The Fantasy Futures Report

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The Fantasy Futures Report
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You’ve done the research, drafted the players and set the rosters, but that doesn’t mean your work is complete.

With the first two weeks of the NFL season in the books, it’s time to start looking ahead at players who could make nice roster additions when fantasy owners get back to wheeling and dealing next week.

This is the first installment of a new column here at the NFP called The Fantasy Futures Report.

Here are five stocks that could be on the rise—and prove to be nice additions to your team.

1. Rashard Mendenhall   Running Back   Pittsburgh Steelers

Fast Willie Parker suddenly doesn’t look so fast. The Steelers rank 28th in rushing (70.5 yards per game) and have found the end zone only once via the ground. Parker has carried 27 times for just 66 yards (2.4 YPC) and no scores this season. With a suspect offensive line, Pittsburgh knows it needs to find a way to get something going on the ground.

Enter Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick from 2008. Mendenhall is averaging 6.4 yards per carry through two weeks and gives Pittsburgh a more physically imposing weapon coming out of the backfield that can run through defenders who get past the offensive line.

Next four games: at Cincinnati, San Diego, at Detroit, Cleveland

2. Pierre Garcon   Wide Receiver   Indianapolis Colts

Think about it. How many wide receivers who play with Peyton Manning fail to put up numbers? With Anthony Gonzalez possibly out the next two months, somebody in Indy needs to step up and help keep opposing defenses from rolling coverage in Reggie Wayne’s direction. Garcon could be that guy.

The second-year receiver out of Division III Mount Union caught one pass for 48 yards and a touchdown on Monday night against the Dolphins and is averaging a healthy 18.0 yards per reception on the season. Garcon may not become a regular in your starting lineup, but he’s got upside and could provide some much needed depth for owners who are thin at the wideout position.

Next four games: at Arizona, Seattle, at Tennessee, (bye), at St. Louis

3. Tashard Choice   Running Back   Dallas Cowboys

Most of you should remember this guy from last year when both Marion Barber and Felix Jones were sidelined with injuries. Choice came out of nowhere (Georgia Tech, actually) to produce some big-time fantasy numbers in 2008, including a gem at Pittsburgh in which he posted 166 total yards on the league’s top defense.

Starting running back Marion Barber is currently sidelined with a quadriceps injury and may not be able to play on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers. Even if he can go, Barber won’t be 100 percent, meaning his workload will be diminished. Since speedster Felix Jones has yet to prove he can handle full-time duties by himself, look for Choice to get back in on the action in Big D.

Next four games: Carolina, at Denver, at Kansas City, (bye), Atlanta

4. Jacoby Jones   Wide Receiver   Houston Texans

Jones is somewhat of a long shot to make your roster, but it’s better you know about him too soon rather than too late.

The fourth-year vet out of Lane caught two passes for 73 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s Week 2 shootout win over the Tennessee Titans. What’s better news for Jones is that Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter has yet to take a snap this season as he continues to battle an injured hamstring. The more time Walter misses, the more time Jones has to steal the job.

Next four games: Jacksonville, Oakland, at Arizona, at Cincinnati

5. Derek Anderson   Quarterback   Cleveland Browns

What? Why is Derek Anderson on this list?

I’ll tell you why—because Brady Quinn and the Cleveland Browns stink, that’s why.

The Browns are currently 0-2, and their prized first-round pick from 2007 is captaining an offense that currently ranks 28th in the NFL in passing. Quinn is completing only 59.1 percent of his passes, has thrown only one touchdown pass in two games and has already been sacked nine times. Oh yeah, his quarterback rating is a (not surprisingly) 66.9.

Head coach Eric Mangini can stick with Quinn all he wants, but he’s going to continue to lose games. While Anderson isn’t going to step in and lead this team to the playoffs (Joe Montana couldn’t either), he can at least throw the football down the field. There’s been no announcement that a change is coming, but you’re better off preparing for it in the event Mangini decides to make the switch.

Remember, we aren’t saying Anderson could step in and shock the world. But for those of you with big-time problems at the QB position, he may provide some help if he gets the nod.

Next four games: at Baltimore, Cincinnati, at Buffalo, at Pittsburgh

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Matt Forte   Running Back   Chicago Bears

To put it bluntly, Forte owners are pissed right now. Their first-round pick has yet to reach the end zone and has just 84 rushing yards through two games. But the times they are a-changing.

If the Forte owner in your league has been complaining, shut him up by making an offer. You’ll be happy to land a top-flight running back who gets to play these defenses the next six weeks: at Seattle, Detroit, bye week, at Atlanta, at Cincinnati, Cleveland

This is your last chance to get Forte on your roster. After he shreds the Seahawks this Sunday like Frank Gore did last week, Forte owners will no longer be looking to move their top pick.

Head’s up

Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch returns from suspension in Week 4. With the way Fred Jackson has been playing, will Lynch be coming back to a starting job or a place on the sideline?

My feeling is he’ll be handling a small portion of the workload. You never sit the hot hand. EVER.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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