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Running Back Watch - Week 7
Mike Courter
October 19, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 KC Priest Holmes Holmes 122 total yards effort against Jacksonville was highlighted by his reception of a short dump pass which he turned into a 28 yard fourth quarter touchdown reception by zig-zagging through the Jacksonville defense. This week the Chiefs host a stingy Atlanta run defense which limited Ladainian Tomlinson to 80 total yards (64 rushing) last Sunday at home.
2 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Tomlinson was okay against a tough, aggressive Falcons front but should be much better this Sunday in Carolina against a wounded and struggling Panthers team that just recently lost All-Pro defensive tackle Kris Jenkins for the season.
3 SEA Shaun Alexander Another touchdown for Alexander in the loss to New England ties him for the league lead with Randy Moss at eight (six rushing, 2 receiving). This Sunday’s visit to Arizona should yield a big yardage day as well.
4 IND Edgerrin James James keyed the Colts week four win in Jacksonville with the game-winning touchdown along with 83 yards rushing on 19 carries. On Sunday he’ll get the Jaguars defense on the fast turf in Indy.
5 NYG Tiki Barber The Detroit Lions come to Giants stadium after a 38-10 home drubbing by the Packers while the Giants are fresh off their bye week. Though the Lions defense has yet to allow a running back to gain 100 yards rushing in 11 straight games dating back to last year , Detroit yielded 157 yards on the ground to Green Bay last week boding well for Barber to continue his 2004 roll.
6 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin continues to power the Jets with another 100 yard game and two game-clinching fourth quarter touchdowns at home against the Niners last Sunday. His first big test of the season awaits in New England this Sunday.
7 TEN Chris Brown Jeff Fisher handles his prize game-breaking back with the proverbial velvet glove, so when Brown collided violently with a Texan defender early in the game and reported a shoulder ache he was quickly pulled and did not return after gaining 52 yards on 13 carries. The shoulder stinger will list Brown as questionable for this week’s game in Minnesota but he is expected to play.
8 NO Deuce McAllister McAllister followed up his impressive performance against Tampa Bay two weeks ago with another solid outing on Sunday night versus the Vikings rushing for 78 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. It should be Deuce’s Wild this weekend in Oakland where the reeling Raiders defense has given up an average of 189 yards on the ground over their last three games.
9 DEN Reuben Droughns The former journeyman fullback from Detroit has now become the “IT” back in Denver’s running game. After his second consecutive game as the primary ball carrier, Droughns is now averaging 34 carries and 185 rush yards and a touchdown per game. The workhorse will get to sink his teeth into a feeble Bengals unit allowing 4.6 yards per carry to opponents on Monday Night in front of a national audience.
10 WAS Clinton Portis Now that’s more like it…Portis delivered a stud running back performance with his 36 carries for 171 yards helping Washington grind out a road win in Chicago, 13-10. He has a bye this week and then gets a favorable matchup hosting Green bay in week eight.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Corey Dillon (NE) – Dillon’s 105 yards rushing with two touchdowns on 23 carries during the Patriots NFL record 20 th consecutive win exemplified exactly why they took a chance on the veteran Pro Bowler. New England has been able to infuse Dillon’s powerful running style when the passing game takes a breather, enabling them to carve their place in the NFL record books. Dillon has already rushed for 502 yards on 107 carries (4.9 yds per carry) with three touchdowns and should pad those numbers against a middle of the road Jets defense this week.

Fred Taylor (JAX) – Taylor ’s137 total yards effort in Jacksonville’s 22-16 win over the Chiefs reminded fantasy ballers of the all-around threat Taylor has been in seasons past. His 64 yard touchdown reception was vintage Taylor as he tight-roped the sideline after outracing defenders into the end zone. Jacksonville visits Indianapolis this Sunday where Taylor ran for 126 yards on 17 carries in 2003.

Willis McGahee (BUF) – Travis Henry’s latest injury opened the door for McGahee to start against the Dolphins and the second year back responded with a 142 yard effort (111 rushing), including 79 yards rushing in the second half keying the Bills to their first win this year. McGahee, seemingly a fan and sports media favorite in western New York, has gained an edge over Henry in his battle to capture the starting role.

Sammy Morris (BUF) – Dave Wannstedt gave Morris the starting assignment over Leonard Henry and Brock Forsey in Miami’s visit to Buffalo last week and the former fullback played well in the 20-13 losing effort carrying 18 times for 91 yards with two receptions for 28 yards. Morris will look to build on his success in Buffalo when the Rams visit Miami this Sunday. Going into the Monday Night game against the Bucs, St. Louis was giving up 5.2 yards per carry to opponents.

Sliding Back

Warrick Dunn (ATL) – Followed up week five’s disappointing effort against Detroit, where he gained only 44 yards on 18 carries, with an invisible 13 yards on five carries at home against the Chargers last Sunday leading to the re-emergence of T.J. Duckett into the mix.

Rudi Johnson (CIN) – After six weeks, Johnson owners are kicking themselves for squandering , in most cases, their second round pick on the fourth year back from Auburn. He’s averaging only 3.8 yards per carry with a scant two touchdowns on the year in an offense that was hoping to rely on him while Carson Palmer adjusted to live action. Johnson’s sub par performance has also hurt a defense that continues to break down late in games.

Quentin Griffin (DEN) – Two straight weeks of dominance by Reuben Droughns ended Mike Shanahan’s annoying shell game as to who will be his starter at tailback which also means that Quentin Griffin, whom so many fantasy players had such high hopes for when the season started, has gone from superstar in the making after his dynamic week one performance against the Chiefs to confirmed third down scat back. Tough to stomach as the season enters the midway stretch.

Travis Henry (BUF) – The hard luck kid of 2004 seemed to have warded off Willis McGahee’s preseason attempt to wrest the top running back spot from him, even getting a vote of confidence from head coach Mike Mularkey as the unquestioned starter. But a rash of nagging injuries and inconsistent performances (3.4 yards per carry and no touchdowns) have now placed Henry behind the eight ball in the Bills depth chart.