We’re living in strange times. Colin Kaepernick could win fantasy leagues, Charlie Batch will likely complete a pass to Plaxico Burress this week, and an intoxicated man with weird hair is telling Canadian children that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Don’t listen to him, kids. Believe.
And today in your deep search for value on the waiver wire you’ll encounter another oddity. Bilal Powell has returned, and suddenly there’s common sense in the Jets’ backfield.
Powell has been used sporadically this year as Shonn Greene clings to his existence. His usage spiked when he had 10 carries in Week 3 for 45 yards, a win over Miami in which Greene had 40 yards on 19 carries. Yes, that’s five more yards for Powell on nine fewer carries. No, that didn’t seem to make any difference to Rex Ryan in the following weeks, as in his four games prior to Week 11 (he missed weeks 7 and 8 with an injury), Powell received a combined 11 carries.
Greene, meanwhile, has remained mediocre, with his 161 yards and three rushing touchdowns in Week 6 a monumental outlier. He’s had only two starts in which he’s met the definition of an average running back and logged more than four yards per carry, leading to an overall YPC of 3.7.
That’s why finally and mercifully Ryan is now leaning more towards a rotation after Greene had 18 carries to Powell’s 11 during the Jets’ win over St. Louis this past Sunday. Here’s what he said today:
“I think it is the ideal scenario for us because we have three very capable backs,” Ryan said. “Instead of just throwing one guy in there all the time to take all the hits and all the protections and the routes and all that. I think when you have three guys coming in, I think that’s what the league is going to. You don’t have that guy that necessarily does it all every snap anymore the way you used to with a Walter Payton or whatever. You kind of divide that role up. I think for us it’s good.”
When we zap that through our generic coach-speak translator, we get one running back who now has low-end flex value in deep leagues with the likelihood that Powell will get more short yardage and goal-line work, and thus more scoring opportunities after he scored twice in Week 11. And then we get another running back who’s production may be about to decline even further due to his lack of scoring opportunities. Scoring, man, it matters.
Greene has retained a sliver of value due to his scoring, with six touchdowns thus far.That’s a skewed number since half of Greene’s TDs came in that Week 6 outlier, and he’s had seven score-less games while producing minimally as a pass catcher out of the backfield with only 96 receiving yards. Predictably, his scattered scoring has led to another heavily-skewed number: his 95 fantasy points that’s only one point behind Matt Forte.
Powell’s value and usefulness is clearly limited, but he’s now another parachute for the desperate deep league manager as we journey into the dark, frightening stretch drive, and injuries mount. He’ll oppose run defenses that have currently allowed a combined 23 rushing touchdowns (Tennessee and Jacksonville), and his moderate value could increase even more for those in leagues where the playoffs extend to Week 17. That’s when he’ll run against the improved but still highly vulnerable Bills front seven, a unit that leads the league with 16 rushing touchdowns allowed.