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  • Best RB Packages

    Hail Green Bay! Packers backs are NFL's best

    by Adrian Hasenmayer - FOXSports.com

    For you football clichι lovers out there, I bet you have heard this beauty more times than J-Lo's gotten hitched:

    "If you want to win football games, you must be able to run the ball."

    The lack of creative expression aside, an effective running game accomplishes an array of critical team-building goals for any offense.

    • Confidence on offense: Any time an offensive line can string 4-5 straight running plays and get some licks on opposing D-linemen, you can feel that momentum building.

    • Save that defense: When the running game's clicking, a huge not-so-fringe benefit is the D getting a blow while also keeping other potent offenses helpless on the sidelines picking their teeth.

    • Clock killing: Most importantly, great running games are like great closers in baseball. Coming back all the time is not a recipe for success in any sport. The ability to finish a game with ease gives the offense a load of confidence, while the defense can relax knowing game preservation isn't solely on their shoulders.

    So which teams own the best RB groups for 2004? For the purposes of our rankings, the goal for every team is to find two, hopefully three, backs with plenty of game experience. A great starting RB alone is most important, but a lack of solid backups can mean a big drop. Big game production definitely helps, since it's all about winning. Also, this list is for the 2004 season. Future potential means next to nothing.

    And one more thing, fullbacks are not included.

    Ranking the RB Packages

    1. PACKERS
    Ahman Green
    Najeh Davenport
    Tony Fisher
    Dahrran Diedrick
    Walter Williams

    The NFL's top group sports one of football's best two runners in Ahman Green. But he'll get even more rest than last season not due to fading skills, but Davenport (420 yards, 5.5 yards/carry in 2003) allows the Pack to rest Green without sacrificing production. The 6-1, 245 pound backup enjoyed 2-3 normal series each game in '03 and his workload is expected to increase even more this year to keep Green fresh for the playoffs. Just in case, third-stringer Tony Fisher also plays well in Green Bay's straight ahead, inside running attack.

    2. CHIEFS
    Priest Holmes
    Larry Johnson
    Derrick Blaylock
    Henri Childs
    Jonathan Smith
    Ronnie Cruz

    Dick Vermeil's collection of RB talent could easily become the league's best if they can get second-year man Larry Johnson on the field more to spell the NFL's best all-around back, Priest Holmes. Easier said than done, as Holmes more than proved his worth last season by ripping off his third straight year of 2,000+ yards from scrimmage. Speaking of 2,000 yards, their backup is the only man in Penn State history with a 2,000-yard season. Johnson showed a few glimpses of his talent in '03, and Blaylock has spelled Holmes effectively when called on.

    3. PANTHERS
    Stephen Davis
    DeShaun Foster
    Rod Smart
    Derrick Knight

    There's no secret for opposing defensive coordinators: Panthers head coach John Fox often reaffirms publicly that the Cats will run the football on first downs, second downs and just about every down. The reason is they have bruising runner Stephen Davis (1,444 yards in '03), who proved his point to former Skins coach Steve Spurrier last year. This fall, watch for more forecasts for Lightning mixed in with Davis' Thunder because the Cats will use cat-quick DeShaun Foster more to spell Davis. In Davis and Foster, the Panthers have two bonafide studs at RB ... and they even have "He Hate Me" for added flavor.

    4. RAMS
    Marshall Faulk
    Lamar Gordon
    Stephen Jackson
    Spencer Nead
    Arlen Harris
    Dusty McGrorty
    Adam Matthews

    He may not be the same explosive, MVP back. But Marshall Faulk at 31 is still better than most every other ball-carrier, as witnessed by his return from injury in '03 (five 100-yards games in final eight games). Rams' top cop Mike Martz has plenty of backup, starting with third-year man Lamar Gordon and first-round pick Stephen Jackson — arguably the best RB in the this year's draft. Arlen Harris even has a three touchdown game on his resume in Faulk fill-in time last season.

    5. VIKINGS
    Michael Bennett
    Moe Williams
    Onterrio Smith
    Mewelde Moore
    Larry Ned
    Butchie Wallace

    If the blazing Bennett is healthy all year, the Vikings should be playing in January even if a Pop Warner team mans the defense (which some critics have suggested they have). His 1,296 yards in 2002 was not a mirage and his speed is world class. He still may not be the best RB on the team, as Onterrio Smith has flashed plenty of potential with his 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie in '03. And how valuable is all-purpose man Moe Williams (2003 digits: 745 rush yards, 644 receiving yards, 8 total TDs)? Good luck to Mike Tice in figuring out how to get everyone enough touches.

    6. JAGUARS
    Fred Taylor
    LaBrandon Toefield
    Greg Jones
    David Allen
    Joe Smith
    Rich Alexis

    Forget about Taylor's previous "brittle" label. The guy has not missed a game for two years running, ran for over 1,500 yards in 2003 and he's only 28. The Jags should be able to bank on him for another couple seasons as Freddie enjoys his prime. But Jacksonville scores very high with their top two backups Toefield and Jones. Despite Taylor's career-high 345 carries last year, Jacksonville still found a way to get Toefield some touches and he performed the steady understudy role (4.0 average). The real find could be Florida State rookie Greg Jones, who at 248 pounds could steal some goal line touches this year.

    7. SEAHAWKS
    Shaun Alexander
    Maurice Morris
    Kerry Carter
    Tellis Redmon

    It's normally tough for Seattle to get some pub, but fans everywhere know Alexander is one of the NFL's best backs. He racked up his third 1,000-yard campaign last year in his most consistent season yet — scoring TDs in all but four games. What some may not know is the Hawks also have one of football's more exciting backups in Morris. The former Oregon Duck came close to taking over as a rookie in 2002 before Alexander improved his production. Morris' 5.6 yards per carry means Mike Holmgren is secure if Alexander gets an injury a case of fumble-itis.

    8. PATRIOTS
    Corey Dillon
    Kevin Faulk
    Mike Cloud
    Cedric Cobbs

    Coming off New England's second Super Bowl win in three years, Pats fans were amped up even higher by the off-season deal for the former Bengal malcontent Dillon. The good news: he can produce, as judged by his six 1,000-yard seasons — all for losing teams. The bad news: he can pout when times get tough and turns 30 in October. But combined with scatback Kevin Faulk, Dillon gives Bill Belichick his best Chow-dah backfield. Short yardage guy Mike Cloud chipped in with 5 TDs last year and provides more depth.

    9. BENGALS
    Rudi Johnson
    Chris Perry
    Kenny Watson
    Skip Hicks
    Herbert Goodman

    Things are looking up in Cincy, and a big reason is the Bengals' new No. 1 back Rudi Johnson — a starting running back the fans can actually embrace. RU-DI, RUDI just missed a 1,000-yard season in '03 despite only five starts and played so well the team decided to ship out Corey Dillon. In case Rudi flops, Marvin Lewis hopes the team drafted "Rudi, Version 2.0" in 2003 Heisman Trophy candidate Chris Perry. Also in the Cincy stable are Kenny Watson (two 100-yard games with Redskins in 2002) and veteran Skip Hicks (led NFL Europe with 12 TDs this spring).

    10. RAVENS
    Jamal Lewis
    Chester Taylor
    Musa Smith
    B.J. Sams
    Kory Chapman

    Baltimore fans may be holding their collective breath pending results of Jamal Lewis' drug arrest, but count him in the mix for our purposes. Lewis keys the Ravens' top ten ranking behind his surprising 2,000-yard season last year in winning the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year award. Nowadays, Brian Billick seems better prepared without Lewis with second-season back Chester Taylor. Out of small school Toledo, Taylor impressed in limited action in '03. 232-pound Musa Smith also chipped in two TDs last season in goal line duty.

    11. REDSKINS
    Clinton Portis
    Ladell Betts
    Chad Morton
    John Simon
    Sultan McCullough

    Trading CB Champ Bailey may have been a steep price, but RB Clinton Portis could FINALLY help get owner Daniel Snyder back to the playoffs. Portis ran for almost 1,600 yards in just 13 games in '03, so if healthy the Skins get a premiere talent. I may be nuts, but I also like the Skins' supplemental pieces in Betts and Morton — both of whom were affected severely by Snyder's ex Steve Spurrier and his subpar schemes. With the legendary Joe Gibbs and his power-running back in town, the Skins' backfield should more closely resemble the glory days from the "Gibbs I" era.

    12. CHARGERS
    LaDainian Tomlinson
    Jessie Chatman
    Leon Johnson
    Michael Turner
    Doug Chapman
    Cal Murray

    There are serious questions behind Tomlinson, but would you rather have one superstar and sorry depth or 3-4 average players and a question mark as your starter? Not many would turn away L.T., who ran for over 1,600 yards while also catching 100 passes in 2003. Tomlinson accounted for 46.2% of the SD offense, an incredible figure for a RB. Yet if he ever gets hurt — he's never missed a game in three years — the Chargers would be in trouble. Backup Jessie Chatman has 14 carries and a 2.6 average in two seasons, and only Johnson and Chapman have experience, though very marginal. Tomlinson's reliability thus far improves the Chargers' ranking.

    13. EAGLES
    Brian Westbrook
    Correll Buckhalter
    Reno Mahe
    Bruce Perry
    Eric McCoo

    Philly's three-headed monster at RB is minus one helmet in Duce Staley, but there's plenty still left. If healthy Westbrook is one of the more exciting players with the football. He scored 11 TDs rushing and receiving in only 154 touches, plus added two punt return TDs as well. Andy Reid wants to feed him more with Staley gone, but not burn him out. That's where Correll Buckhalter comes in, and he's no slouch (523 rush yards, 8 rush TDs in '03) but also carries a troubling injury history. Philly even likes 2nd-year workhorse Reno Mahe, who will spell Westbrook and Buckhalter from time to time.

    14. BRONCOS
    Garrison Hearst
    Quentin Griffin
    Cecil Sapp
    Ahmaad Galloway
    Brandon Miree
    Tatum Bell
    Santonio Beard

    How do you trade away Clinton Portis and still rank this high? Mike Shanahan must truly believe he has the Midas Touch when it comes to picking RBs. Don't doubt him, the results speak volumes. To make up for Portis, the Broncos signed a veteran with a strong background (Hearst), groomed an incumbent possibly primed to start (Griffin) and plucked an acclaimed youngster in the draft (Bell). While Denver may borrow the Philly platoon approach at first, watch for the rookie Tatum Bell to see if he can become the next great Broncos back.

    15. SAINTS
    Deuce McAllister
    Lamar Smith
    Ronney Jenkins
    Tavian Banks
    Aaron Stecker

    Deuce McAllister's situation in New Orleasn resembles that of LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego. He's the heart of the offense (1,641 rushing yards in 2003), though he has a few more offensive weapons around him. But the Saints are in dire straits if he goes down to injury. At least they have a veteran backup in Lamar Smith, who owns a 1,000-yard season on his resumι. Jenkins is merely a return man, but the Saints also have experienced former Buc Aaron Stecker.

    16. DOLPHINS
    Ricky Williams
    Travis Minor
    Fred Russell
    Leonard Henry

    Miami is another one-horse backfield with quite a horse in Ricky Williams, though he rushed for "only" 1,372 yards in his career-high 392 carries. His 3.5 average had more to do with the Dolphins' inept QB play last year than it did with Williams. This is another team whose season could be thrown out the window if it loses it's starting RB. No disrespect to backup Travis Minor, who owns a solid 4.5 yards per carry, but he's no Ricky.

    17. BILLS
    Travis Henry
    Willis McGahee
    Ken Simonton
    Isaac Mitchell
    Shaud Williams

    Now all of you Bills fan, let me fire a preemptive strike before you pound the forum about how you have two No. 1 RBs. Yes, Travis Henry has put up back-to-back 1,300-yard seasons. I know, I know ... Willis McGahee should be healthy and ready to contribute after missing his rookie season rehabbing his Fiesta Bowl knee injury from January 2003. Still, McGahee's knee is a big mystery until he proves himself on the field at NFL speed. Henry is a good back, at just 5-foot-9 I question how long he can be counted on as a No. 1 back. O.K., let 'er rip, Bills fans.

    18. STEELERS
    Duce Staley
    Jerome Bettis
    Dante Brown
    Willie Parker

    Granted, the Steelers don't look like they're planning for the future too well at RB. But they should have enough mileage left on Staley and Bettis to compensate this season. Duce was preserved well enough in Philly's three-man rotation, and he's looking forward to getting some more carries as Bill Cowher has preached a return to his ball-control roots on offense. The Bus is 32 and his 1,000-yard seasons are behind him, but he could combine with Staley for a solid 1-2 combination.

    19. COLTS
    Edgerrin James
    Dominic Rhodes
    James Mungro
    Brian Allen
    Ran Carthon

    Hand it to The Edge, he battled hard to return to his previous 1,000-yard status after a 2001 knee injury. With 1,259 yards in 2003, James proved the doubters wrong for the most part. After all, he's not the same player he once was. Frankly, he probably never will be on that Indy turf. And while Indy has two adequate backups who have been with the Colts and know the system in Rhodes and Mungro, they are constantly hurt.

    20. JETS
    Curtis Martin
    Lamont Jordan
    Derrick Ward
    Jonathan Reese
    Ian Smart
    Little John Flowers

    Curtis Martin has been a wonderful NFL player, with 1,000+ yards in each of his nine seasons — including 1,308 last season when everyone suspected he might fade away. With all due respect to the veteran, this could be the year he fades away. Lamont Jordan appears to be the back of the future, if the team can convince him to drop his trade demands. Extra points go to the Jets for having a guy named Little John on the team.

    21. BEARS
    Thomas Jones
    Anthony Thomas
    Rabih Abdullah
    Brock Forsey
    Adrian Peterson
    Dwone Hicks

    Some wonder why the Bears would spend off-season dough on RB Jones when they already had a 1,000-yard starter in Thomas. Maybe that should tell us enough about how the Bears view Thomas for the long-term. Jones could be a huge gift for the Bears coming off his strong finish to the 2003 season, but he could also be the mirage he's always been since he was drafted by the Cardinals in 2000. Thomas tends to get banged up, another reason the Bears were smart to grab Mr. Jones. Forsey is merely adequate as a backup, and the hyped Peterson never pushed Thomas in 2003 when he had a chance to unseat him.

    22. LIONS
    Shawn Bryson
    Artose Pinner
    Olandis Gary
    Kevin Jones
    Paul Smith
    Avon Cobourne

    Like many of you, I can't wait to see rookie RB Kevin Jones hit the field to see if he's the missing link in Motown's young offense. But he still has not yet had one carry in the bigs, and while rookie RBs fare much better in Year One than rookie WRs or QBs, jury deliberations continue. If Jones is not that piece, the Lions don't have much except some names you might recognize. Pinner has been pining for a shot at the big-time, and Gary has some success in his background in Denver, but counting on a rookie can still be dangerous (see Thomas Jones in Arizona, circa 2000).

    23. FALCONS
    Warrick Dunn
    T.J. Duckett
    James Fenderson
    Quincy Wilson
    Zack Abron

    If we counted Michael Vick in this group, they'd jump to the top ten — but that would be cheating. Though Falcons fans may wish Vick carried the ball on every play, he likely wouldn't last past the first half on Week One. Instead of a franchise RB to support the young Vick, Atlanta uses an inside guy (Duckett) and an outside guy (Dunn) to run the ground game. Unfortunately, neither adds up to enough of a RB threat to truly help Vick as much as he could use the assistance.

    24. BROWNS
    Lee Suggs
    William Green
    James Jackson
    Adimchinobe Echemandu
    Nick Maddox
    Joffrey Reynolds

    The Browns appeared set at this time last year with 2002 first-round pick William Green coming off a strong finish to the end of the '02 season. But his arrest and suspension last year threw the position into Code Red. Last year's promising rookie Suggs wasn't yet ready for prime time, and while Jackson was effective at times the Browns lack of a running presence crushed the offense. A sorry offensive line was part culprit, but unless Green somehow returns and stays in the lineup, this spot goes to the dogs (not the Dawgs).

    25. TEXANS
    Domanick Davis
    Tony Hollings
    Jonathan Wells
    Travis Stephens
    Jason Anderson

    QB David Carr thanked his lucky stars in 2003 for the surprising emergence of rookie Domanick Davis, who surpasses the 1,000-yard barrier in getting 10 starts. Davis will be the starter, though still unproven over a full season. Hollings, a supplemental draft pick in 2003 who some thought would steal the starting gig last year, failed in his shot because he couldn't hold onto the football. Wells is another youngster with potential, but the Texans' group — with apologies to Davis — is swirling in potential that needs to prove itself.

    26. RAIDERS
    Tyrone Wheatley
    Justin Fargas
    Troy Hambrick
    Amos Zereoue
    Chris Downs
    J.R. Redmond
    Keith Burnell
    DeJuan Green

    Well, if quantity alone was my thing, the Raiders would grab the top spot. But beyond the huddled masses, Oakland's RB package should not be opened. Wheatley is merely a part-time player at this stage of his career. Former USC Trojan Fargas is a gamer with some speed, but not enough meat to last the season as a 20-25 carry player. Hambrick got run out of Dallas by Bill Parcells, who just might have a future is this NFL thing. And Zereoue earned, then quickly lost his starting job in Pittsburgh in '03. Al Davis is looking for a few good men, not a bunch of average Joes.

    27. GIANTS
    Tiki Barber
    Delvin Joyce
    Ron Dayne
    Antwoine Womack
    Chris Douglas
    Jermaine Green

    The patience of new Giants head honcho Tom Coughlin will be tested in 2004, especially if Tiki Barber is the only offense on the Giants. New York's Tiki God could do only so much in 2003, and he did quite a bit with 1,677 totals yards from scrimmage. But fumble and fatigue problems, plus only three TDs in '03, make Barber a questionable choice to repeat as the heart and soul of the offense. The problem is that Barber may be the only good back on Coughlin's team. Any team with Ron Dayne still on the roster has trouble.

    28. BUCS
    Charlie Garner
    Michael Pittman
    Brandon Bennett
    Jamel White
    Earnest Graham

    Jon Gruden does have some experience to work with, but he certainly can't be overjoyed with this group. Garner's engine still runs, but doesn't have much juice left. Pittman lost his job at the end of 2003, plus his domestic violence issues and suspension have clouded his dependability. The Bucs went out and grabbed former AFC North backups Bennett (former Bengal) and White (former Brown) just in case. Let the RB by committee begin!

    29. *****
    Kevan Barlow
    Jamal Robertson
    Maurice Hicks
    Jason Wright

    In the spirit of not dumping on anyone completely, Kevan Barlow could turn out to be one of football's best RBs. Thanks to a Garrison Hearst injury in 2003, Barlow got his long-awaited chance as the exclusive carrier in San Francisco and he responded with 1,024 yards. The problem is he has yet to prove he can handle the job fulltime over the long haul, and if injuries bring him down the Niners' three other backs have 32 NFL carries between them — all by Jamal Robertson. Where are you, Ricky Watters?

    30. COWBOYS
    Julius Jones
    Aveion Cason
    ReShard Lee
    Erik Bickerstaff

    Cowboy fan would never question a football authority such as Bill Parcells, would he? Simply cutting '03 starting RB Troy Hambrick — leaving only a rookie second-round pick as your starter — is a no-brainer, right? If the move was made by anyone other than Parcells, the move would be dubbed a "No Brain" move. Jerry Jones hopes the Tuna caught a draft steal in Notre Dame's Julius Jones. Other than the rook, Cason, Lee and Bickerstaff do not strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

    31. CARDINALS
    Emmitt Smith
    Marcel Shipp
    Damien Anderson
    Josh Scobey

    It is somewhat strange to rank a group that includes the NFL's all-time leading rusher at No. 31 in running backs, but it's much weirder that new Cards coach Dennis Green installed the "very past his prime" Emmitt Smith as his starter before training camp. Is Bill Bidwell coaching the team, or is Green possessed by the desert spirits? The scary thing is Emmitt may be more effective than Marcel Shipp, a trendy fantasy back in 2003. But a close look at Shipp's 2003 season (averaged only 47.8 rush yards per game over final eight games) shows that the Cards are desperate for consistent running game, even if it's consistently ordinary.

    32. TITANS
    Eddie George
    Chris Brown
    Ray Jackson

    Eddie George has been such an admirable warrior in the league for his eight seasons that it's sad to watch him struggle for yards like he has the past few years. Consider his yards per carry averages the last three seasons, 2001 through 2003 respectively: 3.0, 3.4, 3.3. He was never a speed back, but the Titans' offense could use much more production. If George either does not return to Tennessee or falls below his 3.0 rushing GPA, Jeff Fisher hopes Chris Brown is the next George. At 6-foot-3 and 219, he's got the build, but does he have the game? The Titans could use some options here.

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  • evil disco man
    2004 potential running back busts
    by evil disco man
    By Greg Kellogg, Special to SI.com

    When predicting boom-or-bust players, one has to look not only at the player, but at the team surrounding him. It is usually his supporting cast that will contribute to the surge or drop in production that dictates which players are which.

    This article will focus on bust players. But first, let's discuss what exactly constitutes a bust.

    First, any player who is injured is not a bust. Injuries are unpredictable. Some players seem to be more inclined to suffer injuries -- many remember ex-Minnesota Vikings RB Robert Smith. But Smith concluded his career with a season in which he started all 16 games and totaled over 1,800 yards. He also scored 10 TDs in what was his only season in which he didn't miss at least two games.

    One might assume Marshall Faulk will miss games due to injury in 2004. After all, he's missed some in each of his last four seasons and didn't dress for five games last year. But you can never be sure.

    So while you should take injuries into account, your assumptions should not be based solely on this one factor.

    A bust is a player who performs significantly below what one can reasonably expect to be his draft ranking by position. Since every draft is different, that could mean that a player taken in the late second round could be a sleeper or boom player.

    I was in a recent draft in which 19 of the first 24 picks were running backs. In this draft, Michael Bennett was the 25th player taken, but he was also the 20th running back taken. If he finishes 2004 in the top 10 running backs, then he will have played significantly better than projected.

    An understanding of the Average Value Theory will help in making these determinations. The chart below shows how each of the top 32 slotted running backs has performed using WCOFF scoring. In other words, the fourth ranked running back has averaged 323.4 points over the past three seasons. The 16th ranked back has averaged 220.8. (There are no names associated with these slots because the players that filled them are not consistent from year to year.)

    The next step is to determine which players should fill which slots. I am using a list generated at MyFantasyLeague.com from drafts, both real and mock, done over the past two months. This gives me a fairly large sample and should give a reasonable expectation of where individual running backs are being drafted. One thing to remember is that I am not so concerned with what round these players are being taken. I am only concerned with what rank they hold among other running backs.

    I will also provide a list based on the current Fantasy Asylum Composite rankings as of this writing. This will give you some differences but will hopefully add to the overall quality of this analysis.

    One thing that will not be considered is what round the player will...
    -07-05-2004, 09:44 PM
  • RamsFan16
    Team Postion Rankings
    by RamsFan16
    Team DL rankings: Miami fourth
    Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 4 hours ago

    My off-season fantasy caravan rolls on.

    This week, I'm stepping across the line of scrimmage and giving further inspection to the defensive units. Offensive players are scrutinized with every throw, run and passing route completed. It's high time that the individual components of defenses get their just due.

    Today, I'm examining the defensive lines of each NFL team. In addition to the straight personnel, I'm also evaluating the fantasy contributions we can expect heading into 2006. For example, the Browns and Broncos slide in this form of evaluation. While both are successful at cutting down on total points allowed, their overall contribution in other defensive categories were lacking.

    The defending NFC champions rise to the head of the class. With a ballhawking defense and an offense that will apply pressure of its own, the Seattle Seahawks lead my list of defensive linemen.

    1. Seattle Seahawks
    The Seahawks led the NFL with 50 sacks in 2005. Bryce Fisher and Rocky Bernard combined for 17.5 of those sacks and accounted for 76 tackles. Grant Wistrom provided solid pressure off the other end with 52 tackles and four sacks of his own. Of chief import here was Wistrom's ability to stay healthy through the course of the year. Marcus Tubbs also supplemented the efforts of Chartric Darby and Bernard when he rotated into the game. Tubbs added 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks of his own. Seattle is primed for another run to the top of the fantasy stats with this nucleus returning intact.

    2. Atlanta Falcons
    John Abraham got his wish and exited the Jets this off-season. He now pairs with Patrick Kerney to form one of the most formidable defensive end combinations in the game. And when you add the pressure applied by tackle Rod Coleman (10.5 sacks), the Falcons figure to terrorize opposing quarterbacks throughout the fall. The Falcons will count on Coleman and Chad Lavalais to stuff the run better than they did in '05, when Atlanta ranked 26th in rushing defense at 128.9 yards per game.

    3. Carolina Panthers
    The Carolina Panthers remained among the top defenses in 2005 with great pressure off the edges from Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker. The duo combined for 18 sacks and 94 tackles to boost the Panthers to fifth in overall defense. Carolina received great play from Maake Kemoeatu on the interior. He stepped up in the absence of Kris Jenkins, who played in only one game last season. Kemoeatu and Jenkins will team to protect the middle of the line and keep Carolina's lofty ranking in run defense (fourth at 91.6 yards).

    4. Miami Dolphins
    The Dolphins ranked second in the NFL last season with 49 sacks and return all four members of their defensive line. Jason Taylor remains the leader of the unit, and posted another double-digit...
    -06-06-2006, 11:25 PM
  • Goldenfleece
    Over/Underrated Teams in the Preseason
    by Goldenfleece
    This time of year everybody can find reasons why their team is going to be a contender in the upcoming season, but I had some time on my hands, so I thought I'd take another look at a few of the teams with high expectations and see what they have really done to improve their teams in the offseason. Feel free to disagree; these are just one fan's opinions. I left the Rams off the underrated list because I've obviously got a bias there. So without further ado, here's my take on the most overrated/underrated teams in mid-August:

    Most Overrated:

    NY Giants

    Why they're hyped: The Giants have a Manning at the helm, and he's got weapons: Burress, Toomer, Shockey, and Barber. On defense, the team has some great pass rushers including Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, and linebacker Lavar Arrington, along with first rounder Mathias Kiwanuka. Will Demps should be an upgrade at FS.

    Why they won't live up to it: First, the defense. They lost 2 defensive tackles in free agency. Clancy and Allen were not exactly worldbeaters at their position, but the Giants don't have proven talent to replace them. William Joseph started 10 games at the right DT spot and had 2 sacks; he's the pass-rushing DT. Looking at their roster, I can't figure out who is supposed to be starting next to him. Fred Robbins maybe? Robbins couldn't even hold down the backup job last season. At corner, they added Sam Madison but lost Will Allen who is not only younger but has also put up better numbers in recent years. It looks as though Will Peterson will be replaced on the other side by last year's nickelback, Corey Webster. Webster has shown some promise, but it's still his first year as a starter. Arrington has a reputation as a free lancer who gets out of position trying to make the big play; it has also been said he can't handle coverage responsibilities. The Giants should still be at least a little better at WLB and FS but worse at both DT spots and both corners.

    On offense, Eli looked worse towards the end of the season, throwing 4 TDs and 7 ints in 5 games in December. He looked shaky in the playoffs, too, throwing for a paltry 113 yards, 3 ints, and no TDs while taking 4 sacks and coughing up a fumble in a loss to the Panthers. Tiki on the other hand had a remarkable season, but age is a factor here. Take the example of Curtis Martin who led the league in rushing yards with 1,697 yards in 2004. Then he hit the wall. His rushing average the next season fell from 4.6 yards/carry to 3.3, and his rushing total was nearly a thousand yards less at 735. Maybe it'll happen this year, maybe it won't...but one of these days age is going to catch up with Barber, and when it does, it'll happen fast. It's probably not a good sign that he has talked about retiring after this season. Barber has said, "We'll see how my body holds up. Last year was a grind for me. Even though I played great, I battled to be healthy. We'll see...
    -08-16-2006, 07:05 AM
  • Guest's Avatar
    Vic Carucci's Tuesday Huddle
    by Guest
    Vic Carucci's Tuesday Huddle


    By Vic Carucci
    National Editor, NFL.com


    OPENING DRIVE
    (July 11, 2006) -- In searching for the team with the best running back situation in the NFL, one might choose to look no further than the Seattle Seahawks.

    Not a bad choice.


    Shaun Alexander has all the tools to be successful behind a couple new linemen.
    Shaun Alexander pretty much carried the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL. Along the way, he won the league's rushing title and had an NFL-record 28 touchdowns.

    The operative word here, though, is "situation." That expands the scope of the discussion beyond the featured running back to include contributions of reserves and the offensive line, and whether the coach is genuinely committed to moving the ball on the ground.

    This is how I would rank the top 10 teams with the best running back situations in the league:

    1. Kansas City: New coach Herman Edwards is going to bring a more power-oriented approach to the Chiefs offense, and that means Larry Johnson will have every opportunity to win the rushing title. Priest Holmes would be an impressive backup, provided his body allows him to play another season. If Holmes should retire, Dee Brown is a solid No. 2 who won't see much of the football.

    2. Carolina: A healthy DeShaun Foster is a top-flight starter. If he can't give the Panthers a full season, first-round draft pick DeAngelo Williams figures to fill in nicely for short or even long stretches, or take the starting job himself. The Panthers are fully committed to pounding the ball to help ensure optimum performance from their dominant defense and to help set up big pass plays to Steve Smith.

    3. Seattle: Alexander should have another excellent season, although running behind an offensive line that lost the best guard in the game (Steve Hutchinson), he probably won't be quite as dominant as he was in 2005.

    4. Tampa Bay: With added strength and knowledge, Cadillac Williams should be an even more explosive force this season. Michael Pittman is an effective playmaker running and catching the ball, but he likely will see only spot duty given the Bucs' tendency to allow Williams to carry the bulk of their offense on his shoulders.

    5. San Diego: LaDainian Tomlinson remains one of the foremost double threats in the league. He is lobbying for a larger role in the Chargers' passing game than he had last season. San Diego's coaches would figure to oblige, especially because it can only help build confidence in new starter Philip Rivers.


    At 30 years old, Tiki Barber set career highs in attempts, rushing yards and total yards.
    6. New York Giants: Tiki Barber gets better with age, and Tom Coughlin will continue to use a run-first approach to complement his...
    -07-12-2006, 01:38 AM
  • RamsFan4ever
    Fantasy Football 3 Round Mock Draft---Jackson 3rd Pick
    by RamsFan4ever
    http://www.nfl.com/fantasy/story/9908343

    One man's mock draft for 2007


    By Michael Fabiano
    NFL.com Fantasy Expert




    (Jan. 4, 2007) -- The fantasy football season might last only a few short months, but there is no true offseason for those enthusiastic owners who live, eat and breathe the National Football League. In fact, some have already started to research and examine how drafts could look in 2007 (training camps are just six months away!)

    In an effort to feed that fantasy football fix all year round, we here at NFL.com will run an updated three-round mock draft once a month throughout the offseason. Each numbered position represents an individual team, so no one team will select more than one quarterback, two running backs or two wide receivers.

    The draft is based on a standard scoring system that rewards one point for each 25 passing yards, 10 rushing and receiving yards and six points for all touchdowns. There are no points awarded for receptions.

    ROUND ONE
    1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego: Tomlinson was without question the MVP of fantasy football this season and will be the first overall selection in almost all 2007 drafts. He led the entire league with 1,815 rushing yards and scored an NFL record 31 touchdowns (33 total with his two touchdown passes included), and he will continue to be the centerpiece of the Chargers offense for head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

    2. Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City: Johnson, who was the consensus No. 1 overall selection in this season's drafts, didn't disappoint with 2,199 all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns. The fact that he recorded an NFL single-season record 416 carries and should see at least 20-30 additional looks in the postseason is a bit of a concern, but it will still be hard for most owners to pass on this ultra-talented and versatile back.

    3. Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis: Jackson broke out in his first season under head coach Scott Linehan with an impressive 2,334 all-purpose yards and 16 total touchdowns, so look for him to replace Shaun Alexander on the list of elite backs. The former Oregon State standout also recorded 90 receptions -- that's the most in the league for backs -- so he could be a better choice than Johnson in leagues that reward owners for catches.

    4. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco: Gore, who was the top preseason sleeper on NFL.com, broke out under the guidance of offensive coordinator Norv Turner with an NFC-high 1,695 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns. He also posted an additional 485 yards as a receiver out of the backfield in what became an improved Niners offense. Gore should continue to thrive under Turner -- his goal for 2007 is 2,200 yards.

    5. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis: There will be at most three elite quarterbacks next season -- Manning,...
    -01-05-2007, 09:22 AM
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