Earnest Graham, Buccaneers - Despite the continued millstone tied to his ankle in the form of Warrick Dunn, Graham fights through the unnecessary hindrance with continued production. In week three’s win over Green Bay, Graham registered 20 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown, aided by another long run (47 yards). How long has Dunn been ruining other running back’s fantasy football potential? The 12-year veteran seemingly won’t go away- being just productive enough to warrant a role in his team’s offense, but not enough to help fantasy owner’s needing to fill a running back slot, while sapping point-production from his team’s starting back.
Chris Johnson, Titans - There were plenty of Start-em-Sit-em lists preceding week three’s games that cautioned against using the speedy rookie back against a difficult Vikings run defense. Those owner’s that acted with the courage of their conviction and started Johnson were rewarded with a solid 17 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns with three receptions for 14 yards. Lendale White’s leg injury may have helped with Johnson’s consistent goal line touches, but the rookie showed his elite speed is just as effective near the goal line as a power back’s girth, gaining the outside edge of the line of scrimmage with ease on both of his scoring runs.
Deuce McAllister, Saints - Having suffered the indignity of being put on the inactive list as a healthy scratch in last week’s game against Denver, last Sunday the home crowd was staunchly behind the respected veteran who is coming back from yet another reconstructive knee surgery. Deuce put together an enjoyable comeback performance, carrying 20 times for 73 yards and a goal line-leaping touchdown. Sentimental chants of “Doooooce” filled the Superdome as McAllister paced a 31-17 home win over San Francisco. Reggie Bush owner’s not so happy as McAllister’s emergence coincided with a quiet stat day from Bush (10 carries for 31, five receptions for seven yards), opening the door for concern, given the large number of touches Bush received per game prior to Deuce’s return to active duty.
Larry Johnson, Chiefs - I don’t expect this to last, but troubled Johnson owner’s enjoyed every minute of LJ’s return to past glory against a Broncos team that had it coming after two consecutive fortunate, last-minute wins. The Diamond Cutter was back for a second consecutive week as Johnson tore through Denver’s sickly defense with 28 carries for 198 yards, including a rumbling 65-yarder and two touchdowns. Bittersweet element for Johnson was the loss pf promising rookie LT Brandon Albert with an arm injury for an indefinite amount of time.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers - LT’s been taking a beating in a lot of media circles for his slow start not meshing with the always-high expectations for him. After a rough beginning (including an end zone fumble that resulted in a safety awarded to Oakland), LT redeemed himself with a performance that improved as the game went on, resulting in a 106 yards and two scores on 20 carries, complete with a game-ending 41-yard touchdown scamper. Things are looking up from here, as returning OL starter’s Marcus McNeill and Nick Hardwick continue to round into form after lengthy absences due to injury.
Steven Jackson, Rams - Apparently Steven Jackson got the same memo that LJ and LT received this week. You know, the one about reminding all of us that rumors of their collective demise were greatly exaggerated. Jackson enthusiastically took part in “Roll Back the Clock” week, showing his ample FFL wares with a dominant all-around performance of 188 yards (110 rushing, 78 receiving) and a touchdown in the Rams 31-14 loss to the visiting Bills. However, given the sorry state of the Rams team that surrounds him, every week will be an uncertain adventure for Jackson owners.
Matt Forte, Bears - Not a steep fall this week, but for all the buzz he created after his grand debut against the Colts in week one, Forte has now gone three straight games with a 100-yard rushing effort or a touchdown on the ground, though he has masked this decline with a healthy role in the passing game, catching 12 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas Jones, Jets - It could be argued Jones continued underperformance was the impetus behind Brett Favre’s six touchdowns in New York’s 56-35 laugher over Arizona last Sunday, as the Jets could not effectively chew the clock by running the ball with Jones (18 carries for 46 yards). This game confirmed that Jones can’t be trusted for the immediate future, despite having the proper accessories surrounding him.
Ryan Grant, Packers - I know I’m not alone when I say I saw the handwriting on the wall with this guy back in August. The burst-onto-the-scene performance last year to get everyone excited, followed by the classic holdout for the big bucks contract, followed by the hamstring injury (which will linger all year) because he missed a large part of training camp. And yet, countless ffl participants continued to select Grant in the first or second round of their fantasy drafts and are now paying for their auto-draft sins. Grant’s last three games have produced zero touchdowns and single game performances of 15 carries for 20 yards against the Lions, 13 carries for 54 yards versus Dallas and 15 carries for 20 yards in Green Bay’s loss to Tampa last week. That’s losing football anyway you slice it.