The recent fantasy explosion from Clinton Portis helps
highlight a trend in football that can be a determining
fantasy owners set on procuring a running back worth building
a fantasy team around. Portis ran for over 200 yards and
scored an almost unheard-of five touchdowns in a single
game when he kicked the Chiefs in the face last weekend.
touchdown total is monumental by any fantasy standard,
but the fact James Stewart is among the few other men who
tied for second place (with five touchdowns) on the list
of most touchdowns scored in a game goes to show how much
luck can be involved in the business of big-touchdown days.
You'll remember that Marcus Robinson produced a quartet
of touchdowns for Baltimore a few games ago but had not
prior to that outburst the entire year.
The statistic that is undoubtedly
earned, and significantly impressive - though it also isn't
so rare as a five-TD game - is the 200-yard game Portis posted.
It seems a great many pro football running backs have on
a special occasion topped 200 yards rushing. There are names
among those ranks that no one remembers. Yet, very telling
is the fact that running backs who have more than one 200-yard
game on their resume are players people recall. Furthermore,
the short list of players who have rushed for three or more
200-yard outbursts is a veritable who's who of star NFL runners.
Take a look at this listing to see what I mean:
| 200-Yard Games
|| O.J. Simpson
|| Jim Brown
|| Earl Campbell
|| Barry Sanders
|| Eric Dickerson
|| Greg Bell
|| Terrell Davis
|| Marshall Faulk
|| Corey Dillon
|| LaDainian Tomlinson
You can see without difficulty the fantasy production of
these players. Who doesn't remember what Barry Sanders and
Terrell Davis were worth in their prime - 2,000-yard runners
each. This penchant for putting up ridiculous rushing totals
two or more times is an easy indicator of fantasy success.
Owners should do whatever is possible to acquire these
rare runners, because their big games can come at any time.
They are the players capable of winning you games by themselves.
Clinton Portis is a perfect example. His big day last weekend
propelled many fantasy owners to wins that otherwise wouldn't
There has been a brigade of recent rushers capable of breaking
200 yards. When Corey Dillon busted out a series of long
runs on the way to 278 yards against the Broncos to push
Walter Payton (275) from the top single-game rushing yardage
spot, it had been 23 years since the record had been broken.
It only took Jamal Lewis a three-year span to obliterate
Jamal Lewis is a player who is a good bet to hit multiple
200-yard games. When he set the record this year against
the Browns, he finished only five yards short of the league's
first 300-yard game.
LaDainian Tomlinson is already on the three-or-better
list despite being in only his third season. He became the
fastest player in NFL history to record three 200-yard games,
accomplishing the feat in 38 games. Former Houston Oilers
running back Earl Campbell held the record before Tomlinson,
taking 41 games to set the record. Campbell holds the record
for most 200-yard games in a season, getting all four of
his during the 1980 campaign. Tomlinson's game-breaking ability
and durability are the reasons he went number one in many
fantasy drafts this fall.
Miami Dolphins' bruiser Ricky Williams ran for 200
yards in consecutive games in 2002, and could get hot enough
at any time to go for his third. He too was a top choice
on draft day this year.
Clinton Portis, with two 200-yard games in two years,
is poised to join the pantheon of great NFL and fantasy backs.
It may be too late to obtain his services this season, but
he is worth working hard to trade for next year and beyond.
100-yard games are a dime a dozen in this day and age of
the NFL, but pay attention when a young back begins to break
200. If he does it with any regularity, you know someone
to set your sights on.
Joe Levit, based in Boston, writes for www.cnnsi.com and www.thehuddle.com.
He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a devoted Detroit
Lions fan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.