Barber gains value as Bears' goal-line back

Updated: November 11, 2011, 1:57 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

I used to play in a touchdown-heavy fantasy league with ESPN pals in which someone producing like Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber would be in high demand. In an ESPN standard league, Barber doesn't offer much. He's the clear backup to Matt Forte, currently accounting for nearly half of the Bears' entire offense, and Barber doesn't get much work. But as ESPN's cool new backfield chart shows, Barber gets opportunities to score touchdowns near the goal line (rushing or receiving), and in leagues where that sort of thing is worth more than the yards, it can be critical, and underrated.

Barber doesn't rank among the top 40 running backs in ESPN standard scoring. He's been given 32 carries all season (though his first game was Week 4), gaining 122 yards, and he has caught a mere three passes. There are 61 running backs -- and five quarterbacks -- with more rushing attempts. But only 11 players -- Cam Newton included -- have more touchdown runs than Barber. That's significant. As the backfield chart, powered by underrated colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft shows, Barber has converted three of five rushing/receiving attempts inside the opponent's 5-yard line, all since October.