First Down: Thomas Jones trade rumors 'ridiculous;' Shonn Greene poised to maim tacklers

Brad Evans

Meaningful deals struck on or leading up to the NFL trade deadline are extremely rare. Surrendering valuable draft picks and acclimating players quickly to a new playbook are preventative road blocks. In fact, lascivious, health code-violating acts committed by renowned college coaches and wild gun extravaganzas thrown by state law enforcement for Super Bowl champs are more common occurrences.

But earlier this week, a league source told the National Football Post '08 fantasy behemoth Thomas Jones(notes) could be on the trading block for a premiere wide receiver, possibly to an NFC West club. With Leon Washington(notes) and powerful rookie Shonn Greene(notes) on the roster and due to the veteran's ongoing contract dispute, the rumor isn't implausible. However, contrary to the report, several sources, including head coach Rex Ryan, have steadfastly denied a deal is in the works, calling the whispers "ridiculous."

Assuming the Jets "ain't dealing" last season's AFC rushing pacesetter, the Gang Green backfield is bound to cause endless fantasy frustration. Jones is on the wrong side of 30, coming off a career season and likely won't be prancing around SUNY-Cortland this time next season. Inevitably, Washington, who is angling for an enormous pay raise, and Greene, who Mike Tannenbaum traded up 12 picks in April to nab in Round 3, will be the focal points of the running game in the very near future. Because the Jets plan to employ a "ground-and-pound" philosophy in order to alleviate pressure on freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes), a three-pronged attack, similar to the McLain/McGahee/Rice monster Ryan watched last year in Baltimore, will be installed. Per the man holding the playbook, touches will likely be spread evenly:

"The Big Three are going to give us an opportunity where you can keep a guy fresh. It's not necessarily where you're sharing the load because they're not all going to get the same carries, but you can use them to your advantage...We had three real good backs [in Baltimore] and we used every one of them. I think we should use all these guys because it's a stable. We've got something that most teams don't have, and that's a great group of backs. It's kind of like the old Csonka, Kiick and Mercury Morris days. They had three of them and found a way to use them, and we'll do the same."

Ah the maddening joy of yet another socialized backfield.

In terms of profit potential, Greene (168.7 ADP), not Jones (35.8 ADP) or Washington (99.5), is the player you want to target. An absolute tank at Iowa last season, the Doak Walker winner, who compares his style to Michael Turner's, exhibited incredible brawn, durability and consistency, eclipsing 100 yards in every game while averaging a spectacular 6.0 yards per carry. His low-pad level, hole-attacking aggressiveness and fall-forward nature are mouth-watering attributes, especially running behind one of the league's stiffest offensive lines. Watch his highlight reel from '08 and you'll understand why Andy Behrens houses completely inappropriate feelings for him. To the Grizz, Greene is the anti-Benson.

Though bothered initially by a tender ankle, the rookie shed tackles and showcased surprising versatility in his first live scrimmage on August 6th. Afterwards, Ryan was absolutely giddy about the youngster's prospects:

"He is a talented runner. He's got great vision. Everything we thought he was. And the fact he's playing with an ankle injury. That speaks volumes about this young man. When he's in there, we know what he can do...I would think that he's going to get his share of carries."

Greene is a galactic bargain who could pay handsome dividends even with roughly 175 touches this season. Of course, if Jones flounders, is jettisoned or suffers a major injury the rookie's value will skyrocket. The Leprechaun, Washington, will play a significant role too, but his fantasy usefulness is geared more for the PPR masses (47 catches in '08). Because of the former Hawkeye's between-the-tackles grit, he's built for goal-line work and clock-milking carries. Assuming the current situation isn't altered, he could realistically total 850 rushing yards with 7-9 scores or approximately what Jonathan Stewart(notes) accomplished last year.

What do you make of Jones' potential departure? Which Jets back, if any, are you targeting? What's your Fearless Forecast for Greene? Discuss below.

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Image courtesy of US Presswire