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September Fantasy Surprises

QUARTERBACKS

1. Jason Campbell | Washington Redskins

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

N.Y. (NFC)

L, 7 – 16

15

27

133

1

0

10.65

Week 2

New Orleans

W, 29 – 24

24

36

321

1

0

20.05

Week 3

Arizona

W, 24 – 17

22

30

193

2

0

17.65

Week 4

Dallas

W, 26 – 24

20

31

231

2

0

19.55

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt./20 passing yards, 4 pts./td pass, -1 pt./interception

 

Campbell’s last four weeks:

Other quarterbacks on this list have posted better numbers. However, nobody expected the historically inconsistent Campbell to play so well out of the gate in new head coach Jim Zorn’s West Coast offense. Campbell’s performance against the Cowboys was a huge eye-opener. Did you know that he has not turned the ball over so far this season?

 

Campbell’s next four weeks:

@ Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, @ Detroit

 

His numbers should continue to impress. The matchup at Philadelphia is obviously the toughest one of the bunch, but Campbell has had some success against the Eagles. The matchups against the Rams, Browns and Lions look very fantasy-friendly.

 

2. Jay Cutler | Denver Broncos

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

Oakland

W, 41 – 14

16

24

300

2

0

23.00

Week 2

San Diego

W, 39 – 38

36

50

350

4

1

32.50

Week 3

New Orleans

W, 34 – 32

21

34

264

2

1

20.20

Week 4

Kansas City

L, 19 – 33

29

49

361

1

2

20.05

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt./20 passing yards, 4 pts./td pass, -1 pt./interception

 

Cutler’s last four weeks:

Are we witnessing the birth of “Air Shanahan” in Denver? There is no question that Cutler is poised to join the ranks of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. Some fantasy experts had tabbed Cutler as a sleeper heading into the season, but he has exceeded all realistic expectations so far in what traditionally has been a run-first Denver attack.

 

Cutler’s next four weeks:

Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, @ New England, BYE

 

Although his schedule looks hard on paper, Cutler should enjoy some success playing at home against the Buccaneers and the Jaguars. Without Tom Brady leading what now looks like a Patriots team that is a shell of its usual dominant self, a trip to Foxboro doesn’t look so scary. The Broncos defense can’t stop anyone, which means that Cutler should find himself in many fantasy-friendly shootouts.

 

 

3. Phillip Rivers | San Diego Chargers

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

Carolina

L, 24 – 26

17

27

217

3

0

22.85

Week 2

Denver

L, 38 – 39

22

33

377

3

1

29.85

Week 3

N.Y. (AFC)

W, 48 – 29

19

25

250

3

1

23.50

Week 4

Oakland

W, 28 – 18

14

25

180

1

2

11.00

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt./20 passing yards, 4 pts./td pass, -1 pt./interception

 

Rivers’ last four weeks:

Who had thought Rivers would rank among the league leaders in passing yards and touchdown passes through the first month of the season? Rivers has finally taken his game to the next level. He has been called upon more than expected to help carry the offense, because LaDainian Tomlinson has been hampered by a toe injury.

 

Rivers’ next four weeks:

@ Miami, New England, @ Buffalo, @ New Orleans

 

Although Rivers will play three road games in the next month, I would not expect a major drop off in his numbers. The Miami secondary is beatable, and the New England game is a rematch of the 2007 AFC Title game (hint: think revenge game for the Chargers). Granted, playing at Buffalo has become more challenging nowadays. The game against New Orleans has shootout written all over it.

 

4. Trent Edwards | Buffalo Bills

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

Seattle

W, 34 – 10

19

30

215

1

0

14.75

Week 2

Jacksonville

W, 20 – 16

20

25

239

1

0

15.95

Week 3

Oakland

W, 48 – 29

24

39

279

1

1

16.95

Week 4

St. Louis

W, 28 – 18

15

25

197

1

1

12.85

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt./20 passing yards, 4 pts./td pass, -1 pt./interception

 

Edwards’ last four weeks:

Although Edwards’ numbers have not been mind-blowing, the second-year pro has emerged as a solid backup option, providing some rock-solid points for his fantasy owners as a backup/spot starter.

 

Edwards’ next four weeks:

@ Arizona, BYE, San Diego, @ Miami

 

He will face three beatable pass defenses, but Edwards’ fantasy value has a ceiling. The team utilizes a conservative run-first attack, so it’s hard to see a huge uptick in his passing numbers.

 

RUNNING BACKS

1. Michael Turner | Atlanta Falcons

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

FP*

Week 1

Detroit

W, 34 – 21

220

2

1

6

0

35.60

Week 2

Tampa Bay

L, 9 – 24

42

0

1

6

0

5.80

Week 3

Kansas City

W, 38 – 14

104

3

0

0

0

23.20

Week 4

Carolina

L, 9 – 24

56

0

1

-1

0

5.60

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. rushing or receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Turner’s last four weeks:

Some of you may disagree with seeing his name at the top of this list, but there were preseason concerns about whether Turner was truly talented or whether he had just benefitted from playing in San Diego’s system, which is why Turner dropped into the third and fourth rounds of some drafts. There are no doubts now; Turner is clearly a special player. “The Burner” currently leads the league with 422 rushing yards, and the Falcons are more than happy to feed him the ball. Turner rolled up some huge numbers against two soft defenses but struggled against two stronger defenses.

 

Turner’s next four weeks:

@ Green Bay, Chicago, BYE, @ Philadelphia

 

It looks like some tough sledding is ahead for Turner. He obviously does well against softer defenses. However, Atlanta’s offensive line deficiencies and a lack of a consistent passing game have allowed tougher defenses to clamp down on him. The Packers defense is banged up, so Turner is a decent start in Titletown, but Chicago and Philadelphia are obviously more challenging matchups. Turner is a good sell-high player, because it’s hard to find running backs who receive a ton of touches per game like he does.

 

2. Matt Forte | Chicago Bears

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

FP*

Week 1

Indianapolis

W, 29 – 13

123

1

3

18

0

23.10

Week 2

Carolina

L, 17 – 20

92

0

3

21

0

14.30

Week 3

Tampa Bay

L, 24 – 27

89

0

7

66

1

28.50

Week 4

Philadelphia

L, 9 – 24

43

0

5

42

0

13.50

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. rushing or receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Forte’s last four weeks:

Chicago made no secret of their plan to give the rookie all the touches that he could handle, but many understandably had thought the Bears weak offensive line and token passing game would hold Forte’s numbers down. His involvement in the passing game obviously has boosted his fantasy worth. A couple more touchdowns would have been nice for his owners. Aside from that, it’s hard to find fault with Forte’s start.

 

Forte’s next four weeks:

@ Detroit, @ Atlanta, Minnesota, BYE

 

 

Forte should continue his solid production in matchups against the Lions and the Falcons, but the Minnesota matchup is a toughie. Chicago’s passing game is starting to click, which should keep enemy defenses from loading the box to stop him. Forte is the blood and guts of Chicago’s offense – keep him in your lineup.

 

3. Chris Johnson | Tennessee Titans

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

FP*

Week 1

Jacksonville

W, 17 – 10

93

0

3

34

1

21.70

Week 2

Cincinnati

W, 24 – 7

109

0

2

12

0

14.10

Week 3

Houston

W, 31 – 12

74

0

2

5

0

 9.90

Week 4

Minnesota

W, 30 – 17

61

2

3

14

0

22.50

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. rushing or receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Johnson’s last four weeks:

Many had thought Tennessee drafted Johnson to serve as a backup to LenDale White, but White is now backing up Johnson for what looks like the long-term. White is no longer the starter, and his role in the offense has been reduced. Johnson currently ranks second in the AFC in rushing yards, and he is also active in the Titans’ passing game.

 

Johnson’s next four weeks:

@ Baltimore, BYE, at Kansas City, @ Indianapolis

 

The Ravens game looks like a tough matchup for Johnson, but he has two favorable ones after Tennessee’s Bye. Johnson’s two rushing touchdowns in Week 4 were a one-yard run and a six-yard run, respectively, which suggests that Johnson will receive more scoring opportunities. White, however, will vulture an occasional goal-line carry, and the club has used White in the final quarter to move the chains and get first downs.

 

4. Le’Ron McClain | Baltimore Ravens

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

FP*

Week 1

Cincinnati

W, 17 – 10

86

0

2

24

0

13.00

Week 2

BYE

Week 3

Cleveland

W, 28 – 10

66

2

1

4

0

20.00

Week 4

Pittsburgh

L, 20 – 23

63

0

3

26

1

17.90

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. rushing or receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

McClain’s last four weeks:

Most of us had suspected the Ravens rushing attack would feature Willis McGahee (chest) and Ray Rice, but McClain, a converted full back, has clearly carved out a role for himself in the offense, averaging close to 80 total yards and one touchdown per game. Since McGahee is banged up and the Ravens coaching staff apparently doesn’t trust Rice right now, it looks like McClain will continue to receive regular touches.

 

McClain’s next four weeks:

Tennessee, @ Indianapolis, @ Miami, Oakland

 

The matchup against the Titans is a tough one – start McClain anyway – but he will face the soft run defenses of the Colts, Dolphins and Raiders. McClain is a rock-solid No. 2 fantasy back right now.

 

5. Larry Johnson | Kansas City

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

RUSH YDS

RUSH TD

REC

REC YDS

REC TD

FP*

Week 1

New England

L, 10 – 17

74

0

1

12

0

9.60

Week 2

Oakland

L, 8 – 23

22

0

0

0

0

2.20

Week 3

Atlanta

L, 14 – 38

121

1

0

0

0

18.10

Week 4

Denver

W, 33 – 19

198

2

5

0

0

36.80

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. rushing or receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Johnson’s last four weeks:

You’re probably one of many owners who had passed on LJ in your drafts, because you thought that he would be a huge bust due to a lack of talent around him. Johnson’s Week 1 and Week 2 numbers were terrible, but he posted some big numbers during the last two weeks – with Brodie Croyle (shoulder) out of the lineup. When Johnson has room to run, he can still produce. Granted, Johnson’s success came against two porous run defenses.

 

Johnson’s next four weeks:

@ Carolina, BYE, Tennessee, @ N.Y. Jets

 

As long as either Huard or Thigpen is under center and Johnson faces a soft defense, he will be productive. Johnson, however, is facing two tough matchups (Carolina and Tennessee) in the next month, which will likely keep his numbers down. Johnson is a nice sell-high player.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Santana Moss | Washington Redskins

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

REC

YARDS

TD

FP*

Week 1

N.Y. (NFC)

L, 7 – 16

5

37

1

14.70

Week 2

New Orleans

W, 29 – 24

7

164

1

Week 3

Arizona

W, 24 – 17

7

75

1

20.50

Week 4

Dallas

W, 26 – 24

8

145

0

22.50

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Moss’ last four weeks:

If you had drafted Moss to use as a No. 3 wide receiver or a backup, you hit the jackpot. Jason Campbell has been on a tear, and his success has catapulted Moss to No. 1 fantasy wideout status. Moss is currently tied for third in the league with 27 receptions and ranks among the league leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns. Get this – the historically inconsistent Moss has been surprisingly consistent.

 

Moss’ next four weeks:

@ Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, @ Detroit

 

The Eagles matchup looks challenging for Moss, but he has three very favorable matchups coming after that contest. Barring an injury, Moss should continue his productive ways.

 

2. Brandon Marshall | Denver Broncos

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

REC

YARDS

TD

FP*

Week 1

Oakland

W, 41 – 14

DNP

Week 2

San Diego

W, 39 – 38

18

166

1

40.60

Week 3

New Orleans

W, 34 – 32

6

155

1

27.50

Week 4

Kansas City

L, 19 – 33

7

77

1

20.70

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Marshall’s last four weeks:

Most of us had expected a breakout season from Marshall. However, he makes this list because of the unexpectedly humongous numbers that he has racked up in just three games played. Marshall is currently leading the AFC in receptions. He has clearly been the most valuable fantasy player to own so far, with honorable mentions to Jay Cutler and Drew Brees. Do you think Marshall is this year’s Randy Moss? Don’t laugh – it could happen.

 

Marshall’s next four weeks:

Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, @ New England, BYE

 

Frankly, it’s hard to see anyone completely stopping Marshall. Facing the Buccaneers and the Jaguars at home is a huge advantage for Marshall and company, and the Patriots are not their usually intimidating selves. It’s too bad Moss won’t have Brady with him when he goes up against Marshall and Cutler.

 

3. Eddie Royal | Denver Broncos

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

REC

YARDS

TD

FP*

Week 1

Oakland

W, 41 – 14

9

146

1

29.60

Week 2

San Diego

W, 39 – 38

5

37

0

8.70

Week 3

New Orleans

W, 34 – 32

4

11

0

5.10

Week 4

Kansas City

L, 19 – 33

9

104

0

19.40

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Royal’s last four weeks:

We all saw Royal making spectacular catches in preseason, but preseason success doesn’t always carry over into the regular season for rookies. Royal, however, is obviously an exception. He erupted for a huge game in Week 1 while subbing as the go-to guy in place of the suspended Brandon Marshall. Although Marshall’s return has cut into Royal’s targets, he still rates as a rock-solid No. 3 fantasy wideout with upside in what has been a surprisingly pass-happy offense.

 

Royal’s next four weeks:

Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, @ New England, BYE

 

Prior to the start of the season, these three matchups looked scary, but that is not the case right now. The Buccaneers and the Jaguars have looked vulnerable against the pass, and a trip to Foxboro to face the Patriots without Tom Brady doesn’t look very intimidating. The Denver defense is porous, which means the club should be in many shootouts, and that should bode well for Royal’s future numbers.

 

4. DeSean Jackson | Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

REC

YARDS

TD

FP*

Week 1

St. Louis

W, 38 – 3

6

106

0

16.60

Week 2

Dallas

W, 39 – 38

6

110

0

17.00

Week 3

Pittsburgh

W, 15 – 6

5

40

0

9.00

Week 4

Chicago

L, 20 – 24

5

71

1

18.10

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Jackson’s last four weeks:

Here is another rookie wide receiver who is making an immediate impact. The Eagles wide receiver corps was banged up earlier in the season, which opened the door for the speedy Jackson. So far, he is providing the club with a much-needed deep threat, and Donovan McNabb loves to throw to him.

 

Jackson’s next four weeks:

Washington, @ San Francisco, BYE, Atlanta

 

Even when wide receiver Kevin Curtis (hernia surgery) returns, Jackson should continue to start and receive a healthy number of targets. The schedule looks favorable for Jackson during the next four weeks, although the Washington game is probably a tougher matchup.

 

4. Muhsin Muhammad | Carolina Panthers

 

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

REC

YARDS

TD

FP*

Week 1

Chargers

W, 26 – 24

6

56

0

11.60

Week 2

Chicago

W, 20 – 17

5

59

0

10.90

Week 3

Minnesota

L, 10 – 20

3

25

0

5.50

Week 4

Carolina

W, 24 – 9

8

147

1

29.70

 *FP = fantasy points: 1 pt. per 10 yds. receiving, 1 pt./rec., all TDs 6 pts

 

Muhammad’s last four weeks:

Is “Moose” truly a fantasy surprise? Chicago had cut Muhammad, believing that he had lost at least two steps. Muhammad returned to Carolina and resurrected his career by beating out D.J. Hackett for the starting spot opposite of Steve Smith. Statistically, Muhammad got off to a slow start due to the Panthers tough schedule. However, in Week 4, he proved that is still capable of having a big game as a possession receiver.

 

Muhammad’s next four weeks:

Kansas City, @ Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Arizona

 

Aside from a road game against the Buccaneers, the schedule looks like a plus for Muhammad. Don’t get too excited about him – Smith is still the No. 1 option in Carolina’s passing game. Moose looks like a solid No. 3 wide receiver/backup option.

 

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