In the most recent Sports Illustrated (or at least the last one I received), Lions running back Kevin Jones is rated as the 24th best running back (not 24th best player) in their Fantasy Football preview. Among the people that he's rated behind are Tatum Bell, Cadillac Williams, Clinton Portis, J.J. Arrington, Cedric Benson, Warrick Dunn, Marshall Faulk, Ronnie Brown, and Lamont Jordan.
Since I'm not getting paid to speak on KJ's behalf, nor have I been given permission to do so, I'm essentially K. Jones' public defender. I'll do what I can but my budget is far less than that of Sports Illustrated's high-priced defense team.
Ok, I could simply proclaim that K. Jones deserves to be rated much higher but that wouldn't be fun. I could also say that Yahoo! has K. Jones rated as the 24th best player in the whole league but that wouldn't be fun either. I could even point out that the K. Jones had a very good rookie season with a crappy offense and that for the first time in years, the Lions passing game should take pressure off of the running game. I could also remind everyone that Mooch is one of the most conservative coaches in football who single handily resurrected Garrison Hearst's career.
Instead, I'll have a pretend, one-sided conversation with SI.
"Tatum Bell plays for Denver. What do we know about Denver's running back situation? There are four guys in the running every year. Someone inevitably gets hurt. Mike Anderson is always one injury away from getting a chance to add to his one 1,500 yard season. Quentin Griffin will get carries. Maurice Clarett will somehow be worked in the mix. They even signed Ron Dayne. Let me just ask this question, does anyone feel safe picking Tatum Bell in the first round of their draft? If I ended up with Tatum Bell in the first round, I think I'd start crying. I'm not kidding.
Cadillac Williams is a rookie. Not only is he a rookie, but he's coming into a situation where the incumbent from last season, Michael Pittman, had a career year. Pittman was a huge pickup for many fantasy owners last year. Even if Cadillac is a good rb, do you really think Jon Gruden will give him enough carries to make him worth taking ahead of Kevin Jones? Williams and Pittman will split carries. Like Bell, if I took Cadillac Williams in the first round, I'd probably light myself on fire.
Clinton Portis? Did SI even pay attention to last season? The Redskins had no offense whatsoever. No passing game. No running game. Portis is a shifty runner. Joe Gibbs has a pound-it-out offensive philosophy. That's like oil and water. They just don't mix. I took Portis pretty high last year and I'll probably get over it sometime next year.
J.J. Arrington. Ok, now we're just getting silly. I like Arrington. He was a good pick for the Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals. That's the team that's never had anyone good in the history of the franchise. I was in middle school when Buddy Ryan became the head coach of the Cardinals. I loved the Eagles "46" defense so I immediately became a Cardinals fan. They had Eric Swan and Clyde Simmons. A bunch of guys came over from Philly. I thought the Arizona Cardinals era had begun. So, I bought a hat. I still own this hat and I have to look at it everyday. I swear it laughs at me everytime I walk by. FYI-The best player that has ever played for the Cardinals was Rod Tidwell. Tidwell of course is really Cuban Gooding Jr. Yes, the greatest player in Arizona Cardinal history is from a movie. So, go ahead and take Arrington in the first or second round, I dare you!
Cedric Benson. Take everything I said about Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman and apply it here. Benson is good. So is Thomas Jones. Both will get carries. I guess what I'm learning here is that SI prefers running back by committee situations over a bonified starting running back.
Warrick Dunn. Dude. This is just getting absurd. Dunn and Duckett. Running back by committee? For the what seems like the tenth straight year, Dunn will "supposedly" be the feature back. And for the tenth straight year, I'm going to stop eating at so many buffets.
Marshall Faulk. Ok, now we're bypassing the whole running back by committee thing and putting BACKUPS in front of Kevin Jones. Stephen Jackson will get the bulk of the carries in St. Louis. Faulk has accepted a lesser role in the offense. Even worse than K. Jones being 24th, S. Jackson is 28th! SI has St. Louis' backup running back ranked ahead of St. Louis' starting running back. I like SI. They have interesting articles that delve into subjects most sports enterprises don't want to cover. However, I feel that this fantasy preview is stealing brain cells from me.
Ronnie Brown. Ricky Williams? Here's my question, did SI put all these names in a hat and pick at random?
Lamont Jordan. I like Lamont Jordan. He's a good, hard runner. How many years has he been a primary back? Here's a hint, it's the same amount of years I've played in the NFL.
So, anyone who's planning on using SI's fantasy football guide for their draft, I've got a league I'm starting up that I'd like you to join."
I'm sure one or two of these guys will have a breakout season and do more than anyone expected. That's no justification for slighting a very talented running back on a very talented offense playing for a run first coach. KJ is easily a top 15 fantasy back and I'd even put him in the top 12. However, he's not even the worst rated running back on the list. SI has Brian Westbrook rated 26th!!!! Westbrook had over 1,500 total yards and nine touchdowns last year. He also had 73 receptions! Are there really 25 running backs in the league that are better than that? Like I said, I like SI but now I'm expecting them to have Chris Dudley as the #3 center in the NBA preview (yes, Dudley retired).