Isaiah Crowell has never been a particularly exciting player. But he's been better than you might think, averaging 4.3 yards per carry for his career and going over 1,000 total yards twice for a bad Browns team. But his Oakland season is over before it began: he tore his Achilles at a workout yesterday, and is done for the year.
Obviously, nobody in fantasy leagues was going to be selecting Crowell before Oakland first-rounder Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has more of an all-around game and was a realistic candidate to win the starting job anyway, shunting Crowell into a short-yardage or backup role. But now it looks pretty much certain that Jacobs will be the No. 1, Jalen Richard will pick up some passing down snaps, and just maybe 2018 preseason darling Chris Warren will be assured of a roster spot, if not more.
Warren, some may recall, was an undrafted free agent running back who looked very good for Oakland last preseason. Then he suffered a knee injury that got him placed on IR for the season. But Jon Gruden said "He'll be a guy worth keeping an eye on next year," and now he's one step closer to having an inside running role. Perhaps Oakland's Damien Harris to Jacobs? That might be too optimistic.
Gruden says a lot of things, many of which can be safely ignored. But Warren led the league in rushing last preseason. Does that production mean anything? Warren was undrafted, but flashed some ability in college at Texas and was a combine invite. (Where he proceeded to run a 4.69; hmm.)
I took a look at preseason rushing numbers from the last 10 years. In the table, all running backs who went over 175 yards in August are shown.
|PRESEASON RUSHING LEADERS, 2009-2018|
|2010||Anthony Dixon, S.F.||74||300||4.1||4|
|2018||Chris Warren, Oak.||58||292||5.0||2|
|2012||William Powell, Ariz.||42||249||5.9||3|
|2014||Lorenzo Taliaferro, Balt.||65||243||3.7||1|
|2010||Michael Bennett, Oak.||54||236||4.4||0|
|2011||Kendall Hunter, S.F.||35||231||6.6||1|
|2013||Khiry Robinson, N.O.||49||228||4.7||0|
|2016||Mack Brown, Wash.||39||227||5.8||1|
|2018||Ryan Nall, Chi.||32||223||7.0||1|
|2013||Jordan Todman, Jac.||29||223||7.7||2|
|2016||Derrick Henry, Tenn.||34||216||6.4||3|
|2013||Joseph Randle, Dall.||55||215||3.9||1|
|2011||Da'Rel Scott, NYG||14||213||15.2||2|
|2014||Joe Banyard, Minn.||36||212||5.9||0|
|2014||Rashad Jennings, NYG||35||212||6.1||1|
|2012||Rashad Jennings, Jac.||47||209||4.4||0|
|2012||Nate Eachus, K.C.||34||206||6.1||1|
|2013||Christine Michael, Sea.||40||201||5.0||1|
|2010||Cedric Peerman, Cin.||31||201||6.5||3|
|2016||Rob Kelley, Wash.||38||198||5.2||1|
|2018||John Kelly, LAR||46||197||4.3||3|
|2018||Mike Boone, Minn.||49||195||4.0||1|
|2016||Elijhaa Penny, Ariz.||49||195||4.0||1|
|2014||Andre Williams, NYG||38||195||5.1||2|
|2012||Alfred Morris, Wash.||39||195||5.0||1|
|2011||Armond Smith, Clev.||31||192||6.2||2|
|2017||Corey Grant, Jac.||22||191||8.7||1|
|2014||Jeremy Hill, Cin.||41||190||4.6||0|
|2011||Ryan Mathews, S.D.||24||187||7.8||2|
|2012||Justin Forsett, Hou.||29||185||6.4||2|
|2015||Zach Zenner, Det.||35||183||5.2||2|
|2010||Jonathan Dwyer, Pitt.||39||183||4.7||1|
|2017||Cameron Artis-Payne, Car.||28||180||6.4||3|
|2010||Jackie Battle, K.C.||35||180||5.1||1|
|2014||Fozzy Whittaker, Car.||43||179||4.2||2|
|2013||David Wilson, NYG||24||179||7.5||1|
|2015||Jarryd Hayne, S.F.||25||175||7.0||0|
|2011||Jonathan Dwyer, Pitt.||37||175||4.7||1|
I see a handful of players from the list who went on to have significant seasons, if not careers. Alfred Morris stands out as a guy who caught our eye in the preseason and went on to have some good years. Another Washington back, Rob Kelley, also had his moments.
There are also some early picks who did well in August and continued when the games counted. Jeremy Hill, Derrick Henry, Ryan Mathews. It happens.
Bad break for Crowell, but maybe this will be opportunity Warren needs to carve out a decent role in the offense.