|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
|Long-Shot Free Agents
||Could emerge as every-week contributors in 3-4
|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
Chad Pennington, QB, Jets
Upcoming Opponents: @OAK, @IND, JAC
In his first start of the season, Pennington showed no
signs of rust. He threw four touchdowns on 281 yards
passing. If Pennington hasn’t been acquired in
your league yet, he certainly will be this week. The
former Marshall quarterback makes everyone around him
better and rarely has a poor game. He is the type of
player who will make an immediate impact on your fantasy
team. Get him in your lineup this week when he faces
the feeble Oakland Raiders.
James Jackson, RB, Browns
Upcoming Opponents: @KC, ARZ, PIT
Jackson was recommended here a couple weeks ago when
starter William Green went down with an injury. This
time, Jackson’s worth isn’t injury related.
Green was arrested early last week for drunken driving
and possession of marijuana. The Browns have suspended
last year’s first round draft pick for their Week
10 game against Kansas City. If you need a one-week replacement,
Jackson is worth a shot. In Week 8 against the Patriots,
Jackson carried the ball 15 times for 71 yards, an average
of 4.7 yards per carry.
Tyrone Calico, WR, Titans
Upcoming Opponents: MIA, JAC, @ATL
Drew Bennett has a severe calf strain that includes damage
to the muscle. He is expected to miss at least three
weeks. The injury takes one receiver out of Tennessee’s
outstanding four-headed receiving mix, which is made
up of Bennett, Derrick Mason, Tyrone Calico and Justin
McCareins. While Mason is a mainstay on a fantasy squad
in your league, Calico and McCareins may be available.
If so, make acquiring Calico a priority. With 6-4 height,
Calico is a serious goal line threat. Three of his 13
receptions have gone for touchdowns this year. Expect
more contributions in the next few weeks while Bennett
L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles
Upcoming Opponents: @GB, NYG, NO
Despite not having a single reception in Weeks 1 or 2,
L.J. Smith is Philadelphia’s second leading receiver
with 215 yards. This surprising statistic can likely
be attributed as much to Donovan McNabb’s struggles
to utilize his wide receivers as it can to L.J. Smith’s
skills. Even so, the rookie tight end could shape up
to be a productive player during the second half of the
season. Smith caught six passes for 97 yards Sunday against
the Falcons. While Billy Miller (see below) is a more
proven player, Smith has a chance to become one of the
leagues top tight ends and should higher on your acquisition
list. The Eagles are desperate for a reliable receiving
target and will continue to utilize Smith’s skills.
Upside Free Agents
Javon Walker, WR, Packers
Upcoming Schedule: PHI, @TB, SF
Javon Walker’s inconsistent play over the first
half of the season likely has him floating around in
your league’s free agent pool. If he’s available,
he could be worth a shot. Sunday night against the arch
rival Minnesota Vikings, Walker caught two impressive
touchdown passes in a Packers victory. My feeling is
that more often than not those redzone touchdowns have
gone to tight end Bubba Franks. Therefore, if Walker
hopes to become an every-week fantasy contributor, he
will need to improve his yardage production. He only
had 42 receiving yards Sunday. Acquire the sophomore
receiver this week, but keep him out of your lineup until
he proves that he can duplicate his efforts.
Andre Davis, WR, Browns
Upcoming Opponents: @KC, ARZ, PIT
Starter Kevin Johnson has been benched by head coach
Butch Davis because Davis was dissatisfied with Johnson’s
blocking. When the Browns travel to Kansas City this
week to face the Chiefs, Andre Davis will start opposite
Quincy Morgan. If you normally start Terrell Owens, Rod
Smith or Joe Horn and need a replacement, Davis could
put up the stats you’d normally expect from Johnson – about
60-70 yards with a possible score.
Tim Rattay, QB, 49ers
Upcoming Opponents: BYE, PIT, @GB
The 49ers are the NFL’s most baffling team. One
week after losing to the Arizona Cardinals with Jeff
Garcia as their starting quarterback, they upend one
of the league’s hottest teams, the Rams, with their
backup quarterback under center. Tim Rattay threw for
236 yards and three touchdowns in their upset over St.
Louis. Rattay and the 49ers are on bye in Week 10, but
looking ahead, San Francisco will play Pittsburgh in
Week 11 on Monday night. Head coach Dennis Erickson has
indicated Jeff Garcia will be the starting quarterback
once he’s healthy; however, it looks like he might
sit another game out. The Steelers have been highly susceptible
to giving up touchdowns and Rattay could be worth a start
if your quarterback play has been lacking lately.
Billy Miller, TE, Texans
Upcoming Opponents: @CIN, @BUF, NE
Miller has scored a touchdown in two straight games and
appears to be regaining the form that he showcased last
year when he caught 51 passes in his first year with
the Texans. In Week 9, Miller caught four passes for
58 yards. It was his most productive game so far in 2003
and only the fifth time in his career that he’s
finished a game with more than 50 yards receiving. I
think Miller can be a weekly fantasy contributor, but
his lack of yardage will likely have owners hoping and
praying for a touchdown. He’s not unlike a lot
of other tight ends.
Long-Shot Free Agents
Doug Flutie, QB, Chargers
Upcoming Opponents: MIN, @DEN, CIN
Drew Brees doesn’t look like a starting quarterback
in the NFL right now. In eight games this season, Brees
has a 63.3 quarterback rating. And while it has little
to do with fantasy football, Brees has only led his team
to one victory this season. After struggling mightily
Sunday, Brees was benched in favor of Doug Flutie. The
fan favorite quickly led the Chargers on a scoring drive.
If Flutie doesn’t start this week’s game
against the Vikings, look for him to relieve Brees by
the third quarter. Flutie isn’t the type of quarterback
that will lead your team to a championship, but if your
starter gets injured, he is a guy who always seems to
score at least 15 fantasy points.
Wait-and-See Free Agents
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots
Upcoming Opponents: BYE, DAL, HOU
According to Al Michaels and John Madden, Tom Brady has
been asking coach Bill Belichick to throw the ball deep
more frequently. The coach must’ve been listening.
Brady attempted several long passes, connecting with
Deion Branch on a 66-yard touchdown. Branch has had some
good games in the past, including a one-touchdown, 89-yard
performance Week 2 against the Eagles. I’m listing
Branch as a Wait-and-See Free Agent because he’s
on bye this week and faces some tough defenses in the
coming weeks, including Dallas, Indianapolis and Miami.
One Week Wonders
Cory Schlesinger, RB, Lions
Upcoming Opponents: CHI, @SEA, @MIN
Schlesinger, a 250 lb. fullback, did something that receivers
Az-Zahir Hakim and Bill Schroeder have failed to do all
year – beat a cornerback for a long touchdown.
Schlesinger outraced an Oakland Raiders cornerback down
the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown reception Sunday.
Despite the score, Schlesinger doesn’t’ deserve
a roster spot.
Taylor Jacobs, WR, Redskins
Upcoming Opponents: SEA, @CAR, @MIA
The rookie receiver scored his first career touchdown
Sunday, but the Redskins are a mess right now. Laveranues
Coles is the only Washington receiver worth owning.
Michael Lewis, WR, Saints
Upcoming Opponents: BYE, ATL, @PHI
With starter Donte Stallworth on the bench due to an
injury, Lewis stepped up his game, catching three passes
for 69 yards and a touchdown. When Stallworth returns,
Lewis will once again be relegated to kick returning