Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
I know this might come off as strange, but have any of you seen Mike Tolbert's dance moves?
I'm not sure "Dancing with the Stars" is in his future, but at least he's got us talking. Right, Jamal Anderson?
"Fat boy doesn't even have any rhythm," Anderson commented on Twitter after the Carolina Panthers running back began flapping his wings in the end zone Sunday against Atlanta. You see, Anderson thought Tolbert was mocking the "Dirty Bird" dance Anderson made famous with the Falcons in the 1990s.
I beg to differ. That's not the Dirty Bird, Jamal. Tolbert was doing The Vulture. And if you ask fantasy owners, nobody does it better.
I wonder if the cast from "The League" has anything to add to this discussion.
ANDRE (watching Tolbert score another touchdown): This guy is vulturing all my points!
PETE: Vulturing is the way to go, man. Minimum effort, maximum results.
It's vulture season, folks. If you're not familiar with the terminology, Urban Dictionary has you covered. They define a vulture as "a running back who doesn't get a lot of carries but manages to score a ridiculously high amount of touchdowns, aggravating every single fantasy owner in the process."
Thanks, Urban Dictionary.
We've all been there, haven't we? Let me set the scene. DeAngelo Williams is carving apart the defense for huge gains. His last run brings the Panthers all the way down to the 1-yard line. He's about to reward fantasy owners with a touchdown. And then ... the vulture appears out of nowhere to steal his glory.
You don't know pain until you've had Tolbert steal one of your hard-earned touchdowns away. Back in San Diego, he used to torture Ryan Mathews owners. Now he reserves his destructive ways for crushing the souls of anyone with Williams and Jonathan Stewart on their fantasy team.
The 245-pound Tolbert has rushed for just 206 yards this season, good for 54th in the league. Yet somehow, he's 10th in the league in touchdowns.
It would be bad enough if there was only one of these villains to deal with. Unfortunately, for fantasy owners and humanity as a whole, the problem runs much deeper. There are tons of these vultures out there just waiting to gobble up touchdowns.
Recently, the vulture epidemic has spread to Washington. Two out of the last three weeks, a running back other than Alfred Morris has scored three touchdowns. Roy Helu had vulture duty in Week 7 (41 yards, 3 TD) before handing off his responsibilities to Darrel Young in Week 9 (12 yards, 3 TD).
That's right, Washington has not one but two vultures. Join us for a candle light vigil as we mourn Morris' fallen fantasy value.
Tolbert, Young, Helu, Michael Bush, Shonn Greene and Daniel Thomas may be a few of the league's more accomplished vultures but they're far from alone in this league-wide touchdown heist. If Tolbert is George Clooney in this Ocean's Eleven metaphor than Christian Ponder has to be Brad Pitt.
Your confusion right now is not only understandable, but it's also completely warranted. Indeed, at first glance Ponder is little more than a lousy quarterback with a famous sportscaster wife (Samantha Steele of ESPN fame).
But in reality, Ponder is much more than that. The Vikings' quarterback is one of the leading touchdown thieves in the NFL this season with four rushing scores in five games.
On a related note, group therapy for Adrian Peterson owners is down the hall.
The thievery continues in Detroit where Joseph Fauria is stealing away touchdowns at record pace. Fauria proves that vulturing isn't just for running backs and QBs. The rookie tight end has amassed a mere eight catches this season. Five of them, including all three of his catches in Week 6, have gone for touchdowns.
This might be the most grotesque instance of vulturing we've seen yet. Not only is Fauria stealing from Reggie Bush, but he's also stealing from fellow receiver Calvin Johnson. Though Megatron has 39 more catches and 740 more yards than Fauria, he's only two ahead of Fauria in the touchdown department.
Though they're a fascinating part of the culture, vultures aren't players we can rely on in fantasy. I compare them to the Hangover movie franchise. They're good to watch once, but you wouldn't buy any of them on DVD.
Basically there's no staying power with vultures. They come and go as they please. Just look at Tolbert's fantasy point totals from the last eight games.
Week 1: 1 pt
Week 2: 3 pts
Week 3: 7 pts
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: 3 pts
Week 6: 16 pts
Week 7: 9 pts
Week 8: 11 pts
Week 9: 9 pts
In weeks when Tolbert scores, he averages 10.4 ppg. When he doesn't, that average slips to just 2.3. If you need a lottery ticket on a bye week, sure, give one of the vultures a try. But on a week-to-week basis, you have to trust the workhorses to get the job done.
Even with Helu and Young grabbing most of the goal line work in Washington, Morris has still remained a productive fantasy contributor. He's averaged 103 yards per game in those contests while posting 14 fantasy ppg. Even on one of Tolbert's good weeks, Morris is still the guy you want in your lineup.
But hey, at least Tolbert can dance. Well, kind of.
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