Marion Barber is done. Completely done as a ball carrier in the NFL. The Bears wasted time and money in bringing in a washed-up Barber as Matt Forte's backup.
This is all I read during the offseason, even before Barber was released by the Cowboys. After putting up a 3.3 ypc average, while dealing with various injuries, Marion the Barbarian's career was expected to come to a close. He had clearly lost his burst and had too much tread on the tires, even at a prime age of 28. The Bears apparently thought differently when they quickly snatched him up. But even afterwards, no one predicted Barber to be anything more than a third down/goal-line back at best.
Two preseason games have changed that outlook.
Through two preseason games, Barber has rushed for 94 yards, averaged 5.1 yards a carry and also showed his pass-catching ability Monday night against the Giants, racking up five receptions for 31 yards. Throw in Matt Forte's slow preseason start and we could be in for a pretty decent year for Barber.
Forte will start Week One and will have a pretty big role early. But if Barber can keep up this pace in Week Three of the preseason, which is a very important week for all starters, Forte's fantasy value could begin to slip. I still have him ranked No. 15 overall in my Running Back Rankings, but I dropped Forte in my Top 50 Offensive Ranking to No. 22.
For owners who have Forte now, I would pick Barber up ASAP. He is starting to look like the real deal again after a change of scenery and is entering must-have handcuff status. For those who have yet to draft, owners will want to keep a close eye on this week's Bears game against the Titans. If Forte falters and Barber puts up one more big game, Forte is definitely going to be falling in both rankings.