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Scoring Machines
By Joe Levit
December 18, 2003
 

In 2001, 17 National Football League players scored 10 or more touchdowns for fantasy owners. In 2002, the same number, 17, scored 10 or more touchdowns for fantasy owners. This year, 16 players have already scored 10 or more touchdowns, and there are still two games to go this season. With so many good players poised at eight or nine touchdowns right now, it is inevitable that in 2003 we will see many more names at the top of the touchdown charts.

What this has meant to fantasy owners this year, and what it may mean for owners next year, is that it is essential to draft or compile a team of touchdown makers, instead of simply grabbing players who get a lot of yards. If you fall behind in this aspect of the fantasy game, you will not catch up. The team that wins your championship will have at least 3-4 players on this list this year.

In the chart below are the lists of players who have scored or have the possibility of scoring 10 touchdowns in 2001,2002 or 2003. Only four players in the league, after 15 weeks this season, have scored 10 or more touchdowns in all three of the years, though two more players could achieve the feat with the two remaining games.

That achievement shows how difficult a task it is to remain a consistent scoring threat. A player must persevere through small injuries, avoid large injuries or return from them quickly, deal with injuries to other players and continue to excel despite player turnover on his team and changing offensive game plans. It also highlights how valuable the four, and possibly six, players are in fantasy football. If you can land one of these guys, your fantasy team has a solid backbone. Land two of them, and you are in the driver's seat.

SCORING LEADERS

2001

2002

2003

Player TD Player TD Player TD

1 M. Faulk, STL
2 Terrell Owens, SF
3 S. Alexander, SEA
4 M. Harrison, IND
5 A. Smith, NE
6 Corey Dillon, CIN
7 Mike Alstott, TB
8 Rod Smith, DEN
9 Ahman Green, GB
10 Derrick Mason, TEN
11 Tim Brown, OAK
12 Curtis Martin, NYJ
13 Priest Holmes, KAN
14 Randy Moss, MIN
15 Stacey Mack, JAC
16 L. Tomlinson, SD
17 D. Rhodes, IND

21
16
16
15
13
13
11
11
11
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10

1 Priest Holmes, KC
2 S. Alexander, SEA
3 R. Williams, MIA
4 C. Portis, DEN
5 D. McAllister, NO
6 L. Tomlinson, SD
7 Eddie George, TEN
8 Travis Henry, BUF
9 Terrell Owens, SF
10 Hines Ward, PIT
11 M. Harrison, IND
12 Tiki Barber, NYG
13 Moe Williams, MIN
14 C. Garner, OAK
15 D. Culpepper, MIN
16 Eric Moulds, BUF
17 M. Faulk, STL

24
18
17
17
16
15
14
14
14
12
11
11
11
11
10
10
10

1 Priest Holmes, KC
2 Ahman Green, GB
3 C. Portis, DEN
4 Randy Moss, MIN
5 S. Alexander, SEA
6 L. Tomlinson, SD
7 B. Westbrook, PHI
8 Torry Holt, STL
9 Jamal Lewis, BAL
10 Travis Henry, BUF
11 T.J. Duckett, ATL
12 M. Harrison, IND
13 Santana Moss, NYJ
14 Chad Johnson, CIN
15 Tony Gonzalez, KC
16 Joe Horn, NO
17 C. Chambers, MIA
18 Hines Ward, PIT
19 R. Williams, MIA
20 Terrell Owens, SF
21 D. Jackson, SEA
22 E. James, IND
23 D. McAllister, NO
24 S. Sharpe, DEN
25 M. Faulk, STL
26 Peter Warrick, CIN
27 K. McCardell, TB
28 Stephen Davis, CAR
29 C. Buckhalter, PHI
30 J. McCareins, TEN
31 Jeff Garcia, SF
32 Rudi Johnson, CIN
33 Zack Crockett, OAK
34 Tai Streets, SF
35 Moe Williams, MIN
36 Reggie Wayne, IND
37 Javon Walker, GB
38 Anquan Boldin, ARI

22
17
14
14
13
13
12
11
11
11
10
10
10
10
10
10
9
9
9
9
9
9
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
7
7
7
7
7
7
7
7

Bold = Four Players who have scored 10 or more TD's in each of the three years.
Italics = Two Players who may join the first four.

Just as the charts identify the reigning red zone monarchs, they also emphasize how quickly these top scorers can come and go. Yesterday's touchdown maker may be a latte maker before you know it, and players who no one counted on for huge points jump onto the list each year.

In 2001, Antowain Smith had his resurgent year with the Patriots in their run to the Super Bowl. He has since lost playing time to Kevin Faulk and even Mike Cloud. Tim Brown, who had been a perennial top scorer in the past, notched 10 touchdowns that year, and hasn't been a fantasy factor since. And finally, backup Dominic Rhodes scored in bunches once Edgerrin James was sidelined in Indy. He was subsequently injured himself in 2002.

In 2002, we saw the last hurrah of Eddie George. He has had the football ripped out of his hands this year by the team's offensive coordinator, and players like rookie Tyrone Calico. Small backs Tiki Barber and Charlie Garner got to 10 touchdowns in 2002, and have struggled mightily in 2003.

This year, four players have become big-time touchdown guys. Brian Westbrook has scored 12 times for a team that uses three running backs (his teammate Correll Buckhalter has eight so far). T.J. Duckett has been scoring touchdowns all season without Michael Vick to ease some pressure, and now especially in the absence of Warrick Dunn. Santana Moss exploded upon the scene with Pennington returning, although Moss' production has dropped the last three consecutive weeks. Finally, Chad Johnson has made Cincinnati respectable again.

When you see touchdown makers in the making, draft or trade for them as soon as possible, and do what you can to acquire a known, consistent, touchdown king - the move can make your season.

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 lavishjetpoet@aol.com.