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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Running Back Watch - Week 2
Mike Courter
September 13, 2005
Top Ten Fantasy RB’s to own Comment
1 SD LaDainian Tomlinson Tomlinson had modest numbers (19 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown) against the Cowboys in last Sunday’s home opener. Surprisingly, especially with Antonio Gates inactive for the contest, Tomlinson was a non-factor in the passing game (zero catches). LT has traditionally struggled in Denver (22 carries for 60 yds and no scores in week three last year) but rebounded against the Broncos at the end of 2004 in San Diego with 30 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns and 5 receptions for 17 yards. He’ll play well in Denver this week with Antonio Gates returning to create space in the Broncos defense.
2 SEA Shaun Alexander Alexander ran admirably (14 carries for 75 yards- 5.2 yards per carry) against the Jaguars intimidating run defense featuring massive DTs Stroud and Henderson in Seattle’s lopsided week one road loss in Jacksonville. That performance should act as a springboard for this week’s home game against Atlanta. In the last game of the 2004 season, Alexander carried 19 times for 80 yards and a touchdown and had two catches for 15 yards against the visiting Falcons in the Seahawks 28-26 win.
3 NYG Tiki Barber Barber picked up where he left off in 2004 in New York’s 42-19 week one home win with another standout total yardage effort (122 yds) of 13 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown with two receptions for 60 yards, despite the presence of rookie sensation Brandon Jacobs (six carries for 39 yards and a touchdown). This week the visiting Saints bring a run defense that yielded 5.6 yards per carry to the Panthers running backs last week.
4 HOU Domanick Davis Davis and the Texans come home in week two to host the visiting Steelers after being trampled by the Bills in their 22-7 road loss in Buffalo. Davis only carried 14 times for 48 yards as David Carr struggled, completing only nine of 21 attempts for 70 yards and three interceptions while enduring five sacks. Though the Steelers will come hard after Carr, the Texans should be able to use home field advantage to lessen the damage and Pittsburgh gave up a generous 4.2 yards a carry to the Titans in a lopsided win over Tennessee which bolsters Davis’ chances in this week’s game to have a much better outing in week two.
5 KC Priest Holmes Though Holmes gained 85 yards rushing and scored a touchdown in the Chiefs 27-7 home drubbing of the Jets last Sunday, it was done on 22 carries for a 3.9 yards per carry average, whereas, his young stable mate Larry Johnson stole the show with 110 yards rushing on only nine carries for two touchdowns, including a 35 yard blazer to kick start the Chiefs blowout of New York. Holmes missed both games against Oakland last year but Larry Johnson ran for 118 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in Oakland during week 12 of 2004.
6 IND Edgerrin James Predictably, James had a modest output last Sunday night in Baltimore with 88 yards on 23 carries and three receptions for 26 yards in the Colts impressive 24-7 road win. His numbers in the two games against Jacksonville hovered right around that neighborhood last year though he did score a touchdown in the game at Jacksonville. In the last Colts-Jaguars game in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, while James had a nice total yardage day with 141 yards (87 rushing, 54 receiving) but no touchdowns.
7 NE Corey Dillon Dillon started slow in the NFL kickoff game against Oakland but finished strong with 63 yards rushing and two scores on 23 carries with two catches for 30 yards. New England travels to Carolina in week two to face a Panthers defense that will be reeling after losing dominant DT Kris Jenkins for the season (torn ACL).
8 BUF Willis McGahee McGahee didn’t score against the Texans in Buffalo’s week one 22-7 win at home but he did manage 117 yards on 22 carries for an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. This week he’ll go on the road to face Tampa Bay, which limited the Vikings to 2.2 yards per carry in the Metrodome last week. Rookie QB J.P. Losman could struggle on the road against a rejuvenated Buccaneers defense led by Simeon Rice and Ronde Barber, which will negatively effect McGahee’s efforts.
9 NO Deuce McAllister Deuce led a spirited Saints team effort in their opening week 23-20 road win over Carolina with 64 hard-fought yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. This week, McAlister and the Saints march into Giants Stadium as the first part of a Monday Night football double header. Though the Giants were great against the run in week one, limiting the Cardinals to 31 total rushing yards, the Saints bigger, more physical offensive line should have an advantage against New York’s smaller defensive ends.
10 NYJ Curtis Martin Martin’s 57 yards on 20 carries was more a product of the game getting away from the Jets in their 27-7 debacle at Arrowhead last Sunday. New York fell into such a big hole early that the running game was eliminated by default. Though Miami shocked observers with their home blowout of Denver in week one and they are clearly playing better defense under new coach Nick Saban, Martin has traditionally played well against the Dolphins. Last season’s game in New York saw Martin run for 115 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.

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

Climbing Up The Ladder

Carnell Williams (TB) – The rookie back delivered as advertised in week one, rushing for 148 yards on 27 carries including a 71 yard game-breaking touchdown run in the Buccaneers 24-13 road win in Minnesota. A much stiffer test awaits this Sunday as the swarming Buffalo Bills come to town giving the rookie his first real taste of a top tier NFL defense.

Willie Parker (PIT) – Everyone’s sleeper darling performed as expected against a very accommodating Titans defense in the Steeler’s 34-7 thrashing of Tennessee, rushing for 161 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown while adding 48 more yards on his lone pass reception. Bill Cowher has publicly indicated that he will stick with the kid until further notice though goal line specialist Jerome Bettis is expected back this week as the Steelers travel to Houston.

Reuben Droughns (CLE) -- Droughns moved one step closer to claiming the full-time starter role in the Browns backfield with a solid 100 total yards effort (78 rushing, 22 receiving) in a losing cause against the Bengals last week. Droughns also contributed to Cleveland’s special teams with 119 yards on five returns when kick returner Josh Cribbs went down with an injury during the game. The Browns travel to Green Bay this week where he’ll get a chance to improve upon his week one production against a Packers defense that has been notoriously weak against the run.

Stephen Davis (CAR) -- Davis was a pleasant surprise in Carolina’s week one loss to the Saints. The injury-plagued, 10 year veteran was able to conjure up some rushing magic from seasons past with 81 yards on only 13 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown. This Sunday, Davis and the Panthers will host the New England Patriots, who yielded 4.2 yards per carry to Oakland last Thursday.

Sliding Back

Michael Bennett (MIN) – It took Bennett six carries to lose one yard in the Vikings 24-13 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday. Third down and goal line specialist Moe Williams took 32 snaps to Michael Bennett’s 18 even though Bennett was listed as the starter. Though Bennett did catch 3 balls for 21 yards, most statistical patterns are not moving in his favor at this point and rookie RB Ciatric Fason should see an increased role in the Minnesota running back rotation in the coming weeks.

J.J. Arrington (ARZ) – The much heralded rookie out of Cal had an inauspicious beginning to his promising career with a eight carry, five rushing yards effort against New York in the Cardinals 42-19 loss at Giants Stadium in week one. Granted none of the other Arizona backs had better numbers than Arrington in the game, the rookie struggled to find his running lanes and the Arizona offensive line appeared lethargic in their efforts to block the Giants interior defense. This Sunday, the Cardinals host the Rams, who were surprisingly stout against the run in their week one loss to San Francisco, giving up a scant 1.6 yards per carry.

Mike Anderson (DEN) – The gathering storm of Mike Anderson fantasy hype reached a fever pitch right before week one mainly as a result of an impressive preseason showing against the Colts. In what looked like a coronation game for Anderson against a Miami team that had a hard time stopping the run last season, Nick Saban put a whammy on the party, holding the veteran back to five rushing yards on four carries. Anderson also left the game with damaged rib cartilage opening the door for second year back Tatum Bell to take back the starting job.