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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. Jamal Lewis vs. KC - The Chiefs were actually respectable versus the run last week but it would be foolish to think they've solved all their problems on defense. This week, they draw a rejuvenated Lewis who's fresh off a thrashing of the Bengals' equally shoddy front (186 yards and a score). If he doesn't top the century mark and find the end zone, it'll be a huge disappointment. He will and it won't.

2. Ahman Green vs. NYG -The shootout in Indy was fun to watch but Mike Sherman knows his squad can't survive unless Green gets his 25-30 carries a game. It's all about ball control (especially when your defense is a turnstile) and the Pack's front five should have no problem accomplishing that against a weak New York front. Start him as usual.

3. Priest Holmes @ BAL - He drops out of the top spot but not on account of anything he's done. Though questionable heading into the Week 3 tilt with the Texans, he cowboy'd up and carried the rock 32 times for 134 yards. Yards, not to mention points, will be much harder to come by in Baltimore and for that reason alone, we move him down a few spots.

4. Chris Brown @ SD - Don't look now but he's leading the league (by a nose) in total rushing yards through three weeks. This despite the fact he faced a seemingly impenetrable Jaguars front last Sunday. I don't like his running style (too high) or his durability (too iffy) but I DO like his results. It's a results league so stick him in there against a surprisingly decent Chargers front seven.

5. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. TEN - He was uncharacteristically average last Sunday but still managed to account for over 100 yards of offense, albeit the hard way. A 38-yard completion to Drew Brees did the trick and proved once again there isn't a more versatile back in the league. Tennessee is reeling a bit and hasn't been as stout versus the run this year. That means L.T. (as usual) is a top five start.

6. Clinton Portis @ CLE - It's no picnic facing the Dallas D (especially inside the red zone) and though Portis racked up plenty of yards, he couldn't find the end zone. That might become a recurring theme if Coach Gibbs and company can't come up with something more exotic than dive plays near the goal line. Stay tuned.

7. Curtis Martin @ MIA - His 157.5 yards per game dwarves the competition and after a bye week, he's ready to pick up where he left off against a Miami defense doing an awful lot of bending (140 yards/contest) but no breaking (zero touchdowns on the ground). If Pennington is able to get something going against a tough Dolphins secondary (he will), Martin could have another big day.

8. Thomas Jones vs. PHI - He's averaging 22 carries a game. He's averaging five yards a carry. He's scoring a touchdown every week. What's not to like? The switch to Jonathan Quinn will put even more pressure on Jones' shoulders but running behind a veteran offensive line, there's no reason to think he won't succeed.

9. DeShaun Foster vs. ATL - Stephen Davis has been ruled out again so you can insert Foster with no misgivings. He torched KC two weeks ago and looked positively explosive while doing it. He's tough between the tackles and fast enough to deep six any defense, even the resurgent Falcons unit.

10. Marshall Faulk @ SF - There's a fine line between genius and insanity and Mike Martz just crossed it. Facing a questionable Saints run defense last week, he called precisely TWELVE running plays for Mr. Faulk. What the…? Luckily for us, Marshall scored once and also caught eight passes to augment his meager rushing totals. Still, you gotta wonder what you can expect from him and his wacky coach the rest of the season.

11. Tiki Barber @ GB - For the first time in a long time, he didn't catch a pass last Sunday against the Browns. No matter. He still picked up 106 yards on 23 carries and scored a touch. With Ron Dayne out of the picture (at least temporarily), Tiki becomes a top 10 back again. He faces a Packers front this Sunday sorely missing its chief gap-clogger in the middle, Grady Jackson.

12. Fred Taylor vs. IND - Taylor capped off a great day by scoring the winning touch from a yard out in Jacksonville's improbable victory at Adelphia on Sunday. If Coach Del Rio has any hope of slowing down Indy, he'll need his star back to keep Peyton and Co. off the field. Anything less than 20 carries means the Jags lose.

13. Kevan Barlow vs. STL - He never really had a chance to get going in Seattle as the 'Hawks jumped out to a big, early lead. Though a repeat is certainly possible this weekend, you gotta like his chances of doing more against a Rams D giving up 5.4 yards/carry and 164.7 per game. Keep him in your lineup for now.

14. Brian Westbrook @ CHI - Still waiting, Westbrook fans. He was a touchdown machine as the change-of-pace guy last year but, surprisingly, hasn't found the end zone for the more prolific Eagles offense this season. So long as McNabb keeps throwing touchdown passes, he probably won't care. But you will. Keep an eye on him and have a backup plan.

15. Warrick Dunn @ CAR - I'll stop talking about T.J. Duckett because…does he even play for Atlanta anymore? Dunn has been THE go-to guy for the 3-0 Falcons and even though Carolina's better against the run than the numbers would indicate (facing Green Bay and KC has that effect), they aren't good enough to stop Vick AND Dunn. As usual, he'll benefit from the attention paid to his dangerous QB.

Grab A Helmet:

Aaron Stecker @ ARI - A reader asked me about him last week and for once, I was speechless. He's been mostly a kick returner/third-down guy and simply hasn't done much or been given much of an opportunity until this season. That said, he possesses pretty good speed, as his 42-yard jaunt last week no doubt proved. He's a good start against a Cardinals squad surrendering over 180 rushing yards a game.

Rudi Johnson @ PIT - The Steelers look to be pretty solid against the run so far but the numbers are somewhat deceiving. They faced Oakland in Week 1 and Miami in Week 3, two poor running teams. Sandwiched between was a loss to Baltimore and 176 yards yielded on the ground. Rudi should find room to roam, just as he did last week against the tough Ravens front.

Edgerrin James @ JAX - Edge owners had to be feeling a little nervous after the first quarter Sunday. Twenty-two plays. Twenty-two consecutive passes. Fortunately, Peyton DID eventually hand the ball off a few times and although the numbers weren't staggering (21 carries for 62 yards), Edge dove in for a late, game-sealing touchdown. He won't put up much better numbers against Jacksonville but starting someone from Indy's offense is as close to guaranteed points as you can get right now.

Duce Staley vs. CIN - Most of the free world didn't see it but the Monsoon Bowl in Miami sure was fun to watch. Staley plowed through the muck and mire to post a 100-yard day against a great Fish D. If he can run on Miami, he can surely run on Cincy's matador front. Don't expect a touchdown but another 100-yard day seems almost assured.

Domanick Davis vs. OAK - There were several mystifying performances in Week 3 (Faulk and Q. Griff to name two) but none more so than his. Facing a butter-soft Chefs front, he managed only 12 yards on ten carries. Worse yet, he got hurt and was ultimately replaced by Jonathan Wells in the second half. Provided he's healthy and provided his injury wasn't just an excuse to get his fumble fingers out of the lineup, give him a go.

Tyrone Wheatley @ HOU - Your bonus recommendation of the week. Wheatley finally came through to resuscitate the moribund Oakland ground attack. Moreover, he did it against the ever-tough Tampa D. I like his chances of reaching the century mark again this week in a game that could very well be a high-scoring affair.

Grab A Gatorade:

Leonard Henry vs. NYJ - One of the CFL-caliber running backs I spoke of earlier. Henry makes his first NFL start after rushing for 41 yards on 21 carries Sunday night. Apparently, all you need to do in Miami to get the starting nod is rush for two yards a carry. Trust me: you don't want ANYTHING to do with this Miami offense.

Travis Henry vs. NE - His yards-per-carry are down this year and it's not hard to figure why. Buffalo's O-line is dreadful. If the Bills fall behind early (and they should), his chances of posting solid numbers diminish significantly. See if you can find someone else to start for you this week.

Corey Dillon @ BUF - I could get in trouble for this one but Buffalo's defense is not the reason they're off to a 0-2 start (see above). Charlie Weis is a master adapter and New England will have more success via the air this week. Expect Dillon to get fewer carries and, as a result, fewer yards in Orchard Park.

Any Tampa RB vs. DEN - The loss of Charlie Garner looks like a devastating blow considering that Tampa is already missing several playmakers (McCardell and Galloway, namely). Though Michael Pittman returns from suspension this week, it's hard to believe he'll be up to speed after sitting so long. That leaves Mike Alstott. He hasn't been a viable fantasy starter for well over three years. Pass.

Any Cleveland RB vs. WAS - Lee Suggs returns to the lineup and in the long run, that should help Cleveland get better on offense. Like Pittman, though, it's unlikely he'll be able to handle 25 carries in his first game back. That means he'll share carries with William Green. Making matters worse, the duo squares off against a 'Skins D that is flat shutting people out in the running game (2.2 yards/carry and 47.3 per game).

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends