Now that preseason games are in full swing, backfield battles are playing out and we're getting a better idea of the kinds of roles certain running backs will play on their respective teams. Committee Meetings is here once again to fill you in on the latest developments with the Titans, Browns, Ravens, Patriots and Texans backfields. So with draft day quickly approaching, grab a low-carb Monster energy drink, turn up your "Hard Knocks" playlist and get your study on!
David Cobb makes a case for No. 1 job
In the Titans first preseason game against Atlanta, rookie David Cobbfar out-produced incumbent Bishop Sankey by a staggering 2.9 yards per carry. Granted, Cobb didn't play until the third quarter when the Falcons second and third-team defenses were on the field. But a quick glance at the tape shows that Sankey didn't show much to be excited about as he repeatedly ran straight into defenders, showing almost minimal vision and anticipation.
Cobb had some impressive cutbacks, showing off his agility by making defenders miss on several occasions. Healso ran with a physicality and vigor that Sankey lacked. While Cobb's upside may be limited by the overall inadequacy of the Titans offense, he is still well worth a speculative middle-round add in your draft. To say he will have RB2 value by mid-season is a bit of a stretch, but the rookie should prevail as a better weekly fantasy option over Sankey.
The one thorn in the side here is the fact that Dexter McCluster got a red zone carry that he turned into a 6-yard touchdown run. Obviously, we can't be having that. Come on now, Ken Wisenhunt.
Browns backfield in need of spark
The Cleveland backfield was truly a factory of sadness against Washington last weekend. A total of four different Browns running backs combined for 16 rush attempts for a disheartening 27 yards. Sadly, quarterback Johnny Manziel led the team in rushing with 14 yards and a touchdown on two rush attempts. Just one Cleveland back, Terrance West, averaged over 2.0 yards per carry. All of this is quite alarming in the absolute worst way. Coach Mike Pettine down played the miserable result following the game. "Terrance [is] coming off the [calf] injury and Crow [is] probably having too heavy a load at practice, I am not going to hit the panic button after the first preseason game about our run game. We will be fine," he said. That's right Mike, sweep it under the rug and nobody will notice. Simply put, the Browns either need to sign another running back or get rookie Duke Johnson (hamstring) healthy as soon as possible to inject this backfield with a shot of passion, talent and excitement. Even a single one of those three attributes would suffice. For now though, Crowell remains the only Cleveland back "worth" drafting merely due to his Round 13 ADP on NFL.com. This situation could get worse before it gets better.
Lorenzo Taliaferro busy in red zone
After Justin Forsett was finished for the day with two rushes for three yards, second-year back Lorenzo Taliaferro and rookie runner Javorius Allen alternated reps through the third quarter with the former making a strong case for the No. 2 slot on the depth chart. Splitting the work pretty evenly, neither back did anything to write home about. But the major takeaway here is the fact that Taliaferro received seven of the Ravens' nine rushing attempts (78 percent) inside the red zone and scored on a 1-yard goal-line carry midway through the first quarter. Since Forsett was pulled after just two carries on Baltimore's first drive, it's hard to tell if Taliaferro will become a touchdown vulture and have a role as the team's goal-line back during regular season play, but he is clearly ahead of Allen for backup duties. If you end up drafting Forsett, you should be able to handcuff him with Taliaferro in the final few rounds.
Excitement for Patriots RBs fleeting
Jonas Gray and James White did just about all of the work out of the Patriots backfield against Green Bay. Gray's stat line (7-74-1) is deceiving, though, since 55 of his rushing yards came on a single play that the Packers' defense completely flubbed. White had just 12 rush yards on eight attempts for a paltry 1.5 yards per carry average, but he paced the Patriots in receiving with 52 yards on four receptions. Alas, we'd be remiss to get too excited about anything here. LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the first game of the regular season and is currently dealing with an MCL sprain, but he still figures to see more carries than the rest of the team's running backs once he's healthy. Based on what we saw in Week 1 of the preseason though, it seems like New England is molding White as their pass-catching back, while Gray could play a change-of-pace role behind Blount during the season. There is some value in Blount's eighth round ADP, just be aware of what you're getting into if you take that route.
Alfred Blue makes the most of first-team reps
With Arian Foster sidelined for a few months, Alfred Blue got the first-team reps against the 49ers over the weekend. He impressed with nine carries for 59 yards including one 32-yard rip. Unfortunately, Houston gave their second-year back a few chances in the first quarter to pound the ball into the end zone from inside the 5-yard line but he was unable to convert. Chris Polk also played well with 13 total touches for 65 yards from scrimmage, but he didn't get any snaps until the third quarter slotting behind Jonathan Grimes and Kenny Hilliard. This may be due to the fact that Polk missed some practice time with a hamstring injury and returned less than a week ago. For now, Blue remains the first Texans back to draft in fantasy as he should be the leader in Foster's stead. It's worth keeping an eye on Polk's reps throughout the preseason to see if he can inch his way up the depth chart, though.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. His nickname around the NFL Media office is Franchise, and he's totally cool with it. The new Tame Impala record, "Currents", is growing on him with each listen. Follow him on Twitter for music recommendations and fantasy advice all season long @m_franciscovich.