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Running Back Watch - Week 9
Mike Courter
November 2, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 KC Priest Holmes What sets Holmes apart from all other backs is the relentless excellence he puts forth week after week, season after season. Priest now leads the NFL in yards rushing (833) and total touchdowns (14) after another masterful performance last week against the Colts in which he gained 143 yards and three scores on the ground and 82 yards in receptions.
2 NYG Tiki Barber Barber continues the convincing campaign for his first ever Pro Bowl berth with another 101 yards rushing and two touchdowns in New York’s impressive 34-13 gutting of the Vikings in the Metrodome last Sunday. He’ll welcome the woeful Bears to Giants Stadium in week nine.
3 SEA Shaun Alexander Alexander responded when Holmgren made him the focal point of Seattle’s offensive game plan against the Panthers by rushing for 195 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns. He is second only to Priest Holmes in touchdowns with 10 and is a good bet to add to that total this week when the Hawks visit San Francisco.
4 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Who would have thought at this time last year that Tomlinson’s fantasy production would be hindered by the Chargers dominating opponents enough to rest him late in numerous games? LT has a chance to get fat on a horrible Saints team this Sunday before his week ten bye where his injured groin will have a chance to recover just in time for fantasy football playoffs starting around week 13.
5 IND Edgerrin James The Colts fell too far behind the Chiefs for James to be used effectively in the ground game but he did contribute with six catches for 90 yards in the 45-35 loss in Arrowhead. A gem of a matchup awaits for James on Monday Night when the Vikings arrive in Indy.
6 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin got back on track this week in the Jets Monday Night rout of the ‘Phins carrying only 19 times for 115 yards including a 25 yard touchdown run. This Sunday he will travel to Buffalo to face a Bills team that is giving up only 3.5 yards per carry to opponents and has allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season.
7 GB Ahman Green Green propelled himself back into the top ten with a second consecutive strong performance gaining 70 yards rushing and 73 receiving with two touchdowns in the Packers win over Washington. Green has now scored four times in his last two games and will be able to rest his sore left Achilles tendon during Green Bay’s bye this week, setting himself up for a strong finishing kick to the season.
8 NO Deuce McAllister Coming off a week eight bye where he received much needed rest for his hobbled ankle, McAllister will be heavily relied upon by Jim Haslett this week in San Diego. The Saints devoted extra time during the off week to bolster their running game which will help keep their struggling defense off the field.
9 DEN Reuben Droughns The magical Reuben ride hit somewhat of a bump in Denver’s lopsided 41-28 home loss to the Falcons as the Broncos had to abandon the running game early upon entering catch-up mode. Still Droughns managed 49 yards rushing and caught six passes for 63 yards in the losing effort. He and the Broncos will look to right the ship when the Texans ride into Mile High this Sunday.
10 TEN Chris Brown Brown sat out practice all week with a painful turf toe injury and was declared active right before kickoff last Sunday against the Bengals. With Steve McNair on the sidelines, Brown imposed his will on the visiting Bengals with 147 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown, keying the Titans 27-20 home win. A perfectly timed week nine bye will allow Brown, the NFL’s second leading rusher with 810 yards, sufficient downtime to heal his aching toe.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Domanick Davis (HOU) – Against a formidable Jacksonville front seven, Davis got the yeoman’s share of carries (22) gaining 56 yards rushing while also hauling in five passes for 39 yards, all the while remaining injury free, which has been difficult for him this season. This Sunday he heads to Denver, which has yielded an average of 164 yards rushing to opponents in their last two games, both losses.

Willis McGahee (BUF) – Travis Henry, we hardly knew ye’. Ending months of speculation, McGahee has finally wrested the starting running back position from Henry after his second 100 yard rushing performance in three games, running for 102 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns in Buffalo’s 38-14 victory over the Cardinals. The 38 points scored was their highest single game output of the year and many in the Bills organization attribute that to McGahee energizing the running attack. Buffalo hosts the Jets this week.

Jerome Bettis (PIT) –Bettis has experienced a surprising rebirth in Steel Town with the arrival of free agent running back Duce Staley in the off-season. Staley, along with a rejuvenated offensive line, has jump-started the Pittsburgh ground attack and Bettis has become a prime beneficiary in his role as the short yardage/ goal line specialist. Bettis’ eight rushing touchdowns place him second in the NFL behind only Priest Holmes. He also added 65 yards rushing on 15 carries in the Steelers victory over New England last week.

Mike Cloud (NYG) – In 12 or more team leagues that emphasize touchdowns, Cloud could prove to be useful down the stretch this season. His nine carry, 55 yard performance in the Giants blow out road win over the Vikings was also punctuated with two short touchdown runs. Coughlin’s futile attempts to will Ron Dayne into a power complement to Tiki Barber seemed to have come to an end with the emergence of Cloud as Dayne was a healthy scratch for the first time all season.

Sliding Back

Mewelde Moore (MIN) – Moore ’s worst game as a pro couldn’t have come at a worse time for the rookie from Tulane. His mental error led to an early Vikings turnover when he failed to pounce on a dropped lateral pass in the eventual 34-13 loss to the Giants. He also incurred a sprained ankle and mild concussion on his way to 29 yards rushing on eight carries. Also working against him, Michael Bennett seems to be finding his groove as evidenced by his late touchdown run against New York and Tice favorite Onterrio Smith returns from his suspension this week.

Amos Zereoue (OAK) – In the last three weeks, with Kerry Collins and the passing game collapsing and Tyrone Wheatley sitting due to injury, Amos Zereoue stood at opportunities door and refused to open it. His disappearance last week, carrying six times for negative one yard in the Raiders 42-14 loss in San Diego combined with Tyrone Wheatley’s four carries for 23 yards and a touchdown confirmed his return trip to the bench and part time duty behind Wheatley.

Thomas Jones (CHI)— After an exciting three week start to the season, Jones lost Rex Grossman for the season forcing the Bears offense into a one dimensional quagmire. Still Jones persevered and fought hard to put up respectable numbers against Tampa Bay and Washington and looked prime to play well against San Francisco on Sunday night only to leave the game after the first few snaps with a foot sprain that looks to keep him out of this week’s game against the Giants.

Kevan Barlow (SF) -- Hard to believe, after eight weeks in, that Barlow was a trendy preseason pick to be the next fantasy superstar back after his late season spurt in 2003. But the preseason hypesters didn’t factor on the loss of Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens and subsequent replacement of Tim Rattay / Ken Dorsey and Brandon Lloyd would take such a toll on the injury-plagued Barlow. With injuries along the offensive line and numerous tough defenses remaining on the schedule, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel either.