September 22, 2009

The New York Jets are one of pro football's pleasant surprises through the season's first two weeks. They sit atop the AFC East standings after knocking off New England, much thanks to the fine play of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez (435 yards, 60.4 completion percentage).

The New York passing game lacks targets, which has helped push Chansi Stuckey to the front of the pack. The second-year receiver has caught four balls in each of the first two games, highlighted by a 64-yard effort and a touchdown in Week 1. Perhaps more important than the numbers is that fact that Sanchez has targeted Stuckey more than any other Jets receiver in both of those games (seven attempts to him in each contest).

Fantasy owners in need of an upgrade at the receiver spot may want to consider Stuckey, who caught 114 balls combined his last two seasons at Clemson. This week New York will face a Tennessee defense that has surrendered more passing yards (678) than any other team in the league -- suggesting Stuckey could be in store for yet another fine afternoon.

Here are a few other waiver wire candidates to consider ...

WR Nate Washington, Tennessee

Despite playing with a nagging hamstring, Washington caught four balls in the loss to Houston, including an eight-yard score from Kerry Collins. Washington's career never took off in Pittsburgh but he has been given new life in Tennessee, and at this point has as much claim to the team's No. 1 receiver job as any of the players Tennessee has in its lineup. Kerry Collins targeted Washington more than he did either Justin Gage or Kenny Britt on Sunday. If that continues Washington will make a nice No. 4 or 5 receiver for fantasy owners feeling thin at the position.

WR Julian Edelman, Patriots

The next Wes Welker? For a week, maybe. Edelman filled in for the Patriots' top possession receiver and caught eight balls for 98 yards. Not bad for a guy who lined up under center for Kent State and who received minimal interest from NFL scouts. Tom Brady threw 16 balls in Edelman's direction on Sunday, twice as many as he threw to his favorite target, Randy Moss. Upon Welker's return Edelman's stock will drop, but his performance against the Jets will keep him in the mix.

WR Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars

It was a big week for the Jaguars' third-year wideout, who gained 106 yards on six catches against the Cardinals. Sims-Walker even caught his first NFL touchdown in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand. It wasn't the first 100-yard performance for Sims-Walker, however; last season he gained 107 yards in a Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh, then didn't gain more than 25 yards the rest of the year. Fantasy owners have reason to believe this year will be different. Through two weeks the Jaguars have shown a willingness to throw the ball more than they have in past years, evident by quarterback David Garrard's 71 attempts -- seventh most in the league. Beyond Torry Holt and Marcedes Lewis, Sims-Walker is the most intriguing prospect in the passing game, and someone for fantasy owners to keep an eye on.

WR Kelley Washington, Ravens

The well-traveled receiver may finally have found a home where he is welcome. Against San Diego he caught all four of the balls thrown to him for 58 yards (27 of those coming on a second quarter score). Washington has good size and is an excellent complement to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton in the Ravens offense. Those two veterans will remain the focus of the passing attack, but Washington could be the big-play receiver Baltimore has lacked, and that could lead to him having a handful of productive weeks for fantasy owners.

Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:

QB Brett Favre, Vikings

Hey, why not? Regardless of what you think of Favre's waffling ways, the old man can still throw the football. Through two weeks he has the third highest QB Rating in the league and is just one of a handful of starters without an interception. Minnesota has simplified the passing attack for Favre, making it easy for him to have success. Fantasy owners can expect for him to get hot in the months of October and November -- same as he did a year ago in New York, when he was one of the most valuable fantasy passers in the game during that stretch. His asking price is at an all-time low, suggesting Favre can be had for a backup's price, but with the potential to have some big weeks in the starting lineup.

RB Matt Forte, Bears

Life has been miserable for the running back many fantasy owners made a top five pick over the summer months. Forte has averaged 2.2 yards per attempt in each of his two outings this year, and he has yet to find the end zone. He did catch five balls this past week, but it was little comfort to fantasy owners already feeling the burn. Now is the perfect time for someone to swoop in and make an offer for a player ready to bounce back. Consider that Forte has had to face a motivated Packers 3-4 unit and an outstanding Steelers defense so far. In the weeks ahead he'll face Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Cleveland -- a schedule that should provide favorable results.

RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

No question about it, Correll Buckhalter has out-performed Moreno in the early going. Even so, the Broncos are committed to making things work with their top draft choice. For one, the team believes Moreno can be the complete back they've been lacking for years. Another reason: Buckhalter's knees are worn, and his remaining time in the league is short, leaving Moreno as the only feature-type back on the roster with much of a future ahead of him. Against Cleveland, Moreno gained 75 yards on 17 carries. Buckhalter gained 76 yards on nine carries thanks mostly to one 45-yard run. Take that out of the equation and Moreno was the more effective rusher on a per carry basis. Fantasy owners should not expect miracles from Moreno. What they can expect is for him to take hold of the starting job in the near future and offer a number of solid weeks.

TE Jermichael Finley, Packers

The darling of the Packers preseason has made only a few nice plays so far, but his effort against Cincinnati suggests more is on the way. Finley caught four of the seven passes Aaron Rodgers threw in his direction for 56 yards. Virtually everyone in the Packers organization has expressed their fondness for Finley's abilities, and Rodgers has made an effort to get him more involved. The second-year tight end has the speed to out-run linebackers and the physical tools to man-handle defensive backs. Fantasy owners should make a bid now for a player whose stock is ready to soar.

RB Marion Barber, Cowboys

Even without the quad injury Barber's name would have landed on this side of the buy/sell column this week. He put up good numbers against New York (124 yards and a touchdown) but his declining speed was noticeable on a number of carries. Barber can still pound the football, but in finesse games or blowouts like the Cowboys' Week 1 game, his value to fantasy owners will be limited. Besides, Felix Jones has earned a minimum of 10 touches each week, and Tashard Choice has run the ball hard when given the opportunity. Nope, Barber's about to take a dip -- even if healthy. As soon as the injury news clears up, send him packing.

RB Cedric Benson, Bengals

Benson played like a giant against Green Bay -- 141 yards on 29 carries. A number of his runs extended drives and helped push the Bengals toward victory. But a peek ahead on the schedule suggests Benson is doomed to crash and burn the next month. The next seven games include two meetings with Pittsburgh, two with Baltimore and a date with Chicago. Ouch. Benson's best days of 2009 may already be behind him, and fantasy owners may want to consider hopping off the boat now before it's too late.

TE Brent Celek, Eagles

Sorry, but there's no way Celek will keep up his current pace (14 catches). As Brian Westbrook works his way back to 100 percent he'll eat up a larger portion of the balls in the passing game, cutting directly into the tight end's workload. Celek should still have a very nice season for Philadelphia, but his numbers won't place him among the league's elite as he's been. Coming off of his 104-yard performance in Week 2, fantasy owners holding Celek may want to consider dealing him now while his value is at its peak.

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