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Running Back Watch - Week 12
Mike Courter
November 23, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s To Own Comment
1 KC Priest Holmes As of this publication, there was no definitive word that Holmes will be sufficiently recovered to play in the Chiefs Week 12 matchup with San Diego this Sunday. Despite missing the last two weeks due to injury, Holmes still leads the NFL in total touchdowns with 15.
2 NYG Tiki Barber Barber continues to be a steady fantasy force, overcoming the insertion of rookie QB Eli Manning into the Giants starting lineup by exceeding 100 total yards yet again (137 total with 107 rush yards) in the 14-10 loss to Atlanta last Sunday. This weekend, Barber squares off against division rival Philadelphia for the second time this season. In week one, he scorched the Birds with 200 total yards, including a 72 yard touchdown run.
3 SEA Shaun Alexander Alexander just missed 100 yards rushing against the Dolphins with 96 on 29 carries but did add another score to bump his season total to 13, tied for second in the league with Terrell Owens. An unforgiving Bills run defense heads to the great Northwest to take their best shot at Alexander after bottling up Marshall Faulk for six yards rushing on 13 carries.
4 IND Edgerrin James For what seemed like the first time all season, Peyton Manning and his four touchdowns a game had to take a backseat to Edgerrin James, thanks to his 204 yard rushing masterpiece in Sunday’s 41-10 romp over the Bears. James dazzled with spinning, Sportscenter highlight reel runs throughout the game, punctuating his outstanding effort with an 11 yard score in the third quarter. This week, he’ll entertain a national audience on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, giving fantasy ballers an extra treat during their turkey banquet.
5 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Tomlinson fans may have hurt their own respective groins jumping for joy as they saw a finally fit LT rumble through the Raiders for 164 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries keying San Diego’s 23-17 road win in Oakland. His stellar play kept fourth quarter vulture Jesse Chatman on the bench and wrested the Charger’s offensive star back from Drew Brees, a rarity this season. Tomlinson should continue to roll this week in Kansas City against the vapid Chiefs run stoppers.
6 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin bruised his knee in New York’s 10-7 win over the Browns after gaining 88 yards on 17 carries allowing capable understudy Lamont Jordan to finish Cleveland off with an almost identical 73 yards on 18 carries. He’s considered probable for the game against the Cardinals in Arizona, which could be a fantasy windfall as the Cards were just lit up by Carolina’s third string back Nick Goings for 121 yards rushing and three scores in last week’s 35-10 loss to the Panthers.
7 GB Ahman Green Sore ribs knocked Green out early in the first half of Sunday night’s hard fought 16-13 Packer victory in Houston after gaining only 15 yards on five carries. He’ll be evaluated this week in the hopes of being ready for this Monday Night’s scoring fest with the Rams in St. Louis.
8 DEN Reuben Droughns Fantasy expectations fulfilled, Droughns obliterated a forlorn Saints defense, rumbling for 166 yards on 28 carries including a 51 yard touchdown run. Expect the good times to continue to roll as Denver hosts hapless Oakland on Sunday night. In week six, Droughns gored the Raiders in the Black Hole with 176 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries.
9 NO Deuce McAllister With the Saints being routed by the Broncos to the tune of 34-13, McAllister displayed his versatility by shifting into receiver mode, catching 11 passes for 87 yards in addition to his 42 yards on 13 carries. That being said, it’s become quite apparent that the collective inefficiencies of his Saints teammates has become an anchor drag on Deuce’s fantasy production. On Sunday, he’ll face a Falcons defense in Atlanta that has yielded 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.
10 HOU Domanick Davis Though averaging only 3.0 yards per carry, the Texans continue to force feed carries to Davis in an apparent ground game mandate. In the 16-13 loss to Green Bay, Davis carried 21 times for 65 yards but continued to do most of his damage as a receiver out of the backfield, catching six for 41 yards and a touchdown. This Sunday, Davis and the Texans entertain visiting Tennessee, who’s yielding 4.4 yards per carry and nine scores on the ground to opponents this season.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Nick Goings (CAR) – A blend of favorable circumstances made Goings an attractive waiver wire target last week for savvy fantasy players looking for a stop gap at the running back spot as Brad Hoover was declared inactive and the Cardinals brought their road-weary defense to Carolina. Goings seized the day with 121 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns, including a 57 yard score. Word out of Carolina is that Goings has captured the starting role against Tampa this Sunday regardless of Hoover’s health status.

Julius Jones (DAL) – After an eight week absence due to a broken shoulder at the beginning of the 2004 campaign, rookie Julius Jones has re-emerged. Last week, the promising second round pick went from Out to Doubtful to being named the starter over Eddie George right before kickoff in a show of lineup gamesmanship from Coach Parcells. Jones was impressive, carrying 30 times for 81 yards in the Cowboys lopsided 30-10 road loss in hostile Baltimore. Now the Cowboys, on their traditional Thanksgiving stage, hope that Jones continues to invigorate their ailing running game against a suddenly toothless Bears defense that allowed Edgerrin James to run through them for 204 yards on their home turf last week.

Lamont Jordan (NYJ) – Starter Curtis Martin’s bruised knee enabled soon to be free agent Jordan to get a sizeable workload and play a vital role in the Jets tough 10-7 road win in Cleveland last Sunday. Jordan’s 73 yards on 18 carries were pivotal down the crucial stretch of the Jets victory and this week’s visit to Arizona could prove more bountiful with Martin hobbled from the get go.

Michael Pittman (TB) – Last week’s strong showing of 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Tampa’s 35-3 thrashing of San Francisco was another chapter in a very consistent 2004 fantasy football body of work for Pittman. He’s now averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per reception to go along with seven touchdowns (6 rush, 1 rec), rewarding those owners who took a chance on Pittman late in fantasy drafts while he was still serving his suspension at the start of the season.

Sliding Back

Michael Bennett/ Onterrio Smith / Moe Williams / Mewelde Moore (MIN) – Since Bennett’s return from injury and Smith’s return from his four game suspension, MikeTice’s questionable ball distribution decisions have created a confusing cluster at the tailback position for Minnesota. It appeared Onterrio Smith would become the feature back after some promising performances but the last two week’s have seen an almost even split in carries between Bennett and Smith with Moe Williams recapturing goal line duties. With impressive rookie Mewelde Moore likely to return from injury this week, Tice is mired in a “too many cooks spoil the ball carrying broth” scenario making none of his options a worthwhile fantasy factor.

Clinton Portis (WAS) – In his last two games against sub par run defenses, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Portis failed to eclipse the 100 yard rushing mark and in last week’s game versus Philadelphia, a contest that was close through three quarters, Portis gained a measly 37 yards on 17 carries against a defense that had been allowing over 4.4 yards per carry to opponents. This week the Redskins travel to Pittsburgh where the Steelers have given up only four touchdowns on the ground all season.