White, Washington head to Seattle
LenDale White, who scored 15 touchdowns in 2008, got his wish Saturday as the Titans traded him to the Seahawks in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round picks. Not exactly a king's ransom, but given White's lack of production in '09 (just 222 yards and two scores on 64 carries), we probably shouldn't be surprised. And then an hour or so later, the Seahawks added another running back, trading fifth- and seventh-round picks to the Jets for Leon Washington.
In White and Washington, the Seahawks under Pete Carroll have remade their backfield. Julius Jones doesn't figure to be on the roster much longer, and last year's surprise fantasy-relevant rusher, Justin Forsett, appears to be no better than third on the depth chart. Washington is coming off a compound leg fracture, and if he has any hiccups in his return to full action, Forsett is good insurance as a third-down back. Otherwise, though, Forsett doesn't have any fantasy value at all.
Whether or not Washington's fantasy stock goes up or down because of this trade depends on your time frame. Compared to when he was the Jets' No. 2 back behind Thomas Jones for the first half of '09, this is probably a downgrade, because the Seahawks' offensive line is nowhere near as good as the Jets'. But compared to when Washington was third on the depth chart behind Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson this winter? This is probably a bit of an upgrade, at least in terms of usage pattern. If he'd stayed with the Jets, Washington looked like a special teams player, with the occasional change-of-pace carry out of the backfield. With the Seahawks (again, if he's healthy), he's the team's best rusher, a playmaker who should see double-digit touches in a lot of games, and who'll electrify fans a lot more than the plodding White will. Is he likely to score a bunch of touchdowns? No. Is he likely to approach White's carries or rush yardage? Probably not. That's why I'd value White higher. But you're also going to have to draft White higher. There's more value in Washington. He can probably be had late in fantasy drafts this summer, but I'm betting he can produce top-50 fantasy value at least, with a few games that are much better than that. And in a point-per-reception league, he can approach the top 30.
As for what's left in Tennessee, score another point for those who consider Chris Johnson the No. 1 pick in all of fantasy this year. White wasn't a threat to CJ2K's value last year, but there were indications that the Titans wouldn't give Johnson the rock as much this year, if only to preserve him a bit. With White gone, Javon Ringer appears to ascend to the No. 2 job, but he's more of an unknown than White. It's still possible the Titans will acquire another back to supplement some of Johnson's inside carries, but for the moment, double-digit touchdowns look highly likely for fantasy's 2009 MVP once again.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.
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2010 Fantasy Football Offseason
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NFL Draft• Day 1: Ryan Mathews the big winner
• Day 2: Toby Gerhart now a handcuff
• Day 3: Rounds 4-7 can yield sleepers
• Matthew Berry's Top 150, updated June 4
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated May 11
• Fantasy Staff Top 200, updated April 30
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated April 19
• Matthew Berry's Top 100, April 8
Analysis from Christopher Harris
• Don't expect much from T.O. in Cincinnati
• Vincent Jackson no longer a top 25 receiver
• Jason Campbell is still bland in Oakland
• LenDale White, Leon Washington in Seattle
• Brandon Marshall deal to Miami boosts Henne
• Santonio Holmes' value falls with trade to Jets
• Donovan McNabb's stock drops with Redskins
• Willie Parker joins Redskins veteran RBBC
• Browns wheeling and dealing potential options
• LDT signing with Jets muddies Greene's value
• Larry Johnson still irrelevant with Redskins
• Derrick Mason's re-signing helps Flacco
• Antonio Bryant decent fit with Bengals
• Thomas Jones loses lots of value with Chiefs
• Reggie Brown intriguing with Tampa Bay
• Boldin trade doesn't do much for his value
• Taylor, Burleson open free-agency season
• NFL scouting combine fantasy review