NFL Skinny: A-Train's Turn

Brad Evans
Yahoo! Sports
Running Back Radar
1st Chair: Joseph Addai
2nd Chair: Dominic Rhodes
Skinny: It appears the senior Rhodes has finally become the understudy. For the second consecutive week, Addai had a lion's share of the touches, finishing with 18 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown against a stiff New England front. Rhodes has only compiled seven carries in his past two games. Addai's Edgerrin James-like quickness, decisive cuts and versatility have made his teammates confident in his abilities as the primary runner. Start him this week as a No. 2 against a Bills frontline that has allowed 125.3 rushing yards-per-game and three ground scores in their past three.
Injured: Tatum Bell
2nd Chair: Mike Bell
Skinny: In the never-ending Denver running back soap opera, Mabel rushed for a pathetic 28 yards on 17 carries (1.6 YPC) at Pittsburgh. Luckily, he caught five balls for 40 yards, otherwise it would have been a completely forgettable day. Taco vows he will return to the field against the Raiders in Week 10. However, the probability of Taco getting the start is minimized by the nagging turf toe injury. According to Taco, the workload amount will depend on his pain tolerance. For now, look for Shanahan to install a 60/40 split in carries with Mabel the primary option, especially in goal-line packages. Sit Taco one more week and plug in Mabel as a flex play versus an Oakland D that has yielded 129.1 rushing yards-per-game this year.
Injured: Willis McGahee
2nd Chair: Anthony Thomas
Skinny: Two gigantic trench boulders crushed McGahee like a bug on Sunday, possibly sidelining the maligned runner for up to two weeks. Dick Jauron has not counted him out for Sunday's tilt at Indy, but it appears, at least for now, the broken rib will at best make him a game-time-decision. The resurrection of the A-Train could reach legendary proportions this week against the Colt's 32nd-ranked defense. Yes, he's worth a No. 1 waiver priority.

Also See:Sunday Scene

Just call me Tony Romo.

With my colleague and SportsStream partner-in-crime Brandon Funston reveling in the excesses of Las Vegas alongside fellow fantasy aficionados Christopher Harris and Matt Buser, yours truly has been called upon to spark the Skinny. The widowed-peaked one, probably poorer and practically liverless, will return next week after he recovers from the indulgent vices of Sin City. Don't chase the river, Funston.

Here are the news and notes that did an end-zone jig in Week 9:

Week 9 Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days

Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee could be sidelined for up to two weeks with a broken rib, but has not been ruled out of Sunday's game at Indianapolis. The injury occurred early in the first half when Green Bay defensive tackle Colin Cole and Bills offensive lineman Ryan Pickett fell on top of the smaller McGahee. The pressure exerted by over 650-pounds of human flesh left McGahee on the field for a lengthy period of time. Eventually, showcasing a noticeable wince, he was carted off. Anthony Thomas compiled 95 yards on 20 carries and scored his second touchdown of the season in his place.

Toot, Toot! All aboard the A-Train. At 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, A-Train is a strong straight-line runner that plows forward to gain extra yardage. Buffalo head coach Dick Jauron knows Thomas' strengths well from his prolific days as a Chicago Bear and will tailor a game plan to get the most out of his vet. With McGahee's status very questionable for next week's contest at Indy, Thomas will be waiver wire gold in Week 10. The Colts have allowed a mind-blowing 167.6 rushing yards-per-game and eight total ground scores over their last five. Available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, anticipate a borderline No. 2 effort if he gets the start.

Fit for a supermarket tabloid, quarterback controversies in Jacksonville and Kansas City got juicier after backups David Garrard and Damon Huard again played brilliantly.

In Jacksonville, the stout-legged Garrard completed 12 passes on 22 attempts for 177 yards and three touchdowns against the "tank-it" Titans. Jags head coach Jack Del Rio called his effort "very efficient" and named him the starter versus Houston in Week 10, despite Byron Leftwich's claims that he is fully healed from an ankle injury. Garrard's fleet feet and multi-dimensional attributes fit perfectly into Del Rio's pound-it-out style. Going back to last year, Garrard has sported a phenomenal 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his past seven starts. Expect him to remain the starter as long as he produces the almighty W. Anticipate borderline top-20 numbers this week against an improved Houston Texans secondary that has limited QBs to just 133 passing yards-per-game since Week 7.

Meanwhile, in the Gateway City, the hot hand of Damon Huard continued to scorch. Huard was a very efficient 10-of-15 for 148 yards and three touchdowns. In seven starts, the former Washington Husky is 5-2, averaging a serviceable 202 yards-per-game, compiling an insane 11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and, most importantly, gaining a great deal of notoriety from his teammates. Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards indicated on Monday that Huard would start at Miami this week, but left the door open for a possible Trent Green return in Week 11. If the KC backup again performs admirably, it could be Kurt Warner-like dj vu for Green. For now, expect Huard to tally numbers around 200 yards and a TD against a Dolphins pass D that has given up seven touchdowns in their past four.

  • Injury News and Notes
  • Chicago Bears speed-demon Bernard Berrian will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a rib injury. Berrian added, "It was one of those freak kind of accidents. I didn't get hit, I just kind of fell on it weird on the first play. It's hard to breathe, and it's kind of hard to talk right now." Third-year receiver Justin Gage will fill the void in his absence … Ageless wonder Rod Smith separated his shoulder in the Broncos 31-20 win at Pittsburgh. Denver head coach Mike Shanahan was tight lipped on how long his All-Pro receiver would be out, if at all. If Smith is sidelined in Week 10, look for David Kircus to slide into the No. 2 spot opposite Javon Walker … St. Louis white blur Kevin Curtis was taken to a local St. Louis hospital for observation after a meaningless late-game hit by Kansas City's Sammy Knight. Curtis noted, "It wasn't my head at all. He just got me pretty good in the ribs. The biggest thing was I just couldn't catch my breath for a good little while." Diagnosed as bruised ribs, Curtis is not likely to miss any action … New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan sprained the Lis Franc ligament in his right foot versus Houston and will be out for the next 2-4 weeks. Strahan has 33 tackles and three sacks on the season … Chicago Bears behemoth Brian Urlacher suffered a sprained big toe on his left foot versus Miami. Bears head coach Lovie Smith said, "He feels better today and hopefully he'll be able to feel better and be able to go this week. We'll see how it goes with him." He will most certainly be labeled "questionable" for the Bears pivotal NFC tilt versus the G-Men on Sunday night.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues
QBJoey Harrington, Mia
The original "King O' Stink" smells better than anyone expected. With a staunch Bears defense staring him in the face, Harrington led the Dolphins to an unfathomable 31-13 victory. Totaling 137 yards, three touchdowns and two picks, the once beleaguered Lion has averaged a healthy 262.3 yards-per-game and totaled six touchdowns in his past four contests. Don't expect a let down anytime soon. Miami head coach Nick Saban has called over 44 pass attempts in the Fins last four tilts and will continue to air it out as the Dolphins likely will continue to play from behind. With soft secondaries in Kansas City, Minnesota and Detroit on the docket in the Fins next three, Harrington will be a very productive top-20 quarterback. Available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, it might be time for me to crown someone else (i.e. Brad Johnson) as the new King O' Stink.

RB – DeAngelo Williams, Car
The future bling in my fantasy necklace, the Carolina "Napoleon" could see an expanded role in the next few weeks. Out since Week 5 with a high ankle sprain, the rookie fully participated in practices late last week and was rewarded with an extra four days of rest as the Panthers enjoyed their bye week. With Deshaun Foster averaging a paltry 3.8 yards-per-carry in D-Will's absence, look for John Fox to give the rookie a minimum of 10-12 touches-per-game in the next few games to jumpstart a fledgling ground attack. Available in 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he will be a nice flex play in Week 10 matched against a Tampa Bay rush D that has given up 133.9 rushing yards-per-game this year.

WRSantonio Holmes, Pit
Troubled by off-the-field issues to begin the season, Holmes has matured mentally and physically. The Steelers first round pick in last April's draft has built a nice rapport with Ben Roethlisberger. Since Week 7, the rookie has averaged a respectable 5.6 targets, 4.3 receptions and 64 yards-per-game. Bill Cowher has played to the youngster's strengths by having him run short hook and wheel routes. This strategy gives Holmes the best chance to break a big play, while building confidence. Equipped with hawk vision, explosive jets and glue hands, he is a star on the rise. Still out there in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues, expect steady improvement as the season wears on, making him a must add in keeper and points-per-reception leagues.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Marques Colston, NO, WR/TE – The most controversial player in Yahoo! fantasy leagues, Colston continues to punish the competition. With Joe Horn out, the kid racked his second consecutive 100-yard game, a season-high 11 catches and scored his seventh touchdown in eight games. You must speak of him in the same breath as the best fantasy wideouts in the game.

Tony Romo, Dal, QB – Thumping Washington for 284 yards and two scores, Romo now has averaged a stellar 260.3 yards-per-game and compiled a respectable 5:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in three starts. Do you think Rambo's rise has conjured up memories of Tom Brady for "Doo-Doo" Drew?

Ronnie Brown, Mia, RB – Unexpectedly, Brown rushed for a career-high 157 yards on 29 carries against the vaunted Chicago defense. Largely viewed as a "bust" by many owners, he could post champion-making stats in Weeks 15-17 (at Buf, NYJ, at IND).

Kevin Jones, Det, RB – The D-Town dynamo continues to silence his fantasy critics after a 150 total-yard, two touchdown day against Atlanta. Surprisingly, he ranks fifth in fantasy-points-per-week among runners.

Devery Henderson, NO, WR – Like Colston, "Delivery" Henderson was the benefactor of Joe Horn's pulled manhood, totaling three catches for 110 yards and two scores. The raging inferno that is Drew Brees makes him a nice pickup in deeper leagues if Horn again rides the pine at Pittsburgh.

Ernest Wilford, Jax, WR – The most targeted wide receiver by David Garrard, Wilford snagged three passes for 44 yards and two scores against the terrible Titans. If Garrard continues to look his way, Wilford could post quality No. 3 totals given his ideal 6-foot-4 red-zone size.

Rex Grossman, Chi, QB – "Sexy Rexy" went from Jessica Alba hot to Rosie O'Donnell ugly. Pressured greatly by Jason Taylor and company, Grossman threw for 210 yards, a touchdown and three picks. He should bounce back against a injury-ridden Giants D, but without Bernard Berrian, the inconsistencies may continue.

Travis Henry, Ten, RB – That ship that left the harbor was Henry's trade value. He rushed for back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 5 and 6, but since then has averaged a horrific 2.8 yards-per-carry and totaled 96 yards. LenDale White will soon take 10-12 carries away weekly.

Carnell Williams, TB, RB – Stymied by a Saints D (12 carries for 39 yards) he pummeled for 111 yards back in Week 5, Cadillac's train-wrecked season continued on Sunday. Rushing for only 58.8 yards-per-game in his past four and with a tough upcoming slate (at Car, Was, at Dal, at Pit, Atl, at Chi), he's officially bench material.

Reggie Bush, NO, RB – Laugh, -5 yards on 11 carries. Suddenly, the hype machine has gone silent. I told ya he was the most overrated back in this year's draft.