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Free Agent Forecast - Week 7
By Paul Sandy
October 14, 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, Brian Westbrook and Mike Cloud were Elite recommendations last week and continue to deserve roster spots. Each had another solid outing in Week 6. Acquire them if they are still available.

Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
Upcoming Schedule: NYJ, @IND, CAR
Seemingly every year, a rookie running back emerges to surpass 1,000 yards. While many fantasy owners drafted Onterrio Smith hoping he’d be this year’s rookie surprise, it’s looking like Davis is now the best candidate. Davis was drafted mainly as a third-down back, but so far he’s exhibited the durability and inside running skills to play a featured role. Because Davis was initially buried on the depth chart behind Stacey Mack and Tony Hollings, he’s getting a late start on is quest for 1,000 yards. Even so, if the powers that be decide to feature Davis, he has a fair shot to emerge as an excellent fantasy running back. So far he’s exhibited a similar knack for pass catching to fantasy studs like Ahman Green and Priest Holmes.

Peter Warrick, WR, Bengals
Upcoming Opponents: BAL, SEA, @ARZ
Warrick was idle last week so fantasy owners in many leagues may have decided to bypass him in favor of an active receiver. If so, pick him up this week. Warrick is averaging more than 85 yards per game and has three touchdowns on the year.

Johnnie Morton, WR, Chiefs
Upcoming Schedule: @OAK, BUF, BYE
With the running game shut down against the Packers, the Chiefs finally opened up their passing offense. Johnnie Morton was the primary benefactor, catching six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Morton is quietly having himself a pretty decent fantasy season. Through six games this year, he has had four average or good performances – games with seven or more points by Huddle scoring. In larger leagues or leagues that play three or four receivers, Morton is definitely starter material.

Brad Johnson, QB, Buccaneers
Upcoming Schedule: @SF, DAL, NO
Johnson, another Free Agent Forecast recommendation from last week, threw four touchdowns in Week 6 and now leads all NFL quarterbacks with 12 passing touchdowns. It is worth noting that two of Johnson’s touchdowns last weekend came on the goal line. These are the type of scores usually reserved for Mike Alstott, who was placed on Injured Reserve last week. If the Buccaneers continue to pass in goal-line situations, it bodes well for Johnson owners. In the past, the fantasy community has pigeon-holed Johnson as the type of player you use only as a back-up or bye week replacement. He now can be considered a reliable fantasy starter and should be in your active lineup over guys like Donovan McNabb and Aaron Brooks on most weeks.

Quincy Carter, QB, Cowboys
Upcoming Schedule: @DET, @TAM, WAS
With Peyton Manning and Tommy Maddox on bye in Week 7, fantasy owners who are seeking a replacement would be wise to consider Quincy Carter. He faces a mediocre Detroit secondary this week. Although Carter didn’t throw a touchdown Sunday against the Eagles, he is proving to be a decent fantasy quarterback. In fact, Carter is averaging 235.4 passing yards per game, which ranks tenth in the NFL.

Bill Schroeder, WR, Lions
Upcoming Schedule: DAL, @CHI, OAK
Early last week, rookie receiver Charles Rogers suffered a broken collar bone. Rogers will be out for at least a month, and the Lions will be forced to revert back to their 2002 receiving corps of Bill Schroeder and Az-Zahir Hakim. Of the two, Schroeder is likely to be the more promising fantasy player. In his first year with the Lions, Schroeder led the team with nearly 600 yards receiving and five touchdowns in 14 games. With a full season together, Schroeder and quarterback Joey Harrington should be comfortable working together. Expect Schroeder to consistently put up 60-70 yard games with the occasional touchdown in the next month.

Upside Free Agents

DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
Upcoming Schedule: TEN, @NO, @HOU
After Stephen Davis went down with a bruised forearm, second-year tailback DeShaun Foster seized the opportunity, carrying the ball 16 times for 85 yards. Davis will be re-evaluated later in the week, but will likely play. Still, Foster’s eye-opening performance makes him worth a roster spot. As stated here two weeks ago, Davis has only started a full 16-game season once. Acquire Foster this week, but keep him on your inactive roster until Davis misses time.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
Upcoming Schedule: TEN, @NO, @HOU
In Sunday’s surprising comeback win over the Colts, Panthers receiver Steve Smith caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Smith provides enough production each week that his big game can’t be written off as a fluke. That being said, no team in the league is more committed to the running game than the Panthers. Smith is best used as an occasional starter based on matchups.

Dez White, WR, Bears
Upcoming Schedule: @SEA, DET, SD
After Marty Booker suffered an ankle sprain in Sunday’s game against the Saints, Dez White became Kordell Stewart’s primary passing target. White caught five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. With Stewart’s continued struggles, White doesn’t hold much value as Chicago’s number two receiver. His value as a fantasy player hinges on Booker’s injury status. If Booker can’t play this week, White will be elevated to number one and he will be worthy of a start. Monitor the injury report and if Booker is listed as questionable or worse, consider acquiring White.

Chad Pennington, QB, Jets
Upcoming Schedule: INJ, @PHI, @OAK
Whereas Michael Bennett was drafted in most leagues, Pennington was likely overlooked based on early reports that he could miss the entire season. Now, Pennington is gunning for an October 26th return. If you have room on your roster, go ahead and acquire Pennington. In the weeks leading up to the fantasy playoffs, Pennington will face some reasonably soft defenses, including the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mikhael Ricks, TE, Lions
Upcoming Schedule: DAL, @CHI, OAK
After his 76-yard performance two weeks ago, the Free Agent Forecast had Ricks listed as a Wait-and-See free agent. He was on a bye last week, but now deserves immediate consideration due to the Rodgers injury. If your starting tight end is on a bye or you’re just looking to make an improvement at that position, Ricks is an excellent sleeper.

Nate Burleson, WR, Vikings
Upcoming Schedule: DEN, NYG, GB
Second-year receiver Nate Burleson has secured the number two wide receiver spot over D’Wayne Bates and Kelly Campbell. In his past two games, he has 125 yards and a touchdown. While not outstanding, Burleson is poised to improve those numbers in the weeks ahead. He and the Vikings will be playing in the friendly confines of the Metrodome for the next three weeks.

Long-Shot Free Agents

Byron Chamberlain, TE, Redskins
Upcoming Opponents: @BUF, BYE, @DAL
In his first week of action with the Redskins, Chamberlain caught three passes for 32 yards. Imagine what he’ll do once he works off all those Krispy Kreme doughnuts that he binged on during his four-game suspension. Give Chamberlain at least another week to get himself in better shape before inserting him in your lineup.

Artrose Pinner, RB, Lions
Upcoming Schedule: DAL, @CHI, OAK
Rookie running back Artrose Pinner is eligible to come off the non-football injury list this week. Time and time again, Lions head coach Steve Mariucci has indicated he’s a big fan of the committee approach to running the football. While Shawn Bryson and Olandis Gary have posted respectable numbers, neither has been a big-play threat. Pinner will get some good looks within the next several weeks to determine if the running back rotation can be changed.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

Anthony Becht, TE, Jets
Upcoming Schedule: @HOU, @PHI, NYG
Up until Sunday’s two-touchdown performance, Becht had done little to endear himself to fantasy owners. If you’re desperate, Becht is a possibility, but it’s probably best to wait and see what he does once Pennington returns from his injury.

Todd Yoder, TE, Buccaneers
Upcoming Schedule: @SF, DAL, NO
After starting tight end Ken Dilger suffered a foot injury in the first quarter Sunday, Yoder entered the game and caught four passes. Two of them were for touchdowns. Dilger will likely be listed as questionable for Tampa’s game this week against San Francisco. Even so, starting Yoder based on one good game in his four-year career is a risk.

One Week Wonders

Corey Bradford, WR, Texans
Upcoming Schedule: NYJ, @IND, CAR
While Bradford was one of my pre-season sleeper picks, he hasn’t been consistent enough this year to occupy a roster spot. He caught five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown Sunday. It’s too bad the Texans don’t make him part of the game plan more often.