Saturday, March 8, 2008

Julius Jones Signs With Seattle - End Of The Line For Shaun Alexander

Julius Jones signed a four year deal worth around 12 million with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday night. The addition of Jones comes days after the Seahawks signed power back TJ Duckett to a 5 year 14 million dollar deal. With Jones, Duckett and Maurice Morris in the fold, it appears that Shaun Alexander is the odd man out in Seattle. According to ESPN's John Clayton, Alexander is likely to be cut come June 1st. 

Fantasy Impact

It was just three years ago that Alexander was the number one running back in fantasy football. In 2005, he put together one of the finest seasons ever by a NFL running back gaining 1,880 yards and a then NFL record 27 TDs. It was Alexander's 5th consecutive season with over 1,100 yards and 13 TDs and he had proved incredibly durable during this stretch playing in all 80 games.

Now after two dismal, injury-ridden seasons, Alexander is on his way out of Seattle. In 2006 and 2007 Alexander failed to break a 1000 yards and couldn't top 7 TDs while missing 9 games due to a variety of ailments. The 30 year old Alexander should catch on with another team in 2008 but he will have to earn a starting role in training camp and will most likely end up splitting time at his new destination. His fantasy value will totally depend on the situation he ends up in and what he shows during the preseason. 

As for the newest Seattle running backs, Duckett will primarily be used as a short yardage back and fall back option at both halfback and fullback. The more intriguing fantasy option here is Julius Jones whose excellent speed and ability to get to the corner makes him a nice fit for Seattle's spread offense and edge blocking scheme.

Jones underachieved in his four seasons in Dallas, regressing each year after his breakout rookie campaign. Still only 26 years old (he will be 27 when the season begins) Jones will get a fresh start in Seattle and will compete with incumbent starter Maurice Morris for the starting job. The two will likely split carries at the start of the season but Jones' should carry more of the load later in the season. 

Watch Jones in the preseason to gauge how Holmgren plans on utilizing him in the offense. In addition to his ability to get to the corner, Jones has good hands and is adept at running screens; a play used often by the Seattle offense. His aforementioned speed makes him tough to bring down in space and this could be another facet of his game that gives him an edge in the battle for the starting gig. 

Jones could be a nice sleeper running back in 2008 and is a Maurice Morris injury away from being the feature back in an excellent offense. 


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