DeAngelo Williams, Panthers - Williams 69-yard touchdown run was a work of art and the three year veteran has been consistent all season when opportunities have presented themselves, specifically when the rookie who was drafted in the first round to replace him, Jonathan Stewart, has been injured or not 100%, as was the case this past Sunday in the Panthers 17-6 road win over hapless Oakland. In addition to the touchdown, Williams finished with 140 yards on 19 carries in the contest.
Matt Forte, Bears - Any back can pile up numbers against a string of softy defenses, like the rookie from Tulane saw in the early part of the season, but Forte faced a true test in week ten when the undefeated Tennessee Titans and their league-leading defense visited Soldier Field. Forte proved that he is a must-start for the remainder of the year by producing at a high level yet again, with 72 yards rushing and 54 yards (on seven catches) and a touchdown as a receiver, despite the handicap of Rex Grossman at quarterback, in the Bears 21-14 defeat.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars - What earns credit in the fantasy football world, is performing to your weekly expectations, depending on the match-up against your opponent’s defense. Maurice Jones-Drew, who has been a disappointment for most of 2008, did just that against the struggling Lions, piling up 91 total yards (70 rushing) and THREE touchdowns in the Jaguars much-needed 38-14 road win. Backfield mate Fred Taylor came off the Missing Persons list long enough to cash in on the fun as well, gaining 97 total yards (80 rushing) in a complimentary effort. MJD has been wildly inconsistent this season so owners need to guard against the false hope that a visit to Motown can create.
Kevin Smith, Lions - The rookie from Central Florida keeps hanging around. The Lions have fallen apart around him all season, but Smith keeps fighting and year-to-date has scored five touchdowns, averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and gathered 25 receptions for 189 yards (7.6 avg). In the Lions 38-14 home embarrassment to the Jaguars in week ten, Smith scraped and clawed for 96 yards rushing and a touchdown on 23 carries and had a 27-yard reception. This is the type of player that helps fantasy owners in those ultra-competitive 16 team leagues that are so difficult to score talent from the waiver wire.
Ricky Williams, Dolphins - Ricky got his turn to Wildcat this weekend against the visiting Seahawks, busting a 51-yard scoring run that showcased a seldom-seen breakaway gear that should continue to earn him more equal billing with starter Ronnie Brown.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings - As if 192 yards rushing and the game-winning touchdown wasn’t enough, Peterson also kicked in 33 yards receiving on three receptions. At this point, Clinton Portis is his nearest rival for top fantasy back, but “All Day” appears to be gaining steam in recent weeks whereas, Portis has been fighting a variety of injuries that has slowed him in the last few games before his week ten bye. Peterson seems to be finding his groove behind a Vikings offensive line that has finally started to jell with the gradual return of injured and suspended (Bryant McKinnie) starters.
Thomas Jones, Jets - Don’t blame Jones for the quality of the opposing defense placed before him, his 26 carries for 149 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets 47-3 laugher over visiting St. Louis counts just the same as any other week. The veteran back has staged an impressive comeback this year, producing a tremendous scoring turnaround from 2007 when he recorded one touchdown on the ground, Jones now has eight rushing scores through week ten of this season. Sweet.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers - Absolutely unacceptable. Regime change in the fantasy football running back pecking order is now underfoot. Forget the turf toe question, we finished that book weeks ago. When a home date against lowly Kansas City produces 72 yards rushing on 22 carries with no touchdowns (forget the yardage argument that he also recorded 39 yards on four catches), it is now safe to remove LT from his age-old perch at the top of the RB totem pole. He’s not quite out of the top tier yet, but it won’t be long before we include him in the Shaun Alexander conversation about fallen great’s.
Deuce McAllister, Saints - A visit to Atlanta traditionally meant prolonged chants of “Deuuuuuce” as McAllister would have his way with the Falcons defense year after year. New Falcons head coach Mike Smith has injected a feisty and aggressive nature in his defense and it continued to show in how they limited McAllister to five carries for 18 yards with 23 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. The Saints obviously didn’t believe in McAllister enough, spreading backfield touches to Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker in the Saints 34-20 road loss to the Falcons. As for the rest of the 2008 season, combine a possible steroids suspension with the expected return of Reggie Bush in week eleven and its pretty much curtains on Deuce’s fantasy value this year.
Joseph Addai, Colts - Thanks for rushing back to action, Joe. Not only have you ruined Dominic Rhodes short-lived value for fantasy owner’s who enjoyed using him the last few weeks, but you manage a whopping 34 yards on 12 carries to sink your own fantasy constituents. And Rhodes, despite your interference, still managed to score the game-winning 17-yard reception in the Colts 24-20 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday. What he could have done with a full load of touches, we’ll never know.