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Running Back Watch - Week 14
Mike Courter
December 7, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 KC Priest Holmes Priest will miss Kansas City’s Week 14 Monday night visit to Tennessee and the prevailing hope around Chiefs camp is a Week 15 return in Kansas City against the Broncos.
2 NYG Tiki Barber Tom Coughlin’s house of cards continues to tumble as the Giants offense under rookie Eli Manning has been anything but “Easy”, most recently displayed in last Sunday’s 31-7 skinning by Washington. Consequently, Barber’s dream 2004 season is increasingly headed for troubled waters as his 38 yards on 15 carries with no receptions and a fumble against the Skins will attest. Perhaps there’s a break this week…oh geez…a road trip to Baltimore and a spurned group of Ravens defenders who just ate major crow last week when Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer went John Elway on them in the Bengals stirring 27-26 comeback win last Sunday.
3 SEA LaDainian Tomlinson A vintage LT performance in a rare, meaningful late season game in his young Chargers career as his 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 30 carries keyed San Diego’s 20-17 triumph over the Denver Broncos in the pivotal contest for the AFC West divisional title. This Sunday the Bolts welcome Tampa Bay, a team that has not defended the run well in their last two road games, to the west coast.
4 SD Shaun Alexander Alexander struggled for most of the Monday night home matchup with the Cowboys but turned it on in the fourth quarter to finish with 83 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, now tying Priest Holmes for the NFL lead with 15. The Seahawks travel to Minnesota for Week 14.
5 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin, buoyed by the return of team leader Chad Pennington, ran over and through visiting Houston for 134 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 rec.) in the Jets 29-7 home win over the Texans. Fantasy owners of Martin, many facing their first playoff game this week, have to view his road game against difficult Pittsburgh, yielding only 3.5 yards per carry to opponents, with great apprehension.
6 IND Edgerrin James James continues to quietly churn out solid fantasy production in the shadow of the weekly Peyton Manning aerial show. James was good for 105 yards and two scores on only 18 carries while catching four balls for 31 yards in the 51-24 home rout of the Titans. The Colts travel to Houston to face the Texans, who gave up 210 yards rushing to the Jets last Sunday.
7 NE Corey Dillon Dillon continues to take advantage of New England’s soft schedule, rolling over chaotic Cleveland for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Dillon left the game briefly with a leg injury and will be evaluated this week but is not expected to miss this week’s home game against the Bengals, currently 31 st in the NFL against the run, giving up 4.6 yards per carry.
8 HOU Domanick Davis The Texans road woes were too much for Davis to overcome in the fantasy world as the 29-7 beating from the Jets limited diminutive Dom to 52 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Moral victories for Davis owners included a nifty 60 yard touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty and the fact that his touchdown came on fourth down and two, displaying Dom Capers confidence in the second year back. Davis is a must start this week with the Colts heading into Houston. Four weeks ago in the Texans humiliating 49-14 loss in Indy, Davis had 152 total yards and two touchdowns.
9 PHI Brian Westbrook Westbrook has the Eagles soaring since his return from injury a few weeks ago. Teams that focus all their energies on stopping TO are now paying the price thanks to the third year back from Villanova. Last week’s 47-17 blowout of the Packers reminded viewers of Westbrook’s impact in the passing game as he hauled in 11 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. He travels to Washington this week, a team that he gained 105 total yards and two receiving touchdowns against three weeks ago.
10 DEN Reuben Droughns Droughns disappointed in Denver’s heart-breaking 20-17 loss to the Chargers in San Diego with only 38 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, also getting poked in the eye allowing Tatum Bell to steal seven carries for 31 yards and a touchdown in a limited role. The Broncos host 2-10 Miami this week. The struggling Dolphins are giving up 4.2 yards per carry to opposing backs.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Kevin Jones (DET) – With Charles Rogers sidelined for a second season in row and rookie Roy Williams markedly slowed by the nagging ankle, Jones now stands as a beacon of light for a Detroit offense that had lost it’s way with a faltering passing game. The rookie out of Virginia Tech sees his role in the Lions offense grow each week, against the Cardinals he gained 196 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries while catching four balls for 22 yards. Tougher game this week as the Lions travel to Lambeau Field against a surly Green bay team coming off the humiliating loss in Philadelphia.

Stepehen Jackson (STL) – The rookie out of Oregon State got the starting nod against the 49ers last week when Marshall Faulk yielded to injury and Jackson responded with a solid overall effort rushing for 119 yards on 26 carries to go along with 3 catches for 30 yards. It appears likely that Faulk will miss a second consecutive game this week in Carolina and Jackson, despite bruising his right knee versus San Francisco last week, is poised to approach 30 carries again this week against a Panthers team that has allowed 15 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Clinton Portis (WAS) – The inconsistent Portis continues his rollercoaster ride of production with an up week last Sunday due to his 148 rushing yards on 31 carries and two scores (1 run, 1 rec.) in the 31-7 romp over the Giants. He’ll look to the home venue on Sunday night to help reverse his poor performance against Philadelphia from three weeks ago.

Julius Jones (DAL) – Anyonestill second-guessing Bill Parcells for passing on Stephen Jackson and trading out of the first round to acquire Buffalo’s 2005 1 st round pick and Julius Jones in the second round? Since Jones return from a lengthy absence due to a shoulder injury, the rookie from Notre Dame has carried the ball 98 times for 445 yards (4.5 yds per carry) and five touchdowns in the past three games, including 198 yards and three scores during the Cowboys 43-39 Monday Night comeback thriller over the Seahawks in Seattle. Parcells has found his new Curtis Martin, get him into your lineup for this Sunday’s home date with the defenseless Saints.

Sliding Back

Deuce McAllister (NO) – As the Saints fall like a lead balloon, Deuce also drops out of the RB Watch top ten after an abysmal 22 yards on seven carries and a lost fumble in the 32-21 humbling home loss at the hands of the Panthers. This week the 4-8 Saints travel to Dallas to face a rejuvenated Cowboys team that remains in contention for an NFC wildcard berth.

William Green (CLE) – With Lee Suggs idle against visiting New England last Sunday, Green could assume the starting role without looking over his shoulder and he responded with 15 yards on 12 carries and he lost a fumble which was returned by the Patriots defense for a 41 yard score, fueling the debilitating 42-15 home loss.

Amos Zereoue / Justin Fargas (OAK) – File last week’s effort against the infamous Kansas City run defense in the opportunity lost drawer as the two-headed substitute for the injured Tyrone Wheatley combined for a hideous 14 yards on six carries in Oakland’s disheartening 34-27 loss at home to hated rival, Kansas City. Zereoue is in the process of playing his way out of Oakland after arriving this season as a free agent and how long are fantasy fan’s going to have to wait for Huggy Bear’s kid to finally match his will with his enormous physical gifts?