Will LeGarrette Blount emerge as a superstar fantasy starter this year?
Okay, quick show of hands from all you fantasy owners who have been burned figuring that a big finish to the previous season means a breakout year on your watch. I'm talking about you, Julius Jones owners from 2006. You, too, Jerome Harrison owners from 2010.
It's fun to extrapolate numbers from seven, eight, nine, or 10 games and come up with a 16-game figure. Let's take Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount, for instance. Blount wasn't drafted out of Oregon last year, signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent (after a brief dalliance with the 49ers and training camp with the Titans), and began the year well down on a depth chart that included Carnell Williams and Earnest Graham.
By October, Blount worked his way into a prominent role, and he wound up rushing for 1,007 yards. He was especially effective over the last 10 games, when he ran for 902 yards and five touchdowns. Stretch those 10 games over a full season, and it's 1,443 yards and eight scores.
Those are really good numbers any fantasy owner would like to have, but they're not superstar numbers. And they're predicated on Blount maintaining his pace from the last 10 games of 2010. In other words, they're high-end numbers.
The best news for Blount owners is that there aren't a lot of credible threats to Blount's carries on first and second down-although, curiously, sixth-round draft pick Allen Bradford is much the same type of runner. Still, Blount doesn't help out catching the ball (he had only five receptions all of last year) and still likely will give way on third down to Williams (if he returns) or someone else in the Buccaneers' backfield.
Bottom Line: Blount's status atop the depth chart in Tampa Bay should ensure some fantasy value for 2011 -- but not superstar value.