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Matt Forte will have to deal with TD Vulture Michael Bush this season
"Get this TD VULTURE AWAY FROM ME!!!!"
(Todd Kirkland / Icon SMI)

Fantasy Football Roadkill

TD Vultures Pick Away at RB Value

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August 12, 2012

Very few things in fantasy football will drive a fanatic to the edge like watching a classic TD Vulture turn your star running back into fantasy football road kill, but it happens all the time. It's not a matter of "IF", but rather a matter of "WHEN". If you play fantasy football long enough, you too will get to enjoy (suffer in other cases) the spoils of a good ol' fashioned TD Vulture. But what do we mean by a "TD Vulture"? In this article the Docs dish out a fun read to discuss in detail the various aspects of the dreaded TD Vulture.

Last season RB Mike Tolbert proved to be a thorn in the side of fantasy owners of Ryan Mathews. Mathews had a so-so year that could have been so much better with double digit TDs, but the presence of Tolbert in the line-up was effectively a fantasy point governor that made sure that wasn't going to happen. With Tolbert now gone to Carolina, we're big fans of Mathews in 2012 as evident in our free fantasy football player rankings, and one can only wonder what sort of season he can have now that he is "TD Vulture Free".  Of course Murphy having his Law led to Mathews breaking his clavicle early in August, which has slid Mathews down a touch in our free Fantasy Running Back Rankings. However, he still presents nice value at a position that is void of many feature RBs. Another TD Vulture change in 2012 (in a bad way this time) is the addition of RB Michael Bush from Oakland to Chicago. Bush, who is slated to be da' Bears goal line back, will siphon away TDs from Forte. Yuck! However, despite that situation, Forte still brings solid RB value by virtue of his presence in the receiving game as well as the rushing attack. You'll notice we project Forte's rushing TDs to be low - just imagine the fantasy value he would have if Bush wasn't there. At any rate and without further ado, welcome to the world of the TD Vulture:

Your fantasy running back has gained all the tough yards. He's been featured in the offense. He's been the workhorse back that has converted 3rd down after 3rd down as the offense approaches one of the most coveted lines in all of fantasy football: THE GOAL LINE! Now is the time for fantasy pay dirt. Now is the time for the fantasy knock out. Now is the time to dish out a good ol' fashioned fantasy beat down. The kind you can't wait for Monday to make the rounds at the office to recap what happened in "The League" from Sunday. You've watched your fantasy points creep up with each conversion, but now is the time for the real payoff in fantasy points. Touchdowns are the lifeblood of any fantasy football league, and a very key ingredient in the recipe for securing the fantasy win against your opponent.

In anticipation of this critical fantasy moment, you ease toward the T.V. like a lion stalking its prey. You hold your breath and slowly whisper the words "t-o-u-c-h-d-o-w-n" in a cold stare. Everything goes into slow motion, and all sounds go silent other than your heartbeat and the indiscernible, slow blither of the announcer coming out of your TV in half speed. Then it happens. You pause in absolute shock. This is too difficult to process. There has to be some sort of mistake?! You watch your prize RB trot off the field as the coach waives him to the sideline. Enter stage right is the jumbo package: double tight end, lead blocking fullback, and some foreign RB, NOT your RB mind you, about to get the ball and coast into the end zone. Sweet heavens! That's right. It's a fantasy football nightmare unfolding right before your eyes.

Meanwhile, in another living room across this great land of ours, we have your opponent. For the sake of this article, let's just call him "Dumb Luck Chuck" (with all do respect to all the "Chuck's" out there). You see, Dumb Luck Chuck has been pretty much doing nothing all day. In fact, at this very moment he is asleep on his couch. Every year he shows up to all of his live drafts late -OR- he simply calls in remotely just to hang up and wait for the league to try to get back in touch with him each time it is his pick. Naturally, half the time they get his voicemail. In leagues where there is no live draft, he just has his entire team auto-picked with absolutely no inputs from him. Every year Dumb Luck Chuck flirts right at the edge of getting tossed out of the league, but due to longevity purposes and the three league titles to his credit spawned from events that go beyond the explanation of serendipity, he survives and does just enough to not get the boot. His current roster is a smorgasbord of washed up veterans, injured players done for the season that he hasn't bothered dropping from his roster, and of course three kickers: a starter, a back-up, and a back-up to the back-up. There is also one more player. Squawk! Squawk! That's right. Dumb Luck Chuck is the proud owner of a TD Vulture. So while you are pulling your hair out scrambling for Maalox as your prized RB gets pulled from the field at the critical moment in fantasy, Dumb Luck Chuck is asleep while his TD Vulture trots onto the field and punches it in for the all important TD. In fact, his TD Vulture ends the game with 3 carries for 3 TDs, beating your workhorse back that had 26 carries for 146 yards, but no TDs, in fantasy points.

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Watching a classic TD Vulture turn your star running back into fantasy football road kill can and will drive you mad, but it happens all the time, and it allows fantasy owners like "Dumb Luck Chuck" to acquire these vultures on their roster and field a competitive fantasy team based on purely a "TD only" diet. We've all been there, and it elicits responses from yelling at the TV to kicking the family dog. For those savvy fantasy owners out there playing in TD heavy fantasy leagues, a strategic TD Vulture draft pick or free agent acquisition off your waiver wire can help keep the fantasy ship afloat and championship dreams alive, particularly if suffering a major injury to your starting RB (RBs are always in high demand and it seems you can never keep enough on your roster no thanks to injuries).

Being the statistical geeks that we are, we couldn't help ourselves and decided to gather a table of all the all-time great TD Vultures since 1980. We are sure some of the names on this list will either bring a nostalgic tear to your eye, or simply outright rage as old wounds are re-opened. So, behold! Here are the greatest TD vultures to ever trot out onto the field since 1980:

NFL Players with 10+ TDs in Fewer than 110 Attempts (since 1980)


Rank Player Team Pos. Year Attempts Rush TDs
1   Pete Johnson   Miami - San Diego RB 1984 87 12
2   Willis McGahee   Baltimore Ravens RB 2009 109 12
3   Gerald Riggs   Washington Redskins RB 1991 78 11
4   Moe Williams   Minnesota Vikings RB 2002 84 11
5   Kordell Stewart   Pittsburgh Steelers QB 1997 88 11
6   Ron Davenport   Miami Dolphins RB 1985 98 11


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