I'm putting the finishing touches on my annual breakouts, sleepers and busts article for the Pro Football Weekly/CBSSports.com Fantasy Football Preview Magazine (on newsstands this June ... I think ...), but I wanted to share something I did just for those of you reading the blog.
In addition to the 30 or so players I asked CBS' panel of analysts about, I got their take on Laurence Maroney, who is the one running back that I can't quite put my finger on in terms of production.
Guess what? Our panelists couldn't put a solid finger on it either. But, the exercise here is to take what our experts had to say, and see the common threads. That will tell you what the consensus opinion on Maroney is heading into 2008.
"That's the enigma. Maroney is just like Marion Barber, and they were coached the same way in college. They both run with that frenetic style that's like a tsunami. He attacks defenders. I don't know if you can sustain that to 25 carries a game for 16 games. With that said, he'll be a high-efficient runner so long as he's not getting a lot of carries. Sammy Morris will be a factor and Kevin Faulk will continue in his third-down role. Now, whether or not Maroney stays healthy is what will tell you if he gets to 1,000 yards. But I still think you need to surround him with talent. Now he has to prove he can stay healthy, or he'll have to augment his running style, and if he does that, then will he be the same runner?"
-- Solomon Wilcots
"The vast majority of people don't know what to think of him. I think everyone agrees on his physical talents. You have to question his physical endurance as a professional, and at what point does he kind of get turned loose. We waited a long time for that last year. It would appear that he is and will continue to be just a very good contributing piece of an offense. So if you're looking for that center-cut diamond, Maroney's not it."
-- Randy Cross
"I think he'll be a solid back, but he's got to stay healthy. That's been a little bit of a problem for him. But the Patriots will still be a pass offense first, and I think he'll have a solid year, probably limited just by the fact that there's only so many touches you're going to get in that offense."
-- Charley Casserly
"With the Patriots, I still think he's got a chance to have some numbers, but they're still about throwing the football, though. I think you can see the biggest question with him is if he can stay healthy. If Maroney stays healthy, he'll be a big-number guy."
-- Bill Cowher