If you’d like to know why nearly every summer there’s a prominent player holding out from training camp as he seeks a new contract or an extension (this summer will likely be an exception, but last year Maurice Jones-Drew did what he had to do in Jacksonville), the latest example is one Ahmad Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is still a free agent here in early June, even though he had a fine 2012 season. He rushed for 1,015 yards while adding 245 more through the air, and he scored six times. His season was highlighted by a 200-yard game on the ground against the Browns in Week 5 when he averaged 6.7 yards per carry. He’s pretty good.
Yet here he is, reaching for summer scraps. Age isn’t his problem, as it is with so many other fading running backs. Bradshaw isn’t young for a running back at 27, but he’s not old either.
No, frequent breaking is his problem. More generally then, being a football player is his problem.
Bradshaw has fractured his right foot multiple times, which has in turn resulted in multiple procedures, and a rather large screw. His most recent procedure took place in late January, and it required a recovery time of eight weeks.
Teams usually don’t take kindly to running backs with foreign objects in their foot, which is why Bradshaw has had to wait so long before receiving interest. But now the team expressing said interest is a little problematic for fantasy purposes. It seems Bradshaw doesn’t have our concerns foremost in mind.
The team in question is reportedly the Colts, according to ProFootballTalk. Bradshaw is visiting their fine facilities today, where he’ll surely be subjected to Jim Irsay quoting obscure Peal Jam Lyrics. If he signs it’ll be unfortunate, because Vick Ballard.
Ballard’s 2012 production was limited somewhat by his time share with Donald Brown, as he finished with 211 carries to Brown’s 108. That, along with some crappy plodding, contributed to his seven games with 40 yards or less on the ground, which sucked.
But the hope for fine value with Ballard lies in his late-season performances with Brown injured. Ballard was the featured back starting in Week 14, and then over the next five games including the playoffs he averaged 87.4 rushing yards per game, which included three games with 90 or more yards.
After that run Ballard was named the Colts’ starting running back, with the tether to Brown severed. Hopes heightened, and although we’re all abundantly aware that he’s still Vick Ballard and he’ll still therefore plod and hack away often, we care little about his YPC if he can still accumulate yardage with a high workload. And we care even less if he can do it as a fifth round fantasy pick (his current ADP at Fantasy Football Calculator is 51.7). That’s far behind, say, the brittle mess that is DeMarco Murray (27.7), and getting any featured back that late is a fine and noble investment.
Now Bradshaw’s presence could dash our hopes and dreams, showing once again that coaches and general managers who seek to win football games with efficient roster construction care little about our fantasy aspirations. With the lack of pounding he can sustain, Bradshaw isn’t a No. 1 running back. And with his frequent nothingness YPC and plodding, Ballard isn’t a No. 1 running back either. But together, they’re a No. 1 running back, presumably named ViMad Ballshaw.