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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Running Back Watch - Week 3
Mike Courter
September 21, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Forget opposing defenses, Tomlinson’s biggest hurdles continue to be Schottenheimer’s play-calling and Drew Brees’ decision-making.
2 KC Priest Holmes Defenseless Chiefs fell too far behind, limiting Holmes to just 66 yards and a TD on 16 carries. Help is on the way this week with punchless Houston coming to town.
3 GB Ahman Green Green still managed 128 yards rushing on 24 carries while the Packer offense was victimized yet again by Lovie Smith’s defensive schemes. This Sunday should prove greener pastures for Ahman at Indianapolis, which yielded 153 yards on the ground to the Titans last week.
4 SEA Shaun Alexander Clearly, Alexander should have rested his bruised knee against a still tough Tampa defense, as evidenced by his 45 yards on 17 carries performance. Prospects should brighten with winless San Francisco coming to Seattle.
5 IND Edgerrin James James continues to climb the charts with consistent, above-board efforts. His 124 rushing yards on 21 carries including touchdown runs of four and 30 yards, both in the fourth quarter, keyed the Colts victory over Tennessee. The downside is that a strained hamstring from that game has made him doubtful for this week against Green Bay.
6 WAS Clinton Portis Portis took a step backward last week with a disappointing 69 yard effort, which included two fumbles, against a below average Giants defense. Though he did manage to catch a 13 yard touchdown pass against Big Blue, the bar will be raised this Monday night as the Cowboys bring one of the tougher run defenses in the league into D.C. .
7 HOU Domanick Davis Davis leaps into the top 10 for the first time this season based on a second week in a row of steady running and receiving numbers, highlighted by his 11 receptions for 95 yards against the Lions, tying him with Torry Holt for third most receptions in the NFL. Davis’ stock is set to take another leap as he gets to feast on the spineless Chiefs run defense in Kansas City on Sunday, although he must find a cure for his recent fumbleitis, averaging two per game.
8 TEN Chris Brown The second year back’s productivity continues to move up and to the right following week one’s 100 yard effort in the first half on the road in Miami with last week’s 152 yards rushing and a touchdown on 26 carries against the Colts.
9 CHI Thomas Jones Jones followed up a strong week one outing with an even more impressive 23 carry, 152 yard run (including a 1 yard TD) through the Packers defense at Lambeau Field in week two, providing the foundation for the Bears upset win over Green Bay. He should fare just as well this week inside the dome in Minnesota.
10 BAL Jamal Lewis Though he scored two short touchdowns, Lewis owners expected 100 plus rushing yards in a 30-13 Ravens blowout of the Steelers. He finished with 62 yards on 24 carries. Lewis needs a breakout performance against the Bengals this week in order to recapture some of last season’s lost luster.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

DeShaun Foster (CAR) – Those that drafted Foster late with the idea of tucking him away until the latter part of the season when Stephen Davis usually starts to break down received a daily double of good fortune when Davis injured his knee in practice a few days before facing every running back’s self-esteem builder, the accommodating Chiefs run defense. Foster’s 32 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown trampled K.C. and signaled the beginning, after this week’s bye, of what should be a fortuitous fantasy stretch of games against Atlanta, @Denver, @Philadelphia and San Diego before Davis’ return.

Corey Dillon (NE) – Dillon’s 32 carries for 158 clock-eating yards in the 23-12 win over Arizona further showcased his value to New England’s ball control aspirations and helped ease some doubts that there’s a lot left in the tank for the rejuvenated veteran.

Curtis Martin (NYJ) – Another chapter was written in Martin’s 2004 renaissance to the tune of 32 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns on the road in San Diego. Guard Pete Kendall has brought a Conrad Dobler-type snarl to New York’s offensive line which should continue to open holes for Martin in what looks to be his best rushing effort in years.

Kevan Barlow (SF) – After a decent outing in week one at home against Atlanta, Barlow went on the road in New Orleans and nearly led his team to victory with a 20 carry 114 yards and two touchdowns performance. He did leave the game with bruised ribs but the injury is not considered serious.

Eddie George (DAL) – Just when the ol’ Cowpoke looked ready to ride into the sunset, second round pick Julius Jones breaks his shoulder blade in his first meaningful action of the season and George responds with 62 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries last Sunday against the Browns. Suddenly, Parcells’ running back by committee has dwindled down to two, George and unknown Rashard Lee. The Cowboys also have a favorable rushing schedule which will further buoy George’s production down the stretch.

Sliding Back

Fred Taylor (JAX) – Taylor ’s underwhelming 54 yards on 16 carries and no touchdowns leave him scoreless after the first two weeks of the season leading to further speculation that the sore foot from the preseason is still a mitigating factor in his game. As a result, the Jaguars have been leaning disproportionately on their defense in their 2-0 start. If Taylor is unable to capitalize on favorable dates with Indy, @San Diego and Kansas City in the coming weeks, consider pawning him off on an unsuspecting league member.

Deuce McAllister (NO) – McAllister followed up his rocky start in the opener, struggling for 57 yards without his usual blocking back in front of him, by incurring a high ankle sprain on his third carry versus San Francisco. The current projections have Deuce missing up to 5 or 6 weeks sending McAllister owners scrambling for backup Aaron Stecker this week.

Tyrone Wheatley (OAK) – Touted in the preseason as Norv Turner’s power back in the Raiders new offense, Wheatley, in Oakland’s first two games, has compiled a less than stellar 45 yards on 21 carries, a 2.14 yards per carry average.Seemingly,the door has been opened for free agent pickup Amos Zereoue who gained 24 yards rushing on nine carries along with three receptions for 25 yards in last Sunday’s win over the Bills in Oakland.