Must Start: The Top 15
1. Priest Holmes @ DEN - You
only relinquish the top spot during the off-season if you A) get
injured, B) get busted for brokering coke deals, or C) abruptly
retire and run off to Asia with a lifetime's supply of chronic.
With all the turmoil at the position, it's nice to know there's
a Prudential rock still topping the list. If the KC brain trust
doesn't find another receiver for Trent Green (and even if they
do), you can expect gaudy numbers from Priest again.
2. Ahman Green @ CAR - Fav-ruh
might be the MVP (only because he's the most irreplaceable) but
Green is clearly the engine that drives the Pack's offensive machine.
He tallied over 1800 yards on the ground ALONE last year and added
almost a touchdown per contest, to boot. Could you live with those
numbers? I could
and have been for quite some time in my
dynasty leagues. Living quite well, I might add.
3. Ladainian Tomlinson @ HOU
- He started off slow last year and is a candidate to do the same
this year thanks to virtually NO work in the preseason. Resist
the urge to trade him, though, and you might be rewarded with
another explosive second half. Nobody is a better dual threat
than LT (1600+ yards on the ground and over 700 more through the
air). It's a shame he doesn't play for a real team.
4. Jamal Lewis @ CLE - He's
a value pick in fantasy drafts this year but only because folks
are scared away by his impending legal entanglements. Of course,
if you've already drafted him, the die has been cast. Start him
every week and pray the judicial system moves at its customarily
5. Deuce McAllister vs. SEA -
Ever seen a bell curve? That's the trajectory Deuce's season took
last year. Start slow, pile it on in the middle, and then finish
with a fizzle. The yardage alone says he belongs in the top five.
Keep in mind, however, that he only scored touchdowns in five
games last year. That's gotta change in this make-or-break year
for the Saints.
6. Clinton Portis vs. TB - I'll
be honest. I don't have a CLUE how Portis will do for the 'Skins.
One thing's for sure. If he fails, it won't be due to a lack of
opportunity. As mentioned previously, Coach Gibbs intends to use
and abuse the former 'Cane. That's a comforting thought for his
owners and a troubling one for his mother... not to mention his
7. Shaun Alexander @ NO - They
don't' come any un-flashier than Mr. Alexander. The next time
he jukes a defender will be the first. His game is north-south
power and speed and the results so far have been positive. No
reason he can't put up stellar numbers again this year thanks
to a passing game that will almost certainly demand the undivided
attention of opposing defenses.
8. Rudi Johnson @ NYJ - Did
Cincy really draft Chris Perry in case Johnson leaves after this
season? Or are they concerned the Auburn product can't duplicate
last year's come-from-nowhere bit? I'm guessing it's the former.
He doesn't have the lengthiest of resumes but it's a mighty impressive
one (three career games over 150 yards). He's a great start against
a still suspect Jets run D.
9. Fred Taylor @ BUF - Believe
it or not, the once fragile Jags tailback hasn't missed s start
in two seasons. Can we start calling him reliable again? Well,
he was banged up in the preseason a bit. He doesn't account for
a ton of scores anymore but the yardage and a potential renaissance
in Jacksonville make him an attractive option this year, regardless.
10. Kevan Barlow vs. ATL - Quick,
name someone other than Barlow who plays offense for the 49'ers.
Guess that explains why I've got him ranked in the top 10, eh?
11. Curtis Martin vs. CIN -
Lamont Jordan once seemed assured of inheriting his job (come
on, you thought so, too). Now? Well
. Let's just say C-Mart
is still atop the depth chart and even looked pretty good this
preseason. If Pennington becomes a Pro-Bowler (he will), expect
the Pitt product to rip off well over 1000 yards and six scores
12. Edgerrin James @ NE - It
would be hard to call him "elite" anymore but that doesn't
mean he can't win you some ballgames. Though his rushing numbers
will never match those of the top five backs again, he always
seems to find the endzone. TDs are still the bread and butter
in most fantasy scoring systems so you still want him.
13. Marshall Faulk vs. ARI -
Was Steven Jackson's amazing preseason an audition or just a way
to keep Marshall healthy? I'm guessing it was a little bit of
both. Faulk won't carry the ball as much as he has in the past
but that means he'll probably stay healthier and more productive
in the long run. This is his last big season if my instincts are
to be trusted so ride him while you still can.
14. Domanick Davis vs. SD -
Some preseason mags had him ranked in the top ten. I don't know
about you, but I'd make damn sure he isn't gonna lose a bunch
of carries to Tony Hollings before I valued him that highly. Don't
get me wrong. He's a good young back. The same could be said of
Mr.Hollings, though. Steer clear if you have an aversion to risk.
15. T.J. Duckett @ SF - Though
Davis is POTENTIALLY in a platoon situation, Duckett actually
IS in a platoon situation. At least you know what you're getting,
though. He tends to get the majority of carries around the goal
line and for that reason alone, he's worth starting in most formats.
Plus, if Dunn gets hurt (not an unlikely scenario), Duckett will
shoulder the entire load. I drafted him if that counts for anything.
Grab A Helmet:
Travis Henry vs. JAX - Here's
one platoon situation that, thankfully for us, didn't develop.
Willis McGahee was rumored to be pushing Henry hard early in camp
but after shooting his mouth off about not being satisfied with
a subsidiary role, he seemed to fade. Coincidence? More likely,
the Miami alum realized he was losing ground and took action through
the media. Expect good numbers from Henry and very little mention
of McGahee 'til next offseason.
Brian Westbrook vs. NYG - You'll
come to find that I'm not real high on him this year. I have my
reasons (durability, namely) but I'm setting those aside for Week
1. Why? Because he's playing the Giants, of course. He won't be
the first person to take advantage of shoddy line play by the
G-men this year.
Kevin Jones @ CHI - This year's
running back crop was fairly lame but Steven Jackson and Jones
were good value picks in the late first/early second rounds, respectively.
Of course, Jones is going to be asked to start right away which
is probably fine by him. Provided Harrington & Co. can get
something going in the passing game, Mr. Jones should find some
room to roam against a weak Bears D.
Quentin Griffin vs. KC - Tatum
Bell will probably be the man some day but it seems unlikely to
happen this year. Simply put, Griffin gives the Broncos the best
chance to win right now, especially with Mike Anderson on the
shelf. Expect over four yards/carry and double-digit scores for
the diminutive back, starting with a big game against a questionable
Chefs' D on Sunday night.
Charlie Garner @ WAS - His days
as a productive back are probably numbered but with Michael Pittman
sitting out a suspension and Jamel White and Mike Alstott the
only other available options, you gotta think he'll put up some
decent stats to start the season. I've never been in love with
him, honestly, but I couldn't resist picking him up in our draft
when he was still sitting there in the 12th round.
Grab A Gatorade:
Eddie George @ MIN - How exactly
does a guy who's averaged less than 3.5 yards/carry for three
years running keep a starting gig in the NFL? Welcome to Dallas,
folks, where convention AND wisdom have been set aside in favor
of loyalty and experience. Hey, I value experience just as much
as the next guy, but there comes a point in time when it becomes
nothing more than a euphemism for "old." That time has
come for Mr. George.
Emmitt Smith @ STL - Speaking
of old! Dennis Green once coached at Northwestern and Stanford,
two bastions of academic excellence. One would think all that
brainpower might have rubbed off on the old ballcoach. His decision
to go with Emmitt as his starting meal ticket suggests otherwise.
Steer clear until Denny regains his senses.
Tiki Barber @ PHI - The job
was his alone for a couple years but now his running mate, the
sleeker, rededicated Ron Dayne (aka, Thunder) is back in the mix.
That spells trouble for Barber's overall fantasy value. If it's
not bad enough he faces a stalwart Eagles D in Week 1, Commandant
Coughlin has announced Dayne will be the goal-line back. Move
Travis Minor vs. TEN - It's
not HIS fault the dreadlocked one lost his passion for the game.
Of course, it's also not his fault he stands 5'10" and weighs
200 lbs. sopping wet. The acquisition of Lamar Gordon tells us
we'd be foolish to expect much from Minor this year so even if
you had the foresight to back up Williams with him, forget it.
There are much better options out there.
William Green vs. BAL - The
injury to Lee Suggs may well have given Green a chance to regain
the spot that was rightfully his. In fact, were he to have a big
game against the Ravens on opening day, it's unlikely we'd see
much of Suggs when he returned from the injury list. Luckily for
Suggs, a big game against the Ravens' ferocious D seems unlikely.
Expect this competition to linger into the early stages of the
regular season and for Green to struggle on opening day.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends