At the beginning of the season, league owners in search of a bargain running back hardly cast a glance into the Arizona desert and to that fossil nearing retirement, Emmitt Smith. Well it seems that fossil isn't quite dead yet.
After rushing for his first 100-yard game since 2002, Smith has surpassed his totals from last year - 290 to 256 - and has done it on fewer carries - 68 to 90. His touchdown production will not reach 1995 levels when he scored 25 times, but he has seen increased touches near the goal line thanks to a preseason injury to Marcel Shipp and the faith of Dennis Green. He's scored three rushing touchdowns and even added another chapter to his illustrious career with his first passing touchdown during last week's 127-yard performance.
Smith's resurgence has been one of the more refreshing stories of the year. Even more so for owners who were desperate for running back help. Smith is in the top 20 in the league in rushing, leading early round picks like Travis Henry, Shaun Alexander and Fred Taylor. He's also got more touchdowns than potential first rounders Marshall Faulk, Clinton Portis and Ahman Green. And we all know touchdowns mean just about everything in fantasy football.
I'm not saying Smith's going to have a 1,000-yard season or his stellar play should carry on into next year. He knows he's nearing the end of the line. He's fine with it, joking that on his 29-yard touchdown run last week that he "got out his wheelchair and just rolled on into the end zone."
All I'm saying is, it's nice to see him prospering when other younger backs are struggling.
Jamal Lewis has all the talent in the world, and a great offensive line, but he'll be serving jail time next year. That's a stain Smith never left on his career.
Ricky Williams has had every chance to prove himself in this league. He chose retirement in his prime over the game, or maybe it was just playing for Miami. Whatever it was, Williams is now looking at coming back, but not because of the game. He's pondering coming back because the Dolphins won a court case to recover more than $8 million of Williams' money.
Williams - if he comes back - and Lewis are legitimate threats to break Smith's all-time rushing record.
RB Emmitt Smith, Arizona: I guess you knew it was coming. He's a solid start this week against a banged-up San Francisco defense. Just don't expect another touchdown toss.
RB Chris Brown, Tennessee: He's gotten lost in the shuffle lately, but he should see a number of touches against a porous Green Bay rushing defense.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: He's facing one of the worst passing defenses in the league and the pressure of keeping Pittsburgh's fast start on the right track. He should come up big.
RB Amos Zereoue, Oakland: Don't look for another outburst like last week's 100-yard, two-touchdown performance against Indianapolis. The Colts have been stuffing the run this year and are ranked No. 9 in rushing defense in the league.
QB Jay Fielder, Miami: Let's just hope you have better options than any of the Dolphins' quarterbacks.
RB Clinton Portis, Washington: OK, you won't sit him unless you have a much better option, but don't look for much against Baltimore this week.
WAKE UP CALL
RB Mewelde Moore, Minnesota: Moe Williams is limping, Onterrio Smith is suspended and Michael Bennett is out again after another knee injury. He could see a lot of action this week.
Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.