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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. Priest Holmes vs. HOU - His status is shrouded in mystery but it's hard to believe he won't play for a team desperately in need of a "W." I'm breaking one of my own rules (see Chris Brown) because even a less-than-100% Priest is better than most of the dudes on this list. Monitor the papers but don't hesitate to start him if he isn't ruled out.

2. Ahman Green @ IND - He's "slippery," all right. Almost as slippery as that ball he carries around 25 times a game, huh? Sigh. He'll likely never solve that problem (your OTHER right!) but ya' gotta love him, regardless, since fumbles don't hurt you nearly as much in fantasyland as they do in real life. He'll ROLL against an undersized Colts front that hasn't stopped a decent ball carrier this century.

3. Ladainian Tomlinson @ DEN - THAT'S the L.T. we know and love, baby! He tallied 87 yards on the ground and another 76 through the air against New York. He also punched one in for six. No matter who lines up under center, he'll get his points. I can't envision a scenario where he isn't a top five start, in fact.

4. Jamal Lewis @ CIN - The Bengals did a great job of bottling up Lamar Gordon but we shouldn't read too much into that. The Dolphins' O line is only better than Buffalo's and Jamal Lewis is no Lamar Gordon. The 2.7 yards per carry is worrisome (blame Boller) but he broke through last week for two TDs and I have a sneaking suspicion he's ready for a big-time Jamal type of day. Mark it down: he'll score again on Sunday.

5. Clinton Portis vs. DAL - Dallas' D is the only reason they're 1-1, plain and simple. A look inside the numbers, however, tells us they aren't as solid against the run as you might suspect (five yards a pop and 136 per game). Think Portis will be motivated to atone for a miserable Week 2 on Monday night against a hated rival? Yeah, that makes two of us.

6. Domanick Davis @ KC - So much for the Gunther Cunningham experiment. If possible, the Chefs are even worse against the run this year than they were in '03 (187 yards/game). That happens when the personnel returns virtually intact. Of course, Davis appears to be doing a fair amount of his damage in the passing game, as well (165 yards so far). Bottom line: any way you slice it, he's a GREAT start in Week 3.

7. Marshall Faulk vs. NO - Kansas City may be dead last against the run but New Orleans isn't too far behind (ahead?). The Saints have been gashed by Shaun Alexander and, most recently, Kevan Barlow for scads of yards and five TDs. Faulk is definitely in the same league as those guys and should have a field day at Edward Jones this Sunday.

8. Quentin Griffin vs. SD - He's lost two big fumbles this year (join the club, buddy) but still has the full confidence of Coach Shanahan. This week, he gets a chance for redemption against a below-average Bolts front. I'm not jumping ship on the guy and neither should you. He'll score on Sunday…maybe twice.

9. Chris Brown vs. JAX - I was taken to task for recommending you sit him last week. As numerous readers found out, however (aside from the fact I DO respond to e-mail), I like the guy. I simply don't like putting my fantasy fate in the hands of players who are questionable or worse on the injury report AND have shown a propensity for getting banged up in the past. Suffice it to say he qualified. Provided he's healthy and provided you know this (for certain) before game time, start him. Beware a tough Jags run D this week, though.

10. Kevan Barlow @ SEA - He's built to carry the ball 30 times a game but the brain trust seems determined to spread the carries around again. No matter. Barlow is making the most of his touches (4.9 yards a carry and two scores) and will probably take on a heavier workload as the season progresses. Though Seattle is much better against the run this year, he should net 80+ yards and another score.

11. Shaun Alexander vs. SF - The 'Hawks return home after a lackluster offensive effort in Tampa. They're not the first team in history to do that. They get the Niners this week, a team that has been surprisingly stout against the run (2.7/carry and 70.5 yards/game). You don't sit Alexander (especially at home) but I don't think he's fully recovered from the knee sprain suffered at the Superdome. For that reason, he drops out of the top 10.

12. Brian Westbrook @ DET - Westbrook Nation has spoken and I have listened. He's better than I thought he was. He's a dangerous threat out of the backfield and arguably even more dangerous when split wide. Nevertheless, it should be noted that he ranked only 16th among running backs in fantasy scoring last week (conventional format). That means he needs to score a touchdown before you guys can REALLY rub it in my face.

13. Thomas Jones @ MIN - I apologized to David Terrell last week and he rewarded me with one touch (a run, no less) and one fumble. You do the math. Jones will get more than one touch so I don't mind playing the apology card again. Sorry, Thomas. Now don't screw up!

14. Tiki Barber vs. CLE - Tiki has far fewer carries than any other ball carrier on this list but is top 15 in rushing yardage so far. The meaningless 72-yard scamper against Philly didn't hurt but his 6.2 yards per tote is still pretty impressive. Ron Dayne appears to be reverting to form so don't be surprised if "Lightning" starts putting up even more impressive numbers.

15. Fred Taylor @ TEN - You weren't the only fantasy baller who thought the Jags' O would put up some nice figures this year. Guilty. Taylor is hurt by a young QB who isn't very accurate and can't move. If something doesn't change quickly, he may slide out of the top 15. For now, I think you stick with him a while longer.

Grab A Helmet:

Warrick Dunn vs. ARI - Why didn't we see this coming? He's done nothing but produce since entering the league and is a glove-like fit for the West Coast offense. T.J. Duckett will eat into his rushing totals as time goes by (really) but for now, he's a solid #2 back. If you're wondering why that doesn't put him in the top 15 this week, take a gander at the injury report and recall my rule.

T.J. Duckett vs. ARI - Speaking of Duckett, he's not bad insurance if you're uncomfortable starting Dunn. Coach Mora's plan all along was to go with Dunn and use Duckett as the second half wrecking ball. Since the Cards are yielding 174 yards a contest and will likely be playing from behind all afternoon, he might actually get to employ that strategy on Sunday. Just something to think about.

Onterrio Smith vs. CHI - This is likely his swan song before a rumored drug suspension hits. Although he didn't stand out on Monday night, he still managed to hammer out 80+ total yards. I doubt Coach Tice believes the Vikes can be successful with Culpepper throwing almost 50 passes a game but then I doubt he'll be mistaken for a rocket scientist anytime soon, either. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

Edgerrin James vs. GB - Like Dunn, Edge is banged up. At press time, he's been upgraded to questionable. Do not (repeat: do NOT) get on my case if he ends up sitting out or playing only a partial game. He's a great start against a thin Pack front but this is the best I can do as far as a recommendation goes.

Kevin Jones vs. PHI - Lost in the hoopla of Donovan-to-T.O. mania is the fact that Philly's D is yielding an eye-popping 5.9 yards per carry so far (good for dead last). No doubt a lot of those yards were given up in the late stages of a lopsided win over the G-men but Philly was no great shakes against the run last year, either (4.8/carry). Jones is looking more comfortable by the carry and could do some damage if the Lions don't fall too far behind on Sunday.

Grab A Gatorade:

Duce Staley @ MIA - The Dolphins defense should be commended for keeping the team in games it had no business staying in. Though Chris Brown ripped them in Week 1, Rudi Johnson couldn't do much of anything last Sunday night. Expect the box to be loaded as the Fish dare the neophyte, Roethlisberger, to beat them. Oh, and there's always the Bus poach factor to consider.

Rudi Johnson vs. BAL - Again, this is strictly a matchup play. Johnson is a top 15 guy most weeks but Baltimore is no team to try and run the ball against. Expect the Ravens to put the onus on Carson Palmer by filling the box and forcing the Bengals to throw. If you have good alternatives, go with them.

Charlie Garner @ OAK - Chucky returns to the Black Hole and it's gonna be ugly. I'm talking about the game. Tampa's offense is in disarray and even though Garner was the lone bright spot last week, he could struggle to gain positive yardage against his former mates, a vastly improved bunch. This one has 10-7 written all over it so starting anyone in this contest looks risky.

Any Oakland RB vs. TB - Did I mention this one is gonna be ugly? As Shaun Alexander found out, the Bucs are still the Bucs (read: stingy). Yeah, Clinton Portis put up big numbers in Week 1 but they were heavily skewed by his inaugural tote as a 'Skin. Oakland doesn't know whom it wants to feature at tailback and the picture is unlikely to be any less murky after Sunday's game. Steer clear until some semblance of a plan develops.

Emmitt Smith @ ATL - Third time's a charm? He's managed to find the end zone twice through two games, meaning he's made me look stupid two weeks running. Ed Donatell has the Falcons playing MUCH better on D and so long as they're not asked to defend any 4th and 26 plays, that trend should continue this week. It's unlikely the Cards will be able to run much anyway since they'll be playing from behind from the get-go.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends