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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. IND - So much for that #1 ranked run defense, eh? Priest ran for 139 yards and four scores before handing over the reins to Derrick Blaylock…who promptly rushed for four MORE touchdowns. There simply isn't a better O-line in the business and when you pair the best O-line with the best back…well, you're in business.

2. Tiki Barber @ MIN - With apologies to Mewelde Moore, L.T.'s gimpy groin makes Tiki the top run-catch threat in the league at the moment. He tallied 172 total yards last week in the losing effort vs. Detroit and also scored a touch. He should be good for another 150+ and a touch or two this Sunday as the Giants attempt to outscore the Vikes. Yeah, good luck with that.

3. Shaun Alexander vs. CAR - Coach Holmgren has had it up to here and is now vowing a return to "basics." One can only assume he means a heavy dosage of Shaun Alexander in Week 8. That would be a good thing for his owners as the 'Bama alum has proven to be MUCH more productive when he sees more work (seven touchdowns in games he touches it more than 20 times).

4. Chris Brown vs. CIN - The Titans haven't been able to get him untracked since the Monday night bloodbath at Lambeau. Bad quarterback play has hurt but so has a defense that's spotting its opponents early leads. If Coach Fisher knows what's good for him (he does), Brown will get over 20 carries against a woeful and now woefully depleted (thanks, Denver) Bengals front seven.

5. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. OAK - At 100%, he's a Top 5 start every week. At less than 100%…he's a Top 5 start every week. The yards-per-carry average is well off last year's pace (4.1 vs. 5.3) but he's still managing to find the end zone on a regular basis. Good enough for me and, I suspect, his owners.

6. Ahman Green @ WAS - His 90-yard score against Dallas was the longest scamper by a running back this season. And you were worried he might be finished. Precious few feature backs have his combination of power, moves, and home run speed. If he has an Achilles heel…but enough about that. Get him back in there, even against a tough 'Skins run defense.

7. Reuben Droughns vs. ATL - I might be biased but, more than any other back in the league, he reminds me a lot of Batman. He hits the hole hard, runs with great tilt, and refuses to go down on first (or second…or third) contact. If you weren't sold on him before last week, you should be now. He posted his third straight 100-yard performance on Monday night and is now the lone viable option in the Denver backfield thanks to Q. Griffin's season-ending injury.

8. Edgerrin James @ KC - He's tallied more than 100 total yards in every game but one this season, the fireworks display vs. Green Bay in Week 3. This Sunday, he draws the much-maligned KC D (4.6 yards per carry and 125.2 per game). Provided Peyton doesn't hog all the glory, he should be good for at least 100 more yards and a score.

9. Mewelde Moore vs. NYG - Still no touchdowns from the Tulane alum and though that would normally be reason to panic, it isn't in his case. Why? Because he's averaging over 175 total yards per tilt. I don't know about you but if someone gave me 17 points per week, I'd be asking where the line forms. Keep playing him until someone figures out how to slow the kid down.

10. Curtis Martin vs. MIA - Only Clinton Portis has more carries this year and though few would have predicted it before the season started, Martin has done more (LOTS more) with his opportunities than the 'Skins' feature back has. He's averaging an uncharacteristic 4.5 yards per and is on pace for a personal best in TDs. All the more reason to keep riding this venerable workhorse as the playoffs draw nearer.

11. Corey Dillon @ PIT - Speaking of venerable workhorses, the Pats turned to him in the Foxboro quagmire last week and he responded with another 100-yard performance. Though he didn't score, he's still on pace for about eight touchdowns, a number that would be above his career average, believe it or not.

12. Clinton Portis vs. GB - Don't mistake this Packer D for the one you saw on national TV a few weeks back. The return of Grady Jackson has emboldened a previously undersized group and opponents must now throw more than they had to before. Fortunately, that's something they're still able to do with remarkable ease. Unfortunately, the 'Skins still have Mark Brunell. Translation? As Portis goes, so go the 'Skins…still.

13. Thomas Jones vs. SF - His numbers have drooped since the season-ending injury to Rex Grossman but that doesn't mean you should forget about him. The Bears will do everything possible to get him going and he's just capable enough to get the job done.

14. Rudi Johnson @ TEN - What did I tell you? The matchup wasn't ideal but Johnson persevered to the tune of 119 yards and a touch on Monday night. He faces a less-than-stellar Titans bunch this week and if the Bengals have any hope of winning two in a row, he'll need to duplicate the feat. He will even if his team won't.

15. Fred Taylor @ HOU - His 174 total yards were overshadowed by Byron Leftwich's heroics but don't think the Jags brain trust didn't notice. Coach Del Rio knows playoff contenders are almost always built upon the same foundation: franchise back and solid defense. Check (provided he stays healthy) and check.

Grab A Helmet:

Sammy Morris @ NYJ - I can't remember the last time so many fourth-string running backs played such a prominent role this early in the season. Though Mewelde Moore and Reuben Droughns have been grabbing all the headlines, Morris is quietly doing his part in South Florida. It won't alter the Dolphins' fortunes much but it could affect yours. He's averaged over 100 total yards the past two weeks and is worth a look if he's still hanging around on the waiver wire.

Kevan Barlow @ CHI - He's not 100% right now and it doesn't appear he will be the rest of the season. That means he's strictly a matchup play from here on out. Luckily for those relying on him, the matchup is a pretty good one this week. The Bears are giving up a lot of yards on the ground (139.3 per game) and will continue to do so if the impotent offense is unable to control the clock.

Domanick Davis vs. JAX - His numbers don't justify the recommendation but I'm betting the bye week gave him time to rejuvenate the bum thigh and refocus his game. It better have or yet another fourth-string rock-toter, Jonathan Wells, could seize the opportunity that didn't appear to exist when the season began. And you wonder why I prefer drafting stud receivers to stud running backs.

Duce Staley vs. NE - Duce seems pleased with his role as the between-the-twenties chain-mover. I doubt his owners are overly thrilled with it but then how many of them actually expected feature back numbers from him? Be happy with the boring, old reliability and keep plugging him in at the #2 back slot. You could do a lot worse.

Willis McGahee vs. ARI - He's been named the starter for Week 8, which means the staff really likes him or really DOESN'T like Travis Henry. Either way, he should rise to the occasion and earn the right to keep starting the rest of the way. One note of caution: Buffalo's O-line is the worst in football. One more: Arizona has yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season. On second thought, perhaps he belongs...

Grab A Gatorade:

Any Dallas RB vs. DET - …down here. The 'Boys would probably kill to have someone of McGahee's ability in their backfield. Failing that, they'd probably settle for someone with a pulse. Alas, there IS no silver lining in Big D, folks…just touches of grey as far as the eye can see. Hey, I went to school in Eugene. Gimme a break, will ya'?

Any Oakland RB @ SD - Speaking of Eugene, the former Duck, Norv Turner, must be pulling his hair out trying to figure out a way to get his running game going. Here's an idea: get Tyrone Wheatley back on the field. Without Wheatley's bruising style, the Rai-duhs are left with sundry scat backs and third-down types, none of who will have much success against the Chargers' league-leading run defense. You read that right. Stay away.

Brad Hoover @ SEA - He's been a surprisingly decent stopgap for the injury-ravaged Panthers but he won't be much help this week. Why? The 'Hawks are seething and will be looking to lay the wood to a depleted Carolina D. That means he won't get enough touches as Delhomme and Co. play come-from-behind most of the day.

Dorsey Levens vs. BAL - He's been dubbed the starter for Week 8 but that doesn't mean you should be rushing out to grab him. He's neither the home run nor dual threat Brian Westbrook is and thus, isn't the type of back who can exploit a stout Baltimore front. Keep in mind his last relevant season was 1999…when he was still in Green Bay.

Emmitt Smith @ BUF - The Bills don't do many things well but stopping the run is definitely one of them (91.8 yards/game). They're especially rough on between-the-tackles types like Emmitt, primarily because they field two mountainous tackles/roadblocks of their own, Sam Adams and Pat Williams. He's been a pleasant surprise this year but expectations should definitely be tempered for the cagey vet in Week 8.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends