Originally created 10/20/06

Top rushers aren't scoring



If you were to ask any owner if they'd like to have Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Warrick Dunn or Willis McGahee on their teams they'd probably say yes.

I'd be happy to have them as well since they are the top five rushers in the league. But I'd be much happier with the ninth, 13th and 20th ranked rushers. It's not just because their names are LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis and Willie Parker. It has more to do with those three having 18 touchdowns to the top five's seven.

The leading scorer in the top five is Gore with three. Tomlinson has more than double Gore's total with seven. In fact, if you look at the top 20 rushers a very interesting trend can be found.

If you move down the list in increments of five you'll find the next group down has more or as many touchdowns as the group above it.

One through five has a total of seven scores with leading rusher Barber not recording a single touchdown this season.

Parker leads the next group with five. Combined with a surprising Deuce McAllister (four) they have more than the top tier and their group of five has totaled 14 touchdowns.

Tomlinson is responsible for the most rushing touchdowns in the league. His group also includes four touchdowns apiece from Ronnie Brown and Rudi Johnson to push this tier's total to 17.

The fourth and final group has accounted for 17 touchdowns as well. Portis has six scores and probably would have more if he hadn't started the year with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss one game. Detroit's Kevin Jones is second in the group with four and Travis Henry has put up three in limited action.

Six of last year's top 10 rushers were also among the league's rushing touchdown leaders. Through Week 6 only two of the top 10 leading rushers are in the top 10 scorers. Parker is third and McAllister is tied for fourth.

This might not mean that much to owners in a league that relies heavily on yardage. But in most leagues, touchdowns are kings and so far this year's leading rushing crown contenders are leaving some owners looking like the court jester.

PUT THEM IN

Laveranues Coles, WR, N.Y. Jets: In case you haven't seen any Lions games this year, and who could blame you, their secondary stinks. Expect Coles to have a monster day.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Jacksonville: If the Texans' defense can make Drew Bledsoe look good then imagine the damage a much more mobile quarterback can do.

Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit: The Jets have given up 12 touchdowns on the ground this year and Jones is coming on strong after last week's great performance.

TAKE THEM OUT

Reuben Droughns, RB, Cleveland: Denver's defense has given up only one touchdown this year and that was pretty much in garbage time. Don't expect the trend to change against the lowly Browns.

Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle: They're going on the road to face the fourth-best rushing defense in the league. Start at your own risk.

WAKE-UP CALL

Bryant Johnson, WR, Arizona: With Larry Fitzgerald banged up, the Raiders should concentrate more on Anquan Boldin. This could lead to a surprisingly good day.

Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or raymond.beasock@augustachronicle.com.