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Free Agent Forecast - Week 8
By Paul Sandy
October 21, 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

Domanick Davis, Peter Warrick and Quincy Carter were Elite recommendations last week and continue to deserve roster spots. Each had a strong game Sunday. Make acquiring them a priority if they are still available. In smaller leagues or those with impatient owners, Jerome Bettis might be lurking on the wire. He may regain his starting job this week and should be acquired if he’s available.

Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys
Upcoming Schedule: @TAM, WAS, BUF
Recommended two weeks ago, Glenn continues to establish himself as quarterback Quincy Carter’s go-to receiver. In his last four games, the volatile wideout has 333 yards and four touchdowns, including a three-score performance Sunday against the Lions. Glenn has never been short on talent. His problem has always been injuries and behavioral problems. It’s not surprising to see resurgence in his stats under Bill Parcells, who has a way of getting the most out of his players. Despite a tough game against Tampa, don’t hesitate to get Glenn into your lineup immediately.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
Upcoming Schedule: @NO, @HOU, TAM
An Upside recommendation in Week 6, Smith has now put up impressive numbers in back to back games. In Sunday’s loss to the Titans, the speedy receiver caught 10 passes for 151 yards and touchdown. If you can’t get Glenn or Warrick, make a move to acquire Smith. He has cemented himself as Carolina’s best receiver and has nearly twice as many receptions as fellow Panthers wideout Muhsin Muhammad.

Santana Moss, WR, Jets
Upcoming Schedule: @PHI, NYG, OAK
After the offseason departure of Laveranues Coles, the future seemed bright for Santana Moss. Unfortunately, with Vinny Testaverde at the helm, Moss has been painfully inconsistent. In Week 7, his on-again off-again pattern was on; he caught six passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. Starter Chad Pennington will return to full strength in two weeks and bring order to New York’s offense. Grab Moss this week if you have faith in Pennington.

Arlen Harris, RB, Rams
Upcoming Schedule: @PIT, @SF, BAL
According to reports out of St. Louis, Lamar Gordon suffered a high ankle sprain early in Sunday’s game against the Packers. His replacement, Arlen Harris, carried the ball 18 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Gordon’s sprain is the type of injury that has a way of lingering and keeping players on the sidelines. With Marshall Faulk behind schedule in his recovery from a broken hand, Harris could be a nice surprise in the coming weeks. Add him to your roster and start him this week if you don’t have better options.

Troy Brown, WR, Patriots
Upcoming Schedule: CLE @DEN, BYE
On three occasions this year, Troy Brown has finished games with one reception. This dubious statistic likely earned Brown a spot on waiver wires across the land. Then, just as he was fading into mediocrity, Brown re-emerged last week with a six-catch, 131-yard, one-touchdown performance Sunday against the Dolphins. While impressive, it is important to factor in that 82 yards of Brown’s production came on one play. Wipe out the overtime bomb and you’re left with an ordinary performance.

Jon Kitna, QB, Bengals
Upcoming Schedule: SEA, @ARZ, HOU
Although there’s some speculation beginning to bubble that rookie quarterback Carson Palmer is ready to claim the starting quarterback spot, Jon Kitna has been putting up Pro-Bowl numbers in the past four weeks, including a 96.4 passer rating. From a fantasy perspective, Kitna is a good every-week quarterback and an excellent backup. His three-touchdown, 284-yard game against a tough Ravens defense solidifies his status over plummeting quarterbacks like Rich Gannon and Donovan McNabb. If he’s available, get him this week before your opponents see his soft upcoming schedule.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills
Upcoming Schedule: @KC, BYE, @DAL
Second-year rookie Josh Reed finally had the type of game fantasy owners had envisioned prior to drafting him. Unfortunately, we’re seven weeks into the season and Reed has been dropped in many leagues. His 109 yards and a touchdown should go a long way in improving his confidence. More importantly, it will help build quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s trust in him. Bledsoe threw Reed’s way 10 times and connected on all but two throws. Hopefully, it will be the start of a long and prosperous passing connection. Although Eric Moulds will likely return from his groin injury this week, there is plenty of room in this offense for two star receivers. Just ask Peerless Price.

Upside Free Agents

Jerome Pathon, WR, Saints
Upcoming Schedule: CAR, @TAM, BYE
Starting wide receiver Donte Stallworth suffered a strained left thigh and will not play Sunday against the Panthers. If you need a bye-week or injury replacement, put Jerome Pathon on your list of potential acquisitions. Pathon has been showing up in the box scores lately and has 120 yards over the past two games as the team’s third receiver.

Chad Pennington, QB, Jets
Upcoming Schedule: @PHI, NYG, OAK
Although Pennington won’t start Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, he is slated to see some action. Head coach Herm Edwards remains non-committal about when Pennington will be inserted into the game. Personally, I’m not sure why Pennington can play half a game, but not a full game. Nonetheless, Pennington should not be in your starting lineup until Week 9 at the earliest. Grab him off the waiver wire if your quarterback play is lacking. He could come on strong in the second half of the season as the Jets have been known to do.

James Jackson, RB, Browns
Browns starting running back William Green had his shoulder in a sling after Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. According to the depth chart, James Jackson would be Green’s replacement, with Jamel White getting work as the third-down specialist. He looked solid at times Sunday, gaining 27 yards on five carries and adding a pair of catches. If you’re a Green owner, try to squeeze Jackson onto your roster in case Green can’t go.

Travis Taylor, WR, Ravens
Upcoming Schedule: DEN, JAC, BYE
Like Troy Brown and Josh Reed, Taylor had been a colossal disappointment up until last week. The fourth-year receiver redeemed himself after a Week 6 bout with the dropsies, catching four passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Because rookie quarterback Kyle Boller has been so inconsistent, Taylor doesn’t rank on the same level as some of his receiving counterparts. If you need a one-week replacement, he might be a good option in Week 9 when the Ravens face the Jaguars.

Dorsey Levens, RB, Giants
Upcoming Schedule: @MIN, @NYJ, ATL
Long-time Packers running back Dorsey Levens has frequented the inactive list for much of the 2003 season. However, he was used on an extended basis in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Giants, spelling starter Tiki Barber. Levens notched 16 carries for 64 yards. The reasons the Giants have are turning to Levens seem to be twofold; 1) They want to keep Tiki Barber healthy and 2) Levens is an excellent pass protector and the Giants offensive line is in shambles. Look for Levens to continue to steal carries. Get him on your team if you own Tiki Barber. This could be Thunder and Lightning Part II.

Brian Griese, QB, Dolphins
Upcoming Opponents: @SD, IND, @TEN
The Dolphins have the running back, receivers and defense needed to make a serious playoff run. All that seems to be missing is consistency from quarterback Jay Fielder. In his last four games, Fiedler has a 2:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It’s the stuff .500 records are made of. Another knock against Fielder, is that he limped away from Sunday’s game with a sprained knee ligament. Head coach Dave Wannstedt indicated no update would be given on the extent of Fielder’s injury until Wednesday. Don’t be surprised if the team uses Fiedler’s knee as an excuse to give Brian Griese a look. The former Broncos quarterback would be a decent start against the Chargers, who are giving up an average of two passing touchdowns per game.

Chad Morton, RB, Redskins
Sultan McCullough, RB, Redskins
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, @DAL, SEA
After Ladell Betts sustained a broken forearm in Sunday’s loss to the Bills, running back Chad Morton received the bulk of the carries. However, head coach Steve Spurrier has indicated that undrafted rookie Sultan McCullough will see extensive work in practice in the next two weeks as the Redskins prepare for their Week 9 game against division rival Dallas. Due to the bye and Trung Canidate’s possible return from injury, there may be better running back free agents available in your league.

Long-Shot Free Agents

Artrose Pinner, RB, Lions
Upcoming Schedule: @CHI, OAK, CHI
Olandis Gary and Shawn Bryson continue to split carries in one of the NFL’s most futile rushing attacks. If neither shows an improvement in the near future, rookie running back Artrose Pinner could begin to work his way into the offense. Word is Pinner is an excellent receiver with cat-like reflexes. He must be moved to the active roster by the end of November or he will be placed injured reserve.

Curtis Conway, WR, Jets
Upcoming Schedule: @PHI, NYG, OAK
Conway only had one reception for three yards Sunday. So why the recommendation? Wayne Chrebet has a nagging back injury and headaches, so Conway has his starting job back for awhile. More importantly, quarterback Chad Pennington will make his return on a partial basis this week against the Eagles and on a full-time basis next week against the Giants. If you can afford to wait a few weeks, Conway should see a surge in his numbers by mid-November.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

Brian Finneran, WR, Falcons
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, PHI, @NO
Finneran hooked up with quarterback Kurt Kittner for a first quarter touchdown Sunday against the Saints. One of last year’s pleasant surprises, Finneran has had injury troubles this year and is muddling his way through ineffectual quarterback play. There are likely better free agent wide receivers available in your league right now, but consider acquiring Finneran after this week’s bye if it looks like Mike Vick will return to action in Week 10.

One Week Wonders

Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks
Upcoming Schedule: @CIN, PIT, @WAS
When it’s third down and seven, there’s no receiver that Mike Holmgren trusts to make a first down grab more than Bobby Engram. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Engram plays behind a duo of receivers that are every-week starters in most fantasy leagues. Chalk up Engram’s Week 7 touchdown and 73 receiving yards as a One-Week Wonder.

Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Saints
Upcoming Schedule: CAR, @TAM, BYE
The former number one overall draft pick was spotted this week in the endzone. His touchdown run came in garbage time with the Saints well ahead on the scoreboard … something that’s not likely to happen again any time soon.

Najeh Davenport, RB, Packers
Upcoming Schedule: BYE, @MIN, PHI
Davenport broke a fourth quarter run for a 76-yard touchdown. He ended up with 74 rushing yards on the day. There’s your crazy stat for the week. Leave Davenport on the free agent market unless you own Ahman Green.