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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. LaDainian Tomlinson @ WAS – You could make a strong case for Shaun Alexander at this spot, as well, but it’s really like choosing between pumpkin or pecan pie when the dessert tray rolls around on Thanksgiving Day. How can you go wrong? In fact, I historically opt for…

2. Shaun Alexander v. NYG – …a little of both. Alexander is now AVERAGING almost two touchdowns per game, a mark that mere mortal rock-toters are lucky to reach a couple times per year. He’s doing it every single week, folks. Guess the ‘Hawks should probably pay the man, huh? Hey, boys: help Mr. Allen find his wallet.

3. Larry Johnson v. NE – Not sure when L.J. is due for a raise but now that he’s been promoted up the ranks, I’m betting he’ll be in for a nice, little payday himself come contract negotiation time. All he’s done since taking the reigns in Week 9? 182 yards per game and four scores. Priest who? Expect more gaudy numbers against New England’s banged-up bunch this weekend.

4. Edgerrin James v. PIT – Peyton and the defense get most of the pub but you really hafta wonder where Indy would be without this guy. He STILL hasn’t tallied fewer than 100 yards in a game this season and hasn’t been held out of the end zone since Weeks 1 and 2. Just another reason why the Colts will be a tough out come January. Heard it here first, folks: they don’t lose a game this season.

5. Steven Jackson @ HOU – Just when you think you’ve got the NFL game figured out…. I’m still scratching my head over his 19-touch, 22-yard performance against the Cards in Week 11 but am not overly concerned that it will have lasting implications. He should have no trouble getting back on track in Week 12, at the very least, especially considering the opponent (a toothless Texans group) and the fact Bulger is on the shelf again. Keep him in there.

6. Tiki Barber @ SEA – He didn’t make it through the Week 11 win against Philly but seems to be ready and raring for this weekend’s marquee matchup with Seattle. Good thing, too, ‘cuz the G-Men are gonna need all the offense they can muster against the prolific Seahawks. Mark him down for 100 yards and a score in the losing effort.

7. LaMont Jordan v. MIA – Jordan was held scoreless for the third consecutive week last Sunday in Washington, but still managed to grind out 89 total yards in the victory. This week, he draws a Miami D that is giving up nearly 122 yards per game on the ground. I like his chances of posting triple digits and finding paydirt as the Raiders creep back toward the .500 mark, not to mention respectability.

8. Reuben Droughns @ MIN – More than a few pundits questioned whether he could thrive outside the running back-friendly Denver offense, but after several huge efforts of late, it’s clear he can…and has. He’s a powerful runner with great hands and deceptive speed, just the traits you’re looking for in a feature back. Give him the start against a suddenly resurgent Vikings squad that still doesn’t defend very well.

9. Domanick Davis v. STL – Whoever inherits the Houston mess next year will be glad to know the cupboard isn’t entirely bare. There are questions everywhere else but the versatile Davis at least gives the Texans something to build upon. He’s their best offensive weapon and worth starting every week, especially when the matchup is friendly, as it is this Sunday.

10. Brian Westbrook v. GB – Hard to believe there’s only one Eagle worth starting on a regular basis but that’s what happens when your star wideout gets the heave-ho and your QB elects to have season-ending surgery. It’s been a forgettable year in Philly but that doesn’t mean you should write off Westbrook. He’s still good enough to take you to the playoffs and, perhaps, all the way to the trophy. Give him the start against a Pack team that will likely start mailing it in.

11. Greg Jones @ ARI – Coach Del Rio for president! It isn’t often that NFL head men announce their intentions ahead of time but Jacksonville’s main man did us all a favor by deciding to sit Fragile Fred this weekend and, better yet, announcing said intentions on Friday. That means the former Seminole gets the nod. He should have a field day against Arizona’s good, but not great, front.

12. Stephen Davis @ BUF – He’s coming off his worst performance of the season (four carries for six yards) and isn’t 100% healthy. If that worries you, go with his backup, DeShaun Foster. If it doesn’t, stick with him. He’s likely to see the rock near the goal line if he goes and we all know what Foster does with the rock near the goal line.

13. Rudi Johnson v. BAL – He may not be Cincy’s best back anymore (that would be the explosive Chris Perry) but he’s still the guy getting most of the carries, including the ones that count (the ones in the red zone). He’s scored three times in his last two tilts and should do so again this Sunday against the Ravens. Keep starting him.

14. Thomas Jones @ TB – He hasn’t scored in over a month but appears to be almost 100% again and should see plenty of work in Tampa this Sunday as a result. Of course, the Bucs are pretty stout against the run, the main reason he slides to the bottom half of this list. Give him the start but don’t expect anything earth-shattering. 100 yards and a score would be great against that group.

15. Chris Brown v. SF – I’d hafta check the archives but this might be only the second or third time I’ve mentioned him this year. An oversight? Perhaps. He’s actually on pace for 1,000 yards and has even managed to score six times in his last five games. If you’re looking for a playoff sleeper, look no further.

Grab A Helmet:

Willis McGahee v. CAR – He hasn’t lived up to expectations this season but that’s probably because they were too high to begin with. Saddled with a green signal-caller, he simply hasn’t found enough roaming room to be a consistent option. I’m not sure he’ll find a lot more this weekend but that doesn’t mean he won’t make a nice #2 option. If the Bills get close, he’ll be the one asked to punch them in. Give him a look.

Willie Parker @ IND – Parker was back as the feature guy last weekend and managed to parlay the increased touches into a pretty nice day (81 total yards and a score). I still think he’s likely to lose goal line looks to the Bus or Verron Haynes but he’s still a good play in larger yardage leagues. Temper the expectations but don’t forget about him.

Mewelde Moore v. CLE – Just when you think Coach Tice couldn’t possibly survive another week, he pulls a Wayne Fontes, rallying his troops to three consecutive wins and keeping them in the playoff hunt. Though the Vikes will have a hard time running down the Bears at this point, it’s not out of the question. To do so, they’ll need to continue getting the ball in Moore’s hands, starting this week against an underrated Browns D.

Ronnie Brown @ OAK – That underrated Browns D is the reason Miami is coming off a scoreless effort in Week 11. Brown, the man, did his part (12 carries for 56 yards) but will need to do more if the Fish have any hope of sticking with the high-flying Raiders. Come on, Coach Saban. Time to turn the kid loose and see what he can do with 25 totes.

Grab A Gatorade:

Clinton Portis v. SD – The Bolts haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since…well, they haven’t. All season. They’ve faced some pretty good backs, too. Portis is certainly a good one, as well, but not likely the guy to break the string. Sit him down this week if you’ve got a decent backup. He could struggle to get much going against the stout San Diego front.

Carnell Williams v. CHI – He rushed for more yards last week (116) than he had in his previous four games combined (82). Does that mean he’s back in the swing of things? Perhaps, but I’m not sure we’ll get a true read this weekend. The Bears are stopping everyone these days and he will be no exception. Expect a low-scoring affair at Raymond James and not much in the way of fantasy production from the participants, the Caddy included.

Jamal Lewis @ CIN – The Ravens are looking to give Chet Taylor more carries from here on out, probably to see if he can be the feature guy in ’06. That doesn’t bode well for Lewis’ future with the team…or his present. Sit him down until further notice.

J.J. Arrington v. JAX – Arrington appears to have a future with the Cardinals, despite the painfully slow start to his career. He’s scored in two consecutive contests and looks to be in line for an increased workload as the season winds down. Don’t jump the gun, however. He still hasn’t carried it more than 11 times in a game and will be facing a tough Jags front this weekend. Wait ‘til the matchup is better (i.e. Week 13 in San Francisco).

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends