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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Running Back Watch - Week 4
Mike Courter
September 28, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment

1

SD

LaDainian Tomlinson

Fared better than expected in Mile High which has been a graveyard for the Charger’s and LT’s fantasy production over the years. Look for a much stronger effort at home against the visiting Titans this week.

2

KC

Priest Holmes

Kept Larry Johnson in diapers for another week by shaking off his ankle injury with a steady 32 carries for 134 yards in a losing effort versus Houston. Tough going on the road in Baltimore on Monday night this week.

3

SEA

Shaun Alexander

Alexander continues to be Lord of the Red Zone with four rushing and two receiving touchdowns in his last three games. Ending the San Francisco game icing his ankle, he has this week off (bye) to rest his various ailments.

4

GB

Ahman Green

Green owners fell victim to the Manning- Favre arms race, with a pedestrian 67 yards rushing and no touchdowns, falling far short of expectations. He gets immediate help with an unimpressive Giants run defense visiting Green Bay this weekend.

5

IND

Edgerrin James

Ditto Green’s dilemma as James had 62 yards on 21 carries against the Packers, but he did score a touchdown late. His barking hamstring won’t get a break against a nasty Jaguars defense in Jacksonville this week.

6

WAS

Clinton Portis

Still learning the nuances of the Joe Gibbs Counter Trey, specifically waiting for the pulling tackle before making his cut, Portis did manage 94 yards on 23 carries against a tough Cowboys run defense while adding 37 yards on three catches. The Browns tired, banged up defense a will be a welcome sight for Portis this Sunday.

7

TEN

Chris Brown

Brown continues to pass each test thrown his way in his first season as the full time starter. His 101 yards on 23 carries (and 1 touchdown) broke a 17 game streak by the Jacksonville defense of not allowing a 100 yard rusher. His role should be even bigger this week in San Diego with Steve McNair nursing a bruised sternum.

8

CHI

Thomas Jones

Jones was both the leading rusher, 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown, and leading receiver, eight catches for 71 yards, for the Bears in their losing effort in Minnesota last week. He has become a lynchpin in the Bear’s aspirations this year, the ideal scenario for his fantasy owners.

9

BAL

Jamal Lewis

Now 18 carries for 186 yards including a 75 yard touchdown jaunt is more like it….a nice appetizer as Lewis awaits the main course, visiting Kansas City, on Monday night.

10

HOU

Domanick Davis

Huge letdown with a humbling 10 carry 12 yards performance in what should have been a fantasy feast against the leaky Chiefs run stoppers. Davis left the game with an ankle injury and is questionable for this week.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Warrick Dunn (ATL) – The T.J. Duckett crowd continues to hope he’ll go away but the diminutive Dunn refuses and after three games behind the Alex Gibbs blocking schemes he has grown roots in the offense and become the Falcons biggest threat outside of Mike Vick. A week ago, it appeared he would succumb to a leg injury and open the door for the younger Duckett but he battled through practice all week to keep the starting job and subsequently rushed for 117 yards on 20 carries against Arizona. In three games, Dunn has gained 223 yards on 53 carries with four touchdowns compared to the challenger Duckett who has 11 carries for 58 yards and remains on the outside looking in at the starting role.

Aaron Stecker (NO) – Thetrendyfree agent pickup of last week, Stecker did not disappoint waiver wire prospectors with a 106 yards rushing on 18 carries including a 42 yard touchdown run. He also showed his versatility with four catches for 20 yards. Stecker owners can relish another four weeks of the honeymoon with dates against Arizona, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Oakland before the week eight bye and Deuce McAllister’s return.

Tiki Barber (NYG) – The expected tension with new coach Tom Coughlin and a lack of chemistry on the offensive line appeared to be significant hurdles to Barber’s production when the 2004 season began. After three games in which he’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 15.0 yards per catch, neither challenge has slowed the veteran back one bit. Last Sunday before the Browns game, Ron Dayne became a surprise inactive with a calf strain thrusting Barber into the feature role. TB responded with a 106 yards rushing and a touchdown on 23 carries and 48 yards receiving from three catches. In Coughlin’s post game press conference, he recognized that Barber can be a featured back in his offense.

William Green (CLE) – It appeared that Green had lost the starting job to Lee Suggs in the preseason after struggling through a horrendous 2003 campaign, but Suggs incurred a neck stinger right before the opening game and hasn’t been back since. Green wasn’t that impressive, along with the rest of the Browns, in the first two games but he was one of the few bright spots in the 27-10 loss to the Giants with 91 yards on 15 carries (he also had a 45 yard touchdown run called back due to a holding penalty) behind an injury-ravaged offensive line. Suggs is supposed to be back soon but can’t seem to stay healthy and Green will be there to eat up the carries left on the table in an offense that wants to rely on its running game while Jeff Garcia tries to find his groove.

Sliding Back

Quentin Griffin (DEN) – After a 156 yard, three touchdown (2 run, 1 rec) splash in week one against the Chiefs, Griffin has plummeted back to earth against the Jags (66 yards and no TDs) and the lowly Chargers in Denver (12 carries for seven yards and no scores), averaging a fumble per game in the first three contests, erasing the confidence that Mike Shanahan had built up in him this preseason. Now Garrison Hearst is back in the Denver running game mix and rookie Tatum Bell is soon to follow, downgrading Griffin’s status as a fantasy starter in most leagues.

Kevin Jones (DET) – Jones is quickly becoming a fantasy football tease as his speed and burst are evident but his development continues to be sidetracked just when it looks like he’s ready to takeoff. His progress has been slow and steady each week, after a preseason that was constantly interrupted by nagging injuries, culminating with his 12 carries for 57 yards against Houston in week two. After the game, Jones commented that the pace of the NFL game was starting to slow down for him. Then the Eagles came to town last week and four carries for eight yards later, Jones suffered a high ankle sprain that will keep him out of action for another two to four weeks.

Marshall Faulk (STL) – Faulk followed up week two’s disappointing effort of 12 carries for 20 yards against Atlanta with another underwhelming performance of 44 yards on 12 carries against a less than imposing New Orleans defense in St. Louis last week. Though he scored a touchdown in each game, both were short yardage runs, not the exciting big plays he used to break just a few short seasons ago. An embattled Mike Martz bristled at reporters after the overtime loss to the Saints when questioned why his play calling was so slanted heavily toward the passing game, 55 passing plays to 14 running. He indicated that too many three and outs while running the ball in the loss to Atlanta in the prior week had factored into his game plan for the Saints. Not exactly a vote of confidence in the Marshall Plan.