goodson2

Ahh, this feels better.

With the frenzy of the frenzy that is free agency fading somewhat (at least for a day), I’ve had an opportunity to take inventory, and begin to assess the fantasy implications of the shuffling and signing we saw over the past week. We dabbled in this a bit during the opening week of the NFL’s free market feeding, but with the pace slowing to a few signings a day now instead of a few every minute, the post free agency fantasy chatter can pick up around these here parts.

So logically, that’s led to far too many words about Mike Goodson. Fantasy nerd-ism has made its triumphant return.

Goodson was signed by the Jets to a three-year contract worth $6.9 million, and he’ll now compete for carries with Bilal Powell and to a much lesser extent Joe McKnight while replacing the departed Shonn Greene. That’s a competition he should win easily after he’s been buried in platoons his entire career (in Carolina and Oakland), and when that becomes evident in early August, the fantasy intrigue around Goodson will grow.

The appeal lies in his slashing and edge speed. He had two runs of 40 yards or more this past season, his first and only season with the Raiders (two 43 yarders). Yes, that inflates his impressive per carry rushing average on the season (6.3), meaning the immediate guarded reaction will be to call those runs outliers, and ban them to a death in hell.

And often, I’d agree with you if that’s your impulse, because those who put far too much stock in statistical outliers are usually destined for that fiery death. But to play the other side of that logic, Goodson still had to run for those 43 yards…twice, and he also added receptions of 64 and 37 yards despite getting only 51 touches, furthering his big play potential. He recorded those runs and catches, and it’s unfair to take them away from him just because he didn’t explode as often otherwise. The lack of other counting stats is out of Goodson’s control (he has to be given the ball to run with it).

To put Goodson’s 2012 chunk yardage into the best, most warm and fuzzy context, just take a little gander at how many other 40+ yard runs happened in the NFL in 2012. There were five players with more 40-yard runs than Goodson, and their names were Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson, and Jamaal Charles (Peterson led with eight). Combined those backs received an average of 287 carries on the season, and Goodson finished with only 35 carries. Seriously, just 35 carries, and that’s all he needed for two 40 yarders. Outlier that.

There’s a bit of a precedent for this kind of burst too, as back in 2010 with the Panthers, Goodson played a larger but still very limited role alongside DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, receiving 103 carries while also recording 40 receptions. Yet even with that minimal workload, he still turned seven of those touches into gains of at least 20 yards.

The possibility for more slashing in a larger role is supported when we look at the entirety of Goodson’s career (four seasons and 40 games), and see an average of 4.5 yards per carry. He could lose touches to Powell, and maybe Running Back X who’s brought in through the draft. Also, I’ll readily admit that there is indeed an outlier element here, and putting too much emphasis on the potential for more booming, long runs into green grass with an increase in touches leads to a much darker potential: the potential for sadness.

But if we assume that Goodson enters next season as the lead back in a platoon at worst, no one’s telling you to buy high. He’s a cheap, late round, low-risk buy. Thus is the nature of the sleeper. They sleep, and then in the dying rounds of your draft when it’s time to consider quality depth and flex value, you wake them.

You could do a lot worse in the search for such a running back. Like, say, Shonn Greene.