Backfield committees can be one of the most frustrating and confusing situations in fantasy football. Just ask anyone who owned Willis McGahee last season.
Well, it appears that another team, the Dallas Cowboys, will use multiple backs in their offense in 2009. But unlike the Broncos, Raiders and Ravens, the Cowboys will have set roles for Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice in what could be their version of the New York Giants’ “Earth, Wind and Fire.”
“If a guy can play and help your team in a certain role, you want to utilize him,” coach Wade Phillips told the Dallas Morning News. “Not only for the team but also for the overall morale of the team that, ‘Hey, I’ve got this role and I can help the team win,’ instead of just sitting on the bench all of the time. They practice better. Everything, the chemistry of the team is better when more players contribute. I think we have that at running back.”
Owner Jerry Jones has made it clear that he prefers to see Barber in the “closer” role, so Jones could open next season as the top back on the depth chart. Choice, the third member of this trio, would also see some work in certain sets.
Jones did miss much of his rookie season with an injured toe, but he averaged a ridiculous 8.9 yards per carry before suffering the ailment. He’s lightning fast and a real playmaker for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who could use the Wildcat formation at times to enhance the talents of Jones and Choice.
But unlike most committee situations, where the projected top back on the depth chart is also the most desirable in fantasy circles, Jones will be more of a middle-round selection as a reserve or potential flex starter.
Choice showed some immense skill late last season with Barber and Jones both hurt, putting up terrific numbers against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens and Eagles. Those four teams finished among the league’s best in rush defense.
However, Choice will likely see the fewest touches of the three backs and should still be seen as more of a late-round flier, at best.
The most valuable option in Big D will remain Barber, who scored a combined 28 touchdowns as the team’s late-game and goal-line runner from 2006-2008. “The Barbarian” isn’t your average power back — he’s also a talented receiver, hauling in a combined 96 receptions over the last two seasons.
That combination of rushing and receiving skills, not to mention his role near the goal line, makes Barber a first-round selection in most drafts.
So while most committees are enough to make fantasy leaguers pull out their hair, the one in Dallas should be more predictable and easier to manage.