How Concerned Should Owners Be About His Foot?
Now that Ahmad Bradshaw has been activated from the PUP list, this is an appropriate time to revisit my analysis regarding Bradshaw, which originally was published in July. When the Colts signed him to a one-year contract on June 11, they instantly had a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, who could be employed with their other dangerous weapons. A proven yardage producer, who could improve the team in several different areas, as a result of his multiple skills. But, they also added a RB who was in a walking boot at the time, following yet another surgical procedure. That is hardly the preferred scenario for a franchise when they sign a new RB. And it appeared from here that the acquisition that Indianapolis had made was definitely worth the risk involved. Which remains the case today, although there is now an additional layer of concern, since Bradshaw experienced that temporary placement on the PUP list. While that news was not particularly shocking when it occurred, it did provide sufficient incentive to reassess Bradshaw’s value.
However, it is important to avoid overreaction, as Bradshaw's track record of issues with his problematic feet, also include his ability to overcome them. He has traditionally managed to remain in the lineup amidst pain, and this is hardly the first time that his ability to practice has been impacted. His history of perseverance throughout his career should also relieve concerns from owners. During his six seasons in New York, Bradshaw’s career undertook a slow but steady ascension from being a third string back, into becoming the starter. Bradshaw spent his first two years firmly entrenched on the depth chart behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. This limited him to barely 10% of the touches that were distributed within the trio during that time. Bradshaw’s touches expanded to 44% in 2010, and he demonstrated what his capabilities were with the additional playing time. After beginning the year with career totals of 90 carries, 545 rushing yards, and two touchdowns; he generated his best season by a considerable degree, rushing for 778 yards, and seven TDs, on 163 carries. His 21 receptions and 207 receiving yards were both fifth highest on the team.
The following season, he started 11 contests, and was allotted by far the most carries of his tenure (276). As a result, he experienced his most productive year, and established a new career high by amassing 1,235 yards. He also enjoyed his best season as a receiver, garnering 47 receptions for 314 yards. It is not a coincidence that 2010 was also the only year in which he has managed to perform in all 16 regular season contests. While the lingering foot issues sidelined him for a combined six games in 2011-2012, he did surpass 1,000 yards again last season (1,015).
A History Of Chronic Foot Injuries
Despite his proven production, the persistent foot and ankle problems, and the subsequent surgeries that temporarily resolved them led to his release by the Giants on February 6. And have supplied the basis for concern among many fantasy owners when assessing his chances of success this season. The specific list of ailments that have involved his feet and ankles includes the most recent surgical procedure that occurred in January. A screw was replaced in his right foot at that time, which is why he is currently in recovery mode while training camp proceeds without him. Ongoing questions regarding his health were instrumental in the decision by New York’s decision makers to draft David Wilson in 2012, and the plan to now elevate the second-year back into the feature back role during the 2013 season.
Conversely, the Colts did not possess a runner with Wilson's potential last season. Which required them to search outside the existing roster to rectify their deficiencies at RB. They ranked just 22nd in rushing last season. And the absence of lack of a dominant rusher forced Andrew Luck to execute a predominant percentage of the heavy lifting in order for the offense to succeed. Bradshaw’s shifty running style not only provides a sizable upgrade for the rushing attack, but he will relieve pressure on their young signal caller in the process. Plus, he is a proficient receiver, and an excellent pass protector. All of which should help keep Bradshaw on the field for an extensive amount of snaps. Providing that his problematic feet will cooperate.
Comparing Bradshaw To Ballard
Bradshaw’s primary competitor for RB touches will be second-year back Vick Ballard. Even though he did lead the Colts in rushing last season, Ballard did not demonstrate the same ability that Bradshaw has exhibited as a runner or receiver. Ballard accumulated 814 yards on 211 attempts, and his 3.9 YPC average does not compare favorably with Bradshaw’s career average of 4.6. Ballard also was not heavily utilized as a receiver, managing just 17 receptions for 152 yards, while Bradshaw has averaged 33 catches for 258 yards during the past four seasons. Ballard will still have a role in the offense. But his best case scenario when Bradshaw is in the lineup, would be to collect around one third of the carries, similar to the percentage that Brandon Jacobs did while backing up Bradshaw in 2010. If Bradshaw is forced to overcome additional foot problems, Ballard's workload would expand considerably.
Where You Should Draft Him
Any hesitation by owners toward embracing Bradshaw's is understandable to a certain extent, based upon his foot issues, and his recent tenure on the PUP list. However, the fact remains that he possesses an array of skills which surpass those of Ballard. His track record of production demonstrates his superiority as a runner. He has established his prowess as a receiver, and should be a reliable target for Luck. Plus, he handles pass blocking responsibilities extremely well. Even though there is potential for further health issues, Bradshaw is only 27-years old. And his age, and his career YPC both compare quite favorably to a collection of RBs that you will be considering for your rosters during upcoming drafts. His overall versatility cannot be emphasized enough, and all of those attributes will keep him on the field... if he can avoid more impactful injuries. His status should be monitored as the preseason progresses. But as of now, I still recommend that you grab Bradshaw late in Round 6 if you are presented with the opportunity. While that is earlier than his current ADP of 89, proven yardage producers at RB are extremely critical. Then, also protect your investment by securing Ballard near the close of Round 8 while he remains available. Then you will reap the benefits of Bradshaw’s abilities when he can perform, yet also possess a viable backup plan in case there are any contests in which he cannot.