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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. Shaun Alexander vs. DAL - Mea culpa? He was TOTALLY ineffective against the Bills last week (13 carries for 39 yards) and though that would normally be cause for concern, you shouldn't fret. The Bills are for real on D. Moreover, Alexander is still the league's leading rusher through twelve weeks. He should rebound (in a big way) this Monday night against a crummy Dallas front. Coach Holmgren will stand for nothing less.

2. Corey Dillon @ CLE - I promised he'd be a top 5 back if he started scoring some TDs and he's done exactly that in his last six games. In fact, he's averaged one per contest during that stretch, a fact that should seriously frighten the suddenly inept Cleveland crew. Don't think for a second Coach B won't relish stuffing his stud back down the collective throat of his former squad, either. Good thing they're stocked up on Pepto, eh?

3. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. DEN - He only managed 46 yards against the usually generous Chefs front last week. Didn't matter. He still put the ball in the end zone (twice, actually), something he's done in every game but one thus far. The only team to keep him out? Denver. Payback's a you-know-what, Broncos fans. Mark it down.

4. Ahman Green or Najeh Davenport @ PHI -If you saw Davenport run roughshod over the Rams on Monday night, you know why either back is a fab start against the susceptible Philly run defense. Indeed, the duo combined to run for over 400 yards in two games against the Birds last season. Batman (the likely starter) was responsible for almost 350 of them. Giddy up!

5. Curtis Martin vs. HOU - The Jets haven't scored more than 17 points in a game since Chad Pennington went down. Not surprisingly, Martin's numbers have suffered, as well…at least, to some extent. He's still quite productive and whether he gets his signal-caller back this week or not, he should enjoy a solid day against Houston's iffy D. Stick with him.

6. Tiki Barber @ WAS - For all the problems Washington is having on the offensive side of the ball, the defense has been pretty stout. Though the Bus managed to run for 100 yards against them last week, it took him 31 carries to do so. Tiki isn't likely to carry the ball that often so you should temper your expectations this Sunday. I like his chances of scoring (who else is gonna do it?), but a huge day seems unlikely.

7. Willis McGahee @ MIA - Speaking of huge days! The former 'Cane stormed all over the hapless 'Hawks last week (142 total yards and four touchdowns), solidifying himself as the go-to guy in Buffalo. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Travis Henry is now out for the year, but…. The Bills are all about defense and the run right now and that means plenty more carries/scoring opportunities for Mr. McGahee in the immediate future.

8. Deuce McAllister vs. CAR - Thanks to the defense keeping it close (a rarity in New Orleans), Deuce was able to garner more than 20 carries last Sunday, something he hasn't done very often this season. This weekend's tilt with the Panthers could be just as close and with a potential playoff berth hanging in the balance, you can expect him to play a large role again. Expect another 100 yards or so and, if you're lucky, a touch.

9. Michael Pittman vs. ATL - Surprisingly, he couldn't get anything going on the ground against Carolina last Sunday (18 carries for 29 yards). Fortunately for his owners, the Bucs had a Plan B. That plan? Get him the ball in the passing game. Eight catches, 134 yards, and two touchdowns later, he was one of the most productive RECEIVERS in Week 12. Don't you just love versatile backs?

10. Edgerrin James vs. TEN - I like gaudy numbers as much as the next guy but couldn't Coach Dungy have found a way to get Edge in the end zone on Thanksgiving Day? Once? He still managed 105 yard, which is nice, but it could have been a whole lot nicer with a goal-line plunge or two. Expect him to make up for lost numbers against the reeling Titans this weekend.

11. Derrick Blaylock @ OAK - He only got eight carries against the Bolts but, unlike Edge, got them when they mattered most (to us), inside the five. Though he'll continue to lose carries to Larry Johnson, he's still the main guy while Priest is out. Besides, if he keeps scoring touchdowns, it won't matter how many carries he gets.

12. Reuben Droughns @ SD - He's tallied over 100 total yards in every single game since assuming the reins in Denver. Though none of those games were against San Diego's fearsome front seven, it's too late in the season to abandon a consistent producer such as him. We'd like him to score more (and fumble less), but we'll gladly take ten+ guaranteed fantasy points at this stage of the season. Continue riding this horse.

13. Rudi Johnson @ BAL - He hasn't started that many games either but, man, has he posted some huge days. He won't run for 200 yards this week (I know…going out on a limb) but he could gain 60-80 and throw in a cheap score for good measure. If he doesn't…well, that's life against Ray-Ray and the Ravens.

14. Jerome Bettis @ JAX - The Steelers are supposed to get Duce back this week but we've heard that before (last week, in fact). Even if they do, the Bus will get plenty of work. Thankfully, he does most of his important work near the goal line, where he's racked up 11 touchdowns already. That's almost one per week and definitely enough to make him worthy of your attention. Continue playing him.

15. Brian Westbrook vs. GB - Thanks to four scores in the past two weeks, Westbrook is back on my radar screen. He rarely gets more than 15 carries per contest but supplements those rushing attempts with over four receptions per. That's about 20 touches a game, enough to do some damage against opponents preoccupied with Don and T.O. Expect Green Bay to be so preoccupied.

Grab A Helmet:

Fred Taylor vs. PIT - He's gone over the century mark in four of his last five starts, capping it off with a 147-yard effort against the Vikes last Sunday. Just one problem. In fact, same old problem. He CANNOT score. If you can live with the yardage, so be it. If not, keep looking.

Domanick Davis @ NYJ - Davis is coming off a monster game (181 total yards and a touch) but now faces the wood-chipper that has become New York's revamped front seven. He'll probably manage some yards (hence, the recommendation) but I wouldn't go banking on a touchdown. The Jets are giving up barely ten points a game since their Week 3 bye. Ten!

Steven Jackson vs. SF - Marshall has all but been ruled out for the rematch with San Fran and that means the pride of Corvallis, Mr. Jackson, gets his first crack as St. Louis' meal ticket. Believe it or not, I'll be rooting for the ex-Beaver. So will his owners. Rooting for him to get more than the EIGHT carries he got Monday night, that is. It's called offensive balance, Coach Martz. You should really look into it.

Julius Jones @ SEA - Dallas passed on Jackson to pick up this guy in Round 2 of last April's draft. Though only time will tell whether that was a wise move, it looks pretty good so far. In fact, Jones already looks like a better prospect than his older sib and, provided he can stay healthy, should be in for a nice little run to close out the season.

Nick Goings @ NO - It never flipping fails. I totally pan the guy (three weeks ago) and he shows me up by rushing for 100 yards in successive games. Guess that goes to show you I don't know everything. Though I'm sure you weren't thinking that anyway, I do know this: he's a great start against the horrific Saints D. So start him already.

Grab A Gatorade:

Kevan Barlow @ STL - He claims not to be a "failure," a "bust, or a "letdown." Au contraire, mon frere. When you start losing carries to Skip Hicks…check that, MAURICE Hicks (!!!)…the aforementioned adjectives are fair game. He might break out against a susceptible Rams D but I wouldn't bet a plugged nickel on it.

Clinton Portis vs. NYG - Then again, when your name is Clinton Portis and you start losing carries to Ladell Betts, you're not exactly setting the world on fire, either. The Skins' big catch has accounted for precisely ZERO touchdowns in the last seven games, a drought that would make Fred Taylor blush. He's bound to snap out of it some day but can you really afford to stake your playoff hopes on the possibiilty? I think you know the answer.

Any Miami RB vs. BUF - You already know how the league's top back fared against Buffalo's stingy defense last week. Now imagine how Miami's ragtag bunch will do this weekend. Not a good visual, is it? No, it isn't.

Any Oakland RB vs. KC - Let's see. Your options are Justin Fargas or Amos Zereoue. If you're still mulling that one over, you've got more problems than I can help you with. Move along.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends