Must Start: The Top 15
1. LaDainian Tomlinson v. KC –
If you faced him or Shaun Alexander last weekend, count your lucky
stars. The two mainstays combined to tally just 68 rushing yards
on Sunday, a total L.T. might be able to surpass by himself in
the first half this Sunday. Come to think of it, he might be able
to surpass his own contribution to that total (seven yards) on
the very first play. Expect a solid bounce-back effort against
the Chefs in Week 8.
2. Lamont Jordan @ TEN –
After starting the year slowly, Jordan has absolutely exploded
the last three weeks, averaging nearly 135 total yards and two
touchdowns per contest. Think the Jets are starting to question
the wisdom of letting him get away? I’m betting they will
once Curtis Martin walks in a year or so. Start him against Tennessee’s
3. Steven Jackson v. JAX –
Now, THIS is how you phase out an aging superstar, New York. Though
Marshall hasn’t exactly been put out to pasture, he’s
definitely been relegated to background vocals now that Mr. Jackson
is singing lead. Not a bad tune the new guy is carrying, either
(seven touchdowns in seven weeks). Give him the nod against Jacksonville’s
overrated run defense.
4. Clinton Portis @ NYG –
That wasn’t so hard, was it? The formerly scoreless Portis
made up for six games worth of near misses with three touchdowns
in the Week 7 lambasting of San Francisco. The best part? It only
took him nineteen carries to do it. It might be premature to officially
declare him top 5 material again but at least for this week, he’s
earned the honor.
5. Willis McGahee @ NE –
The other former Cane has been up-and-down this season but that
has more to do with his surrounding cast than it does with him.
When the defense is getting stops and the passing game is efficient,
he rolls. When they don’t (like last weekend in Oakland)
he struggles. Hard to tell which New England team will show up
this Sunday night but I’m guessing it might still be the
one that can’t slow down opposing offenses. Keep riding
6. Domanick Davis v. CLE –
It isn’t often that you look to the league’s worst
offense for production but Davis always seems to come up with
something, no matter how bad it gets for the Texans. And make
no mistake about it: things have gotten really bad for the Texans.
Their second half output in the loss to Indy last Sunday? MINUS
four yards. Good thing for Davis’ owners, there are two
halves to every football game.
7. Thomas Jones @ DET –
Remind me again why the Bears drafted Cedric Benson this past
April? Jones’ demotion has been rumored since Week 1 but
that hasn’t stopped him from tallying 641 yards and six
scores through the first seven weeks. In fact, his per-game number
(106.8) has him on pace to rush for almost 1,700 yards this season.
If you’ve watched the Bears’ passing attack, you know
that’s quite an accomplishment. Get him in there against
the Lions this Sunday.
8. Priest Holmes @ SD –
On second thought, maybe a solid passing game isn’t a prerequisite
for a top-notch rushing attack. The Chiefs have managed only four
TD passes all season but that hasn’t prevented Priest and
his counterpart, Larry Johnson, from terrorizing opposing defenses
to the tune of 137 yards/game and ten scores. It’s one thing
to know what’s coming when KC enters the red zone. It’s
quite another to stop it.
9. Rudi Johnson v. GB –
He hadn’t touched it fewer than 19 times before last week’s
showdown with Pittsburgh, but managed only 14 looks in that one
as the Bengals were forced to play catch-up for most of the second
half. They won’t be in a similar predicament this Sunday,
meaning it’s safe to keep him in your lineup. Expect 100
yards and a score or two against the decent but still overmatched
Green Bay front.
10. Tiki Barber v. WAS –
After a sub-par Week 7, Tiki was at it again last Sunday, racking
up 110 total yards and a touch in the thrilling 24-23 victory
over Denver. The best part? He wasn’t replaced on the goal
line by the rook, Brandon Jacobs…as predicted. He’d
be ranked higher this week if not for the fact he’s scored
one (ONE!) touchdown against the Redskins in 15 career games.
11. Brian Westbrook @ DEN –
He now has more receiving yards than rushing yards this season
(367 v. 256) and the gap appears to be widening. In fact, he’s
only tallied more rushing yards in one contest to date, the Week
2 pasting of everyone’s favorite whipping boy, San Fran.
You wouldn’t normally be interested in a RB who puts up
WR numbers but so long as he keeps putting it in the end zone
(four touches thus far), you won’t notice much of a drop-off.
Stick with him.
12. Stephen Davis v. MIN –
He hasn’t rushed for more than 81 yards in a game. He’s
a non-factor in the passing game. He’s an injury waiting
to happen. So why is he still Carolina’s meal ticket? Dude
scores touchdowns, people. Simple as that. Start him against Minny’s
horrendous run defense (142 yards/game) this weekend.
13. Mewelde Moore @ CAR –
Davis’ antithesis, the ever-versatile and considerably less
stocky Moore, will be lining up on the opposite side this Sunday,
attempting to string together his fifth consecutive 100-yard outing
in a row. You weren’t aware he’s been so productive?
You’ll notice once he starts scoring more touchdowns. He
put his first one on the board against the Pack and looks to make
it two in Carolina this Sunday.
14. Corey Dillon v. BUF –
Dillon is actually coming off his first 100-yard outing of the
season, a feat that would be more compelling had it not occurred
almost three weeks ago in the Week 5 win over Atlanta. Despite
being active for Week 6, he didn’t play a single down. He’s
still listed as questionable but I’m betting the added rest
(a Week 7 bye) makes him a go for this Sunday’s matchup
with Buffalo. Get him back in there against the league’s
second-worst rushing defense.
15. Reuben Droughns @ HOU –
The league’s worst rushing defense (Houston) attempts to
slow down Cleveland’s surprisingly consistent rock-toter,
Mr. Droughns, at Reliant this weekend. He hasn’t scored
a touch yet this season but the former Duck IS averaging over
90 yards per contest, no small feat when you play for the Browns.
He makes amends for the scoreless start with a score this weekend.
I guarantee it. (6-1 so far, people! How can you ignore this?)
Grab A Helmet:
Ronnie Brown @ NO – He’s
only managed 17 carries the past two weeks (thanks a lot, Ricky)
but is still averaging 90 total yards per game and has even scored
a respectable three touchdowns thus far. Pretty tough to recommend
a guy who gets so few touches but I have a sneaking suspicion
he might get more this weekend. After all, his cohort is averaging
a barely perceptible 0.6 yards per carry to this point.
Greg Jones @ STL – If
you’re a Fragile Fred owner and you had the foresight to
handcuff him to Jones this season, well played. The former Seminole
filled in quite admirably during the Week 6 win against Pittsburgh,
rushing for 77 yards and a score. Looks as though he’ll
be getting the nod again this weekend, so start him with confidence
and make sure he’s the man on Sunday morning.
Marion Barber III v. ARI –
Just as Fragile Julius looks like he’ll be a scratch again
this weekend, as well, meaning the former Gopher gets the bulk
of the carries against Arizona. He acquitted himself pretty well
last weekend against Seattle, rambling for 95 yards on 22 carries.
Gotta like his chances of scoring against the Cards if he gets
that many opportunities again.
Mike Anderson v. PHI –
Any more questions about the Denver backfield situation? Tatum
Bell is a great keeper league option and even a decent spot starter
but he isn’t the main man in the Mile High City. Anderson
is and will continue to be for the rest of the season. Look for
another 80-100 yards and a touch this weekend against Philly,
especially if he gets 20+ carries.
Michael Pittman @ SF –
Let’s see. Cadillac is still hobbling. The Bucs are breaking
in a new signal-caller. The Niners are the worst professional
football team under the sun. Saying the stars are aligned for
a Pittman explosion would be a gross understatement at this point.
Give him a look but make sure Williams is definitely out first.
Grab A Gatorade:
Kevin Jones v. CHI – We’re
almost halfway through the season and Jones has yet to notch 100
yards in a contest. Can you say B-U-S-T? He’s gonna break
out one of these days and it will probably happen when I recommend
a sit-down. Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident I won’t
be eating crow this weekend. His Week 2 totals against Chicago?
Eight carries for 22 yards. In other words, a non-factor.
Jamal Lewis @ PIT – Another
bust of the year candidate still searching for his first 100-yard
rushing day. Lewis used to crack triple digits almost every single
week but seems to have lost that special burst which separated
him from run-of-the-mill rock-toters. Run-of-the-mill is all he
is now and that’s not good enough when you play for the
Ravens and with the likes of Anthony Wright. Sit him down.
Any Arizona RB @ DAL –
J.J. Arrington finally led the Cardinals in rushing last week
but that wasn’t too hard to do considering the other guy
(Marcel Shipp) rushed for only eight yards…on 14 carries.
It’s gone from the ridiculous to the sublime in the desert
and nothing’s going to change until the Cards figure out
how to run block.
Tony Fisher @ CIN – You
lived through Eddie Lee Ivery, Gerry Ellis, and Harlan Huckleby,
fellow backers. You can live through Tony Fisher, ReShard Lee,
and Walter Williams. As for you other folks, the ones who picked
up Fisher off the waiver wire this past week looking for a sneaky
starter? Keep dreaming. The Pack has only rushed for two touchdowns
this season…and that isn’t ‘cuz they lacked
talent at running back.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends