Back in 2010, Green-Ellis had a breakout year with 229 rushing attempts for 1,008 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, all of which are still career highs.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of those three numbers is the 229 carries he had that season. Since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, there have been only three players (and a total of five times) that a running back has reached the 200-carry threshold.
The other two players, Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon, had those four seasons from 2001 to 2005. In other words, The Law Firm's 2010 season was the exception to the rule over the past several years.
Despite averaging double-digit carries and having a career-high 27 against the Jets last year, Green-Ellis also had single-digit carries in seven games last season. Furthermore, he finished one-quarter (four) of his games with five or less carries.
While Green-Ellis should get more carries than the 181 he had last season, he should also have fewer games with single-digit carries. That said, he won't necessarily be a workhorse back in the mold of Cedric Benson (895 carries in past three seasons).
Green-Ellis should get the larger share of the workload, but backfield mate Bernard Scott expects to get his fair share as well. Back in June, Scott said, “I know I can get the ball 15 to 20 times a game...when the opportunity comes, I'll take advantage of it” (via cincinnati.com).
If Scott is the team's third-down and change-of-pace back, Green-Ellis will keep his familiar short-yardage and goal-line roles he had in New England. In the past two seasons combined, Green-Ellis has a total of 24 rushing touchdowns.
With the exception of Houston's Arian Foster (26), no other player has more rushing touchdowns in the past two years combined than Green-Ellis. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson are tied for second with Green-Ellis during that span.
Not only has he been a touchdown-scoring machine, he has never fumbled in his career. No fumbles, lost or not, in 510 career regular-season carries for The Law Firm.
In an offense not nearly as high powered as New England's, however, it's probably safe to assume that there will be fewer goal-line carries available for him.
If those opportunities are diminished, that limits his fantasy upside.
(Strength of) Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed to running backs last year by all of the Bengals' opponents this year, Green-Ellis and the Bengals' RBs have the 10th-most difficult schedule from a fantasy perspective. They also have the 13th-most difficult schedule in the fantasy postseason (Weeks 14-16).
Playing in the AFC North means that the Bengals have to face the historically tough run defenses of the Steelers and Ravens four times per year. Unfortunately, the Bengals face the Steelers in Week 16, the Championship Week of most fantasy leagues, but they will avoid the Ravens for a second time (on the fantasy schedule) as they are their Week 17 opponent.
In 10- or 12-team leagues, Green-Ellis is a solid flex option, but there is not a lot of upside with him. While he has scored double-digit touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, it's likely that he extends that streak to three seasons in Cincinnati. If he gets the 225 carries I project for him, he should provide fantasy owners with a consistent level of production on a weekly basis, though.
Green-Ellis has less upside than many of the running backs ranked lower in my redraft rankings, which makes him a better option in redraft than dynasty leagues.
Projection: (Rushing) 905 Yards, 7 TDs; (Receiving) 10 Receptions, 50 Yards
Also, check out:
- 2012 Fantasy Football RB Rankings
- 2012 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule
- 2012 Fantasy Football QB Rankings
- 2012 Fantasy Football WR Rankings
- 2013 NFL Mock Draft
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