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Brad Evans

First Down: Donald Brown is the sizzle to Joseph Addai's fizzle

Brad Evans
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Under the Tony Dungy regime, censorship reigned supreme. Emulating Bill Beezlechick, the soft spoken coach exhibited guardedness whenever pressed about player roles or injuries. The often limited information presented drove many fantasy freaks to seek consultation from a certain spiced Captain.

Unsurprisingly, Jim Caldwell has adopted the old coach's prudent diplomacy.

This year, owners who invest in the Indy backfield better have a straight-jacket within arm's reach. It's sure to be infuriating. Incumbent Joseph Addai(notes), who was wildly inconsistent last season running behind a disheveled offensive line while battling through constant nicks and scrapes, and flashy newcomer Donald Brown(notes) are expected to be involved in an unspecified platoon, a situation Caldwell appropriately danced around earlier this month:

"Looking back at our history, it has always been a part of what we've done," Caldwell said of using two running backs. "The years when we've been really effective, we've had someone who could take a little load off of the guy who was carrying it a majority of the time. It depends on who you face and the type of defensive structure that you have to deal with. But one thing we know for sure is there will be some type of rotation."

How exactly the carries will be divided is anyone's guess. If Addai's balky knee doesn't flare up, he will begin the season as the starter. But make no mistake, it's a loose designation.

A season ago the fantasy heartbreaker followed a banner 1,436-total yard, 15-TD campaign with a Benson-esque effort. Over 12 games he averaged a mere 3.5 yards per carry, 62.5 total yards and 9.8 points per game, a mark which ranked one spot behind Earnest Graham(notes) or 28th overall at his position. With Brown breathing down his neck, it's safe to assume the pressure on the veteran to perform is massive. Even though his mid-40s ADP is sizably discounted, employing the Indy rusher as an RB2 is an enhanced risk.

Drawing rave reviews from Caldwell for his studious preparation, maturity and skill set, Brown will likely be the more valuable of the two by midseason. The Colts selected the Connecticut product in Round 1 for a reason.

Equipped with dodgy elusiveness, hole-penetrating explosiveness and terrific vision, the shifty rookie's tools blend perfectly with Tom Moore's spread scheme. However, caught from behind by Minnesota defensive end Jayme Mitchell(notes) last week (See the scamper here), he doesn't possess a second gear to outrun defenders. But his balance across-the-board will prove effective, especially with Peyton Manning(notes) stretching out defenses. After rushing impressively for 58 yards on five carries against the Vikings in his preseason debut, Brown has already gained the admiration of his teammates, especially center Jeff Saturday(notes):

"I thought he did a great job. Got through the hole, was shifty, made big runs, got outside, showed his speed. You've got to be impressed with the way he ran the ball. He did a good job when he ran the ball. He did a good job when he got the opportunity to make a big play."

Because Addai is composed of 45 percent papier-mâche, 55 percent wuss, Brown is a tremendous value selection in the middle rounds. His odds of developing into a viable deep-league RB2 are strong. For the thrifty-minded, his 85.21 ADP (RB34) is certainly attractive. But if he shines against a stingy Eagles defense tonight on national TV, it's a foregone conclusion his stock will march north.

Fearless Forecast (16 games, 3 starts): 179 rushes, 788 rushing yards, 32 receptions, 262 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns

Will you roll the dice on either Indy rusher this season? Which of the two will be the most valuable come Week 10? Where does Brown rank in the rookie running back pecking order? Discuss below.


Image courtesy of the AP

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