Tag:Laurence Maroney
Posted on: May 8, 2008 5:16 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2008 5:30 pm

More thoughts on Maroney

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
Posted on: April 2, 2008 3:57 pm

Projecting Laurence Maroney

One of the aspects of this site that I am most proud to create are the projections we offer Fantasy owners every summer. Usually Jamey Eisenberg and I split the NFL duties 50-50, but he's got bigger fish to fry than doing projections, and I am more than happy to take them over entirely. The mere fact that I am excited about this might make me a complete geek in the eyes of many (including my managing editor), but it also gives me a huge head start on what I think we can expect to see in the NFL.

I thought I would share my projections for a player -- and how I do them -- with you guys. And I am picking Laurence Maroney as the player we'll focus on.

Maroney is a guy we debate about a lot here in the office. When he's not looking at baseball stat sheets, Eric Mack sings Maroney's praises. At lunch yesterday, he admitted he thinks Maroney will get at least 12 touchdowns in 2008 (nevermind the fact that Maroney has 13 regular season TDs in two seasons). Jamey likes Maroney a lot too. I've been a huge Maroney supporter since his last year at Minnesota, but I cite his inconsistent workload as a H-U-G-E red flag that should keep Fantasy owners from drafting him as anything more than a No. 3 RB.

So let's see if a rational expectation supports that stature ...

First, let's get an idea on how many games he'll play. As a rookie in '06 he had 14 games; 13 last year. Health is an issue for Maroney, obviously, and that's a big reason why the Patriots won't run him 20 times a game week in and week out. Saying he'll make 14 games is a safe assumption.

Maroney only started six games last year: Two in the first three weeks, one in late October and three late in the year. That's surprising. And although games started doesn't get you Fantasy points, the reality is either that SOMEONE ELSE is starting those games and getting reps, or that the Patriots' first play didn't involve the running back. Because this number isn't terribly important, let's say Maroney starts eight games.

FUMBLES: Maroney's had one in two seasons, a by-product of touching the ball 180 times a season. Chances are he'll have one or two anyway. Comes with the territory. Hard to predict a starting RB won't fumble.

Now things get tricky. The Patriots are mum on all their gameplanning info, even in the offseason. Will they continue to throw the ball at will like they did in 2007, or will they revert to their running game like they did late last season?

I may not be Bill Belichick, but I do wear a grey sweatshirt from time to time. If I'm plotting out the Patriots offense, I don't stop using my strengths, particularly with the rest of my division, and the NFL in general, short on cornerback talent. Tom Brady is more than capable of getting the ball to Randy Moss, Wes Welker and whomever else is out there with waiting hands. Why not keep sending them darts?

So Maroney's days of getting 20+plus touches are limited, but not impossible. He had four 20-carry games last year including the playoffs, including in Week 15 vs. the Jets in a snowstorm that cost many Tom Brady owners (including me) a playoff loss. He didn't have any in 2006. Of course, he had just 14 reps in Super Bowl XLII ... coincidence that the Pats lost?

Now then ... teams that New England plays with lesser pass defenses: Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Arizona, Kansas City

Teams that New England plays with good pass defenses: Oakland (away), Denver (home), San Diego (away), Seattle

Team that New England will beat up on whether their pass defense is good or not: Anyone in the AFC East.

But the teams expected to have BAD run defenses: Miami (x2), Jets (x2), Kansas City, St. Louis and Denver. I'll give Oakland a pass because the game is on the road and they could actually have one of the toughest defenses in the league next season. So there's seven games where the Patriots could be expected to lean on Maroney more than normal.

I'll be bold and say Maroney gets at least 20 carries in four of those games, and an average of 17 carries in those seven. 17 times 7 = 119 carries in those seven games.

What about the other nine? Let's take Maroney's average carries in games last year he DID NOT get 17 carries, including Super Bowl XLII. That total? 11.22. I'll be generous and round that up to 12. 12 times 9 = 108 carries.

BUT WAIT! We have already deduced that Maroney can't make 16 games. Which two games will he miss? I don't know, but for the sake of variance, let's just remove one 12-carry average game and one 17-carry average game.

Math time ...

17 x 6 = 102
12 x 8 =  96


So that's settled. Now let's consider his rushing average.

In 2006, he averaged 4.3 yards on 175 carries. Last year he did better -- 4.5 yards -- on 185 carries.

Last year, Maroney was two yards per carry better on grass than artificial turf. That's big. He was nearly that much better at home than on the road, too. (FYI, the Pats play on grass and Maroney suited up for seven home games).

In 2008, Maroney will play eight home games (duh) and 12 games on grass (health permitting). Hoo-hah. The four road games: Miami, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland. Maybe I should hold off on stiffing Maroney's numbers against the Raiders ...

Long story short, there's plenty of evidence that Maroney can match that 4.5 average.

4.5 average x 198 carries = 891 yards.

Now the touchdowns. Maroney had six scores in each of his previous two seasons and three last preseason. Of the six regular-season touchdowns last year, four came late in the last three weeks of the season. THAT is a scary thing to digest. You have to figure that Maroney can match those six touchdowns ... maybe go seven because of the multiple games on grass or vs. softer run defenses. But we can assume that games against the Steelers, Colts, Chargers, Seahawks and maybe even the Cardinals (!!) will be tough for Maroney.

Passing game ... Maroney took a real back seat last season because Brady found other people to get the ball to (Welker took plenty of catches away from the running backs thanks to his short inside routes). He'll see more receptions, but not many more than the four he had in 2007 (none late in the season -- but five in the postseason!).

Final adjustments: Giving Maroney around 210 touches in the Patriots offense seems reasonable. It's true that the Patriots rode Maroney to their late-season success, and maybe that will come into play a little bit more earlier this season as the Pats realize they can't just pass willy-nilly again (can they?).

Final projection: 14 games, 8 starts; 198 carries, 891 yards, seven touchdowns, one fumble; 14 receptions, 133 yards.

Good enough to be a No. 3 Fantasy RB? Certainly. A No. 1 or No. 2? Not so much.

Now it's your turn: What do YOU think Maroney will do in 2008? Take a shot at projecting his numbers by posting in the comment board below. Any legit, rational argument will be considered, and the input could shape his projections in 2008 when we tweak them after the NFL draft.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com