Amid the many signings that have emerged since free agency commenced earlier this week, Mike Goodson firmly achieved status as a fantasy football sleeper, after agreeing to a three-year, $6.9 million contract with the Jets. The deal occurred two days after former starter Shonn Greene was signed to a three-year contract with the Titans, and sizably increased Goodson's viability as a fantasy option.
Greene led the Jets in rushing in 2012 with 1,063 yards, and crossed the goal line eight times. However, he could hardly be considered a threat to generate big plays. It required 276 carries for Green to attain that yardage, and his 3.9 YPC average was just 27th among all RBs. Even though the Jets did rank 12th overall in rushing offense last season, that was derived primarily from the sheer volume of Greene’s carries. Their 3.8 YPC average as a team placed them a mere 23rd in the NFL, and underscored their need to secure a rusher who possessed the ability to generate big plays.
That created the appeal of securing Goodson, who was selected by Carolina in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent three years with the Panthers, then was traded to Oakland before the 2012 regular season. He now delivers much needed speed, versatility, and receiving skills to the Jets, which provides him with a legitimate chance to secure a significant role with the team.
Goodson was acquired to serve as the RB2 for the Raiders last season. But his numbers were negatively impacted by a high ankle sprain, which forced him from the lineup after only two carries in Week 9, and kept him sidelined until Week 15. As a result, he only garnered 35 carries during the season. However, Goodson did accrue an impressive 6.3 YPC in his limited role. But even though he would encounter great difficulty matching that output if he garnered a sizable number of touches, he will supply more big play potential than Greene was capable of manufacturing.
Not only did Greene register just two runs in excess of 20 yards last season, but Jet backs as a unit only managed four rushes of 20+ yards throughout the entire season. Conversely, Goodson accumulated three runs of over 20 yards in 2012, despite having considerably less opportunities to generate yardage.
In addition to supplying some much needed burst to the Jets’ running game, Goodson's combination of skills should enhance a passing game that ranked a paltry 30th in 2012. He produced 195 yards on just 16 catches last season, and amassed 310 yards on 40 receptions in 2010. Meanwhile, Greene was not a factor in the Jets’ severely challenged aerial attack, as he only collected 19 receptions for 151 yards. Yet, those minimal numbers still enabled him to lead all Jet backs in both categories.
All of which makes Goodson a reasonable candidate to seize the Jets’ RB1 slot, although third-year back Bilal Powell might also have an opportunity to ascend into that position. However, Powell’s effectiveness was not significantly higher than Greene’s last season, as he managed 437 yards on 110 carries (4.0 YPC).
Goodson's stock rises further, if new HC Marty Mornhinweg decides to employ a zone blocking scheme within his version of the west coach offense. He was more comfortable with the adaptation of the ZBS than former teammate Darren McFadden, during former Raider OC Greg Knapp's ill-fated attempt to implement it during the 2012 season.
It is noteworthy that Goodson was very effective in three games as a starter for Carolina in 2010, after DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were sidelined with injuries. He gained an even 400 total yards during those contests, although he did cough up four fumbles in the process.
As of this writing, fantasy owners should consider him to be a legitimate sleeper. If your draft occurs before the preseason contests begin, he is worthy of a late round selection. But if he emerges as the team’s top RB by late summer, then he should be selected within the middle rounds.