The Vultures are Circling

vulture-picture

Stud Running Back has a soft spot for TD vultures. We understand they can be monumentally frustrating too. If you’ve played Fantasy Football long enough, you have undoubtedly been burned by one of these glory thieves.

The scenario is a familiar one. You own a feature back, the guy who marches up and down the field on a weekly basis. However, for some maddening reason, the stupid head coach finds it necessary to pull the stud for a “goal line specialist” – AKA touchdown vulture – whenever the offense crosses the ten yard line. Who among us hasn’t shaken our fist angrily as we watch this embezzler plunge into the end zone while our guy is standing on the sideline guzzling Gatorade? Gaaarrrr!!!

On the flip-side, if you have ever owned one of these points pirates, you have spent many a Sunday grinning like a Cheshire and laughing maniacally as your vulture plucks from the bones of a rotting defense. If you’re shrewd, like me, you target one or two of these carrion feeders in your draft. All it takes is a little research to identify which backs fit the profile.

Last season, LenDale White orchestrated one of the finest examples of TD larceny I have seen in years. It was magical to witness, and not just because I owned his fat ass. White’s 15 scores led the AFC. More importantly, he aided me in capturing the 2008 Gulfman League Title.

To celebrate these end zone robbing stalwarts, let’s rewind the last twenty years and pay homage to the very best touchdown vultures to grace NFL stadiums.

Gerald Riggs (1991) – Riggs was a super-stud from 1984-1986 as a member of the Falcons. He accumulated 4500 yards and scored 32 touchdowns. He wasn’t the same runner after that. The ’91 season would be his last, but he would go out in style. On only 78 carries, Riggs hit paydirt 11 times. A pioneer in the art of vulturing (not a word).

Marcus Allen (1997) – Did you know Marcus had only three 1000 yard seasons in his Hall of Fame career? Three out of sixteen. Blame Al Davis. Allen’s final season as a Chief was spent lingering around the goal line. Eleven trips-for-six on a meager 123 carries. Allen’s escapades helped me earn a playoff berth. Nice.

Jerome Bettis (2005) – Bettis is another stud back who finished a Hall of Fame worthy career in the role of swindler. In only 12 games, Jerome found the zone nine times on 110 totes.

Leroy Hoard (1998-99) – I’ve already lauded Mr. Hoard in my Legends series. He rules. His ’99 swansong produced 10 touchdowns in 138 carries; he added 9 more scores in ’98. Arguably, the greatest vulture ever.

Ki-Jana Carter (1996) – It must be shocking to see this stiff on this list. Carter was one in a long line of Penn State busts, but he did manage to commit some robbery in ’96. Eight scores on 91 carries. Meanwhile, the starter in Cincy, Garrison Hearst, posted 0 touchdowns.

Zack Crockett (2002-03) – In two seasons, Zack racked up 15 TDs despite only 88 carries. That’s a touchdown every 5.8 carries for you non-math majors.

Mike Alstott (2001) – Mikey-boy was a popular fantasy back during his 12-year career. However, he cracked the double-digit TD plateau only once. Ten touchdowns on the ground  in ’01 was Alstott’s benchmark season.

Moe Williams (2002) – If Hoard isn’t the best, then Moe might be. Eleven touchdowns on 84 carries. Sweet. He helped me secure a Fantasy trophy in ’02. One of the greats.

T.J. Duckett (2003) – Duckett never lived-up to his first-round draft status. I hesitated to add him to this group because he nearly surpassed 200 carries (197). A Warrick Dunn  injury helped greatly in T.J. logging a personal best 11 touchdowns.

Stephen Davis (2005) – Davis’ 2005 campaign was a classic. Doesn’t get much better than 12 scores on 180 totes. I know many an owner who rode Davis to the postseason. Unfortunately, I wasn’t among those lucky guys and gals.

Marion Barber (2006) – The “Barbarian” is a modern-day Leroy Hoard. Before becoming a low-end stud in 2007, Barber penetrated (huh, huh) the goal line 14 times on 135 carries. With Felix Jones now in Big D, Barber could see his workload decreased, meaning a welcome return to vulture status.

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