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Alexander the Great
Joe Levit
December 8, 2004

While a certain ancient Alexander is tanking at the box office, another less heralded Alexander is once again carrying fantasy owners to their playoffs. Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander has finally caught Priest Holmes at the top of the touchdown chart, and with 15 is tied for the league lead.

Alexander is about as underrated as you can be at the marquee position in fantasy football, which isn’t Greek to anyone who has owned him the last few years. But overall, it is surprising how little publicity the ever-effective Alexander gets.

Each year, there seem to be about five to six backs that fantasy owners would prefer to procure at the start of a draft. And each year, Alexander tops the majority of those backs by years’ end. For instance, this year fantasy owners might have drafted Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, Ahman Green, Jamal Lewis, Deuce McAllister and even sometimes Ricky Williams ahead of Alexander.

While you certainly can’t fault anyone for taking Holmes with the top pick (after all, he did compile 15 scores in the first 7 1/2 games this year, a total which no one except Alexander has even tied four and a half games later) and probably would understand if someone favored Tomlinson (who had 100 catches in a healthy year), it is hard to see why the other players would be taken ahead of the Seahawk.

Maybe it has a lot to do with his location. Seattle is a team that just doesn’t generate enough football interest, even in fantasy football circles. That is surprising considering what Seahawks players did for fantasy owners last year. Still, you can imagine how much more coveted Alexander would be if he ran for a team like the Cowboys or Washington Redskins.

It doesn’t help him that his team has been a perennial disappointment in recent years, with the talent to get to and do damage in the playoffs, but without the wherewithal to make it happen. This year, the Seahawks were Super Bowl favorites, but with a hard loss Monday night against Dallas, the Seahawks are going to have to fight a posse of teams just to make the postseason.

A third possibility is that owners simply are unwilling to try someone new, even if it is to their benefit, for fear of an unknown commodity. A lot of otherwise savvy owners fall into this simple trap. This phenomenon is best summed up by a truly great writer – Shakespeare himself. In Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, he opines that:

The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

Hamlet is talking about dealing with the pressures here in this life rather than killing himself and being subjected to ones that are strange and perhaps worse. Sometimes, an owner drafts players year after year largely for that reason.

Alexander has always had a proboscis for end zone production. At Alabama, he scored 50 times. His touchdown output at the professional level is high and consistent. Here is a look at his four years in Seattle since becoming the full-time starter:

Career Stats 


Year G GS Att Yards Avg Lg TD
2001 16 12 309 1318 4.3 88 14
2002 16 16 295 1175 4.0 58 16
2003 16 15 326 1435 4.4 55 14
2004 11 11 237 1190 5.0 44 12
TOTAL 75 55 1231 5431 4.4 88 56


Year G GS No Yards Avg Lg TD
2001 16 12 44 343 7.8 28 2
2002 16 16 59 460 7.8 80 2
2003 16 15 42 295 7.0 22 2
2004 11 11 13 103 7.9 24 3
TOTAL 75 55 163 1242 7.6 80 9

At 27, Alexander clearly has at least three more very productive years left, especially when you consider that he only had 64 carries in his rookie season. He is overlooked every year, and probably will be next season too, when he’ll no doubt be drafted behind somebody like Willis McGahee, or another player that has not proven himself over time. He’ll toil on in relative anonymity, and continue to produce for those owners who know better.