Joseph Addai Isn’t Dead Yet

Yes, Addai burned many of us last season. A consensus top 10 pick he failed to live up to the lofty expectations of being a #1 running back who didn’t have to share carries for the first time in his career. But getting him in the fourth round or beyond as I have seen in numerous mock drafts has “steal” written all over it.

Is it fair to say that durability is a concern with Addai? I don’t think so. To me durability comes into question when a player is injured year in and year out (think Brian Westbrook) not because of one injury plagued year. I know it feels like he has been around longer, but Addai just turned 26 in May, so it is logical to think he is entering his prime.

Addai carried the ball 200+ times in each of his first two seasons (while Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t had one) rushing an average of almost 16 times per game and by comparison, during his injury shortened 2008 campaign he carried it almost 13 times per game. 16 carries per game is on the low end for a starting NFL running back which means he didn’t get hurt because he was carrying too much of a load, he simply got hurt early and wasn’t 100% for the rest of the season.

The one thing Addai did last year when he played was score touchdowns scoring seven of them on 180 touches, or one every 25 touches. That was an increase over year one (one every 33 touches) but was a decrease from year two (one every 20 touches). The 15 touchdowns he scored in 2007 really illustrate how much the Colts favor Addai around the goal line. That year he led the entire NFL with touches inside the red zone (52) which is something to consider now that he is going to be fully healthy again.

The other popular argument regarding Addai’s value is the addition of rookie running back Donald Brown. The skeptics say that adding Brown takes carries away from Addai, thus limiting his value. But the facts are in his three years as a pro, the two years where he shared carries were his most productive.

In his rookie year he didn’t start a single game, playing behind Dominic Rhodes all year. Rhodes was productive (600+ rushing yards, 250+ receiving,36 receptions and five TD) but Addai was better rushing for over 1,000 yards, 320+ receiving yards, 40 receptions and scored eight touchdowns.

In 2007 Addai became the starter but still had another back take almost half of his carries. Kenton Keith had 500+ yards, 70+ receiving yards and four TD. But even with Keith, Addai was again very productive with 1,000+ rushing, 360+ receiving, 40+ receptions and 15 touchdowns.

Also, more touches don’t necessarily mean more production. It’s a long season, and meting out the carries means Addai stays more fresh, and more consistent, over a grueling fantasy football season. Adding Donald Brown does not hurt Addai.

One final point worth mentioning is that the Colts offensive line was banged up for much of the year, as were Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Having an O line with health questions every week limits almost any running back’s production. Having Manning and Harrison injured made things that much more difficult for Addai to have statistical success because the Colts offense as a whole wasn’t having success.

If you can get Addai in round four or beyond, do not hesitate to pull the trigger. I would even be tempted to snag him in round three depending on my roster and the starting requirements of the league.