Michael Turner, Falcons - Who would have thought that LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup would leave San Diego for one of 2007’s worst teams, the Atlanta Falcons, and catapult himself into fantasy stardom climbing over LT’s fantasy football corpse? Turner stepped into a situation where the team was rebuilding literally from the ground up with a rookie quarterback that would not be able to provide enough of an aerial threat to keep opposing defenses from putting eight defenders in the box to stop the run. Obviously, Matt Ryan has shattered the rookie QB liability notion but Turner has been nothing short of amazing this season. In a pivotal week fifteen playoff contention game against division rival Tampa Bay, Turner carried 32 times for 152 yards and a score with 30 yards receiving in the Falcons 13-10 overtime win. Turner now has 1,421 rushing yards and 15 scores on the season with two weeks left, assuring himself of a place in the top 10 of 2009 fantasy drafts.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars - Fred Taylor’s absence after being placed on IR (thumb) has already born fruit for MJD owner’s. Jones-Drew was at his dual-threat best in the Jaguars 20-16 win over Green Bay, rushing for 48 yards and a touchdown on twelve carries and scoring a second touchdown as a receiver from 22 yards on four receptions.
Steven Jackson, Rams - Like other Rams of fantasy greatness past, Jackson took advantage of the week fifteen opportunity against a sub par Seahawks defense, taking 24 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown and gathering four receptions for 36 yards in a nostalgic, all-around performance.
Dominic Rhodes, Colts - Once Joseph Addai (shoulder) was declared out for this week’s game, the table was set for Rhodes, facing a league-worst Lions run defense, to deliver big time for shrewd fantasy owners that chose to play him in their week fifteen playoff game. Rhodes accumulated 116 total yards (86 rushing) and two touchdowns. And Rhodes has a chance in week sixteen to have a similarly productive outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars, as Joseph Addai has never been considered a quick healer.
Chester Taylor, Vikings - Quietly effective, especially the last few weeks, Taylor has scored a touchdown in his last three games, while the flashier Adrian Peterson has gone scoreless the last two contests, including this weekend’s 35-14 win over Arizona. Taylor garnered 66 yards on 10 carries and 37 and a touchdown on four receptions and has made himself a halfway decent fantasy lineup option as a flex player in teams of 12 or higher.
Darren McFadden, Raiders - Rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and gaining another 68 yards on three receptions is a hard stat line to accomplish when your team is on the wrong end of a 49-26 laugher, but that is exactly what McFadden was able to produce in the Raiders lopsided loss to New England. The talent and promise we always knew was there gave us and the Raiders faithful of glimpse of better things to come in 2009.
Clinton Portis, Redskins - Portis has a lot going against him at this point in the season. QB Jason Campbell has cooled off significantly from the start of the season, The city miles Portis has logged on his body this season playing tough through a multitude of injuries, along with the loss of Pro Bowl OT Chris Samuels is really starting to show. A road game against the Bengals should have proved much more bountiful than the 25 carries for 77 yards and zero touchdowns that Portis was responsible for in the Redskins 20-13 loss.
Ronnie Brown, Dolphins - Brown’s last 100-yards rushing game was almost a month ago and the former Auburn product has found the end zone only once in the last five games. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the Dolphins 14-9 win, but only received 10 carries in a low-scoring slugfest. What gives? Why are the Dolphins, who recently lost primary WR Rich Camarillo, not forcing 20+ carries down Brown’s throat? Whatever the answer, it doesn’t help Brown’s flagging fantasy value.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers - LT should be listed under the “Continues to Fall” category. I quietly snicker at the weekly game prediction sections on most fantasy league sites that continue to predict performances for LT that mirror his past greatness, only to show a wide gap from the fading star’s actual performance on the field for any particular week in 2008.