Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Joseph

Jospeh's Articles

The Shot Caller's Report - RBs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs/TEs

Running Backs

Must Start: The Top 15

1. Tiki Barber vs. PHI - It's time to give someone else a shot at Numero Uno. With Priest on the shelf for one more week (supposedly), Barber inherits the top spot by virtue of his unbelievable consistency (over 100 total yards in every game since Week 2) and efficiency (never more than 28 touches in a single contest). Though he faces the once-beaten Eagles, you should recall he had his best game of the season against them in Week 1.

2. LaDainian Tomlinson @ KC - Apparently the groin's OK? We can only assume he's 100% healthy after he carried the rock a startling 37 times against the Raiduhs last Sunday. I wouldn't expect him to do the same this weekend but 25-30 sounds about right, as does 125 yards and a touch or two. Welcome back, L.T.

3. Shaun Alexander vs. BUF - He's leading the league in rushing yards (1151) and is leading all starters in yards-per-carry (5.1). He's also scored 13 touchdowns. So why isn't he #1 this week? Buffalo. The Bills are giving up only 101 yards per game on the ground and a measly 3.6 per carry. It could be rough sledding for Seattle's meal ticket this weekend, especially if Dilfer starts again.

4. Reuben Droughns vs. OAK - The last time he faced the Raiders, he rumbled for 176 yards and a touch. That game was in Oakland. This one will be at home. Any chance he doesn't run for over 100 yards and another score? I'd say that's about as likely as me NOT scarfing down a third slice of pumpkin pie on Thursday. Start him.

5. Ahman Green vs. STL - The early deadline means we take a few (Lambeau) leaps of faith. Green is not a historically injury-prone back and I'm betting the dire situation in the Packer backfield means he'll find a way to play this week. It helps he's getting an extra day of rest. It also helps he'll be facing a Rams team doing a horrible job against the run (4.8 yards/carry and 137.4/game).

6. Curtis Martin @ ARI - Thanks to a gimpy knee, he didn't get in a full day's work last Sunday (just 17 carries for 88 yards). He should be healthy this week and that's a good thing with a trip to the desert looming. Though the Cards are MUCH better at home, they're not strong against the run (4.8 yards/carry and 131.7/game) and can be exploited by the tag-team duo of C-Mart and Lamont Jordan.

7. Corey Dillon vs. BAL - It's scary how much better the already-stellar Pats are with Dillon in the mix. Locked in a close battle Monday night, they turned to their new workhorse for most of a clock-chewing, game-clinching drive that put them clear of the pesky Chefs. The opponent gets tougher (much tougher) this Sunday but he's already dropped the hammer on some pretty good units this year. He should do so again.

8. Jerome Bettis vs. WAS - Units don't get much better than Washington's (3.2 yards/carry and 89.7/contest) but it isn't gonna matter this weekend. In a strength-on-strength matchup, the Steelers' O-line will be able to open enough holes for the Bus to do some damage. Look for him to top the century mark and score a touch, though it may take him 30+ carries to do so.

9. Edgerrin James @ DET - Edge went absolutely nutso vs. the Bears last week (204 yards and a score) and, quite frankly, it's surprising he doesn't do so more often. With all the attention opposing defenses pay to Peyton and Co., he should run free on an almost weekly basis. Expect 125+ yards and another touch this Thursday at Ford Field.

10. Michael Pittman @ CAR - One of these days, I'll stop kicking myself for not picking him up off waivers prior to Week 4. He's done nothing but score fantasy points (and lots of them) since returning from suspension. He should be primed to do so again this Sunday as the Panthers are now tied for worst in rushing TDs allowed this season (15). Oh, and for you plan-ahead types? He gets them again in Week 16.

11. Derrick Blaylock vs. SD - Inexplicably, the Chefs were unable to mount much of a rushing attack Monday night, something that might have come in pretty handy against the defending world champs. They'll need to get Blaylock untracked this week against a rugged Bolts front or the result (another KC loss) will be assured. Expect them to do exactly that.

12. Fred Taylor @ MIN - He's due for a touchdown like David Carr is due for another haircut. Though I don't see the latter meeting up with a pair of scissors anytime soon (especially if my wife has anything to say about it!), I do see the former locating the end zone this week. It's the most daring Shot Caller guarantee in history, folks: he'll score on Sunday.

13. Deuce McAllister @ ATL - He, on the other hand, probably won't. With the possible exception of Michael Vick prior to Week 8, no player has been more poorly utilized than the Deuce this year. Part of that is New Orleans' crappy defense but much of it can be attributed to poor coaching. At least he got involved in the passing game last week (11 catches for 87 yards). Can't tell you what to expect, folks, but if you've ridden him this long, why stop now?

14. Domanick Davis vs. TEN - If you wanna know why he's averaging barely three yards a pop, take another look at last Sunday night's tape. Facing a decent but not elite Green Bay front, his O-line couldn't even open a hole every ONCE in a while. Translation? It's not him, people. Luckily for you, Carr always manages to keep him involved in the passing game (one receiving TD last week). Keep playing him for now.

15. Rudi Johnson vs. CLE - As predicted, he didn't do much against the Curtain last week (16 carries for 62 yards). That's no reflection on his ability but rather a testament to how good the Steelers are this year. Though the Battle of Ohio is always a tough one, he'll find much more running room this weekend against the Browns and their embattled coach.

Grab A Helmet:

Willis McGahee @ SEA - Stop me if you've heard this before. When he goes over 100 yards, the Bills win. When he doesn't, they don't. Sound like any other running backs you know of in this league?…like, maybe, all of them? The Bills probably won't win this Sunday but they do have a fighting chance and that means HE has a fighting chance of posting solid numbers. Good enough for a recommendation in my book.

Brian Westbrook @ NYG - Don't be alarmed by the committee approach in Philly. Dorsey Levens is getting some carries but I suspect Coach Reid is merely keeping his main man fresh for the inevitable playoff run (and flameout). Though that might bite into his bottom line some, Westbrook is still a dangerous receiver who will always get touches (plenty of them) in the passing game. Stick with him as your #2 or flex back.

Antowain Smith @ HOU - Been a while since we heard from him, eh? His emergence shouldn't be too surprising considering Chris Brown was a lead pipe lock to go down at some point this season. Luckily, Coach Fisher protected himself with a veteran backup still capable of pounding it between the tackles (24 carries for 95 yards and a touch). Did you? Tsk, tsk.

Julius Jones vs. CHI - There won't be a more inexperienced combo working the pitch this week than Henson and Jones in Big D. Though they both show promise, only Jones is likely to post numbers worthy of fantasy consideration. He's fast, shifty, and stout enough to shoulder a pretty sizeable rushing load. Heck, he even carried it 30 times against the Ravens last week. Give him a go if you're short-handed.

Emmitt Smith vs. NYJ - Of course, Dallas wouldn't be so inexperienced if they'd stuck with Mr. Cowboy hisself two years ago. Though not the stud he used to be, Emmitt is still a productive NFL workhorse. Coming off a bad game in Carolina, I like his chances of bouncing back in the desert. For what it's worth, he's been much better at home this season, where he plays four of his final six.

Grab A Gatorade:

Clinton Portis @ PIT - He had his chance last week against Philly's sub-par run defense. He failed to perform (17 carries for 37 yards). That makes him officially one of the most disappointing fantasy players of 2004, if not the MOST disappointing. Expect more frustration in the Steel City this week as he faces a Curtain squad giving up only 3.6 yards/carry and a miniscule 77.8 per game.

Kevan Barlow vs. MIA - You probably already know this but it's my job to remind you: he's gone over the century mark just ONCE this season. If you're looking for disappointing fantasy back #2, look no further. Then, start looking for a replacement.

Kevin Jones vs. IND - Oddly enough, his recent emergence has coincided with the Lions' fall from playoff contention. Unfortunately, because of that fall, he's still not getting many red zone opportunities. That could change Thursday but, more likely, the Lions will be playing from behind and will score via the air (if at all). Go with someone else if you've been relying on the kid.

Any Miami RB @ SF - Unlike most weeks, the problem is not the matchup. Miami has a semi-decent chance of beating the equally woeful Niners. The problem is figuring out who will garner the most carries under newly-promoted coach, Jim Bates. Travis Minor and Sammy Morris shared the duties last week in Seattle and if they continue to do so, you want nothing to do with this group. Assume they will this week and go in another direction. If something changes before next week, you'll be the first to know.

Onterrio Smith/Michael Bennett vs. JAX - Will Mike Tice ever make up his mind here? He starts w/ Bennett and then switches to Smith (the better back) fairly early. If things don't go well, he switches back to Bennett. If things don't go well again…you get the picture. Wait until something changes before going with one of these guys. Though they're both potentially useful, they're also potentially harmful to your playoff health the way things stand now.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends