The Monday Afternoon Fantasy Football Hit List

Joe FortenbaughCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2009

Week Two in the NFL may conclude tonight with the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Miami Dolphins, but it’s never too early to start breaking down the action.

Here’s your Monday hit list of what’s going on right now in the world of fantasy football.

Note: To all Total Access Pass subscribers, there’s a “waiver wire live chat” today at 4 p.m. ET.

MBP Award (Most Beastly Performance)

Chris Johnson   Running Back   Tennessee Titans

One of the NFP’s favorite players, Johnson made a strong case for the “Fantasy Performance of the Year Award,” smoking the Houston Texans for 284 total yards and three touchdowns. Johnson carried the rock 16 times for 197 yards (12.3 YPC—nice defense, Houston) and two scores while catching nine passes for another 87 yards and one tuddie.

If you were unfortunate enough to have to play against this ridiculous performance, take two Tylenol and move on with your life. If Johnson is on your roster, you probably aren’t even reading this because you’re still out pounding beers in celebration. Who cares about work on Monday, anyway?

Three players on the rise

1. Eli Manning   Quarterback   New York Giants

Wow. As Matt Bowen continues to remind me, this is no longer Peyton’s little brother. Eli is playing at a very high level right now and making a case that he belongs in the top quarterback tier.

Manning went into JerryWorld and crashed the party, completing 25 of 38 passes for 330 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 110.6 in the Giants’ 33-31 comeback win over the Cowboys.

Owners who drafted Manning as a backup have to be thrilled. He looks composed in the pocket and showed the poise that guys like Brady (Tom, not Quinn) and Peyton display on a regular basis when he led the Giants down the field for the winning field goal. Eli is on his way to becoming a fantasy starter.

2. Vincent Jackson   Wide Receiver   San Diego Chargers

Everyone who bought the draft guide and read the Total Access Pass last week knows how much we love Jackson. We didn’t rate this guy in the top 12 among wide receivers because he’s a bum.

With LT out, Jackson stepped up huge, catching six passes for 141 yards and one touchdown in the Chargers’ 31-26 loss to the Ravens on Sunday. San Diego’s offense is predicated on the vertical passing game, and the 6'5" Jackson fits the system perfectly.

You don’t hear enough about him because he plays in San Diego, but Jackson is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Feel free to print that.

3. Tim Hightower   Running Back   Arizona Cardinals

When the Cardinals drafted Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells last April, Hightower apparently didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to roll over and relinquish the job.

The second-year back was at it again Sunday, rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and also picking up 12 yards on three receptions in the Cardinals’ 31-17 win over the Jaguars.

Hightower now has 220 total yards, one touchdown, and 15 receptions on the season, making him one of the best flex players in the fantasy world right now. Remember, Wells is going to continue to see action this year, so Hightower owners may want to test out the market and see what they can land for him.

Three players you should be concerned about

1. Matt Hasselbeck   Quarterback   Seattle Seahawks

It looks like the honeymoon is over.

After lighting up the miserable St. Louis Rams (at home) in Week One, Hasselbeck owners thought they had landed themselves a steal. One week later, reality has started to set in.

Hass completed just 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards and zero touchdowns before getting decked by 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, which knocked him out for the rest of the game with a rib injury.

While the Seahawks quarterback is saying he’s all right, owners need to realize that for the foreseeable future, Hasselbeck should only be viewed as a QB2. Everyone who plays the Rams is going to put up big numbers (except the pathetic Washington offense), meaning that game can’t be viewed as an accurate measuring stick.

As a side note, how about those 49ers? That’s the way football is meant to be played.

2. Jamal Lewis   Running Back   Cleveland Browns

I begged and pleaded with you guys to stay away from Lewis this season. While I’m sure some of you listened, those who decided to roll the dice need to find another option.

Lewis put up another mediocre performance Sunday, carrying the rock 14 times for only 38 yards (2.7 YPC) and failing to reach the end zone for the second consecutive week. In two games, the Browns’ top running back has only picked up a total of 95 yards on the ground while averaging a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry.

Unfortunately, Lewis owners will have a tough time trying to move this guy on the open market. However, it’s still worth a shot to see if you can get somebody to bite. There’s very little upside here.

3. Lance Moore   Wide Receiver   New Orleans Saints

This one is getting to the point where it might be time to cut your losses and move on.
Moore left Sunday’s win over Philadelphia (blowout is more like it) with a hamstring injury after catching an impressive zero passes. On the season, the speedy slot receiver has only two receptions for 38 yards.

In the NFL, if you snooze, you lose. Saints wideouts Marques Colston and Devery Henderson are playing outstanding football right now, and with guys like Robert Meachem finding ways to contribute, Moore may find himself at a loss for targets when he finally gets healthy.

We’ll keep you updated on his progress, but this is a wideout who’s value is sinking fast.


Three waiver-wire players to consider

1. Mark Sanchez   Quarterback   New York Jets

I told you I wanted to see more. Today is the day I’m declaring that I’ve seen enough.

Sanchez is going to be a star in this league. He’s already 2-0, has knocked off the “unbeatable” Patriots, and has his New York Jets on top in the AFC East.

While the fantasy numbers aren’t outstanding (just two touchdown passes in two games), Sanchez has a quarterback rating of 91.3. He’s going to experience growing pains this season, but he’s also going to make plays. Owners in need of quarterback help should consider this guy a serviceable QB2.

2. Mario Manningham   Wide Receiver   New York Giants

We’ve been waiting for a wide receiver to step up and claim the No. 1 spot in New York, and Manningham is making a very strong case for the job.

The second-year wideout caught 10 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown on Sunday night in the Giants’ 33-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, giving him 13 grabs for 208 yards and two scores on the year.

Steve Smith has been balling out as well, but Manningham is looking like a rock-solid waiver wire pickup.

3. Correll Buckhalter   Running Back   Denver Broncos

It may never get to a point where Buckhalter becomes a consistent starter in fantasy leagues, but he’s one of the best running back options available for owners in need of help.

The former Philadelphia Eagle carried the ball nine times for 76 yards and one score in the Broncos’ 27-6 win over the Browns on Sunday, giving him 163 total yards and one score for the season.

He’ll continue to lose carries to both Knowshon Moreno and Peyton Hillis, but Buckhalter is making the most of his opportunities.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh


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