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Dolphins fantasy question: Can Ronnie Brown break out in 2009?

Dolphins burning fantasy question:Will Ronnie Brown have a breakout fantasy season in 2009?

For the first seven weeks of the 2007 season, Ronnie Brown was the best running back in fantasy football. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, hauled in 39 passes, posted an amazing 1,170 scrimmage yards and scored four touchdowns before a torn ACL against the Patriots landed him on the sidelines.

Dolphins top-5 fantasy players

  1. Ricky Williams
  1. Chad Pennington

Sleeper: Ginn

If he hadn't suffered the ailment, Brown had a legitimate shot to shatter Marshall Faulk's record for scrimmage yards (2,429) in a single season. He would have also been mentioned in the same breathe as LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson as one of the top fantasy running backs heading into 2008.

Instead, Brown was seen as a risk-reward runner in his first season after a reconstructive procedure to repair his damaged knee.

He went on to have a good but at times inconsistent campaign for the Dolphins and fantasy football owners alike. Brown finished with 33 receptions, 1,170 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns.

Five of those scores came in one game (four rushing, one passing vs. New England in Week 3), though, and Brown rushed for 100-plus yards just once after Week 5.

Still, the fact that he was able to contribute so soon after a serious operation was a positive sign for his 2009 value.

While Ricky Williams remains in the backfield mix, Brown should still be in line for more carries now that he has a full season under his belt after the ACL reconstruction. That could mean as many as 250-270 attempts if he plays 16 games and avoids injuries in the process. In an offense that will run the football often under coordinator Dan Henning, Brown will have a great shot to rush for 1,000-plus yards for the second time in his career.

Another factor that favors Brown in his quest for a breakout season is his contractual situation.

Brown has just one year left on his current deal, at which point he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. However, he will only have five years accrued after the 2009 season. Based on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a player needs six accrued years to become an unrestricted free agent in the event that 2010 is an uncapped year.

If that comes to fruition, Brown would be a restricted free agent, so the Dolphins could match any offer made to him by another team. Regardless, Brown still has plenty to play for this season.

A high-end No. 2 fantasy runner, the Auburn product could come off the board as high as the second round in some drafts. If he slides into the fourth round, Brown could turn into one of the better draft values in fantasy football.

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