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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Running Back Watch - Week 11
Mike Courter
November 16, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 KC Priest Holmes Chagrin-filled Holmes owners sat and watched with envy as Derrick Blaylock took Priest’s seat at the fantasy football banquet known as the Saints defense rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries in the Superdome. Holmes will have an additional day of rest in his quest to return to action on Monday night against the Pats.
2 NYG Tiki Barber Barber’s stellar fantasy production continues despite what appears to be the onset of another Big Blue midseason implosion, accumulating 160 of the Giants 340 total yards and one of their two scores in the 17-14 loss in Arizona. New challenges arise this week with an attacking Falcons defense flying high into New York, daring rookie Eli Manning in his first NFL start to beat them by stacking the line of scrimmage against Tiki.
3 SEA Shaun Alexander “And Alexander wept for there were no more worlds to conquer”….Seattle’s Alexander the Great continues to trounce opposing defenses weekly, as the host Rams, yielding 176 yards on just 22 carries, can attest. Mike Holmgren’s renewed emphasis on the running game should continue to pay dividends this weekend when the Hawks welcome Miami to Qwest Field.
4 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin turned away nay-sayers for yet another week, carrying the Jets offense by rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Ravens group, helping backup QB Quincy Carter in his first start of the 2004 season. This week he travels to Cleveland where the Browns tend to give up yards on the ground, allowing 115.3 yards per game to opponents and have given up 11 rushing scores.
5 IND Edgerrin James James drops down from the number four spot to number five on the RB Watch list simply because of Peyton Manning’s now seemingly routine 300 yard, five touchdown games, like last Sunday over the Texans, rob him of countless opportunities. Manning’s hell bent quest to break Dan Marino’s single season touchdown record of 48 will continue to short circuit Edge’s fantasy efforts.
6 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Okay LT owners, we’ve been waiting for this for most of the season, Tomlinson’s groin has had two weeks to rest which will magically restore the burst that has been missing since early in the season. No more 4 th Quarter siesta’s, no more Jesse Chatman zipping through tired opponents to close out San Diego wins. And what better opponent to welcome the healthy groin back than the crumbling Raiders?
7 GB Ahman Green Despite being kicked in the leg during Green Bay’s pivotal 34-31 win over the Vikings, Green gutted out 145 yards rushing on 21 carries. Green will have an active role in what should be a bonanza of scoring in the Sunday night match up versus the Texans in Houston.
8 NO Deuce McAllister Any fantasy players with McAllister in their lineup last week against the Chiefs viewed the game with a bittersweet taste in their mouth. For some unknown reason Deuce didn’t even touch the ball until late in the first quarter and when they finally handed it to him he gained 28 yards! McAllister finished the game with an impressive 127 yards and a touchdown on only 16 carries in New Orleans 27-20 home triumph but it could have been so much more. This Sunday, the Saints host Denver, who in their last road contest allowed Cincinnati’s Rudi Johnson to rush for 110 yards on 24 carries.
9 DEN Reuben Droughns Droughns owners have pre-Thanksgiving visions of Derrick Blaylock’s 186 yard turkey shoot of the New Orleans defense dancing through their heads as the Broncos ride into New Orleans this Sunday.
10 HOU Domanick Davis Davis has conducted a fantasy renaissance in the last few weeks after a subpar, injury filled beginning to the 2004 campaign. In their last two games the Texans have suffered lopsided losses but surprisingly Davis’ fantasy scoring has continued it’s upward trend, as the second year back has scored four touchdowns and seen his rushing and receiving totals grow with each defeat. Sunday night’s contest with the visiting Packers should contribute to his points escalation.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Jerome Bettis (PIT) – Since expanding his role from goal line and short yardage duty in response to Duce Staley’s absence due to a nagging hamstring, Bettis has reminded observers of why he was the go-to guy in Steel Town’s running attack for all those years. In his last three games, the Bus has gained 317 yards and three scores on 77 carries. This Sunday he faces traditional whipping boy Cincinnati where he should add to his 10 rushing touchdowns, currently second in the NFL.

Fred Taylor (JAX) – Taylor has rushed for over 100 yards in two of his last three games including his 144 yards on 23 carries in the Jaguars 23-17 overtime win against the Lions last Sunday. This week, Taylor will face the Titans in Jacksonville. Over the last few seasons, Tennessee has been stingy against the run but after several defensive free agent departures in the off-season they are giving up 4.4 yards per carry to opposing teams.

Marshall Faulk (STL) –Faulk has quietly compiled noteworthy total yards numbers in his last three games. He has 19 receptions for 117 yards and 266 yards rushing on 42 carries, responding nobly to the new role of sharing carries with rookie Stephen Jackson in a Mike Martz offense that seems hostile toward the running game. Though a tough test awaits outdoors in Buffalo this week, the Rams might have to lean more on the running game considering their traditional troubles throwing in the elements and Torry Holt’s iffy health status due to suffering a concussion last Sunday.

Sliding Back

Chris Brown (TEN) – Expectations were high going into the week 10 home game against Chicago with the fragile Brown getting to rest his testy turf toe during the week nine bye. But trouble signs appeared early in the week when, despite resting during the bye, Brown still could not participate in practice for most of the week leading up the Bears game. He tried valiantly, carrying 20 times for 62 yards but lost two fumbles and had to exit early due to increased pain in the toe in the Titans deflating 19-17 loss. The recurring theme is Brown skipping all of this week’s practices in the hopes that he’ll be ready to face the nasty Jacksonville defensive front seven on Sunday.

Kevan Barlow (SF) – Though scoring two short yardage touchdowns early in the ‘Niners 37-27 home loss to Carolina, Barlow gained only 47 yards on 21 carries for the game and was flagged for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during a critical point in the game, drawing the sideline fury of Dennis Erickson as he left the playing field. His backup, Maurice Hicks was impressive in his brief appearance gaining 46 yards on eight carries while displaying noticeable burst and quickness through the hole.

Lee Suggs (CLE) – Suggs was a preseason darling on most fantasy football draft projections, ranking with other breakout hopefuls like Chris Brown, Thomas Jones and Kevan Barlow. But now 10 weeks in, he has yet to register a 100 yard rushing game and is averaging a weak 3.1 yards per carry with only two rushing touchdowns (and one receiving). Unsteady counterpart William Green has been the more consistent Cleveland runner averaging 4.0 yards per carry in his 441 rush yards.