From the Baltimore Sun (tip of the hat to the always great Roto Arcade):
Generally, the best NFL teams in the red zone can run it into the end zone. While Ray Rice has solidified himself as the starter, McGahee has received most of the work close to the goal line.
Besides the Statue of Liberty play to Rice against the New York Jets, McGahee has carried the ball on five of the Ravens' six runs inside the 5-yard line ( Le'Ron McClain had the other rushing attempt).
McGahee scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter Saturday, showing he can still punch the ball into the end zone. In five NFL seasons, he has 38 rushing touchdowns.
"I love the goal line," McGahee said. "It's a hit-or-miss play. Nine times out of 10, I want it to be a hit."
Chalk this up as another loss for fantasy players. 2009 seems to be the year of the two-back system. The Ravens are far from the only team doing this. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will split carries. 'Shard Mendenhall will take touchdowns away from Willie Parker. Same goes for LenDale White and Chris Johnson. And there are plenty of more examples.
Take comfort in the fact that it probably won't be as bad as you expect. These things tend to play themselves out. But for owners that just finished drafting - or are about to draft - seeing most of the league's better running teams giving carries to two back is a scary sight.
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, 24: 1,760 yards and 10 TDs rushing (4.8 yards per carry), 21 catches for 125 yards, 10 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 3 duds (defined as games under 80 yards and no scores). Everyone picking first in every draft in America is required to take him.
2. Michael Turner, Atlanta, 27: 1,699 yards and 17 TDs rushing (4.5 yards per carry), 6 catches for 41 yards, 6 100-yard games, 2 200-yard games, 4 multiple-TD games, 4 duds. Most every back who carries as many times as Turner did last year flops in a big way the next year. But Turner's legs are awfully fresh from all those years on San Diego's bench.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville, 24: 824 yards and 12 TDs rushing (4.2 yards per carry), 62 catches for 565 yards and 2 TDs, 3 100-yard games (1 receiving), 4 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. He's scored 38 times from scrimmage in three seasons -- all before he was the featured back.
4. Matt Forte, Chicago, 23: 1,239 yards and 8 TDs rushing (3.9 yards per carry), 63 catches for 477 yards and 4 TDs, 3 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 5 duds. The lack of receivers in Chicago sends his stock up.
5. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina, 26: 1,515 yards and 18 TDs rushing (5.5 yards per carry), 22 catches for 121 yards and 2 TDs, 8 100-yard games, 5 multiple-TD games, 4 duds. Can he do it again if Jonathan Stewart's completely healthy? (Here's a hint: Stewart's already been hurt in the offseason.)
6. Chris Johnson, Tennessee, 24: 1,228 yards and 9 TDs (4.9 yards per carry), 43 catches for 260 yards and 1 TD, 4 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. Technically he shares time with LenDale White, but he still averaged 20 touches a game. (Beware, though, if your league penalizes for ridiculous TD celebrations.)
7. Steve Slaton, Houston, 23: 1,282 yards and 9 TDs (4.8 yards per carry), 50 catches for 377 yards and 1 TDS, 5 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game. Was a monster once the Texans figured out what they had, with 4 100-yard games and 4 scores in his final 7 games.
8. Frank Gore, San Francisco, 26: 1,036 yards and 6 TDs (4.3 yards per carry), 43 catches for 373 yards and 2 TDs, 3 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game, 5 duds (including 2 games missed to injury). Lone bright spot in pathetic offense. (How many years have we been saying that?) He's even more buffed than usual, and the 49ers are stressing a power running game.
9. Steven Jackson, St. Louis, 26: 1,042 yards and 7 TDs (4.1 yards per carry), 40 catches for 379 yards and 1 TD, 4 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 9 duds (including 4 games missed to injury). So good but so fragile. Before he gets hurt, will get plenty of touches behind an improved line.
10. Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants, 27: 1,089 yards and 15 TDs (5.0 yards per carry), 6 catches for 36 yards, 4 100-yard games, 5 multiple-TD games, 5 duds (including 3 games missed to injury). Will he hold up for 16 games? Nope. But he will score a bunch before getting hurt (and have more cool highlights flattening little defensive backs).
Adam Wainwright - Cardinals
8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 K
Wainwright has been reliable the last two seasons in St. Louis but has taken another step forward in 2009. For one, he's been durable. Last season Wainwright made only 20 starts, he's made 27 already this season.
And his 27th start was a dandy. The Astros aren't exactly the Yankees, but shutting down a division opponent in late August is still impressive.
Ryan Dempster - Cubs
7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 K
The season may be over for the Cubbies, but this is the stretch run for fantasy owners. I'm not sure if any team in contention is actually starting Dempster- at least in mixed leagues - but he turned in a gem yesterday.
Dempster has fallen from a breakout fantasy star a year ago to a rather average NL pitcher. It appears '08 was an aberration.
While Dempster is still striking out a respectable number per nine, his ERA is very average and his 1.4 WHIP is nothing special either.
Ricky Nolasco - Marlins
9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 10 K
Nolasco was considered one of the up-and-coming pitchers in the NL heading into this fantasy season. The 25-year old was marvelous last year, finishing with a 15-8 record and a 3.5 ERA. Nolasco was widely considered the ace of the Marlins staff.
For whatever reason, things just haven't went his way this year. Nolasco - the former Cubs farmhand - has seen his numbers rise across the board. The ERA has risen nearly two full points. His opponent batting average has jumped nearly 40 points. Could it just be bad luck, or has Nolasco really lost it?
The encouraging thing is that his K-rate has improved and his walks are down. 2009 was a waste for Nolasco fantasy owners, but he could still be a strong option in keeper leagues.
Chris Carpenter - Cardinals
8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8 K
I cannot begin to explain Chris Carpenter. He's battled as many injuries as any player in baseball the last few years. He doesn't have overpowering stuff. Yet, somehow, Carpenter always finds a way to get it done. And by 'get it done', I mean completely dominate.
He's doing it again this year in St. Louis at age 34. He boasts an ERA under 2.5, a WHIP under 1, and solid K-rate. Carpenter is one of the best pitchers in the game, one of the best pitchers of the decade, and one of the most confusing baseball players we've ever seen.
CC Sabathia - Yankees
8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 10 K
Yes, the Yanks gave Sabathia a boat load of money, but - at least in year one - isn't this pretty much what they wanted? New York is in first by 6.5 games and Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the AL.
CC is second in wins, 11th in ERA, eighth in strikeouts. Can't ask for much more, in real life or fantasy.
Ervin Santana - Angels
9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 6 K
It has been a rough season for Santana. For the first time in his career, he has battled injuries. Santana made only two starts in June, and posted an ERA over 7 upon returning in July.
Perhaps yesterday's performance in just what he needs to get back on track.
It's not like Santana hasn't been dependable before. He won 16 games last year and was one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. He's owned in 3/4 of fantasy leagues, but could be a good pickup if he's on the waiver wire in your league.
J.A. Happ - Phillies
9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10 K
As much as the Cubs hater in me wants to give this to Justin Lehr, Happ's work against the Rockies is more impressive fantasy-wise. It's because of the strikeouts. Happ and Lehr both went the distance on Wednesday, but Happ's 10 K's are a lot better than Lehr's four.
Perhaps Happ will make Phillies fans happy they didn't trade for Roy Halladay. Happ was going to be one of the centerpieces of the deal, but the trade fell threw, and the Illinois-native remains in Philadelphia.
The 26-year old has put up insane stats this year: 2.74 ERA, 8-2 record, 86 K's, and a 1.12 WHIP. He's been a real fantasy gem.