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. Shaun Alexander @ MIN - He was headed for a fairly pedestrian game by his standards until he tacked on two scores in the wild and wooly fourth quarter of Monday night's track meet. The final tally? 100+ total yards and the aforementioned TDs. That's good enough to earn him the #1 slot again this week, especially since he faces a Minny D giving up almost five yards per carry.

2. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. TB - Though they put the clamps on Vick and Co. last week, the Bucs have actually been pretty average against the run this season (4.2/carry and 123.3/game). That's all well and good when they're facing average backs (read: Atlanta's). This week, they draw the most explosive rock-toter in the league, fresh off a 130-yard, two-TD day. Good enough for me.

3. Corey Dillon vs. CIN - He was headed for a monster game last week until a gimpy thigh sent him to the sidelines. He could have returned (and would have in a more competitive game) which means you shouldn't worry about him this Sunday. Unless you're the Bengals D, that is. Great RB + bad run defense + payback for seven long years spent in Cincy = big day.

4. Edgerrin James @ HOU - He hasn't scored in almost half his games but he's averaging almost five yards a pop and over a c-note per tilt. This week, he draws a Texans group that doesn't defend the run (or the pass) very well. Come playoff time, you stick with your studs. He's definitely one of them.

5. Julius Jones vs. NO - I'm loath to rely on rookies when the playoffs roll around but only a fool would sit Dallas' prized catch with the Saints coming to town. If the matchup isn't enticing enough, consider that he's AVERAGED 143 yards and almost two touchdowns per contest since taking over the starting duties. That includes a game against the Ravens. Translation? Start him.

6. Ahman Green vs. DET - The Pack was out of it almost from the coin toss last week so it's not surprising he managed only 11 carries and 37 yards. This week's game will play out much differently, which means you can count on Batman to get the ball 20-25 times for 100 yards and a score or two. In fact, I'm gonna go ahead and GUARANTEE a score for you. Merry Christmas!

7. Willis McGahee vs. CLE - After accounting for almost all of Buffalo's 28 points in Seattle the week prior, McGahee was shut out in Miami. That's pretty amazing when you consider the Bills racked up 42 points. I'm betting he won't be forgotten this Sunday in a game the Bills should lead from wire to wire. Expect the century mark and a TD or two against Cleveland's atrocious run defense (139.4 yards/game).

8. Curtis Martin @ BAL - Chad Pennington is back in the fold but he's not the reason the Jets look like legit contenders this year. Curtis Martin is, along with a stifling D that's yielded a mere 17 points in its last THREE games…combined. The matchup at Heinz Field has all the makings of a 13-10 slugfest and there's a solid chance Martin will be responsible for at least some of those points.

9. Reuben Droughns vs. MIA - Predictably, he struggled to get much going against the vaunted Chargers' defense last week. And yes…that's the first time in a long time we've been able to use "vaunted" and "Chargers" in the same sentence. Regardless, Droughns managed to churn out 73 total yards and a touch in the driving rainstorm, numbers he should easily surpass this weekend against Miami's suddenly susceptible eleven.

10. Brian Westbrook @ WAS - He only managed 38 yards on 12 carries against the Pack last week and wasn't even close to being his team's leading rusher. Of course, he also caught 11 passes (!) for 156 yards (!!) and three touchdowns (!!!) I've never been a huge fan of third-down types trying to play feature back but he (along with the next guy) are starting to make a believer out of me…and fast.

11. Michael Pittman @ SD - Like Westbrook, Pittman is more of a threat in the passing game than he is in the running game. That's a good thing since he'll be matched up against, arguably, the league's best run defense in San Diego this Sunday. He won't get you much on the ground but he's a good bet to find the end zone, regardless. After all, he's done so seven times in nine games.

12. Nick Goings vs. STL - Three straight starts, three straight 100-yard games. Oh, and three straight victories (actually, four). If you're looking for the guy who can sneak you into the championship round, look no further. He doesn't have ideal measureables but the only thing we're measuring here is fantasy points. Suffice it to say he measures up…and then some. Start him against a crappy Rams D.

13. Tiki Barber @ BAL - Tiki's another of those versatile backs who augments solid rushing numbers with solid receiving numbers. At least, he USED to do that, before Eli Manning assumed the reins. If you wanna know why I generally avoid rookie QBs, take a look at Barber's stock over the past few weeks. Better look fast, though, 'cuz it may drop out of sight in the near future.

14. Domanick Davis vs. IND - He's scored six touchdowns in his last four contests, two of them coming against the Colts in Indy (where he also carried the ball a season-high 31 times). I don't like Houston's chances in this one (who does?) but they'll likely score some points. Expect Dom to be one of the scorers.

15. Larry Johnson @ TEN - Most teams can't dig three-deep into their running back rotation and find a gem. The Chiefs aren't most teams. They sport an elite offensive line and three backs (Johnson included) with feature back ability. I suspect he'll be featured somewhere else next year but the next four games are all about showcasing his goods, starting with a primetime looksy this Monday. Give him a look if you're short-handed.

Grab A Helmet:

Fred Taylor vs. CHI - Jack Del Rio is a good, young coach but he really needs to find a way to get Mr. Taylor into the end zone more often. The former Gator hasn't scored in six weeks, a stretch in which his team has won just twice and (likely) dropped out of playoff contention. Bottom line: you don't win in the NFL unless your meal ticket scores touchdowns. It's time.

Chester Taylor vs. NYG - Despite almost half as many carries, the other Taylor has managed to score just as many touchdowns (two) as the aforementioned, more popular one. That shouldn't come as too big a surprise since the Ravens are all about defense and running. Expect them to employ a similar strategy this weekend against a punchless Giants group.

Rudi Johnson @ NE - Nobody's faced a tougher group of defenses than the Bengals this season (Pittsburgh twice, Baltimore twice, NY Jets, Denver, and Washington), which makes Johnson's 1105 rushing yards and seven scores all the more exceptional. He draws yet another doozy this Sunday (the Pats) and will need another solid effort to give Cincy a chance. He'll get it thanks to a suddenly explosive passing attack that must be accounted for.

Kevin Jones @ GB - I was thisclose to recommending him last week (as those who e-mailed me discovered) but "shoulda" and "woulda" are a far cry from "did." I won't make the same mistake this week as he appears to have turned the corner in this, his rookie campaign. Don't expect 196 yards again but 80-100 and another score seems possible, if not probable.

Onterrio Smith vs. SEA - He finally appears to have the job to himself (about time) but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll start putting up top 15 numbers. The problem? Coach Tice REFUSES to run the ball near the goal line. If you can live with 100-120 total yards and you need a third back, give him a look. At the very least, he has the ability to break a big one on any given play.

Grab A Gatorade:

Kevan Barlow @ ARI - I'm betting many of you spent a second-round (or higher) pick on this guy. If you haven't already cut your losses…um…what are you waiting for? He isn't an elite running back. Period.

Chris Brown vs. KC - He, on the other hand, actually IS an elite running back. I should say he WOULD be if he ever played a full game…or A game. For seemingly the eighth week in a row, he's listed as questionable on the injury report. Last time I'm gonna say this: told you so.

Any Oakland RB @ ATL - Three backs carried the ball for Oakland last week. Total output? Thirty yards on ten carries and no touchdowns. Thirty split three ways is…ah, forget it.

Thomas Jones or Anthony Thomas @ JAX - These two split the carries right down the middle last week (15 apiece) and managed to top the century mark in the combined effort. That's good for Chicago but not so good for you if you're relying on either to fill your #2 or flex spot. Not that you were doing that, were you? Find someone else.

William Green @ BUF - He was so inept last week (12 carries for 15 yards) that the Browns actually turned to Adimchinobe Echemandu at one point. Cool handle aside, you don't want guys who have more syllables in their name than career carries. Stay away from anything Cleveland this week and, for that matter, the rest of the year.

Deuce McAllister @ DAL - I don't care if the Saints were trailing by 50. Deuce should get the ball more than eight (!) times in a game. In fact, he should get that many just for showing up and playing for that crappy team every week. As it stands, he's on pace to carry the ball a full 140 times fewer than he did last year. Even accounting for two games lost to injury, that's an astonishing drop-off, and more than enough reason to sit him down.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends