Last August, my esteemed colleague Dan Parr penned a fantasy column on Jets RB Shonn Greene's potential to have a breakout season in 2010. Take a look, as Dan made some great points in predicting a big year, especially considering how Greene performed in the '09 playoffs.
Unfortunately for Greene and his fantasy owners, that "breakout season" did not happen. Instead, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 914 yards, hauled in 368 receiving yards and scored six TDs. No one expected that kind of production from LT, who had been cast off by the Chargers after nine seasons of establishing himself as one of the best backs of all time.
Greene improved across the board in 2010, but 766 yards and two rushing scores are far from a breakout season. He also lost two fumbles and has yet to make his mark as a receiver.
The Jets didn't need Greene to catch passes — LT did that just fine. Greene's rushing average of 4.1 yards was solid, albeit nothing special. He did perform well in the three playoff games, rushing for 198 yards and had a 5.8-yard rushing average (nine carries, 52 yards) against the Steelers.
If we are to work off what Dan wrote last season, on the playoffs being the boost to the upcoming campaign, I think it's safe to say that 2011 will be Greene's breakout season, because he has a lot more going for him than just a strong finish to 2010.
Tomlinson has said publicly that he is resigned to being the team's third-down back, and he has no problem with that. Head coach Rex Ryan has stated that he expects Greene to be the team's bellcow.
Greene runs behind one of the best O-lines in the league. He runs for a team that has the offensive philosophy of pounding the rock down the opponent's throat. Mark Sanchez provides a solid complement in the passing game.
The biggest thing going against Greene is still his handcuff(s). If Tomlinson is running the ball well again, Ryan will make sure to get him the rock. Then there's Joe McKnight, who played well when given the opportunity in last year's season finale (32-158-0 rushing). The Jets also drafted RB Bilal Powell in the fourth round.
If the Jets have it their way, Greene will get more than 200 carries and 1,000 rushing yards this season, with LT making his impact on third down and McKnight being available to give the team a change of pace.
Everything is set up for Greene to do in 2011 what so many expected in ’10. He should be available to snag in the third round in most fantasy drafts with the tools to be a very good No. 2 back, and don't be shocked if this is the year he can perform at the level of a fantasy starter.
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