With the 2014 Fantasy Football season fast approaching, it's time to take a look at several NFL backfields that were shaken up this past free agency period. While some players remained safe atop the depth charts like Ravens RB Ray Rice and Texans RB Arian Foster, despite questionable play in 2013, there are a few running backs who should be looking over their shoulder come training camp.
Darren McFadden's status as the Raiders' top tailback has been on thin ice for years now. Rashad Jennings pushed for more playing time last season and even FB Marcel Reece has been given a chance to shine due to DMC's various ailments throughout his career. This year, McFadden faces his toughest task in the form of Maurice Jones-Drew. McFadden may have been given another chance in Oakland after signing a one-year deal in March, but MJD has an excellent shot at making this one of the more even committees in the league. MJD may have worn out his welcome in Jacksonville, but he'll be looking to take over starting duties some time this season. McFadden should start Week One. However, he has yet to play an entire 16-game schedule. MJD now makes this situation avoidable.
New York Jets
The Jets giving up a 4th-round draft pick to the Saints for Chris Ivory last year seems like a distant memory now. I am sure had they had known Chris Johnson would be on the chopping block "this" year, they could have used that pick elsewhere. Ivory actually didn't play that bad in 2013, given the fact that the Jets were one of the worst offenses in the league. He averaged a very healthy 4.6 yards per carry, but he only averaged a little over 12 carries a game and was a non-factor in the passing game. Johnson signed a fairly beefy 2 year/8 million dollar deal, which makes me think he will be more than "just" a backup to Ivory. Johnson has rushed for over 1000 yards in all 6 years of his career, but his pass-catching ability will help him push Ivory for playing time. With Michael Vick in as the starter (you really think Geno Smith will pass him?), the Jets have a much better offense. At least better than last season. For now, it looks like Ivory will be in on first and second down plays, with Johnson playing on all passing downs. Like the Raiders' situation, this could easily change if Johnson shows he still has something left.
My prediction that Lamar Miller would be one of 2013's top sleepers failed miserably. With a meager 44.3 rushing yards per game and 2 rushing touchdowns, Miller turned out to be a flop. Miller's value for 2014 doesn't look any rosier with last year's surprise Knowshon Moreno signed on under a one-year deal. This is a tricky situation because unlike MJD and Chris Johnson, Moreno really only has one good year of quality play under his belt (discounting his rookie season). Did everything finally click for Moreno? Or was his first 1000 yard season due to the fact that there were too many guys for defenses to keep track of on the Broncos offense? Either way, Moreno gets a legitimate shot at proving last year was no fluke. Miller also gets some strong competition after battling fellow dud Daniel Thomas last season. Miller seems to be penciled in as the starter at the moment, but his grasp on the starting job is anything but secure. Even if Moreno doesn't put in the numbers he did last year, he's versatile enough to play on running and passing downs. Making this another situation to avoid.