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Free Agent Forecast - Week 5
By Paul Sandy
September 30, 2003

Value Scale

Elite Free Agents These players will provide immediate production and have excellent long-term potential.
Upside Free Agents Could emerge as every-week contributors in 1-2 weeks.
Long-Shot Free Agents Could emerge as every-week contributors in 3-4 weeks.
Wait-and-See Free Agents They have the potential to repeat their breakout performance, but hold off on acquiring them for now.
One Week Wonders Others may be singing their praise, but don’t buy into the hype.

Elite Free Agents

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles
Upcoming Schedule: WAS, @DAL, NYG
In a surprise move, the Eagles came out of their bye week with a fresh take on the running game. Duce Staley only saw two carries; meanwhile, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter shouldered the load. The two combined for 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns – both with 11 rushing attempts each. It remains unclear how Andy Reid will distribute the carries in future weeks but Westbrook, Buckhalter and Staley each deserve a roster spot until the fog clears.

Gus Frerotte, QB, Vikings
Upcoming Schedule: @ATL, BYE, DEN
Frerotte was recommended here last week, and, true to prediction, he had a big game for owners who were wise enough to put him in their lineups. The Vikings have a bye in Week 6, so they may choose to rest starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper (back). If they do, look for Frerotte to have another excellent game against the Falcons.

Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, @TEN, NYJ
During his stint in Jacksonville, Stacey Mack had a habit of getting himself in his coach’s doghouse by making costly errors. It’s a habit that seems to have followed him to Houston. Mack fumbled in the first half, leading to a benching in the second half. His replacement, rookie Domanick Davis, carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. He added four receptions for 38 yards. Much of the production came on Houston’s game-wining drive. It’s worth noting that Davis was the third running back in three weeks to lead the team in rushing. Last week’s star, Tony Hollings, was inactive in Week 4 after a fumble in Week 3. Look for the Texans to try to sort out their muddled running back situation during this week’s open date. Grab Davis, but expect the team to give Mack one more chance as the starter.

Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
Upcoming Schedule: @BUF, BYE, BAL
After Corey Dillon aggravated his groin and left the game, all signs pointed to Brandon Bennett assuming the feature-back role. However, unknown back Rudi Johnson stole the spotlight, carrying the ball 15 times for 51 yards. Johnson added four receptions for 11 yards. At this point, it appears very likely that Dillon will miss next week’s game against the Bills. The team has a bye the following week and likely wants to give Dillon an extended period of rest. Head coach Marvin Lewis has refused to commit to a starter and both Bennett and Johnson will have a role this week. Acquire Johnson first because he will likely get the first-down, second-down and short-yardage carries. Bennett is a good pass catcher and should be the team’s third-down back.

TJ Duckett, RB, Falcons
Upcoming Schedule: MIN, @STL, NO
Up until Week 4, Duckett had been a disappointment in terms of fantasy production, rushing for less than 70 yards in three games. If he was dropped in your league, acquire him this week. Duckett carried the ball 11 times for 100 yards Sunday. Warrick Dunn figures to continue to play an important role in Atlanta’s offense, but Duckett’s fine game should lead to increased action in the coming weeks.

Jon Kitna, QB, Bengals
Upcoming Schedule: @BUF, BYE, BAL
Other than Marc Bulger, there are no starting quality quarterbacks on bye in Week 5. Even so, many owners, i.e. those who are beginning to stew about unproductive quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb and Aaron Brooks, will likely to try to kick-start their rosters with a new passer. Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna appears to be up to the task. After a slow start to the season, Kitna resurfaced with a solid performance against Cleveland. He passed for three touchdowns against a Cleveland Browns secondary that had given up no scores in the previous three games. Kitna currently ranks fourth in the league with passing 939 yards.

Ernie Conwell, TE, Saints
Upcoming Schedule: @CAR, CHI, @ATL
Conwell ranks second among all tight ends with 175 receiving yards. If your regular tight end has disappointed or if you need a bye week replacement for Todd Heap, put Conwell at the top of your list.

Upside Free Agents

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Texans
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, @TEN, NYJ
Gaffney, an Elite Free Agent last week, had another solid performance Sunday against the Jaguars. The second-year receiver grabbed three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he was the target of two additional redzone passes. Gaffney continues to be a solid acquisition; however, I’m dropping him down a bit because the Texans have an open date this week.

Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders
Upcoming Schedule: @CHI, @CLE, KC
Owners who overestimated the severity of Porter’s hernia surgery may have dropped the fourth-year wideout. But according to reports out of Oakland, Porter wants to return this week against Chicago. While that is unlikely, look for Porter to recover earlier than expected. If he was dropped, go ahead and acquire him now.

DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
Upcoming Schedule: NO, @IND, TEN
Second-year running back DeShaun Foster is beginning to see more carries in the Carolina Panthers offense. The Panthers will continue to give Foster the occasional series in order to rest workhorse Stephen Davis. There’s good reason for the coaching staff’s concern when it comes to Davis. He has only played a complete, 16-game season once in his career. While it’s folly to try to predict an injury, Davis’ punishing running style leads to frequent mid and late-season trips to the injury report. Grab Foster off the waiver wire this week if he’s available and look for him to see continued carries in the coming weeks.

Steve Christie, PK, Chargers
Upcoming Opponents: @JAX, BYE, @CLE
If you’re searching for a kicker this week, try Steve Christie. The Chargers seemed to put some of their offensive struggles behind them Sunday against the Raiders. When the team rolls into Jacksonville this week, they should once again have no trouble putting plenty of points on the board. The Jaguars are giving up more than 27 points per game.

Arlen Harris, RB, Rams
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, ATL, GB
With Marshall Faulk out for several weeks with a broken hand, Lamar Gordon is the starter. However, it appears Gordon will not get all of the carries. Rookie Arlen Harris, who head coach Mike Martz compares to Priest Holmes, had 12 rushing attempts for 47 yards Sunday and added three receptions. Many of Harris’ carries came in the fourth quarter after Gordon was sent to the bench with a sprained wrist as a precautionary measure.

Long-Shot Free Agents

Mike Cloud, RB, Patriots
Upcoming Opponents: TEN, NYG, @MIA
Cloud, a Long-Shot Free Agent holdover from last week, has returned from a four-game banned substance suspension. While there is no guarantee that Cloud will even make the 53-man roster, neither Antowain Smith nor Kevin Faulk has earned the full confidence of head coach Bill Belichick. A difficult upcoming schedule could spell more struggles for Smith and Faulk – and opportunity for Cloud.

David Terrell, WR, Bears
Upcoming Schedule: OAK, @NO, @SEA
In the waning minutes of Monday night’s matchup against Green Bay, quarterback Kordell Stewart seemed locked in on receiver David Terrell. Pass after pass went to the third-year wideout. By the end of the game, Terrell had 12 passes thrown in his direction. Although he finished with only 47 receiving yards, he could be a player to keep an eye on.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

None this week.

One Week Wonders

Troy Edwards, WR, Jaguars
Upcoming Schedule: SDG, MIA, BYE
One week Edwards is looking for a job, the next he’s dancing in the endzone. Edwards caught three passes for 111 yards and a touchdown in his debut with Jacksonville. Despite the solid performance he’s not worth acquiring at this point. Week 5 marks the return of starter Jimmy Smith.

Scotty Anderson, WR, Lions
Upcoming Schedule: @SF, BYE, DAL
Ignore Anderson’s 43-yard touchdown reception. It was his only catch of the game.

David Givens, WR, Patriots
Upcoming Opponents: TEN, NYG, @MIA
With David Patten on the bench with an injury, Givens saw an increased role Sunday, catching four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Look for Givens to disappear back into obscurity in the coming weeks as Troy Brown, Patten and Deion Branch continue to see the bulk of the passes.