Felix Jones is back. And we are all clamoring to use the Dallas Cowboys’ running back in Saturday night’s Week 15 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And why wouldn’t we? Tampa Bay has lost seven in a row, is ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed (139.7) on a sixth-most 30.2 attempts per game and are ranked last in touchdowns allowed (19).
But in the second NFL Network game of the week, are we going to see a matchup where a team clearly has the ability to run on the other but decides to do a lot of damage through the air? Along with Felix Jones at running back, Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are no slouches offensively for the Cowboys.
Seems eerily familiar to the Atlanta-Jacksonville game on Thursday night where Michael Turner had a clear advantage, but had 19 carries for 61 yards and a short TD thanks to field position off a fumbled punt return by the Jaguars. Roddy White wound up with a 30.5-point day, Julio Jones had 17.6 fantasy points and Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez were relatively non-existent with 1.7 and 1.9 points.
The one difference for the Cowboys if they get up big, as opposed to the Falcons, could be that they have no other backs to really turn to. Jones is in there because DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner are on IR, Tashard Choice is long since gone and Sammy Morris was just signed off the street. So Jones, who recently returned from a high ankle sprain of his own, might have to be the opener, the set-up man and the closer for the Cowboys.
The Bucs have allowed the last four true feature backs they have faced to gash them.
Frank Gore went off for 125 yards and a score in Week 5; Matt Forte for 145 yards and a score in Week 7; Arian Foster 845 yards rushing and a score and 102 yards receiving and a score in Week 10 and Chris Johnson 190 yards in Week 12. In between, Carolina’s duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had 138 total yards and a score in Week 13; New Orleans’ trio of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory had 257 total yards and two scores in Week 9 and the Saints needed four players to combine for 109 yards and a score in Week 6.
Point being, they are easy to run on and have also given up 65 catches for 617 yards and four scores this season.
All signs point to Felix Jones being a great start. The question is: How great?
Do you start him in his first game back as the true feature back? He can’t be a power back but he can be the all-purpose back that the Bucs have certainly had trouble with this season?
So where does he rank this week? Does he go ahead of players like Shonn Greene and Roy Helu who have been hot as of late? Does he go ahead of an Adrian Peterson returning from an ankle injury against a Saints team likely to have their way with the Vikings?
I start Peterson ahead of him because he’s Peterson, but after that, Jones is a great play. He did average 99 total yards with two touchdowns over the final eight games of last season and saw those numbers dip this season before the injury to 63.6 total yards with just one TD. The lack of TDs is the only concern with Jones as the Cowboys certainly have plenty of other targets, but he should rack up plenty of yards against the Bucs.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter