- Rick Paulas
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Last week, we once again saw the brute strength of Fantasy World's most unreliable weapon: the super-sub. No, I'm not talking about the new Chicken Pizziola sandwich at Subway -- which is delicious, by the way -- but instead about Steelers running back Mewelde Moore, who lit up the Bengals' defense for 120 rushing yards and 3 TDs.
While his time in the spotlight is quickly coming to an end with Willie Parker scheduled to come back next week, Moore's explosive day reminds us to never overlook the power of the super-sub. As such, let's take a look at a few other backups who are currently sitting around, biding their time, waiting for an injury to befall the starter and use the opportunity to lead your team to fantasy glory.
1. Chester Taylor, Vikings
The second half of a very mild dual-RB system -- Taylor has only received over 10 carries twice this year -- he's primed to have a huge week if that upright running style ever knocks Adrian Peterson out. When AP went down in Week 11 last year, Taylor took over to the tune of 164 yards and 3 TDs. And while you can't expect that production week-in, week-out, if Peterson is out for an extended period of time, half of that will do just fine.
2. Darren Sproles, Chargers
Michael Turner who? We've all already seen what Sproles could do if given the opportunity to spell LT2 for an extended period of time; he averaged 7.6 yards per carry in Weeks 2 and 3, to go along with 111 yards receiving. All he needs is for Tomlinson to make the wise decision of taking a few weeks off to heal his lingering wounds. And a special note to those in super-deep keeper leagues: Sproles is a free agent after this year. Don't be surprised if he learns from Turner and takes the glorious second act of his career on the road, where he doesn't have to play second fiddle to a Hall of Famer.
3. Tim Hightower, Cardinals
I've already praised Mr. Hightower in this space before, so let's keep this short. If he's ever allowed to rumble for more than just short-yardage situations, Edgerrin James might be relegated to the bench for good. (Also: Any time they run a sweep of any kind, Hightower has to be in the game. James simply doesn't have the lateral quickness anymore.)
4. Jerious Norwood, Falcons
Give Jerious a chance! Despite a career 6.3 yards per carry, Norwood has only received double-digit carries 6 times over his two-years-and-change career. His most was 14 in the first game this year, but since then he's averaging only a tad over 5. Even so, he's still averaging 6.8 yards per carry. The only reason he's this low on the list is due to the educated guess that his coaching staff knows something we don't. Or they are blackmailing him. Could be either.
5. Brandon Jackson, Packers
Stuck behind Ryan Grant -- who has a pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry, and also is prone to fumbling, by the way -- Jackson has been seeing less action than I did at my high school prom. He's gotten only 6 carries the past 4 weeks, including the dreaded goose egg last time out. But there's a bright side to the large workload Grant is receiving: The Packers like riding their running backs into the ground. If Grant ever does go down, Jackson and his 5.2 yards per carry (granted, in limited carries) will get ridden hard. There's no way that came out right.
6. Fred Jackson, Bills
Until Marshawn Lynch gets hurt, and he's almost too mean to get injured, Jackson's role will be to collect his handful of carries while Lynch rests up by eating a few kittens on the sideline. But if one of those cats ever decides to bite back, Jackson's 4.3 yards a carry and 17 receptions (Lynch has 19 all year) will be worth getting in the lineup.
7. Jerome Harrison, Browns
Playing behind someone like Jamal Lewis, who seemingly needs a dozen carries just to get warmed up, has left Harrison looking for scraps all season. But when "The Ghost" has been given his brief opportunity, he's taken advantage of them, averaging 7.5 yards per carry thus far.
8. Kevin Jones, Bears
While rookie Matt Forte has been stealing the Chicago-area headlines due to his extremely capable performances -- in the wake of the monstrosity that was the Cedric Benson era, any positive gain is a cause for celebration -- don't sleep on Jones if the rookie ends up hitting the wall. While he hasn't put up enormous numbers since his rookie year, Jones is a first-round pick and finally looks healthy once again. He can be an asset in the passing game too, as evidenced by his 61 receptions in 2006.
9. Leon Washington, Jets
Despite having his best day as a Jet last week with 159 yards, Thomas Jones has one person he can't outrun: Father Time. Jones is 30 years old, meaning it's more likely than not he'll have to rest his weary bones at some point this year, giving Washington the chance to take over workhorse duty. But be warned: despite starting 4 games last year, the highest amount of carries Washington ever received in a single game was 10. There's a good chance that even with a Jones injury, the Jets will be using the committee approach.
10. Ray Rice, Ravens
If Willis McGahee ever gets officially sidelined -- instead of this lingering injury nonsense that's been going on so far -- the Ravens would split the workload between the 205-pound Rice and 260-pound mammoth LeRon McClain. Obviously, Rice wouldn't get many goal-line carries, but he'd still have the higher value of the two, as his quickness would make him the primary back.
SIDEBAR: There's no one more shocked that Kyle Orton is a legitimate fantasy quarterback than myself. But as pleased as I am about this development -- I'm a Bears fan, remember -- there's a part of me that already misses the days of inept Chicago-based signal-callers, from the fantasy perspective, at least. There's something comfortable about going into a fantasy draft knowing you won't have to stretch to pick your team's quarterback; no one else is taking him. But now, since Orton is actually good, I might actually have to waste a pick on him next year.
Player on my Team of the Week: Laurence Maroney, who finally ended the misery of those owning him by getting placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Who knows if he'll ever be the game-changing back we all thought he'd be, but at least we can finally use that roster spot on someone else.
How to Heckle one of my Players of the Week: "Hey Marshawn Lynch, do you have any plans on getting over 100 yards in a game this year? Thomas Jones already did it twice."
The "If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again … And Then Fail" Award of the Week: Vikings punter Chris Kluwe who, if you missed it, was involved in quite the hilarious play against the Bears last week. During a first-quarter punt, the snap slipped out of Kluwe's hands and rolled on the ground for a bit until he picked it back up and attempted a second punt, this one directly into the outstretched arms of rookie Craig Steltz, who blocked it. But it didn't stop there. Seeing the ball roll around on the ground, Kluwe attempted a third kick, a feeble swipe at the ball with his foot, which immediately bounced into the arms of Garrett Wolfe and was returned for a touchdown.
Buy High: The persistence of persistence, after 76-year-old Katherine Kelly (possibly an alias) was arrested in New York after stealing a police decoy wallet in a supermarket. It is her 73rd pickpocketing arrest.
Sell Low: American productivity getting us out of the current financial hardship, after the creators of Rock Band announced plans to release a "stage kit" add-on to their game, which includes a fog machine and strobe light to make your experience even more lifelike. No word on when the company begins selling blow-up groupies.
1hEthan Sherwood Strauss