Must Start: The Top 15
1. Priest Holmes @ JAX - After
gashing the stingy Baltimore front and resting for two weeks,
Priest regains the top spot. He faces a Jags D that is rumored
to be tough against the run. I say "rumored" because
in reality, they haven't been all that stout of late (122.6 per
game). Expect lots of yards and, as always, a touch or two.
2. Chris Brown vs. HOU - He
probably couldn't have done much better against tackling dummies
last Monday night. Tackling dummies don't have arms...or legs.
He draws a Texans squad in Week 6 that gives up 4.8 per carry
and 131.4 per game on the ground. That means he should be in for
another huge day.
3. Deuce McAllister vs. MIN
- To the surprise of almost everyone, he suited up for the Saints
on Sunday and carried the rock a season-high 21 times. Better
still, he appeared to be no worse for the wear, running over Tampa
defenders (Tampa!) to the tune of five yards per tote. Though
he didn't find the end zone, he should tally his first score of
the year against a questionable Minnesota front this weekend.
4. Shaun Alexander @ NE - Inexplicably,
the 'Hawks went away from him when they needed him most (a clock-milking
drive in the final minutes). Don't' expect Coach Holmgren to make
the same mistake if his boys are in a similar position this Sunday.
They very well might be if Alexander continues his torrid start
(seven touchdowns in four games).
5. LaDainian Tomlinson @ ATL
- He was at his double-threat best against the Jags on Sunday
(134 total yards and a score) before being lifted for Jesse Chatman
in the fourth quarter of the blowout victory. Don't be alarmed
by the substitution. The Bolts are merely keeping him fresh for
the long haul. Things get tougher in Atlanta this week but when
have you known L.T. to disappoint?
6. Curtis Martin vs. SF - For
the fourth consecutive week, he reached triple digits in total
yardage. Unfortunately, he failed to reach the end zone for the
first time all year. Buffalo's tough D had something to do with
that so there's no reason to think he won't get back on track
against a generous Niners bunch.
7. Ahman Green @ DET - The simmering
reached a rolling boil on Monday night as Coach Sherman publicly
let Green know what he thinks about all the fumbles. Though he's
in no danger of getting yanked, he could see a decrease in carries
if the Pack continues to play from behind or, worse yet, WAY behind.
Play him but start thinking about alternatives. No, I never thought
I'd write that.
8. Domanick Davis @ TEN - The
three yards per rush has fantasy owners scratching their heads
but the three touchdowns (in barely three games of action) is
an encouraging sign. Though he could suffer (like Green) if his
team continues to fall behind, he's also proven to be a major
threat in the passing game. Stick with him.
9. Mewelde Moore @ NO - College
fantasy football nuts remember him as "that Tulane guy"
who racked up heaps of all-purpose yards and a bushel of touchdowns
his last two years in school. NFL guys may soon know him as the
rookie back who made Michael Bennett or Onterrio Smith expendable.
He returns to his old stomping grounds this week for a matchup
with the sieve-like Saints D.
10. Lee Suggs vs. CIN - Don't
be fooled by William Green's title as the starting running back.
He carried it only three times against Pittsburgh (for 27 yards,
mind you) before handing over the reins to Mr. Suggs. I suspect
they'll "share" carries again in Week 6, with the former
Hokie getting the yeoman's share of the work. That's a good thing
against the utterly dreadful front seven of Cincy (165.8 rushing
11. Brian Westbrook vs. CAR
- Don't laugh, Carolina fans. Your run defense isn't much better
(159 rushing yards/game). Though Westbrook isn't the type of back
to run over people (a la Reuben Droughns last week), he's nifty
enough to dart and dance his way to a bunch of yards
against the Jenkins-less Panthers. Get him back in there and cross
your fingers he finds the end zone for once.
12. Fred Taylor vs. KC - While
we're on the subject of crappy defenses, no discussion would be
complete without mention of KC's less-than-stellar eleven. If
Jacksonville wants to keep it close early against an explosive
Chefs O, they'll need Taylor to move the chains against the eminently
moveable KC D.
13. Rudi Johnson @ CLE - Johnson's
been getting a remarkably consistent diet of carries (23, 22,
23, and 24) and has lately been turning most of them into solid
gains. With a young QB under center, the Bengals better hope he
keeps doing that. The running attacks will be featured in the
Battle of Ohio so reinsert him in your lineup.
14. Duce Staley @ DAL - Duce
scored the only way he's likely to score this year, from 25 yards
out. You can't count on that every week but 100 bones a game is
still pretty good production from your #2 guy. He IS your #2 guy,
15. Clinton Portis @ CHI - Speaking
of #2 guys
. This guy used to be a #1 but is fast approaching
second-rate status with lackluster performances and constant carping
about the predictable 'Skins offense. I suspect he has a point
but you just don't say certain things out loud. Though nothing
would surprise me at this point, he should get untracked against
the crummy Bears on Sunday.
Grab A Helmet:
Warrick Dunn vs. SD - San Diego's
run defense is (much) better than you think but Dunn isn't the
type of back to do his damage between the twenties. He does it
in the passing game and near the goal line, as six touchdowns
surely attest. Start him as usual.
Marshall Faulk vs. TB - Anybody
who saw Steven Jackson run the ball last week knows the Rams can't
keep him off the field much longer. Though the inscrutable Martz
won't tip his hand, I'm betting he starts spreading the carries
around a little more in the near future. That means Marshall's
value dips a bit. It was going to happen sooner or later so don't
be too bummed.
Stephen Davis @ PHI - He claimed
a natural disaster would be the only thing to prevent him from
starting in Denver. Last I checked, bum knees aren't considered
a natural disaster. Then again, if he can't go this week, the
Panthers could be faced with an entirely different breed of disaster:
Nick Goings and Brad Hoover as their starting backfield. The early
word is he'll play (for real this time) so monitor the injury
reports and get him in there if all systems are go.
Michael Pittman @ STL - The
former Fresneck did just enough on Sunday to salt away Tampa's
first win of the season. He's never a first option but given 15
carries and a few receptions per game (his averages so far), he's
capable of scoring some points against the horrendous Rams front.
Use him as your #2 guy if you don't have better options.
Artose Pinner vs. GB - It doesn't
appear Kevin Jones will play and even if he did, I'd be surprised
to see Mooch go away from what's working. Though Pinner is no
game-breaker, he's built like a fire hydrant and can rip off big
chunks of yardage after initial contact. In case you hadn't noticed,
contact isn't the Pack's strong suit.
Reuben Droughns @ OAK - He wasn't
always a fullback, you know. Duck fans remember him (fondly) as
a sneaky fast, straight-line bruiser who teamed with Akili Smith
to form a lethal combination in 1998. There's no opponent Coach
Shanahan likes terrorizing more than the Rai-duhs and Droughns
gives him the best chance of doing exactly that this week. Don't
forget Oakland has given up more than 150 rushing yards in its
last two contests.
Corey Dillon vs. SEA - He doesn't
get enough carries to crack the Top 15 and is a non-threat in
the passing game. Nevertheless, he's efficient with the touches
he does get (five yards per carry so far) and suits up for a team
that usually plays from out front. All things considered, you
could do a lot worse, especially if he starts finding paydirt
Grab A Gatorade:
Travis Henry or Willis McGahee vs.
MIA - Henry is missing practices, increasing the likelihood
McGahee will make his first career start this weekend. I can't
think of a worse defense to face in your first career start than
Miami's. The Fish may be struggling mightily on offense but they're
shutting people down on D (241.2 yards/game). Without a viable
passing game to take the heat off, you'd be wise to stay away
from this Buffalo duo.
Any Miami RB @ BUF - Actually,
they make struggling offenses look potent. Try catatonic. Though
the quarterbacks are absorbing most of the criticism, the running
backs deserve most of the heat. Their 61.2 yards per game and
zero (!!!) touchdowns are good for dead last in the league. In
fact, the next worse team (Tampa) is averaging over 80 yards per
contest. Oh, Rick-y?
Any Oakland RB vs. DEN - If
you can figure out who's gonna get carries on a regular basis,
you're either Norv Turner or clairvoyant. Amos Zereoue got most
of the work last week (a measly ten totes) but Justin Fargas got
the score. Zach Crockett? M.I.A. You want nothing to do with this
Kevan Barlow @ NYJ - The Niners
pulled off an improbable victory last Sunday but all the cantankerous
Barlow could talk about afterward was himself: "2.4 yards
man, that's a joke." It certainly is, Kevan.
The more he bitches, the less important he'll be, especially in
the Niners' new "Red Ball" passing attack.
Any Dallas RB vs. PIT - As a
whole, this committee hasn't been that bad. Unfortunately, it's
still a committee and will stay that way all season. If you held
a gun to my head, I'd say Eddie's a better start than the rest
but just barely. It's best if you just avoid the
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends