the talent to be NFL starters, coordinator Jason Garrett needs to find a way to incorporate all of them into the offense. That wouldn’t be such a bad scenario for fantasy leaguers either, as Barber was a more reliable back in his pre-2008 role.

The Giants also showed us all that shared backfields aren’t always statistical death sentences, as Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward both rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2008.

Barber is the unquestioned best fantasy back in Big D and warrants a first-round pick in drafts. Jones will be his best handcuff and could be a decent flex starter in leagues that reward points for return yards and touchdowns.

Choice, who is slated to be third on the depth chart and could see two or three series a game, would be worth more of a late-round flier in larger formats.

Have a burning question for Michael Fabiano on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section below or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com!

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