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Free Agent Forecast - Week 6
By Paul Sandy
October 7, 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

Marcel Shipp, RB, Cardinals
Upcoming Opponents: BAL, BYE, SF
Shipp was drafted in nearly every 12- and 14-team league, but might be on the waiver wire if you play in an eight- or 10-team format. If he’s available, put him on the top of your priority list this week. Starter Emmitt Smith suffered a broken left shoulder Sunday against the Cowboys and is out indefinitely. As a result, Shipp becomes the starter and will get most of the carries. Last year, Shipp finished the season with more than 1,200 all-purpose yards. He’s in excellent receiver out of the backfield and merits serious consideration as a fantasy starter.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
Upcoming Opponents: @DAL, @NYG, NYJ
An Elite recommendation from last week, Westbrook struggled for much of Sunday’s game against the Redskins. But head coach Andy Reid remained committed to the running game and Westbrook eventually broke a couple decent runs, including a 19-yard touchdown scamper. At the end of the day, he finished the game with a respectable 64 yards and a touchdown. While I wouldn’t want to rely on Westbrook as an every week starter, we are in the middle a difficult stretch of bye weeks. He is an excellent replacement option.

Mike Cloud, RB, Patriots
Upcoming Opponents: NYG, @MIA, CLE
What? You mean you didn’t pick up Mike Cloud even though he was recommended here each of the last two weeks? True to prediction, Cloud came off a four-game suspension and provided a spark to New England’s struggling offense. The former Kansas City Chiefs tailback carried the ball just seven times but racked up 73 yards and two touchdowns. Exactly how Cloud fits into the Patriots offense remains to be seen; however, he has clearly earned playing time in the coming weeks. It’s also promising that Cloud was used in the redzone and goal line sets. Acquire him this week and put him in your lineup if needed.

Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys
Upcoming Opponents: PHI, @DET, @TAM
Peter Warrick, WR, Bengals
Upcoming Opponents: BYE, BAL, SEA
Glenn and Warrick have made me a believer. I listed both players as Wait and See Free Agents earlier in the year and they have proven that they can provide fantasy owners with decent production most weeks. In fact, The Huddle’s trusty new Game Scan indicates that Warrick has been involved in 50 Bengals plays so far this season – one more than receiving counterpart Chad Johnson. He’s also scored seven or more fantasy points (Huddle scoring) in three of his last four starts. That’s solid for production, especially if your league uses a third wide receiver or a flex position. Meanwhile, Terry Glenn already has two 100-yard games this season and is quickly becoming a favorite target of Quincy Carter. It’s time for Glenn and Warrick to start getting some respect … and some starts.

Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders
Upcoming Schedule: @CLE, KC, BYE
Porter should return from hernia surgery this week or the following week and boy do the Raiders need him. The team is coming off an embarrassing Week 5 loss to the Bears and the Raiders are struggling to stretch defenses without Porter. Look for Porter to return to his dominant form in short order.

Keenan McCardell, WR, Buccaneers
Upcoming Opponents: @WAS, @SF, DAL
McCardell starred in what will likely go down as one of the greatest games in the history of Monday Night Football. He caught two touchdown passes and returned a fumble for another. His 106 receiving yards led the team. The folks who take care of John Madden’s horse trailer must’ve had McCardell’s mug shot all polished up and ready to be pasted to the side. But it wasn’t meant to be for the Bucs. Even so, McCardell is one of this week’s must-have receivers if he’s still available in your league. Keyshawn Johnson suffered a bruised knee during the game, and, with Joe Jurevicius still missing time with his own knee injury, McCardell quickly becomes the best receiver on a Tampa offense that isn’t afraid to pass.

Doug Jolley, TE, Raiders
Upcoming Schedule: @CLE, KC, BYE
After catching 17 passes in his last three games, Jolley has cemented himself has one of the league’s better tight ends. If he’s available in your league and you need a tight end, he should be on the top of your list. While Jolley isn’t the type of tight end who will have a 110-yard game and score a touchdown, he is reasonably consistent and won’t muck up your team with a goose egg.

Upside Free Agents

Tim Couch, QB, Browns
Upcoming Schedule: OAK, SD, @NE
Brad Johnson, QB, Buccaneers
Upcoming Opponents: @WAS, @SF, DAL
These days quality fantasy quarterbacks are a dime a dozen. Tim Couch, Byron Leftwich, Quincy Carter, Kordell Stewart, Brad Johnson and Drew Brees all had big games in Week 5. Take your pick of the litter, but I’m going with Brad Johnson and Tim Couch to repeat their performances this week. Johnson has eight passing touchdowns on the season and has an added incentive in Week 6. He returns to Washington to play against the owner who released him in favor of Jeff George. Meanwhile, Couch seems intent on doing everything in his power to keep injured starter Kelly Holcomb on the bench. The former number one draft pick has thrown two touchdowns in each of his last two starts and has a favorable upcoming schedule. This week he’ll face an Oakland defense than made Kordell Stewart look above average. Leftwich, who I recommended last week, is a good long-term option but faces a tough test this week against Miami.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills
Upcoming Opponents: @NYJ, WAS, @KC
Eric Moulds had to be helped off the field with a groin pull Sunday. While Moulds thinks he’ll be ready to play this week, don’t be surprised if he sits out. Similar injuries have kept plenty of other fantasy stars on the bench. If Moulds sits, look for Josh Reed to pick up the slack. Reed was a hot sleeper draft pick in 2003, but has played in the shadow of free agent acquisition Bobby Shaw for the entire season thus far.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Texans
Upcoming Schedule: @TEN, NYJ, @IND
Gaffney is coming off a bye week and may have been overlooked during the past couple free agency periods in your league. If so, don’t hesitate to pick him up. The second-year receiver was beginning to show inklings of stardom prior to the open date. Grab him this week, but keep him on your bench until he shows he can be a consistent threat.

Long-Shot Free Agents

Byron Chamberlain, TE, Redskins
Upcoming Opponents: TAM, @BUF, BYE
Chamberlain signed this week with the Redskins. As a former Pro-Bowl tight end, Chamberlain deserves consideration. As a current over-weight tight end, he only deserves a roster spot in deeper leagues. Look for him to begin to factor into the fantasy equation after Washington’s bye.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

Mikhael Ricks, TE, Lions
Upcoming Opponents: BYE, DAL, @CHI
Prior to last week’s 76-yard, one-touchdown performance, Ricks had done very little to convince fantasy owners that he deserved a roster spot. He may eventually emerge as a decent player, but there are likely better options on your waiver wire at this point, especially considering Ricks is on a bye in Week 6.

One Week Wonders

Dwayne Carswell, TE, Broncos
Upcoming Opponents: PIT, @MIN, @BAL
Carswell caught one pass for a six-yard touchdown. It was only his third reception of the year and he should come nowhere near your roster unless Shannon Sharpe gets injured.

Tyrone Calico, WR, Titans
Upcoming Opponents: HOU, @CAR, @JAX
I love Calico’s long-term potential, but I’m not ready to recommend him at this point. The rookie caught three passes for 92 yards in Week 5, including a 45-yard reception. On the year he has just five catches, but two of them went for touchdowns. He’s the type of hit-or-miss performer that is best left off your roster. That said, if you play in a dynasty or deep keeper league, Calico certainly has some value.

James McKnight, WR, Dolphins
Upcoming Opponents: @JAX, NE, SD
McKnight busted an end-around for a 68-yard touchdown this week. However, his two receptions for 17 yards is the more telling statistic.