Five weeks down, and so is almost a third of the season. Seeing what backs did so far this year and looking at the matchups the rest of the way, who are your top 10 backs down the stretch? Mine are:
1. Shaun Alexander. Mark my words, he will excel even more the rest of the season. He is part of a potent offense that has too many weapons to keep defenses honest and the Seahawks have a very easy schedule down the stretch. He has the most upside and so far is one of only a handful of backs that hasn't had any nagging injuries (either small or game-threatening).
2. Priest Holmes. You gotta love Priest's running/receiving threat and the Chiefs look like they'll compete all season long. Priest has the ability to spring a play any time in a game. He'd be the No. 1 back on this list if it wasn't for lingering injury concerns.
3. Clinton Portis. Injuries have been a concern this season, but yesterday's game proved that Portis is back for real. Denver is another team that has weapons in each part of its game, so Portis won't feel the pressure on every play. He is a small back, so his ability to take hits over and over is questionable, but so far, it would be silly to think of Portis as anything less than a top-three RB.
4. Jamal Lewis. He has broken back into the spotlight with his record-setting day, and instead of responding with a letdown, he instead put up respectable numbers against Kansas City a little over a week ago. Baltimore has the type of team that is built around a running game -- a defense that is strong enough to keep teams shut down and a running game that runs down the clock. If the Ravens can find some sort of passing game, Lewis will improve even more with less pressure from opposing defenses.
5. LaDanian Tomlinson. He has the skill and potential -- however he also is stuck with a team that is piss-poor this season. Falling behind early is no way to foster a good running game -- especially since Brees has found Boston to air things out to. Tomlinson will continue to have inconsistent showings depending on the defenses he faces and the supporting offense any given week.
6. Stephen Davis. A workhorse back in an offense that is built around him. However, I have a serious hunch that he will fall to injury in the near future. At that point, DeShaun Foster will become a household name.
7. Ahman Green. This is the kind of back people expected last year until injuries and a fumbling problem knocked him out of contention, can he keep it up, though???
8. Travis Henry. He played through some pain this past week and showed that he can make yardage when fired up enough about it. Henry normally is a big risk and his injury is the type that would scare even the most diehard of fantasy fan -- however Henry's biggest asset is Willis McGahee. He is the sole reason that Henry will play his hardest from this point forward and will lead to Henry having a surprisingly nice second half.
9. Ricky Williams. Ricky this low??? Yes. I was concerned when Ricky semi-ran out of gas last season and when Miami had him carry over 40 times in week 3, red flags quickly went up. This week, he looked flat against a Giants defense that was ranked pretty low coming into the contest. Miami will keep feeding the ball to Ricky, but all the extra carries and tackles will lead to him breaking down soon. As far as I'm concerned, he is not the concrete that fantasy owners need when gearing up for the stretch run.
10. Deuce McAllister. Deuce is a good running back individually, but the Saints offense has become a very questionable group. The defense, meanwhile, is allowing teams to run up big scores, and forcing the Saints to abandon the running game. When New Orleans IS able to get the ball to Deuce for a respectable number of carries, he has trouble finding the end zone. Yes, he will become more reliable as the Saints find their footing -- however, he's still too inconsistent to rely on down the stretch.
Edge is just too inconsistent for me. I'd take anyone of my top 10 before I'd take Edge. Yes, he's got the potential -- however injuries (his back injury isn't something that can just miracuously heal without lingering effects), talented depth (Mungro, Rhoads and Williams will all be vultures to Edge's numbers) and a quarterback/WR combo in Manning/Harrison that can take the show over and leave edge in the dust all are reasons I'd rather have someone else as a top-10 back
1. Holmes - As long as he's not injured, this is where he belongs.
2. Williams - A little below expectations so far, but he'll pull away from the pack.
3. Lewis - Suprisingly good, not expecting a let down.
4. Green - Looks great, what everyone expected last year, might even push into the top 3.
5. Portis - Denver RBs have a tendency towards injury, already missed a few games.
6. Davis - Would't suprise me if he leads the league in rushing yards this year.
7. Tomlinson - What a let down, rated him #2 preseason. SD is just that bad.
8. Alexander - He'll have a few really good games, and a few really bad ones.
9. McAllister - Pulling out of his slump.
10. Barber - If he could find the endzone more, and stop fumbling...he would be #7.
I like this thread, lots of different opinions and insight.
1. Ahman Green. I had him real low on my sheets and drafted him in 0 of my leagues. I'm regretting that now. I didn't think he'd be able to stay healthy for more than 10 games, but the Packers are taking measures to make sure he's not overworked. Career year for Green.
2. Stephen Davis. 2 guys mostly grabbed in the 2nd round are heading this list. I just can't see a scenario where he gets shut down for more than maybe 1 game the rest of the season. MVP!!
3. Shaun Alexander. He's already got good numbers and the offense hasn't started to roll yet. Take a look at the NFL Europe type defenses Shaun faces the rest of the way. I should probably have him higher than this.
4. Priest Holmes. Something worries me about him, but I can not put him any lower than this. KC's for real, and if Holmes can stay healthy, he'll be a top 5 RB with ease.
5. Jamal Lewis. Again, he's been so good, I can't give any good reasons to drop him lower than this. But those 2 rebuilt knees scare the hell out of me, and Boller may be bad enough that we start seeing 11 in the box. Yeah, I said 11.
6. Clinton Portis. Fact: He'll miss more time. Fact: When he plays, which should be most of the time, he's the most unstoppable RB in the NFL. I got to watch *a lot* of him yesterday for the first time all year, he seems WAY BETTER than he was last season, which was great.
7. Ricky Williams. He probably won't finish this low, and I still wish I had him somewhere, but Dave Wannstadt is a moron. It looks like either Ricky will not be utilized right, or he'll be handed the ball 60 times a game to take the beating of a lifetime, no in between. That and the fact he's only averaging 3.4 yards per carry has me thinking 6 other backs would be better to have.
8. Deuce McAllister. The Saints suck more than anyone on this board, or anywhere for that matter, seem to realize. And that's still not going to be a factor, McAllister is going to get you some big points every week. The guy went from the hospital to the 100+ yard rushing list in a matter of hours, and is the only one in New Orleans showing up to play.
9. Fred Taylor. I'm going out on a limb and predicting 16 full games from Fragile Freddy. Which will easily guarantee him a spot in the top 10 RB list.
10. LaDainion Tomlinson. I want to put him higher because I said there was no question, he's the #1 pick this year overall, over anyone. But the truth is I'd sooner drop him lower than raise him higher. After yesterday, against freekin' Jacksonville, I'm thinking this guy must be injured or something. You just can't seem to rely on him at any specific time against any specific opponent.