It has been slow going in free agency across the National Football League since the end of the 2013 NFL Draft. But yesterday, the Indianapolis Colts took one of the better known free agents off the market as former New York Giant and two-time Super Bowl Champion running back Ahmad Bradshaw agreed to terms with the team Tuesday on a one-year deal worth $1.1 million.
Bradshaw, who turned 27 this past March, was released by the Giants this offseason after six seasons with the team. During his time in New York, Bradshaw suited up 84 times for the Giants, starting 33 games and accumulating 4,232 rushing yards on 921 career carries (4.6 YPC) and 32 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 132 passes for 1,087 yards and three touchdowns in his time with big blue.
Bradshaw, who has been constantly hampered by injury throughout his career, joins a Colts backfield that features former first-round draft choice Donald Brown and Vic Ballard, who was a fifth-round choice by the Colts in the 2012 draft.
While Ballard and Brown are considered solid backs when healthy, Bradshaw should bring an explosive element to the running game that simply didn’t exist last season. Overall, the Colts were one of the worst running teams in the NFL last season ranking 22nd in rushing yards, 18th in rushing touchdowns and 26th in yards per carry– those numbers are also slightly inflated by the 255 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns posted by starting quarterback Andrew Luck.
So what kind of impact can Bradshaw realistically have with Indianapolis in 2013?
That’s the question Colt’s fans and fantasy football owners everywhere are asking themselves right now–and the answer is that depending on the amount of touches he receives, Bradshaw should be a fairly effective as a runner in the Colts offense.
Despite the fact that they weren’t overly successful running the football, the Colts stuck with it last season, ranking 14th in the NFL with 27.5 rushing attempts per game. Take out Luck’s rushing attempts and that works out to 23.6 carries per game by running backs. The Colts kind of used a running back by committee approach but due mainly to injuries but by the end of the season Ballard had essentially taken over the starting role.
Yet, Bradshaw has proven to a be far superior to both Brown and Ballard throughout his career as he not only averages 4.6 yards per carry but he also 32 career rushing touchdowns, 30 of which have come during the last four seasons. The biggest problem with Bradshaw of course is injury as he has played in 42 of 48 games over the past three season but was able to register just 32 starts.
While injuries can and probably will hamper Bradshaw at some point this season–he is simply too good not to winning the starting job out of camp. He can provide the Colts offense with the legitimate running threat it lacked last season and should help boost the productivity of the running game in the red zone. His presence should also take some pressure off Luck, who enters his second season as the starting quarterback.
Right now in terms of projecting Bradshaw’s fantasy value with the Colts, assuming he wins the starting job in training camp, I would rank him among the top 30 running backs in both standard and point-per-reception formats.
The former Marshall product is sure to miss time this season due to injury but as long as he remains relatively healthy I’m projecting him for at least 1,000 total yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns. He should be a decent value in fantasy drafts at this point and I believe he will be productive when on the field but as history as shown, staying on the field has always been his biggest obstacle–so buyer beware.