Understand that I'm mainly just stirring the pot here, but is it possible that Maroney could wind up being a more valuable fantasy asset in 2006 than in 2007?
From a total points perspective and from a trade bait perspective, he is sure to have more value this year. But in terms of putting him into your lineup and hoping for a double-digit performance, he might have been a better guy to own last season, when he was a rookie in a timeshare.
I know that sounds crazy, but if you look at his game log last year, he was actually a good play so long as he got enough carries. And believe it or not, that wasn't so hard to project. If you throw out the four weeks (13-16) in which Maroney was banged up, he got double-digit carries in all but two games (both on the road, coming out of the bye week). In those 10 games, Maroney tallied 106 fantasy points (in standard scoring leagues), good for a 10.6 per game average. This was due mainly to the fact that his playing time was not situational at all. He just got in there about half the time and played - regardless of field position, down and distance, whatever.
Now, after one game, it looks like he might be destined for Julius Jones territory. Obviously, analysis of this kind is totally premature, but my instinct after the opener is that Maroney is going to be a "between the 20's" running back, while Sammy Morris and Heath Evans combine to give New England a bit of what Marion Barber provides Dallas.
If you look at Julius Jones' game log from 2006, he had 16 games with 10+ carries and wound up with 140 fantasy points, good for an average of 8.75 per game. That is considerably worse than Maroney, provided that both backs were getting at least 10 carries.
In other words, unless it was a deep league with a flex position (where you would rather have 16 games of Jones at 8.75 than 10 games of Maroney at 10.6), you were better off owning Maroney and playing him only when he was healthy.
I'm not suggesting that just because Jones posted those numbers, Maroney is sure to follow. For starters, Maroney is a slightly better back than Jones and is playing on a better team. And conversely, Marion Barber is far better than Sammy Morris. So Maroney will probably get more and better looks this year than Jones did last year. (Although they were near replicas of each other in week one of this season.)
I know that Maroney, if healthy, is likely to rack up more than Jones’ 2006 average of 8.75 points per game and I know that he's also likely to cruise right past his own 10.6 "full game" average from a year ago. Even though the title/intro of the post poses a provocative question, I don't actually think the 2006 version of Maroney is better than the 2007 version. I am also aware that I presented the stats in the light most favorable to my argument (throwing out those two road contests with under 10 carries), but they were meant only to illustrate an important point: that where a back gets his carries seems to be of greater importance than how many he gets. A 1,000-yard rusher stuck moving the sticks between the 20’s (Julius Jones in 2006) has no more value than a part-time guy who gets spot duty all over the field.
I think I saw the former Gopher line up for maybe four red zone snaps on Sunday, which means that the Pats have something else in mind for scoring touchdowns (unless maybe they were just too distracted by their videotaping schemes). And when you consider that Maroney is a fairly weak blocker in blitz pickups, he probably won't play a lot on third downs either. He is running a very serious risk of being used in the exact same fashion Jones was used last year by the Cowboys.
Could be a pretty mediocre year for Maroney.
(On, final point, then I’ll shut it down. Remember when people were praising the Pats for taking Maroney in the 2006 Draft, because they supposedly foiled the Colts by taking “Indy’s guy”? I’m not sure that worked out too well, considering that Addai is a better runner, receiver, and blocker (by a wide margin). Either Indy got really lucky, or they pulled some kind of bait and switch to trick New England into thinking they wanted Maroney when really they wanted Addai all along. Nobody ever seems to bring this up, but it is kind of fascinating.)
Posted by Adam Hoff at 9/13/2007 10:33:00 PM