Byron Leftwich :: Gary Bogdon/SI
Even after the late-preseason switch in offensive coordinators, Tampa Bay is among the league leaders in passing per rush ratio despite their loaded backfield. Only the Pats with Tom Brady (70.1), the Chargers with Philip Rivers (66.2) and the Packers with Aaron Rodgers (65.8) have called a higher percentage of passing plays than the Bucs, who have thrown on 65.3 percent of their offensive tries. Most of the aerial leanings can be attributed to playing catch-up -- thanks to a defense that's allowed 33.5 points per game (31st in the league, just ahead of the Lions). That's forced O.C. Greg Olson into throw mode, and thus Leftwich -- fantasy's forgotten man -- has been a fantasy force. He's second to Brady in attempts (91), tied with Drew Brees for third in completions (51), seventh in yards (572) and tied for fourth in TD passes. And although its not the most fantasy-relevant stat, he's got a higher passer rating than Brady, Carson Palmer and '08 MVP candidate Chad Pennington. Tampa Bay hosts the Giants this Sunday and, with his team inevitably staring at a deficit, he'll be forced to put the ball up again another 40 times. If you need a QB, you could certainly do worse.
Take a look at the single-game target leaders for this season and you see many usual suspects tied for the lead with 16: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Andre Johnson. Somewhat of a surprise on the list is Miami's Ted Ginn who was thrown to 16 times against the Colts -- but even more shocking is New England's Julian Edelman. Filling in for a sidelined Welker in a loss to the Jets, the rookie seventh-round pick from Kent State caught eight of the 16 balls thrown his way by Brady. Edelman came through in a big way despite being in an unfamiliar position. Last season, he was the starting quarterback for the Golden Flashes and, while he threw for 30 touchdowns and ran for another 22 during his college career, he caught just one pass for 11 yards in three yards. Now he's one of the most sought-after fantasy receivers, showing a) what deft evaluators of talent the Patriots are and b) how random fantasy value can be sometimes.
Edelman is just one of a handful of receivers who have played their way into serious fantasy consideration through the first two weeks. If any of them are available and you could use a WR upgrade, grab them now:
1) Mario Manningham, Giants Caught 10 passes against the Cowboys on national TV and ranks fourth in the league with 208 receiving yards.
2) Johnny Knox, Bears The rookie returnman from Abilene Christian is among the league leaders in receiving yards (152) and is averaging 19 yards per catch. The Bears are looking for solutions at WR to pair with Jay Cutler and Knox may be one of the best.
3) Laurent Robinson, Rams St. Louis isn't doing much on offense, but when they've done anything, chances are Robinson has been involved. The ex-Falcon and Steven Jackson are the only Rams averaging more than 30 yards per game and Robinson has the team's only touchdown of the season.
4) Brandon Stokley, Broncos He followed up his one-miracle-catch showing against the Bengals by catching five more balls for 70 catches. As Brandon Marshall's value plummets, Stokley's rises.
|In||5 minutes ago||Out|
|Surnames||Manning (plus -ham)||Jones||Favre|
|All-Purpose Back||Frank Gore||Matt Forte||Brian Westbrook|
Through two games the New Orleans Saints have scored 93 points, the most ever in NFL history and second in modern pro football history to the 95 points scored by the 1968 Raiders of the AFL. Those Raiders scored 40 or more points six times, including the playoffs, but managed just three points in an AFL Championship Game to the Jets for the right to play the Colts in Super Bowl III.
One of the added benefits of that explosive offense has been a defense that has capitalized on harried come-from-behind opponents to the tune of seven turnovers, second best in the league.
Keep those lineup, trade and waivers questions coming to @SI_DavidSabino. I'll be back at my post this Sunday morning to help you set your troops for the upcoming weekly battles. I appreciate all of the positive feedback I've been getting from those who've chimed in already this season, I really am curious to find out how things turn out for you and thanks to those who've followed up with me. I'll be here all season and have been immersed in this stuff since February, so take advantage.