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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 v. NYG – Let’s try this again: “If the Chargers are planning on giving him 19 touches per game the rest of the way, they won’t be returning to the postseason anytime soon.” He’s still finding paydirt (two TDs last week) but L.T. has yet to catch a pass this season, an unbelievable fact when you consider he’s AVERAGED over 70 receptions per season in his brief career. I’m betting the farm he’ll break the reception-less streak this Sunday in a game the Bolts desperately need.

2. Shaun Alexander v. ARI – After getting a measly 14 carries against Jacksonville in the opener, Alexander ran the ball 28 times against the Falcons in Week 2. Result? Twice as many yards and a score. Arizona’s D isn’t on par with either Atlanta’s or Jacksonville’s, meaning he should be in for another huge game at Qwest Field this weekend.

3. Rudi Johnson @ CHI – Thanks to an explosive performance from Carson Palmer and his wideouts, Rudi ended up being the forgotten man last Sunday. Though he managed to grind out 90 yards on 22 carries, he didn’t find the end zone. That should change this weekend against a Bears D that may be forced into nickel/dime coverage more often than it likes.

4. Deuce McAllister @ MIN – His 2.7 yards/carry figure tells me his line isn’t opening enough holes for him yet. That could be due to the competition or it could mean they just aren’t that good. Either way, it’s bound to play better this Sunday against a Vikings front that can definitely be pushed around (a league-worst 156.5 rushing yards per game so far). The Shot Caller guaranteed you a touch for his teammate, Joe Horn, last week. Let’s make it 2-0 with a guaranteed six for Deuce.

5. Priest Holmes @ DEN – He’s not what he used to be (fantasy top dog) but he ain’t exactly chopped liver, either. He’s getting two carries to every one for Larry Johnson and in the KC offense, that’s still a healthy chunk of touches. Provided he keeps finding the end zone every week, you shouldn’t worry about him too much. Don’t forget that he & Johnson absolutely demolished the Denver D last season (151 yards apiece in two separate contests).

6. Steven Jackson v. TEN – See what I mean? When Coach Martz lets this freight train outta the station, good things happen for St. Louie. The Titans are coming off a Herculean performance against Jamal Lewis but will be hard-pressed to suppress both this guy and the Rams’ multi-dimensional passing attack. Expect a high-scoring affair and Jackson’s first 100-yard outing this weekend.

7. Julius Jones @ SF – Jones has been just shy of the century mark twice this season but that will likely be the exception rather than the rule from here on out. The Niners aren’t the ‘Skins when it comes to run defense and I’m betting Tuna and the ‘Boys will attempt to put last Monday night’s debacle behind them with a punishing ground attack and more fundamentally sound defense.

8. Willie Parker v. NE – More impressive than the 136 yards/game is the 5.8 yards/carry number, the best per-tote clip in the league amongst starting backs. Nevertheless, I have a sneaking suspicion Coach Belichick will have something special in store for him this week in Pittsburgh. You don’t win three Super Bowl trophies by letting your opponents dictate tempo to you. Expect decent but more modest numbers on Sunday.

9. Edgerrin James v. CLE – James was about all the Colts had going for them last week as he accounted for well over half their total offensive output. Unfortunately, he stepped aside near the goal line as Ran Carthon (?) punched across Indy’s only touch. See what I mean about the unpredictable Tom Moore? Don’t worry. Edge will get plenty of goal-line looks in the future, starting this Sunday against the Browns.

10. Stephen Davis @ MIA – He’s gone from off-the-radar to on-the-radar to leading TD man in less than a month. Not bad for a guy most considered to be washed up after last season. He’s almost guaranteed to break down at some point (that’s why you handcuffed him to DeShaun Foster, right?) but for now, he’s a pretty sweet points machine. Keep starting him.

11. Carnell Williams @ GB – This isn’t your granddad’s Cadillac, folks. It’s the tricked-out hoopty your neighborhood mack is creepin’ around in, complete with continental package and chrome-plated curb feelers. Expect another strong showing against a Packers D that has precious few playmakers and even less experience.

12. Thomas Jones v. CIN – He’s starting to lose carries to the rook (Ced Benson) but if the Bears are truly gonna contend in the NFC North this year, they’ll need him to be the man. He’s done a reasonably good impression so far, racking up 170 yards and three scores in two games. Provided Chicago doesn’t fall too far behind this Sunday (a possibility), he should be up for another strong showing against Cincy.

13. Willis McGahee v. ATL – I didn’t think the new QB would hurt him that much but after two weeks, it’s clear opposing defenses don’t respect the Bills’ passing attack. That isn’t gonna change anytime soon so it’s probably best to temper expectations for now. He’s still the show and good enough to start but don’t expect top 10 numbers ‘til Losman gets more comfortable.

14. Tiki Barber @ SD – The reincarnation of Thunder (Brandon Jacobs) and Lighting (Barber) makes the Giants a difficult team to defend, especially when you factor in the maturation of Eli Manning. Tiki’s still the piece that holds it all together so if the guys around him keep improving, look out. Teams that don’t key on him are bound to pay the price sooner or later.

15. Brian Westbrook v. OAK – Same goes for him. Though he almost never touches it more than 20 times a game, he always manages to post double-digit fantasy totals. That has a lot to do with the fact opposing defenses can’t afford to pay him much attention, at the risk of letting T.O. have his way on the perimeter. The Raiders are better across the defensive front but not good enough to keep him (or T.O.) out of the end zone.

Grab A Helmet:

Lamont Jordan @ PHI – He’s coming off a pretty solid game against the Chefs but could be coming off a huge one if not for a pointless holding call that reversed a brilliant 56-yard scoring scamper. Welcome to Oakland, kid. He’s clearly a weapon the Raiders have been missing so expect more good numbers in the future, especially with Randy commanding so much attention in the passing game.

Larry Johnson @ DEN – There aren’t too many backups you’d consider starting on a regular basis but so long as he keeps performing well, why not? He’s especially useful in TD-only leagues where he’ll probably be good for six every week.

Chris Perry @ CHI – Another backup you might wanna consider, especially if he keeps getting regular looks. He racked up 80 yards in the blowout win over the Vikes and could have had twice as many if not for a holding penalty that nullified an electrifying 86-yard pitch-and-catch in the first quarter. Give him a go if you’re short-handed this week.

Ron Dayne v. KC – No, your eyes did not deceive you. That was actually Ron Dayne driving the Broncos toward a game-winning field goal last week. If it’s true Coach Shanahan’s offense can make a star out of any running back, the former Badger may end up as the free agent pickup of the year. I’d like to see him get more touches first but I suspect the touches he does get in the immediate future will be nearer the goal line. That, in and of itself, makes him worth a look.

Brandon Jacobs @ SD – Dayne’s replacement in Gotham, Mr. Jacobs, has already established himself as a goal-line stud in a very short period of time. Though he’ll never replace the irreplaceable Tiki Barber, he’s a good sneaker option when your studs are on a bye. Go pick him up if your league mates haven’t figured out who he is yet.

Grab A Gatorade:

Kevan Barlow v. DAL – When the Niners decide to throw in the towel this year and start the youngsters, it won’t be surprising at all to see him standing next to Coach Nolan on the sidelines. Barlow simply isn’t a difference-maker in the league, despite having all the measureables. If you were hoping he’d be a sleeper, time to find an alternative. He’s asleep, all right.

Reuben Droughns @ IND – The former Duck has been quietly effective thus far (90 yards per contest) but hasn’t found paydirt yet and doesn’t possess the breakaway speed to scare opposing defenses. In a better offense (think Denver), he’d be a terrific option. In this one, he’s a flex guy at best. Sit him down against the suddenly resurgent Colts D.

Warrick Dunn @ BUF – Remember when he used to be a threat in the passing game? Through two weeks, Dunn has caught exactly one pass (for no yards) and doesn’t appear to be on Mr. Vick’s radar when protection breaks down. Of course, when protection breaks down, the best option tends to be Vick himself. Wait ‘til the matchup is better.

Any Arizona RB @ SEA – I’ll cop to drinking a bit too much of that Denny Green Kool-Aid this offseason but how in the world did this situation become such a mess in such a hurry? Was that James Jackson toting the rock against the Rams? Aye-yay-YAY!

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends