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Running Back Watch - Week 6
Mike Courter
October 12, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 SD LaDainian Tomlinson A rare Chargers blowout over the Jags allowed the team to rest Tomlinson’s iffy groin in the 4 th quarter after he compiled 134 total yards and a touchdown. This week, San Diego’s young and physical offensive line will create holes in the undersized Falcons defensive front enabling LT to exploit the fast surface inside Atlanta’s dome.
2 KC Priest Holmes A rested Holmes and his top-ranked offensive line will look to continue their positive momentum from their road win in Baltimore two weeks ago against a suddenly vulnerable Jaguars defense that yielded 176 yards rushing and four touchdowns to San Diego last week.
3 SEA Shaun Alexander Alexander continues to reward fantasy owners with consistent touchdowns and yardage, most recently exemplified by his 150 yards and a score on 23 carries in the bitter loss to St. Louis last week. This week he’ll face his toughest challenge to date as the Seahawks fly east to visit the Patriots in a showcase showdown.
4 IND Edgerrin James We’re seeing a recurring theme this season with the Colts, Manning stakes them to a big lead with two or three touchdowns passes in the first half and Edgerrin takes over in the second half (32 carries for 136 yards and a TD against Oakland last week) to seal the win and keep their average defense off the field. Colts have their bye in Week 6 and host Jacksonville in week seven.
5 NYG Tiki Barber Barber vaults to the five spot on our top 10 with yet another outstanding performance in 2004, this time on the road in hostile Texas Stadium. He accounted for nearly 200 total yards (122 rushing, 76 receiving) and a score and now sits atop the NFL in rushing yards with 577 yards on 96 carries, a league-leading 6.0 yards per carry to go along with four touchdowns as the Giants head into their week six bye.
6 TEN Chris Brown So he’s not as good as Eddie George at converting third and one’s, the second year back continues his career year with 103 yards rushing and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in the first half against Green Bay last Monday Night. Brown finished the game with 148 yards and the two scores sitting out the last six minutes. Brown will keep it rolling against a shaky Texans defense in Nashville on Sunday.
7 NYJ Curtis Martin As expected, Buffalo’s massive defensive middle, 300 plus pounders Sam Adams and Pat Williams, knocked Martin off his torrid 2004 pace, limiting the veteran Jet to 77 yards on 22 carries. But last week’s temporary setback doesn’t discount the prior three games where Martin has gained 425 yards on 85 carries (5.0 yds per carry) and five touchdowns (four rush, one rec.). Huge bounce back week in store with defensively-challenged San Francisco, who just lost All-Pro LB Julian Peterson for the year (Achilles tear), coming to the Jersey swamp this week.
8 CHI Thomas Jones Chicago’s week five bye should prove to be of great help to Jones as his new quarterback, backup Jonathan Quinn, gained valuable repetitions to help him grow into the starter’s role as well as having defensive stalwarts, Brian Urlacher, Jerry Azumah having enough time to heal and return to the playing field this week at home against struggling Washington (1-3).
9 ATL Warrick Dunn Dunn represents yet another middle to lower tier running back who has had an impressive beginning to the 2004 campaign by compiling 343 yards rushing and tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with six, this despite the Falcons lacking a competent passing attack to keep defenses honest.
10 PIT Duce Staley The NFL’s fifth leading rusher with 489 yards on 108 carries finally found the end zone in week five with a 25 yard touchdown run against the Browns last week. Though clearly bedeviled by Jerome Bettis’ goal line robbery, Duce has continued to be the anchor for the renewed Steelers running attack.

(Note – this listing considers the rankings of RB’s if a draft was held today)

Climbing Up The Ladder

Reuben Droughns (DEN) – Just when it appeared Mike Shanahan was out of viable options for a starting tailback for last week’s game against Carolina, he moves fullback Reuben Droughns to running back and 30 carries for 193 yards later (Droughns also caught a five yard touchdown pass), it appears the Broncos have recreated the Mike Anderson magic from a few seasons ago. Droughns so impressed Shanahan with his play, it appears he’s now contending for the starting tailback spot while having already secured the role of goal line back.

Mewelde Moore (MIN) – Starting the season as the fourth string back, the rookie from Tulane answered Mike Tice’s call to start in week five against Houston when injuries to veterans Michael Bennett and Moe Williams and Onterrio Smith’s suspension left the Vikings shorthanded at running back. Moore responded by carrying the ball 20 times for 92 yards and catching 12 balls for 90 yards, replicating Michael Bennett / Onterrio Smith type production allowing the Vikings to not miss a beat in the running game. Moore owners should be able to squeeze another 2-3 starts out of him before Bennett and Smith return back to the rotation.

Deuce McAllister (NO) – Returning several weeks earlier than initial projections from his ankle injury, McAllister shook the layoff rust and rushed for 102 yards on 21 touches in the disappointing home loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday. Though he did admit to an adjustment period early in the game, fumbling twice, Deuce got stronger as the game went on and experienced no ill effects to the ankle after the game. The playing time in week five will allow McAllister to hit the ground running in the Saints showdown with Minnesota this Sunday night.

Stephen Jackson (STL) – Marshall Faulk is probably not in any immediate danger of losing his job but the rookie from Oregon’s impressive play has turned heads and confirmed that Jackson looks like he will be a factor down the stretch for the Rams. Jackson’s 6.9 yards per carry (compared to Faulk’s 4.3 yards per carry) will demand more touches as the season continues. He’s already produced two runs of 20 yards or more on only 27 carries (Faulk has none ) showing great burst and downfield speed combined with a physical running style.

Sliding Back

Clinton Portis (WAS) – After five games, including last Sunday nights lackluster 53 yards on 25 carries against the Ravens, Portis has manufactured a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry while doubling his two touchdown total with four fumbles. Clearly, he is not a good fit in Joe Gibbs running schemes and after only week five, Portis fantasy owners are looking ahead at a very long season.

Jamal Lewis (BAL) – For starters, Lewis will miss the next three weeks due to the bye followed by his two game suspension from the league office for his plea bargain on felony drug charges. Perhaps it was the distraction of his legal woes, injuries on the Baltimore offensive line or the declining play of his quarterback Kyle Boller, but Lewis is nowhere near his 2003 production level and he’ll need a big second half to win back a sea of disgruntled fantasy owners and climb his way back into the top 10.

Domanick Davis (HOU) – Davis recovered sufficiently enough from a sprained ankle to start against the Vikings at home in what seemed to be a favorable fantasy matchup for him but he managed only 31 yards on 14 carries and a score with another 31 yards in receptions on four catches. Davis’ noticeable lack of burst through the hole showed he’s still not 100 percent back and he has four fumbles to three touchdowns on the year.

Ahman Green (GB) – Green’s fantasy numbers, after a career year in 2003, have fallen off a cliff five weeks into this season. He has not rushed for over 100 yards since September 19 th against the Bears and has not sniffed the end zone for several weeks. His three fumbles have outnumbered his two scores as stories of his profuse sweating problem and heightened asthmatic condition have returned. Green’s dreadful 10 carry, 33 yard rushing performance on Monday Night at home put the exclamation point on a horrible beginning to 2004.