September 23, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jeff Ritter
Supercharged Monday Night
Philip Rivers: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There must be something in the air on Monday night.

For the second consecutive week, the Monday nighter was a fantasy football gold mine. (Or, if you were hoping for a defensive battle, a horror show.) Just a slew of big plays and momentum shifts; ultimately, one offense couldn't be stopped, while the other stopped itself just enough.

First, the unstoppable. San Diego methodically took apart Jets defense throughout the game. After his first pass went straight to Jets cornerback David Barrett for a TD the other way, Philip Rivers settled in and looked great for the third straight week. I tabbed him as a "sell high" candidate through yesterday, but no longer. The Chargers offense is clicking, and they're doing it with a limited version of LaDainian Tomlinson (who still rushed for 67 yards and scored twice). Rivers isn't going to throw three TDs every week -- although he's done it three straight games -- but he's a useful fantasy QB going forward.

L.T., to his credit, played through a painful toe injury and finished the night with 26 carries. He could be O.K. from here, or the toe problem could linger. Jitterbug backup Darren Sproles (77 total yards) will continue to step in anytime Tomlinson needs a break.

The Jets also moved the ball effectively, but Brett Favre the Gunslinger played like Brett Favre the Reckless Gambler far too often. He finished 30-for-42, for 271 yards and three scores. He also threw two picks, and that number could've been at least four. His favorite target was Jerricho Cotchery (10 catches, 76 yards), but he spread the ball around to seven different receivers.

The fitting image of the Jets' night occurred in the fourth quarter. The Flying Favres had three shots at a two-point conversion thanks to a trifecta of Charger penalties. It was telling that, even from the one-foot line, the Jets still tried to throw for the two, and they ultimately failed to convert. Running back Thomas Jones finished with just 37 yards on 10 carries. It was a weird, wild night, but it wasn't a good omen for the Jets' tailback moving forward.

Go Get 'Em

Here are some guys who might be available in your league and worth adding immediately:

  • Steve Slaton, RB, Texans. He's looked like the best running back in Houston since training camp, and on Sunday against a normally staunch Tennessee run defense he proved it. Eighteen rushes for 116 yards is no fluke. Look for the 5-9, 203-pound back to get as many carries as he can handle in the coming weeks.
  • Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles. This pickup is based solely on opportunity. With starter Brian Westbrook listed as day-to-day with an ankle injury, Buckhalter figures to get first crack at the bulk of the Eagle workload. Rookie Lorenzo Booker is also in the mix, and would make for another solid addition.
  • Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers. Just two weeks ago I advised taking a wait-and-see approach with Griese. Well, I waited, and now I have seen 407 yards on 67 pass attempts in an overtime win in Chicago. By the way, we will never see 67 attempts in a game by Brian Griese ever again. Just wanted to get that on record. The former Michigan quarterback could be a solid fill-in as the bye weeks begin
  • J.T. O'Sullivan, QB, 49ers. Never thought I'd have him on this list when the season started, but here we are: The 49ers offense is gelling with O'Sullivan at the controls. It's time to act.
  • Brandon Lloyd, WR, Bears. Surprisingly, Lloyd (216 yards and one TD on the year) looks like Kyle Orton's favorite target in Chicago.
  • Antonio Bryant, WR, Bucs. He was targeted 18 times during the shootout in Chicago. I don't expect that to continue, but he looks like Griese's favorite target for now.
  • Brady Quinn, QB, Browns. This is still a speculative pick, (but momentum is building) We're probably only one or two more Derek Anderson stink-bombs away from the Quinn era lifting off in Cleveland. Anderson has been as bad this year as he was great last year. All of the Browns' offensive weapons are healthy and intact from 2007; if Quinn gets the call he could have immediate success.
  • Five Guys I'd Trade Away Right Now

    1) Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks. Congratulations to Jones, the first player to appear on this list in back-to-back weeks. This is the definition of the phrase "sell high."

    2) Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins. After a five-TD performance, Brown joins Julius Jones as the prototypical "sell high" candidate. It's worth mentioning that Ricky Williams totaled 119 yards on Sunday, but got none of the scores.

    3) Patrick Crayton, WR, Cowboys. The Cowboy offense is a machine, but a new No. 3 wideout emerged on Sunday, and if Miles Austin (two catches, 115 yards, one 1 TD) stays healthy, he'll cut into Crayton's chances. (Crayton was actually shut out on Sunday) See if you can ship Crayton out for a more established No. 2 (Santonio Holmes, Laveranues Coles) while you still can.

    4) Torry Holt, WR, Rams. Man, the Rams are just a mess. Somehow Holt is managing to stay marginally productive, but as the Rams continue their tailspin toward the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, this is a good time to start shopping.

    5) Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys. If you have both Jones and Cowboy running mate Marion Barber III on your team, this trade advice goes right out the window -- you want to hold onto both. But if Jones is your only bargaining chip, this is the week to try selling him to a Barber owner as insurance. Be sure to mention that explosive 60-yard TD against the Packers in your negotiations.

    Westbrook Watch
    Brian Westbrook: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The early season injury wave washed over a few more stars on Sunday. The biggest name to get knocked out was versatile running back Brian Westbrook, who limped to the locker room. The Eagles disclosed on Monday that Westbrook has an ankle strain; X-rays were negative, and MRI revealed no ligament damage. It's also good news that it's not the more serious high ankle sprain, and Westbrook was reportedly without crutches on Monday. (Of course, there's always a chance the injury really is a high sprain, and the Eagles simply chose not to reveal it) He's officially day-to-day. Watch his status this week to see if he practices, and get ready to grab Buckhalter and Booker off the waiver wire pronto.

    Trivia Time

    Don't look now, but Philip Rivers is on pace to throw for 48 touchdowns, which would obliterate the team record and fall two shy of Tom Brady's NFL mark set last year. Who currently holds the Chargers record for touchdown tosses in a single season? How many did he throw?

    Saints Get Shocked

    Tough news out of New Orleans on Monday, as tight end Jeremy Shockey will miss 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia. (Do athletes get any other kind of hernia? I say no.) The Saints are already missing stud receiver Marques Colston, so Shockey's loss further depletes the passing game. David Patten, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem all get a small spike in value. The biggest beneficiary of all may be Reggie Bush, who's already one of Brees' favorite targets on intermediate routes and check-downs. Bush may get even more involved in the Saints' prolific passing attack in the coming weeks.

    Your Questions Answered

    In a 14-team PPR league, are there better backup WRs than (mine): Kevin Walter and Randle El. Free agents in my league are Brandon Lloyd, Hank Baskett, Miles Austin, Roscoe Parrish, Antonio Bryant, Bernard Berrian.
    -- Jason, Carlstadt, N.J.

    Thanks for the question, Jason. A lot of volatility among receivers in these opening weeks. Of the guys you mention, I'd rank 'em for the rest of the season like this: Lloyd, Walter, Bryant, Randle El, Berrian, Parrish, Baskett, Austin. I think the Texans will get the offense together, even if that means a change to gulp Sage Rosenfels at quarterback somewhere down the line this year. Lloyd looks like The Man in Chicago, and Bryant has been targeted 29 times this season, including 18 during Sunday's Brian Griese air show.

    What do owners do with Randy Moss?
    -- Erik, Billings, Mo.

    You've gotta ride the wave with Randy, even if that wave flips your boat, tosses you around like a washing machine and crashes you into shore. And yes, that clumsy metaphor (at least it wasn't this clumsy) was about as useful as Moss has been to his fantasy owners in Matt Cassel's reign as starter (six catches, 47 yards, no scores over the last two weeks). You've got to wait it out. It's impossible to project '07 numbers for Moss, but the Patriots are smart enough to get the ball to their playmakers. As Cassel gets more comfortable, Moss' production will follow. I still think 1,200 yards and double-digit TDs is a reasonable expectation.

    I have been offered Donovan McNabb and Maurice Jones-Drew for Peyton Manning and Matt Forte. I am inclined to pull the trigger because I think Jones-Drew is about to take off and I'm not confident that Manning will come around. What are your opinions of these four players and do you think I should pull the trigger?
    -- Matt, Halifax, NS

    Canada in the house! Matt, this isn't a shabby offer, but I'd still pass on it. For the QBs, I have McNabb at No. 5 for the remainder of the season, and Peyton No. 4. (Behind Romo, Brees and Cutler) It's true that Peyton doesn't look like himself right now, but there's still time for the Colts to get healthy (Center Jeff Saturday will be a huge boost to the line as he rounds back into form). Meanwhile, the Jags offense is indeed starting to roll, but MJD will, as always, share the load with Fred Taylor. I prefer Forte, since he's not sharing carries and -- strange as it sounds -- the Bears offense is revitalized with Kyle Orton. Can't fault you if you want to trust your gut and pull the trigger, but if I'm selling Peyton and Forte, I might try to get a better running back to go with McNabb in the deal.

    Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming.

    Trivia Answer

    Hall of Famer Dan Fouts holds the Chargers record for touchdown passes in a single season with 33 in 1981.

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