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Colt 44

NFL: SEP 25 Giants at Eagles

One of the worst kept secrets over the last week has been that Ahmad Bradshaw was going to end up being a member of the Colts. Contract negotiations stalled and sputtered from time to time, but in the end it turned out just like everyone expected with him signing a one year deal worth $1.1 million with a signing bonus and some other bonuses based on him being active for games. Let’s take a look at what it means for all of the pieces involved:

Ahmad Bradshaw RB, IND

The draft was a disaster for free agent running backs like Bradshaw, Beanie Wells and others. The vast majority of potential landing spots for the free agents like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Denver and St. Louis all ended up spending draft picks on running backs. With the immediate need for the majority of the league satisfied, the market became pretty much non-existent. For someone coming off of an operation, there wasn’t any reason to expect any kind of signing until summer, which is exactly what happened in Bradshaw’s case.

Looking at the deal Bradshaw signed, it is basically a one year, “prove it” deal. With the signing bonus and some other parts of the contract, he is going to be on the roster for this year and anything else isn’t guaranteed. The contract is basically paid by the number of games played with how the bonuses are set up so the Colts are protected from injury – that means even if he does get hurt (more on this later), they can keep him around for almost nothing. The better question is if he’ll be around next year, which will all come down to how he performs.

Speaking of the injuries, there is a common perception that Bradshaw is injury prone and unreliable. While he does have some chronic foot issues, calling him injury prone or unreliable may not be fair. Bradshaw is one of those players who misses a lot of practice time and is almost always on the injury report, but he really doesn’t miss many games. Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis come to mind as other players who were always like this as well. The truth is Bradshaw averages 14 games played per season which is right in the middle of the pack for starting running backs. For reference, it is about three more games per season than Darren McFadden and a game and a half more than Ryan Mathews. I’m sure Bradshaw will be on injury reports and miss some practice time, but you can count on him to be on the field on game days, especially given the setup of his contract.

As for the talent level, even at 27 years old, he is far and away the most talented running back on the Colts roster. He is one of (if not the best) pass blocker in the league which is at a premium when it comes to protecting Andrew Luck. Bradshaw also has great hands and runs nice routes out of the backfield. To top it all off, he has the ability and toughness to run inside while possessing the speed and agility to turn the corner.

He has the skill set to never leave the field, but due to his history, I’m expecting 14-16 carries a game with three or four receptions to go with it. If you take his career production of 4.6 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch, that means we’re talking right around 100 total yards per game with a good shot at a touchdown – that should put him squarely in consideration for a RB2 slot or at least a flex play for this year.

The long term outlook is a lot more difficult to project for Bradshaw as it will all come down to injuries. If he can put his best foot forward (pun intended) and play at least 14 games this season, I would expect him to sign a relatively cheap two year contract with the Colts that would keep him there through the 2015 campaign, which would be his age 29 season. His veteran presence and experience winning Super Bowls will be very valuable to the young Colts. If he ends up missing significant time, this could be the end of the road for Bradshaw.

Vick Ballard RB, IND

This off-season for Ballard is yet another example of why we all need to take comments from coaches with a hefty grain of salt during the offseason. We heard for weeks (if not months) that Ballard was going to be “the guy” and be a “workhorse back.” Well, the truth is that coaches, especially during the offseason, almost always pump up their guys. Hopefully you realize that by now. However, when the chance comes along to get better, they jump all over it.

The truth about Ballard is he is really little more than “just a guy.” He isn’t fast, doesn’t possess much agility and his power is merely average. Production-wise he averaged less than four yards per carry and only managed two rushing touchdowns on the year. The signing of Bradshaw means Ballard is going to be the backup and someone who probably won’t reach double digit touches in a game unless Bradshaw misses some due to an injury. In those cases where Bradshaw misses time, I still don’t think Ballard is going to be much more than a Flex play on most teams, if that. That means that with Bradshaw in the mix, Ballard has no business being anywhere close to your starting lineup.

Andrew Luck QB, IND

Aside from Bradshaw, the person who should be the happiest right now is Andrew Luck. Not only did his team find a pretty solid upgrade when it comes to talent in the backfield, but they managed to sign one of the best blitz pickup running backs in the game. While I don’t think the signing will provide a massive boost in Luck’s fantasy production or anything like that, I do think that it will help Luck (and his fantasy owners) sleep better at night knowing that Bradshaw is helping to keep the pocket clean. Bradshaw’s presence should help keep defenses a bit more honest as well due to the increased threat in the backfield.

The other major impact on Luck is in terms of his development. Bradshaw’s experience with the Giants and winning championships provides another person Luck can learn from and also one who can help him to continue to develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the game.

Donald Brown RB, IND

I remember back when Donald Brown came into the league as a first round pick. I had really high hopes for him – so much so that when I was picking fourth my rookie draft that year, I was deciding between him and LeSean McCoy. Thankfully I went with McCoy because Brown has largely been a bust. While Brown was billed as a complete running back with speed, agility and power, he has never been able to adjust to the speed, tempo and dynamic of the game at the NFL level. He has flashed his ability from time-to-time (think about the 2012 preseason), but he dances around too much and has a hard time seeing and hitting the holes in the brief window they’re available in the NFL.

He is one of the running backs who is squarely on the chopping block when it comes down to a roster space due to Bradshaw’s signing. Personally, I think he’ll remain on the roster this year because he is more talented than the other options to be cut, but this is the final year of his contract. If he is cut, he is someone to keep track of. If he were to sign somewhere like Jacksonville, he has the talent that he might potentially figure things out and become fantasy worthy. If he stays on the Colts, he belongs on the waiver wire unless you’re going to hold out hope that he does something in 2014 on a different roster.

Kerwynn Williams RB, IND

The seventh round rookie is most likely safe on the roster. He’ll probably be the primary kick returner and help out on special teams. The Bradshaw signing pretty much kills any chances he had of seeing the field on offense, though.

Delone Carter RB, IND

Carter is the other player who many expect to be on the chopping block due to this signing and he’s my pick to be released. Carter is entering his third year with the Colts and has a hard time staying healthy with ankle and shoulder issues, just to name a few. He only touched the ball 33 times all of last season and is likely the odd man out. He might be signed elsewhere, but I don’t ever see him being that productive. The only thing that might save him is that he’s cheaper than Brown.

Beanie Wells, RB FA

It might seem strange to had Wells be a part of this article, but with Bradshaw off the market, he is now the top running back that is available. There are some definite injury concerns but he’s only 24 years old (25 in August) and just a year removed from a 1,000+ yard, ten touchdown season. He is the next best option and should an injury occur or teams that are lacking at the position (Jacksonville, I’m looking at you) decide to add someone, he’s the man they will call on. Don’t forget about him.

Jacob Feldman

Jacob Feldman

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Jacob is a high school math teacher by day and a professional diaper changer by night. If he says anything too off the wall, just assume he is sleep deprived due to being a new father. He'll come to his senses in about 18 years... maybe.

Find Jacob on Twitter at @feldmanjacob
Jacob Feldman

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. SJ

    June 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    His situation in NY seemed like the best case scenario for Bradshaw – lead back of a committee, GL touches, passing/third down work, QB and Coaches confidence.

    In that scenario last year he produced only 90 yrds a game and had less than 250 touches. His ypc average is great, I’ll give you that, but I must accept that this best case scenario is somewhat unlikely in INDY. Sure I see it as a good landing spot for him – probably the best given the options. But if he was just a weak RB2 last year, theoretically, he’d be more of RB3/FLEX player this year – someone who would help only in deep roster lineup leagues, or as a good bye week flex type rb. Basically, if your starting him every week, good luck. And most people were last year.

    I agree, at least this does revive his current value to some point, which was at pretty much zero a few weeks ago, but expectations should be monitored a bit. I’d be surprised if he hits 1000 total yards on the season given the committee.

    More like 850, with a handful of receptions (<20) and TDs

    • Jacob Feldman

      June 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Your projections put him at being roughly half as productive this year as he was last year. You really think that the Giants were double the fit that Indy is?

      • SJ

        June 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        His totals were 221/1015/6, 23/245/0 last year… i wouldnt say thats really half.

        • Jacob Feldman

          June 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

          I was looking more per game since you can’t really predict how many games someone will get hurt for. He had 90 yards per game last season. 850 total yards is 53 per game. That’s within the ballpark of “roughly half” in my eyes. I guess we will just need to agree to disagree on this one.

  2. SJ

    June 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Considering he’s only had 2 of 6 season where hes had substantially above those numbers (2 seasons above 1000 total yards), Id say thats a pretty fair estimate.

    • SJ

      June 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Even if you throw out his first two seasons in the league, where he was a strict backup, it doesnt help his cause all that much. To get 1000 total yards (and like more than 5 TDs) hes going to need to average close to 15 touches a game.

      Again this is just an estimate, but considering the downgrade in team/situation/injuries i think thats asking a lot from him at this point.

    • Jacob Feldman

      June 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      You’re skewing numbers a little bit. His first two seasons he hardly played other than on returns because he was behind Jacobs and Ward. You can’t really include those years if you’re trying to get an accurate picture of what he can do as part of a committee. So without those you get:

      2009: Minor part of a committee (under 200 touches). 985 yards from scrimmage.
      2010: Became the major part of a committee. 1549 yards from scrimmage
      2011: Missed 4 games. Still had 926 yards from scrimmage.
      2012: Missed 2 games. 1260 yards from scrimmage.

      Your projections would be the lowest of his career, even lower than the season when he only played 12 games. I just don’t see that happening.

    • SJ

      June 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      No worries Jacob 🙂

      I know your very passionate about this subject given you written the article. I was just pointing out that, given the new situation, and build up of injuries expectations should be tempered at Bradshaws output at this point.

      But who knows.. maybe he does reach 250 touches for 1200+ yards and solid RB2 production this year and blows my opinion out the water. If any team/situation would allow him to do that, its definitely this one with indy. So this is absolutely the best case scenario at this point for him.

      Sorry, not trying to be a Debbie downer 🙂

      • Jacob Feldman

        June 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        Not a downer at all. Different opinions are definitely welcome. I would guess he’ll end up with about 225 carries and about 40 catches. I think luck will find him quite a bit in the passing game as they switch to more of a west coast style. Time will tell though!

        Thanks for the comments!

  3. Ray

    June 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Bradshaw has always produced in a committee type backfield.
    With Andre Brown coming out of nowhere (happened to get him off the wire last year) and David Wilson breaking out towards the end, he still managed to stay relevant.

    Now in Indy he will be relied on for the bulk of work which does concern me a bit, but it may be the best situation hes had yet. Eager to prove hes still got gas in the tank and real no threat for the #1 position on the depth chart, this one year contract may be able let owners “cash out” after 2013.

    I expect nothing less than 1200 total yards and 6-8TDs. A solid #2 back.

  4. esotericx20

    June 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I will gladly sit back and let others start drafting this guy too high… He might be able to put up low end RB2 numbers…. for the 6-8 games that he is healthy! Don’t buy the hype, a top heavy RB with fragile feet is not a good combination!

    • Jacob Feldman

      June 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      How can you predict anyone will only play in 6-8 games? That would be more missed game in one season than all of his time as a starter…

    • BigD

      June 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      we draft auction…..bradshaw is perfect for that scenario. you can get him cheap when people have to spend salary cap money on him. as for drafting him high in a regular draft, i figure about 6 of a 12 man league will stay away from him altogether. of the remaining 6 about 3 of those will try to get him with their bottom three picks only, just taking a chance…the remaining 3 will be serious contenders and the placement of where he should be picked would be where you would take a #3 rb or a flex rb? that is where he fairly should be takin.

  5. The Coach

    June 14, 2013 at 1:33 am

    jacksonville has justin forsett… who in my opinion is a better player right now than beanie wells is.

    • BigD

      June 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      that might be your opinion, but how can you base it? wells has had a 1000 yd 10 td season. what in the green earth has forsett ever done?

  6. bignett86

    June 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Great article Jacob, I just have a question for you….I have Ahmad Bradshaw, and Ballard, and with what i read on your twist on Ballard, should i proactivly try to trade him, or keep him just incase? I have Ballard for 3yrs 1k (cheap), and if i trade him what kind of future draft pick or trade is he worth?

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