Speed Bump 28 - Gore vs Mendenhall vs Turner
Posted Aug. 24 at 02:23 AM
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In magazine rankings or ADP rankings Frank Gore, Rashard Mendenhall and Michael Turner typically rank in succession to one another, sometimes with Steven Jackson mixed in the middle. If you drew a draft slot toward the end of the first round you'll likely be facing the Gore v. Mendenhall V. Turner decision. We present our final running back poll of the 2010 Speed Bump Polls. We've allocated 10 polls to the running back position this year covering a total of 33 running backs.
Coming off his fourth 1000-yard rushing season, Frank Gore reaffirmed his elite status last year with a 1500+ yard season and 13 total TDs. With new HC Mike Singletary the running game looks entrenched, particularly as San Francisco added offense lineman with their two first-round picks in this year's NFL Draft in left guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Anthony Davis. One issue with Frank Gore has been remaining healthy. He missed two games last year, two in 2008 and one in 2007. Also he looks like a good candidate to be spelled more than in years past. On his first 10 attempts of games last season he averaged 5.0 yards per carry. On attempts 11 through 20 he was even stronger averaging 5.5 yards per carry. However on attempts 21 and above Gore only averaged 2.0 yards per carry. In general, Gore was much better in the first half of games averaging 5.5 yards per carry than in the second half at 4.2 yards per carry. It wouldn't be surprising to see the team get rookie Anthony Dixon involved in battering defenses late in games. Additionally, San Francisco has recently signed Brian Westbrook who may steal some of Gore's receiving opportunities.
Entering his third NFL season, Rashard Mendenhall comes into camp as the team's clear number one starting running back after starting 12 games last year. Mendenhall is part of what was a legendary draft class in 2008 including Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones and Matt Forte, amongst several others. In his second season last year Mendenhall rushed for over 1100 yards and had 7 TDs. He also was involved in the passing game collecting 25 receptions and chipping in another 206 yards through the air. Mendenhall had 20+ carries in six games last year and in those games averaged 115 yards rushing per game. He also displayed an ability to be a workhorse running back. Mendenhall averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry, however on attempts 21 and higher in games he averaged 5.5 yards per attempt.
In PPR scoring, as this competition is, some fantasy GM's might shy away from Michael Turner due to his lack of receptions in the past two years as a Falcon (he's caught 11 balls for 76 yards in two seasons). However, Turner has a 1699 rushing yard season on his resume; among active players, only Chris Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams, and Larry Johnson can make that claim. Also, Turner is just one year removed from a 17 TD season. Among active running backs in NFL, the only ones that can make that claim are LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and DeAngelo Williams. Turner went down with an ankle injury last year in week 10 but he was really starting to hit his stride. In week eight at New Orleans he had 20 carries for a buck-fifty and a score; in week nine he followed that up with a 168-yard effort against Washington with 2 TDs. In Week 10 when Turner was injured he already had topped 100 yards on nine carries against Carolina in the first half. All told, Turner was the 34th best RB last year as he missed six games but he is one year removed from being the third best running back in PPR formats despite his limited receptions. As highlighted in a recent Rogue Bit, Atlanta has stated a plan to get Turner more involved in the passing game this season and he has three receptions in limited playing time in the team's two pre-season games thus far.
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