Must Start: The Top 15
1. LaDainian Tomlinson v. OAK—LT
has now scored 19 times in his past six games, an astounding three
TDs plus per contest. If he rode the bench the rest of the year,
would anyone even outscore him? We might be witnessing the single
greatest fantasy performance in history.
2. Frank Gore @ STL—Gore’s
Week 11 performance was history-making in its own right, a franchise-best
212 yards as the Niners downed division rival Seattle at Monster
Park. That gives him 371 rushing yards over his last two tilts
to go with another 40 accumulated through the air. This week,
he draws a St. Louis D he torched for 127 yards and a score back
in Week 2. What I’m trying to say here is…
3. Larry Johnson v. DEN—…start
him. But you already knew that, right? LJ has been a bit of a
disappointment this season but that’s no fault of his. The
expectations were stratospheric to begin with and, quite frankly,
not realistic. Then again, if it weren’t for LT, we wouldn’t
be labeling him that way. He’s never worse than a top 3
option, not even against Denver’s 5th ranked run defense.
4. Rudi Johnson @ CLE—Rudi’s
output has increased in every one of his last four games and he
now seems to be hitting his stride just as the games get more
important. Hard to believe he won’t continue that trend
against a team he destroyed in Week 2 to the tune of 145 yards
and two scores, still his best important performance of the year.
Start him as usual and expect more than the 80+ he’s averaging
on the campaign.
5. Steven Jackson v. SF—How
do the Rams give him seven carries in a game? Seven. In an entire
game. Coach Linehan claims it was unintentional, as quarterback
Marc Bulger checked out of many early, planned runs. Um, who’s
the coach here? They fix it this weekend, most likely, but it
may not matter against the upstart Niners. Expect 100+, a score,
and a barnburner.
6. Brian Westbrook @ IND—Though
he hasn’t scored a touch in over a month, Westbrook has
still been a stellar #1 option, rambling for over 150 yards per
game in his last four contests. Now it appears he’ll be
relied upon even more heavily as the Birds have lost their main
man and (one would think) any chance at a meaningful season. Give
him the start against Indy’s league-worst run defense this
7. Shaun Alexander v. GB—The
meal ticket was rusty against the Niners last Sunday, managing
only 37 yards on just 17 touches. He’s slated to receive
more this Monday night and there’s no reason to think he
can’t turn them into a 100+ yards and a couple scores against
Green Bay’s work-in-progress defense. Don’t count
him out as a factor in the upcoming playoffs. Seattle needs him
and so do you.
8. Tiki Barber @ TEN—Eli
is struggling. Barber needs more touches. The Titans are ranked
30th against the run. What’s not to like about this matchup?
Well, there’s always the Brandon Jacobs factor, right? If
I’m in a keeper league, I’m doing everything I can
to grab the big dude and stash him away for next year. For now,
however, ya’ gotta keep riding Tiki. Do it.
9. Ronnie Brown @ DET—I
told you Brown would struggle against Minnesota’s brick
wall run defense and boy, did he ever. Two yards? And a fumble?
That’s negative points in most leagues and a killer total
for your #1 back. Chalk it up to those new age Purple People Eaters
and put it behind you. He should bounce back big on Thanksgiving
Day against the Lions.
10. Fred Taylor @ BUF—Taylor
was his usual steady self against the G-Men on Monday night, mashing
his way to 79 yards on 24 carries and a score. He shared with
Maurice Jones-Drew but that doesn’t seem to be sapping his
value too much. He should have no problem against Buffalo’s
questionable front four this Sunday so give him the nod.
11. Chester Taylor v. ARZ—His
two fumbles were costly for the Vikes but probably didn’t
hurt you too much considering he also tallied 80 yards and a couple
scores in the 24-21 loss last week. This Sunday, he draws everyone’s
favorite doormat, the perennially inept Cardinals. It’s
get well time for Minnesota and that means they give it to Chet
25-30 times. Mark him down for a 100-yard day and another touch
12. Willie Parker @ BAL—See
what I mean about involving FWP in the passing game? He wasn’t
prolific exactly (four catches for 17 yards) but did score a receiving
touchdown, his third in four games, and added another on the ground
to give him seven total in that same four-game span. The competition
gets significantly more rugged this weekend but he’s fared
pretty well against the Ravens historically, so…you know
what to do.
13. Warrick Dunn v. NO—The
former Seminole has tapered off drastically since a hot start
and hasn’t hit the century mark since way back on October
15th. Even in that one, he needed a 90-yard homer to turn the
trick. What this guy needs is an opponent that doesn’t defend
the run very well. Voila!
14. Travis Henry v. NYG—He’s
blown up in four of the last six weeks and laid an egg in the
other two. Maddeningly inconsistent of a victim of circumstance?
I’m thinking the latter. Tennessee simply isn’t very
good and when they really get stomped, he suffers along with them.
Anybody’s guess what happens to them this week but Henry’s
earned at least a mention, right?
15. DeAngelo Williams v. WAS—So
has Williams, thanks to a fill-in, 20-carry, 114-yard effort in
Week 11. DeShaun Foster is listed as questionable for Week 12
and I have a sneaking suspicion he could remain on the shelf should
DeAngelo shine in his absence. I’m sure they’ll make
it comfortable for him (from a pride standpoint) but this writing’s
been on the wall for some time now. Go get Williams.
Grab A Helmet:
Jamal Lewis v. PIT—Lewis
had his most productive outing of the season against the Falcons
last week (91 yards and three scores), though it sure didn’t
look like it was heading that way in the first half. He gained
twelve of those 91 in the first two stanzas and only started pounding
out production when the Falcons wore down. Not trying to take
anything away from the guy but I’m not sure the Steelers
will be as easily tuckered this weekend. Call him a reasonably
Joseph Addai v. PHI—If
you saw Travis Henry and Vince Young run like a hot knife through
Philadelphia’s buttery front four last week, you know the
Colts are likely to have some success moving the football on the
ground this weekend. Only question is (and when haven’t
we asked this?), who’s going to be doing the moving. Addai’s
been getting the majority of carries lately so I feel comfortable
recommending him over Rhodes. Give him a look at your #2 or flex
Samkon Gado @ NYJ—You
knew we were gonna hear from Samkon again, didn’t you? Guys
with his innate hold-finding ability don’t ride the bench
forever, especially in a place like Houston. Though he only touched
it 15 times last weekend, he still managed to grind out close
to 100 yards and a score in the Texans’ near-miss against
the Bills. He probably shares with Wali Lundy again this weekend
but there just might be enough gravy for the both of them against
New York’s iffy front four.
Ahman Green @ SEA—Talk
of a Comeback Player of the Year award has been stifled of late,
as Green has struggled to muster much of anything in his last
two contests. Then again, he WAS facing two of the league’s
top run-defending crews, Minnesota and New England. Seattle isn’t
at that level and there’s always the added incentive of
playing against the coach and franchise that once gave up on him.
Go ahead and start him this Monday night.
Marion Barber III v. TB—Julius
Jones’ owners had to be sick to their stomachs last Sunday
when the former Domer came up a whisker short of the goal line
on a strong fourth quarter catch-and-run. Alas, the Tuna hesitated
precisely one second before sending MBIII in to finish off the
drive. Time to pick one of these guys, I suppose. I’m going
with the one who scores six-pointers. Start Barber on Thanksgiving
Grab A Gatorade:
Carnell Williams @ DAL—Williams
suffered a similar fate as Jones last weekend, getting yanked
near the money line despite his most productive effort of the
season (27 carries for 122 yards). As if his sophomore season
hasn’t been a big enough disaster. You don’t need
guys who underperform and especially not if they don’t get
any red zone looks. Find someone else in Week 12.
Thomas Jones @ NE—Julius’
big bro has been coming on strong of late, having rushed for triple
digits in four of his last six. Unfortunately, he runs into one
the league’s top run defenses this weekend in Foxboro. The
Laurence Maroney v. CHI—Chicago’s
D is just as ferocious. I don’t see this one producing a
lot of points so it might be best to steer clear of any Bears
or Patriots this weekend…if you can afford to.
Edgerrin James @ MIN—Edge
is coming off his most productive outing of the season, a 22-carry,
96-yard effort that helped the Cardinals avoid a ninth consecutive
defeat. If you’re thinking he might be building some momentum,
however, think again. He now faces the Vikings, a team that should
be go down as one of the all-time great run-stuffing units. Don’t
believe me? The Bears hold the record for fewest rushing yards
allowed in a season with 519 in 1942. That was an eleven game
season. Minnesota has yielded just 606 through ten games.
Any Denver RB @ KC—Oh,
you know who’s starting? Who’s gonna get the most
carries? By all means, play your hand then. I, for one, have made
a mental note to NEVER draft a Denver running back again…at
least, not while Coach Beelzebub is at the helm. Fool me once,
shame on you. Fool me twice….
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends