I ranked Tashard Choice 39th at running back in Wednesday's Week 9 rankings, and even though I was the only one of the four rankers who felt the third option for the woebegone Dallas Cowboys deserved such an honor, I felt good about it. Frankly, as we hit Friday with Felix Jones a health (and production) question mark and Marion Barber having the look of a much older player, I feel even better about ranking him.
The past two summers, fantasy owners/Cowboys fans have talked about Jones as if he was the next Tony Dorsett, and I admit to expecting big things from the Arkansas running back this season. However, it's just not happening. Jones broke off a 34-yard run in the Week 5 loss to the Tennessee Titans en route to 109 rushing yards and 11 fantasy points, but since then he's carried the ball 31 times for 89 yards. Do the math, that's not promising. Jones hasn't scored this season, hasn't looked like the breakaway speed demon he was supposed to be, and with injuries either affecting his play or keeping him from the field for a third consecutive season -- now it's his left ankle and left forearm -- he's starting to get that brittle tag.
Choice might end up being the team's, um, choice this week, and while we can debate whether that matters or not, because Jon Kitna is the quarterback and the defense has been so brutal that it generally renders the team's running game irrelevant by halftime, I'm sticking with my Choice rank. I might even move him up some depending on Jones' status. Choice did average 5.5 yards per carry on 64 attempts last season, then mysteriously lost all opportunity after mid-October. For his career Choice has averaged 5.1 yards per carry, while also catching passes. I think he'd be a starter in a number of places around the league. Regardless, don't assume Jones is such a safe play, and keep an eye on his progress before game time Sunday.
Here are a few other thoughts as I took another look at my Week 9 rankings on Friday morning and made mostly cosmetic adjustments.
Eagle eyes: I ranked DeSean Jackson as if he was going to play this week -- make sure he actually is before you use him -- but probably sold him a bit short, since he's been so much more productive with Michael Vick at quarterback. This week, Vick is the starting quarterback. I can't recall a week this season in which Jackson and teammate Jeremy Maclin were ranked so similarly (both in the teens this week). If Maclin has graduated to that level, and his production says he has, Vick needs to keep playing well to keep a lot of fantasy owners happy. Also, while it doesn't feel like tight end Brent Celek is a top-10 option, he says he's finally healthy, and we know he's produced in the past. Guess what, he's in my top 10.
Brady's bunch: Only two defenses enter this weekend having allowed one rushing touchdown to a running back this season. They are the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns, the latter being the Patriots opponent this week. While BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have clearly become fantasy favorites, I'm thinking the Patriots will have a pass-heavy game plan this week. I bumped the Law Firm and Mr. Eligible (running back and wide receiver) down a bit and moved Wes Welker up some. Don't get too carried away with the Patriots running backs.
Raiders of hope: I realize Jason Campbell has played well the past few weeks, leading the Oakland Raiders to blowout wins over the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, but I couldn't move myself to make the guy a top-20 quarterback. Who are his weapons? I ranked Darrius Heyward-Bey, but at No. 42 it wasn't a friendly rank. I do trust Darren McFadden more than I ever thought I would, but don't look for the Raiders to score more than 30 points this week.
OK, best of luck to everyone in Week 9 and have a great weekend!