With starter Marshawn Lynch suspended for the first three games of next season, the Buffalo Bills have signed Dominic Rhodes to add depth to their backfield.
But does the addition of Rhodes mean a potential committee is on the horizon?
Rhodes, 30, is a former 1,000-yard rusher as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. He also finished in the top 30 among running backs in fantasy points on NFL.com last season, posting 130 points on 45 receptions, 840 scrimmage yards and nine total touchdowns.
Those aren’t the numbers of a third-string runner.
Reports out of Buffalo suggest Rhodes will be allowed a chance to start while Lynch serves his suspension, but the smart money is on Fred Jackson to open 2009 atop the depth chart. A versatile athlete, Jackson recorded 37 receptions, 888 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns last season.
The Bills face the Patriots, Buccaneers and Saints in the first three weeks of their schedule — none of those defenses finished better than 15th against the run in 2008. That will make Jackson a viable flex starter in most fantasy formats, so look for him to come off the board in the middle to late rounds in drafts.
Rhodes will be worth a late-round choice in larger leagues.
The question that faces fantasy owners is what will happen in Week 4, when the Bills have Lynch, Jackson and Rhodes back in the mix.
Lynch is still the clear-cut favorite to start, but I don’t think the Bills will phase Jackson out of the offense if he’s productive in the first three games. It’s also a virtual guarantee that the team will throw the ball more often with Terrell Owens in the pass attack.
That could mean even fewer carries for Lynch.
Overall, the former California standout should still be seen as a No. 2 fantasy back. But with a three-game suspension, the addition of Owens and now Rhodes, Lynch could be a candidate to disappoint in 2009.
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