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NFL Skinny: Vulture King

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Running Back Radar
1st Chair: Ronnie Brown
2nd Chair: Ricky Williams
Skinny: Brown's recent bout of fumblitis pushes this backfield duo to the top of the heap this week. The carries were virtually split down the middle on Sunday, and Williams showed a burst and another gear that he hadn't displayed since his return. With Nick Saban trying to determine what he has on the roster for next year, look for Williams' Touches to increase down the stretch. Aside from the fumbling issues, Saban knows what he has in the rookie Brown. He wants to see Ricky gut it out in the final weeks.
1st Chair: Antowain Smith
2nd Chair: Aaron Stecker
Skinny: Despite a tremendous matchup against the porous Jets run defense, the Saints were unable to dominate via the ground. Therefore, Jim Haselett split the workload down the middle, with the speedy Stecker showing some nifty footwork around the edges. He finished with 54 yards to Smith's 45. With the final five weeks playing out as an extended audition for the backup role to Deuce McAllister in '06, look for this equitable split of carries to continue.
1st Chair: Julius Jones
2nd Chair: Marion Barber
Skinny: As Jones gets healthier, this situation pushes its way down the radar. Jones carried the ball 20 times compared to Barber's nine on Thanksgiving Day against the Broncos. Surprisingly, with a third-and-one from the Denver one-yard line, Bill Parcells chose to throw the ball instead of pounding it in with one of his backs, so future goal line carries are unknown. Based on Barber's role the past several weeks, this situation remains in the middle range on the radar.
1st Chair: Jamal Lewis
2nd Chair: Chester Taylor
Skinny: This backfield situation heated up last week after another terrible game by Lewis, only to have Taylor declared inactive for Sunday's game against Cincinnati. Lewis proceeded to run wild and found the end zone, meaning that Brian Billick will undoubtedly give his top option a heavy workload against the hapless Houston run defense in Week 13.
1st Chair: Warrick Dunn
2nd Chair: T.J. Duckett
Skinny: Dunn continues to shine as the every-down back for the Falcons, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the year with a 116-yard performance on Thanksgiving Day. Dunn owners will need to be content with high yardage days, as Duckett will get the call around the goal line. However, as evidenced by the past two weeks, Jim Mora wants to get back to his power game with his dual-headed backfield.
1st Chair: Mewelde Moore
2nd Chair: Michael Bennett
Skinny: Though he tallied only 67 yards on the ground, Moore's second consecutive 20-carry performance displays Mike Tice's confidence in his second-year back. Former starter Michael Bennett had only three carries in the win over Cleveland.
1st Chair: Mike Anderson
2nd Chair: Tatum Bell
Skinny: Anderson clearly remains the workhorse in this backfield, but Tatum Bell (and on Thursday, Ron Dayne) sees enough Touches to keep this on the radar. Both players, when healthy, remain fantasy starters as Denver battles to keep pace for home field advantage. The Broncos average 33 rushing attempts per week, which means ample opportunity for Anderson to pile on yards, and home-run threat Bell to reach the end zone.
1st Chair: Carnell Williams
2nd Chair: Mike Alstott
Skinny: Michael Pittman is a man without a role in the current Tampa Bay offense, as the rookie Williams has established himself as a 20-25 carry back. After giving owners a bit of a scare in his first three games back from injury, Williams appears back on track to becoming a special back. Alstott appears here due to his recent return to the role of goal line vulture. In the past four weeks, Alstott has scored five times while cracking 10 rushing yards just once.
It was another week of improbable performances in Week 12. Unheralded rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Rams came off the bench to lead the Rams back to victory over the Texans. The Bengals rolled up 42 points on the Ravens, no surprise, there, but they also witnessed a coming out day of sorts for Kyle Boller and Jamal Lewis. Boller threw three TD passes (he had only one all season before this matchup), and Lewis reached the 100-yard mark for the first time all year. Tom "Mr. Consistency" Brady threw four interceptions in a loss to Kansas City, while Ricky Williams showed that he can still make things happen against the Raiders.

We also saw a number of outstanding stat lines from players that will force the shuffling of rosters as the playoffs loom.

Let's hit this week's top stories and find some clarity.

WEEK 12 UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
The Oakland passing offense remains inconsistent, but LaMont Jordan continues to impress in his first season as a full-time back. Jordan recorded his third multi-TD game of the year, and given his proficiency as a receiver out of the backfield, is on pace to reach 1,850 combined yards.

Larry Johnson continued his dominance in the absence of Priest Holmes with his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. When factoring in his receptions, Johnson has topped 150 total yards of offense in three of those efforts with five total touchdowns. He now stands only 32 yards from a 1,000-yard rushing season.

Owners of the Chicago defense were clearly pleased with the 13-10 final score, two turnovers, and four sacks on Sunday. With a mere 120 points allowed, 35 sacks, 23 turnovers, and three touchdowns, the Bears defense ranks among fantasy defenses, almost two points per week ahead of the Panthers.

It was another big day for the Colts on Monday night in their 26-7 victory over the Steelers, and it all began with an 80-yard strike from Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison. After Harrison was shut out in the score-a-thon against the Bengals, the Colts wasted no time getting the ball into his hands, and he took it the distance. He finished the game with four catches for 128 yards.

The Jaguars withstood a huge effort from Kurt Warner and the Arizona passing attack, and the loss of QB Byron Leftwich. David Garrard played well after his departure, rushing for a 16-yard TD (61 rushing yards in all) and completing 12-of-26 attempts for 115 yards. Leftwich will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his ankle, meaning that Greg Jones and Fred Taylor (when healthy) should shoulder the load for the offense.

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  • Kurt Warner, QB, Ari: Despite several strong performances in a row, fantasy owners weren't buying into the resurrection of Warner's right arm … until his latest effort against the Jacksonville. Warner was up to the challenge against the tough Jaguars pass defense, rolling up his third 300-yard game in the past four weeks and throwing multiple TD passes for the second week in a row. With little production out of the Arizona running game and no help from the defense, Warner has attempted 39 or more passes in six of his seven starts. Warner will put the ball on the carpet at least once per game, but with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin on the wings, he's also going to rack up yardage. In the past three weeks, Warner has thrown six touchdowns against one INT.
  • Greg Jones, RB, Jac: After watching Byron Leftwich and the passing attack dominate in Week 11, Jones and the running game got back on track in Week 12. Jones carried the ball 23 times for 78 yards and a score from 25 yards out in Sunday's victory over Arizona. The touchdown was his third in four games. With Fred Taylor continuing to experience issues with his ankle, Jones is likely to see significant time against Cleveland in Week 13.
  • Travis Henry, RB, Ten: Henry posted his most productive day of the season in relief of Chris Brown against San Francisco. Brown missed a portion of the action due to an ankle sprain. Henry carried the ball 13 times for 86 yards and added a reception for 14 yards in the victory. Brown will likely be limited at practice this week, but should be available to play against Indianapolis. Given his injury history, however, Henry is a must-add for Brown owners who have neglected to do so thus far.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Joe Jurevicius, WR, Sea: Jurevicius had gone quiet with the Seahawks passing games the past couple weeks, accumulating a mere seven catches for 67 yards in his past two contests. He broke out with a huge game against the Giants, as Matt Hasselbeck picked on rookie CB Corey Webster. Jurevicius hauled in eight passes for 137 yards and two scores on the day, establishing a new career-high with seven TD receptions for the year.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, StL: He was unknown as he entered Sunday's game against Houston, and left the field a legend. The Harvard grad threw for 310 yards and three scores in leading a brilliant comeback against Houston, including a 56-yard TD to Kevin Curtis in overtime. Jamie Martin is unlikely to return to the lineup in Week 13 against Washington after sustaining a concussion early in Sunday's game.

Jamal Lewis, RB, Bal: Lewis finally gets into the up arrow column with his breakout performance against the Bengals. Lewis topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this year, rushing for 113 yards on 23 carries and scored for the first time since Week 5. Lewis also added 36 receiving yards. Even if Chester Taylor is ready to return to the field this week, Lewis remains a strong play against the bottom-ranked Houston run defense.

Mike Alstott, RB, TB: Alstott continues his reign as king of the vultures for another week, scoring in his fourth straight game on Sunday against Chicago. Alstott's top yardage output during this stretch has been 39 yards with a maximum of 10 Touches, so don't expect help outside of the TD column. However, if your backfield has been obliterated by injury or remains stacked with under-achievers, then Alstott is a solid pickup.

T.J. Duckett, RB, Atl: After being slowed by injury, the Falcons' powerful runner is back in business. Duckett carried the ball a season-high 19 times for 72 yards in the Falcons' 27-7 romp over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. He also scored for the second straight week (sixth time in nine games). Though Michael Vick has enjoyed great success in the passing game, their road to an NFC South title and the playoffs will be predicated on the success of Duckett and backfield mate Warrick Dunn down the stretch.

Andre Johnson, WR, Hou: The Houston offense finally showed some life in Week 12, and there was Johnson as the catalyst. The third-year receiver scored his first TD of the season while hauling down a season-high 12 passes for 159 yards. Johnson missed a month due to a calf injury, but has rebounded nicely since his return. He's caught 31 balls for 342 yards in four games since his return. Week 13 brings a challenge against Baltimore, but the Texans face Tennessee and Arizona in the two weeks following.

Ricky Williams, RB, Mia: His 34-yard TD run looked labored, but it still counted for big fantasy points against Oakland on Sunday. Williams carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards (adding two catches for 13 yards) and helped guide the Dolphins to victory. Though backfield mate Ronnie Brown also found the house, Nick Saban won't look kindly on Brown's continuing fumble problems (two lost on Sunday). Williams has topped 80 rushing yards in three of his past five outings.

Eric Parker, WR, SD: When on the field, Parker has established himself as one of Drew Brees' top options. Parker has caught 15 passes for 230 yards in his past three outings, with two scores. Though he was held out of the end zone against Washington this past week, seven catches for 98 yards topped most receivers. With an injured Oakland secondary on tap, look for Brees to take to the air in Week 13.

Ron Dayne, RB, Den: With Tatum Bell sidelined for the big Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas, the Heisman winner made the most of his opportunity. He rumbled to 98 yards on seven carries, including a 55-yard run that led to the game-winning kick. Dayne's role for Week 13 against Kansas City in unknown with the return of Tatum Bell to action, but he needs to be on the radar, as whomever lines up behind Jake Plummer will post solid totals.

Marcus Robinson, WR, Min: Robinson's stat line resembled something from Jerome Bettis' dominant 2004 campaign, as he tallied three catches for 32 yards … and three scores. Robinson is the third receiver in the Vikings set, but always remains a big-time threat in the red zone. The Vikings next play Detroit (coming off of the firing of Coach Steve Mariucci), followed by the atrocious St. Louis pass defense.

Donte' Stallworth, WR, NO: His yardage totals aren't setting the world aflame, but Stallworth continues to be a force in the red zone. He scored his sixth TD in his past six games, catching five balls for 48 yards against the Jets. Stallworth has caught three or more passes in all but two games, and remains Aaron Brooks' favorite target down low.

Stephen Davis, RB, Car: After piling up touchdowns week after week, Davis has been a spectator the past two weeks for the Panthers. He's carried the ball 10 times for 28 yards in these two low-scoring affairs, watching DeShaun Foster assume a bigger role. Davis figures to shoulder a heavier workload in Week 13 against a porous Atlanta run defense, but the over-reliance on Steve Smith has the Panthers' offense sputtering.

Drew Brees, QB, SD: It's a down arrow for Brees this week, if only a temporary one. After recording a brilliant four-TD day against Buffalo in Week 12, Brees struggled against a similar pass defense in Washington and tallied zero touchdowns against three picks while completing just 50 percent of his attempts. OK, one of his three interceptions came on a jump ball to end regulation, but it still dings you in the points column. Brees looks to rebound against the Raiders, against whom he completed 14-of-20 attempts for 164 yards and a score in Week 6.

Brett Favre, QB, GB: Favre tossed multiple interceptions for the sixth time this year in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, completing 15-of-33 attempts for 171 yards and a single score. You know he'll continue to fling the ball upwards of 30 times per game, but the errant throws are becoming more commonplace. It doesn't get any easier for the veteran QB this week against the opportunistic Chicago defense.

Willis McGahee, RB, Buf: McGahee stretched his scoreless streak to five games with a 53-yard effort against the Panthers on Sunday. He averaged a mere 2.5 yards per carry (his lowest output of the year), and failed to reach 70 yards for the third straight week. There's hope on the horizon, as Buffalo faces Miami in Week 13. The Dolphins rank 24th against the run, allowing 121 yards and just under a touchdown per contest.

Randy Moss, WR, Oak: Since missing the Week 6 game against San Diego, Moss has recorded more than three catches in a game just once. He returned with touchdowns in three of his next four games, but has been shut out in the past two weeks, accruing six catches for 68 yards. Moss has watched Jerry Porter become Kerry Collins' go-to receiver during this stretch.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Cle: Bryant rose back onto the fantasy radar with a strong performance against the Steelers in Week 10, catching five balls for 82 yards and a score. In the two weeks since, Bryant has recorded a mere six catches for 76 yards and registered only two catches for 16 yards in the loss to Minnesota.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Car: Delhomme was held under 200 passing yards for the second time in three weeks, and registered one or fewer TD passes for the fourth straight week. The string of tough pass defenses continues through the end of the year, and unless a second receiver steps up to complement Steve Smith (Keary Colbert?), his downslide will extend. Delhomme had a five-game streak with multiple TD passes earlier this season.

Greg Lewis, WR, Phi: The scoreless streak for this third-year receiver reached nine games on Sunday against the Packers. Lewis has logged 50 or fewer receiving yards in six of his past eight games and caught only one pass on Sunday. He played through an elbow injury for that effort and now faces tough defenses in the Seahawks and Giants before a favorable spot play against Arizona.

Kerry Collins, QB, Oak: Collins is hearing the name "Tuiasosopo" on the winds after the Raiders fell to 4-7 with their most recent lost. Though he found the end zone with his legs, Collins failed to throw a TD pass and extended his streak with at least one interception to five straight games. After starting the season with one interception in six contests, Collins has been pressing, and his completion percentage has dipped.

Michael Pittman, RB, Tam: Once a legitimate threat to Carnell Williams' workload, Pittman has become an after-thought in the Buccaneers attack. He watched Williams run well for the second straight week against the Bears, and touched the ball only twice (after just one in Week 11). With the resurgent Mike Alstott on board, Pittman's workload figures to remain minimal barring an injury to Williams.

Assuming that the Seahawks don't clinch home field advantage too early, so as to preclude his full participation in the final regular season games, Shaun Alexander is on pace to rush for 1,947 yards. That total would rank sixth all-time, in between O.J. Simpson's brilliant 1973 season (2,003 yards) and Earl Campbell's 1,934 yards in 1980. Something tells me that he gets enough work to approach the 2,000-yard mark if it's within reach, so as to avoid issues at the negotiating table this offseason.

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