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NFL Skinny: Capitol Concerns

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

Running Back Radar
NEW YORK JETS RED HOT
1st Chair: Leon Washington
2nd Chair: Kevan Barlow
Skinny: Weather played a major role in Barlow earning a season-high 17 carries, and gaining a season-high 75 yards, on Sunday. With wet, sloppy conditions at Foxborough, the straight-forward, power style of Barlow was best-suited for the situation. "Our plan wasn't really complicated," said Jets guard Pete Kendall. "The fact that the track was a mudder's dream … the elements sort of lent themselves to a north-south, bigger type of back." Washington took just nine carries (35 yards). As winter starts to take hold, more inclement encounters are likely, and Barlow is likely to continue to be pressed into more than just goal-line, short-yardage duty.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS HOT
1st Chair: Joseph Addai
2nd Chair: Dominic Rhodes
Skinny: After taking 35 carries to Rhodes' seven the previous two weeks combined, Rhodes garnered 14 carries (72 yards) on Sunday, while Addai handled 13 (78 yards, TD). Rhodes remains the starter, in theory, as he's the one in the backfield to start games, but he is essentially keeping Addai's legs fresh for the second half, and that seems to be the way things will remain. Rhodes did fumble early in the fourth quarter with the team clinging to a one-point lead. Addai returned the next drive to rush six times for 39 yards to seal the victory. Rhodes seems to understand that Addai is the (near) future in Indy, stating after the game, "My role here is to help Joseph be the best he can be while I'm here."
DENVER BRONCOS HOT
1st Chair: Tatum Bell
2nd Chair: Mike Bell, Damien Nash
Skinny: After carrying 17 times for just 28 yards in Week 9 in place of the turf-toe hobbled Tatum Bell, Mike Bell was surprisingly made inactive on Sunday. Tatum returned on Sunday, but he could manage just 37 yards on 14 carries against what was Oakland's 27th-ranked run defense. Head coach Mike Shanahan is liable to do just about anything, so Tatum Bell owners shouldn't feel safe despite his top depth chart spot, Mike Bell owners shouldn't cut the rookie just yet, and those prospecting for potential diamonds in the rough, you may want to consider Nash, who was the backup to Tatum in Week 10.
HOUSTON TEXANS HOT
1st Chair: Wali Lundy
Injured: Samkon Gado
Skinny: Considering Gary Kubiak was recently the offensive coordinator under Mike Shanahan in Denver, it's no wonder his running back situation in Houston is so convoluted – he learned from the master. After Lundy struggled to get going in the first half on Sunday, Gado carried 17 times after halftime (Lundy had just two carries after the half) for 67 yards. Lundy did score the team's only touchdown on the day, but he finished with just 34 yards on 16 carries. Lundy is likely still the lead man, but Gado will probably see more carries going forward.
DALLAS COWBOYS WARM
1st Chair: Julius Jones
Injured: Marion Barber III
Skinny: Barber had just one less carry than Jones on Sunday (15 to 14) but – don't panic Jones owners – 11 of Barber's carries came on two late fourth quarter drives with Dallas nursing a big lead at Arizona. That said, Barber scored another touchdown in Week 10, giving him seven for the year – four more than Jones' three. It seems that garbage time, goal-line carries and passing down situations have allowed Barber to stay nearly even with Jones in terms of fantasy production.
Also See: Sunday Scene | Damage Report

On Sunday, LaDainian Tomlinson scored four touchdowns to become the first player in NFL history to score 15 TDs in a five game stretch, breaking Jim Brown's record of 14. But, we've come to expect this from the Chargers lightning bolt running back. Which is why Chad Johnson's performance in opposition of San Diego might be more noteworthy at the moment. Johnson made up for eight games of mostly lackluster fantasy production by busting out for 260 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10. On both his deep scoring grabs, he was so wide open he looked like he was playing in the Funston family Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl game.

Other Week 10 stars included Donald Driver (191 receiving yards, 1 TD), Carson Palmer (440 passing yards, 3 TDs) and Willie Parker (213 rushing yards, 2 TDs), but the biggest fantasy impact on the day was the impact absorbed by Clinton Portis' finger. That's where I'll start the Week 10 roundup:

Week 10 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Things are hot in our nation's capitol. No, I'm not talking about President Bush's policy for handling Iraq, I'm talking about Clinton Portis' ring finger. On Monday, he had surgery to insert a screw in said finger, and he's expected to be out up to a month. Got handcuff, Portis owners? I'm sans insurance in one of my leagues, but that's only because one of my evil friends was willing to draft Ladell Betts in the sixth round just to spite my Portis pick. Hopefully your friends aren't as vindictive as mine. Betts carried 20 times for 83 yards in Portis' absence on Sunday, and he stands to pick up the majority of work while Portis is out. There is speculation that Washington might opt to let Portis stay on the sidelines the rest of the way now that postseason hopes have been squashed. Behind a solid offensive line, facing mostly fair-to-middlin' rush defenses and with a new QB behind center (more on that next) likely meaning a more conservative offensive approach, Betts should be a solid No. 2 fantasy back for as long as he's starting. He runs hard, and he adds potency as a receiver (30 catches, thus far). He was available in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into Sunday. Now back to that new Redskins quarterback …
On Monday, Washington head coach Joe Gibbs announced that Jason Campbell would finally get his shot behind center. I liked this guy a lot coming out of Auburn. He was one of the fastest rising players leading up to the '05 NFL Draft, landing with the Redskins with the No. 25 pick of the first round. Campbell is almost a prototype of what most people look for in an NFL quarterback, at least from a physical standpoint. He's tall (6-foot-4), he runs well (4.69 in the 40), he has good mechanics, and he's accurate, at least middle distance in. His drawbacks are his deep game, and his ability to see the entire field. Campbell struggled reading defenses in his first three seasons at Auburn before clicking as a senior. I suspect that he's been held at No. 3 on the Washington depth chart since he was drafted because there was worry that he'd be overwhelmed by NFL defenses. It's likely the team will play it conservatively with Campbell to start, meaning a heavy load for Betts, and most of the pass looks going to TE Chris Cooley, Betts and in-the-flat throws to WR Santana Moss. Don't look to Campbell for immediate help, but at least Betts and Cooley should be in good shape.
Maurice Morris has produced back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, and Seneca Wallace has thrown six TD passes to just two interceptions in three games starting in place of the injured Matt Hasselbeck. But both players may be on the sidelines in Week 11 with doctors clearing Shaun Alexander and Hasselbeck to practice this week. Alexander has missed six games with a fractured foot. His latest x-rays showed that his foot is not fully healed, but Alexander has been pain free for almost a month now, so doctors are relenting and letting him test his foot in practice this week. If all goes well, San Francisco will face the '05 MVP on Sunday. Hasselbeck will practice Friday to see if his sprained knee checks out. Hasselbeck has been doing some light drills with a brace on his knee, but Friday will be more of a real test. Stay tuned on both of these 'Hawks. As mentioned, the team will face the 49ers and, despite some improvement on defense of late, this is still a squad that ranks among the top 10 most generous in fantasy against quarterbacks and running backs.
For a rundown of the Week 10 injury news, including Tony Gonzalez's shoulder sprain, be sure to check out Christopher Harris' Damage Report.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QBTony Romo, Dal
Jon Kitna used to have a semi-permanent residency here, now it's Romo's turn to settle in. Owned in just 43 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into Week 10, Romo continued his sizzling play on Sunday with 308 passing yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in Dallas' route of Arizona. He now has five touchdown passes to just one interception in his three starts, averaging 287 passing yards in those contests. Please, folks, push this guy's ownership up over the 60 percent mark this week.

RB – Ladell Betts, Was
I talked about him above, but he is the catch of the week at running back. Available in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues coming out of the weekend, pull the trigger if you can.

WRMark Clayton, Bal
It's a new world order in Baltimore now that head coach Brian Billick is engineering the offense. In the three weeks under Billick's guidance, Clayton has been the seventh-most targeted wideout in the league, catching 16 of 29 looks for 215 yards and a TD. Available in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues coming out of Sunday, Clayton has produced two 100-yard games and three touchdowns in his past four outings.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Malcom Floyd, SD, WR – The 6-foot-5 behemoth hauled in a career-high five catches for 109 yards and a TD on Sunday. His height makes him an intriguing fantasy option if he continues to see steady looks. He now has three touchdowns despite just 13 total catches.

Steve McNair, Bal, QB – Another benefactor of Billick, McNair has averaged 259 passing yards and has thrown five touchdown passes to just two interceptions in three games with Billick calling the shots. He also ran for a touchdown in that span.

Ben Utecht, Ind, TE – With 66 yards on Sunday, Utecht now has produced at least 49 receiving yards in three of his past four games.

Brett Favre, GB, QB – Last year's INT machine has 13 TD passes to just five interceptions in his past eight games. On Sunday, he logged his third 300-yard game of the season.

Michael Vick, Atl, QB – The Vick rollercoaster ride is as wild as ever. After throwing for 7 TDs (2 INTs) and averaging 262 passing yards in Week 7 and Week 8, Vick has averaged 180 passing yards and has four interceptions to just two touchdown passes in his past two games.

Anquan Boldin, Ari, WR – I'll still back him as one of the best receivers in the league, but Boldin's past three games have produced zero touchdowns, and averages of 3.3 catches and 53 receiving yards.

Santana Moss, Was, WR – Moss has topped 50 receiving yards just once in his past six games – he had three catches for 17 yards on Sunday. Now he has to deal with the inexperienced Jason Campbell at quarterback.