The Fantasy Hit List
Let’s get right to it today. Fantasy playoffs are right around the corner, so this is a very big week for all of us. Time to dig deep. If you need any motivation, click HERE.
MBP Award (Most Beastly Performance)
Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers Quarterbacks Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers
At the risk of starting an all-out assault in the comments section, this week’s MBP Award is going out to two players who will be linked forever (thanks, Ted Thompson).
Rodgers lit up the Lions on Thanksgiving by completing 28 of 39 passes for 348 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions (124.7 QB rating) in a 34-12 victory.
Not to be outdone, Favre torched Chicago on Sunday for 392 yards (32 of 48) and three touchdowns, with no interceptions (112.5 QB rating) as the Vikings rolled to a 36-10 win.
In standard scoring leagues, Rodgers is currently the No. 1-ranked fantasy quarterback and is averaging a rock-solid 24.7 points per week. Favre currently ranks fourth, averaging 20.9 points per week.
Either way, if you’re starting one of these two studs, the likelihood of you making the fantasy postseason is very, very good.
Players on the rise
Terrell Owens WR Buffalo Bills: Don’t look now, but T.O. has rejoined the ranks of the fantasy relevant. Sunday’s stat line (5-96-1 on five targets) gives the wide receiver 17 receptions for 378 yards and two touchdowns with 26 targets over his past three games. Owens has found the end zone in three of his last four contests (he had a 29-yard rushing touchdown against Houston in Week 9) and is averaging 14.7 fantasy points per week during that span (standard scoring). Look for T.O. to continue the trend as the Bills play two of the NFL’s worst passing defenses (Kansas City, Atlanta) in the next four weeks.
Don’t give all the credit to Owens just yet as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s move to the starting spot has had a tremendous impact. Fitz has been under center the past two games, which includes T.O.’s 197-yard outburst against Jacksonville in Week 11. Fitzpatrick is averaging 271.5 yards with two passing touchdowns over his past two games. Don’t look to him as a reliable fantasy starter yet since he’s also tossed three interceptions in his last two outings.
Justin Forsett RB Seattle Seahawks: I’m not going to lie, I love watching this kid play football. I don’t care if it came against the lowly St. Louis Rams -- Forsett’s 22 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns not only had a major fantasy impact in Week 12, it also should have been a clear sign that head coach Jim Mora cannot go back to lackluster running back Julius Jones when he’s fully recovered from his lung contusion.
Forsett brings explosiveness to an offense that’s in desperate need of some more firepower. And for those of you who thought his Week 12 numbers against a team like St. Louis were a fluke, think all the way back to Week 11 when Forsett racked up 89 total yards (eight receptions) and a touchdown at the hostile Metrodome in Minnesota.
Next Four Games: San Francisco, at Houston, Tampa Bay, @ Green Bay
Vince Young QB Tennessee Titans: If you didn’t get a chance to watch V.Y.’s 99-yard drive to beat the Cardinals, do yourself a favor and catch the replay on NFL Network this week because it truly is must-see television. Young completed 62.8 percent of his passes for a staggering 387 yards and one touchdown in the Titans’ thrilling 20-17 comeback win over Arizona.
Young has now won five straight games since taking over for the ineffective Kerry Collins to lead Tennessee back into the playoff hunt. Not only that, the former Texas Longhorn is averaging 16.0 fantasy points per week during that same span. Those numbers won’t win you a fantasy title, but they sure as hell can provide some serious support to a team in need of quarterback help.
If you like Vince Young, you should also check out…
Josh Freeman QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In the four games Freeman has played since replacing Josh Johnson (who replaced Byron Leftwich), he’s averaging 194.2 yards per game with seven touchdown passes and five interceptions. The good news here is that Freeman has thrown a TD in all four starts. Again, he won’t win you a fantasy title, but he can definitely step into the lineup if you’re in a jam.
Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs: Most of us were calling for the Chiefs to bench the ineffective Larry Johnson about two weeks into the season due to his inability to produce anything other than a three-yard carry. It wasn’t just because L.J. was so ineffective, it was because Kansas City has a real talent in Jamaal Charles.
The second-year back out of Texas has been on a terror over the last three weeks, averaging 108.6 total yards per game, with three touchdowns. Charles is now averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry on the season and brings some much-needed speed to an offense in desperate need of playmakers.
Next Three Games: Denver, Buffalo, Cleveland
Percy Harvin WR Minnesota Vikings: If you still aren’t convinced the Vikings made the best move of the offseason by bringing in quarterback Brett Favre, look no further than the recent production of rookie Percy Harvin. We’ve all seen wideout Sidney Rice killing it in 2009, but did you know that the speedster from Florida is averaging 79.2 receiving yards with three touchdowns over his past four games? Not only that, but Harvin is seeing an average of 6.8 targets per game over his past five outings, which gives a guy with his explosiveness and open-field speed more than enough opportunities to post some respectable fantasy numbers.
Another Viking flying below the radar is tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who is currently trailing only Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers in touchdowns among tight ends, with eight. Shiancoe has hauled in 13 receptions over the past two weeks and has found the end zone seven times in his last eight games. He currently ranks seventh in scoring among tight ends in standard scoring formats.
For those of you in need of a wide receiver…
Check out Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jason Avant. The fourth-year receiver out of Michigan stepped up big when DeSean Jackson went down with a concussion Sunday, catching five passes for 94 yards in the Eagles’ 27-24 win over the Redskins. With all of the attention being paid to players who suffer concussions this season, D-Jax could very well be out for next Sunday’s game at Atlanta. That would mean plenty of snaps for a reliable wideout who is matched up against one of the league’s worst passing defenses.
Falling down the boards
Chad Ochocinco WR Cincinnati Bengals: 14 receptions for 200 yards and zero touchdowns.
That would be a very nice fantasy performance if the stat line you just read reflected what Ocho had produced this weekend against the Cleveland Browns.
Instead, that’s the grand total of what Cincinnati’s top wideout has racked up over his last four GAMES. Keep in mind that two of those matchups came against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, so it’s not time to start panicking just yet.
Ochocinco has a date with the Lions in Cincinnati this Sunday and then another soft matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16. Be cautious. If he doesn’t get the job done this weekend, fantasy owners may need t o rethink their strategy heading into the playoffs.
Marshawn Lynch RB Buffalo Bills: Do yourself a favor and don’t consider Lynch as anything but a flex option in deeper fantasy leagues moving forward. The Buffalo running back has rushed for an extremely disappointing 278 yards in eight games with only one stinking rushing touchdown while averaging a Joe Fortenbaugh-like 3.1 yards per carry. Think of it this way: If you’re 6 feet tall and can get to the hole and fall forward, you just picked up two yards. Lynch has somehow found a way to hit the hole, run for three more feet and THEN fall forward.
Not good enough in the world of fantasy football, especially for a guy playing with a banged-up shoulder who just watched backup Fred Jackson post 116 total yards and two touchdowns against a tough Miami defense.
Matt Ryan & Michael Turner QB/RB Atlanta Falcons: Despite battling back to beat the Buccaneers 20-17 and keep their playoff hopes alive, the Atlanta Falcons are in bad shape right now.
Quarterback Matt Ryan completed just two of three passes for 15 yards before exiting Sunday’s win in the first quarter with a toe injury to his right foot. No official word on Ryan’s status for this weekend’s showdown with Philadelphia has been released as head coach Mike Smith said the team would have a better feel for where Ryan is at on Wednesday.
Running back Michael Turner carried 12 times for 33 yards (2.8 YPC) before reinjuring his ankle and leaving the game in the third quarter. While no official word has been released on Turner at this point, the chances of him playing Sunday are not very good. Even if he can find a way to go, he won’t be operating at anywhere near 100 percent.
Sit tight, Turner and Ryan owners -- but don’t hold your breath.
New York Giants: They were up last week after putting on an impressive offensive display in Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. But now, they’re heading south for the winter.
After posting just six measly points at Denver on Thanksgiving, Eli Manning and Co. are looking at the following schedule to close out 2009:
Week 13: Dallas Cowboys (14th in total defense, 16.5 points per game)
Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles (10th in total defense, 20.7 points per game)
Week 15: @ Washington Redskins (8th in total defense, 18.6 points per game)
Week 16: Carolina Panthers (12th in total defense, 23.3 points per game)
Week 17: @ Minnesota Vikings (9th in total defense, 18.5 points per game)
As an Eagles fan, I love it. As a fantasy owner, I’m dreading it.
Monday night mania
MNM is back for another week and possibly the biggest Monday night football game of the year as the New England Patriots travel to the Big Easy to take on Drew Brees and the Saints.
For the newbies, here’s how it works. I’m giving away a free NFP t-shirt to whoever can pick the winner of tonight’s game AND get the closest in guessing the total number of points that will be scored in the game. All you have to do is leave a comment below with your guess.
Example: New Orleans and 55
Check back tomorrow morning in the comments section where I will post the winner.
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh