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Free Agent Forecast - Week 11
By Paul Sandy
November 11, 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

Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos
Upcoming Opponents: SDG, CHI, @OAK
Plummer is due to come back from a foot injury this week. Prior to his injury, Jake “The Snake” had rolled off three multi-touchdown games and was gaining confidence in his new offensive system. If Plummer was released in your league and you need a quarterback, he should be at the top of your list.

Doug Flutie, QB, Chargers
Upcoming Opponents: @DEN, CIN, KC
The argument could be made that in LaDainian Tomlinson and David Boston, Doug Flutie has the best supporting cast he’s had at any other point in his professional career. On Sunday, Flutie took advantage of this talent and led the Chargers to an upset win over the visiting Vikings. The former Heisman Trophy winner passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Equally important for fantasy owners, Flutie scored two touchdowns on the ground. If you’re looking to kick-start your passing game, don’t hesitate to acquire Flutie. At the very least, he should get you 15-18 points with the potential to add gravy in the form of a rushing touchdown.

Daniel Graham, TE, Patriots
Upcoming Opponents: DAL, @HOU, @IND
With Jeremy Shockey out for the rest of the fantasy season, many owners are scrambling to acquire a replacement tight end. If you’re a Shockey owner, put Daniel Graham at the top of your free agent list this week. Graham is coming off a bye, which means owners in your league may have forgotten that he has put together two solid performances in a row, including 110 yards in Week 8 and a touchdown grab in Week 9. Graham likely won’t be as consistent as Shockey, but he should provide a few more big games before the season is over.

Tyrone Calico, WR, Titans
Justin McCareins, WR, Titans
Upcoming Opponents: JAC, @ATL, NYJ
Calico was recommended here last week and remains an Elite Free Agent. The rookie receiver caught a touchdown Sunday against the Dolphins. In addition, Justin McCareins is also worth of a roster spot and a start this week. McCareins also caught a touchdown Sunday. Both receivers should continue to see plenty of passes while starter Drew Bennett is out with an injury.

Troy Walters, WR, Colts
Upcoming Opponents: NYJ, @BUF, NE
After Marvin Harrison suffered a strained hamstring Sunday, Troy Walters stepped in admirably, catching five passes for 73 yards. Harrison’s playing status likely won’t be determined until later this week, but consider acquiring Walters as a potential starter in case Harrison can’t go. Walters should be good for 60-70 yards in an offense geared toward the pass.

Eddie Kennison, WR, Chiefs
Upcoming Opponents: @CIN, OAK, SDG
The Kansas City Chiefs have thrown the ball more than 35 times in three of the last four weeks. If the emphasis on the passing game continues, look for more big games from Eddie Kennison. Kennison caught seven passes Sunday against the Browns, piling up 115 yards and a touchdown. In the next few weeks, the Chiefs face some pretty average pass defenses, so Kennison is worthy of a roster spot in larger leagues or those that start three or four receivers.

Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks
Upcoming Opponents: DET, @BAL, CLE
Engram was recommended by the Free Agent Forecast two weeks ago. While he hasn’t been as consistent as fantasy owners would like, that could change in the next few weeks. Starter Darrell Jackson has been a goat in recent weeks, dropping pass after pass (eight drops in the last three games). In the midst of a playoff race, the Seahawks and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can’t afford to wait for Jackson to get his confidence back. Count on more passes to Engram, Koren Robinson and Itula Mili this week.

Rock Cartwright, RB, Redskins
Upcoming Opponents: @CAR, @MIA, NO
Cartwright, another previous recommendation, impressed the Redskins coaching staff when he rushed 18 times for 81 yards Sunday against the Seahawks. Head coach Steve Spurrier indicated in his press conference that Cartwright might get the start in Week 11. Because starting running backs are so sought after, Cartwright has value. Acquire him this week, but keep him on your bench when Washington travels to Carolina.

Upside Free Agents

Tyrone Wheatley, RB, Raiders
Upcoming Opponents: MIN, @KC, DEN
Oakland starting running back Charlie Garner sustained a neck injury early in Sunday’s game against the Jets. While Garner’s x-ray results came back negative, it remains to be seen what his status is for this week’s game. Keep an eye on the news. If Garner is listed as questionable or worse, Wheatley immediately moves up to Elite status. This week, the Raiders face a Minnesota defense that has been embarrassed in recent games by Tiki Barber, Ahman Green and LaDainian Tomlinson. In his first significant action of the season last week, Wheatley carried the ball 23 times for 75 yards.

Adrian Murrell, RB, Cowboys
Upcoming Opponents: @NE, CAR, MIA
Troy Hambrick remains the starter in Dallas despite posting glaringly worse statistics than Adrian Murrell on Sunday. Murrell, who was acquired after Richie Anderson suffered a minor injury two weeks ago, carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards. Hambrick rushed for just 33 yards on 13 carries. While Murrell isn’t worth starting in your fantasy league this week against New England, he is certainly worthy of a roster spot.

Dorsey Levens, RB, Giants
Upcoming Opponents: @PHI, @TB, BUF
Tiki Barber coughed up the football twice Sunday, bringing his total to 32 fumbles since 2000. Barber is without a doubt New York’s most potent offensive weapon. Even so, you have to wonder how long head coach Jim Fassel will tolerate Barber’s turnovers. If you rely on Barber as a weekly starter, owning Levens is a must. If you aren’t a Barber owner, Levens is still worth considering in case Barber’s woes continue and Fassel is forced to make a change.

Marcellus Rivers, TE, Giants
Upcoming Opponents: @PHI, @TB, BUF
Rivers replaces the injured Jeremy Shockey as New York’s starting tight end. The third-year player has had a pair of four-catch games this season, and has displayed soft hands. While Rivers isn’t likely to match Shockey’s game-breaking abilities, he may eventually emerge as a reliable fantasy receiver – one who will get you 4-6 points per week in a league with standard scoring.

Long-Shot Free Agents

Vernon Haynes, RB, Steelers
Upcoming Opponents: @SF, @CLE, CIN,
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been lacking a running game all year. The team will need to address its backfield this offseason. If the Steelers drop out of the playoff race, look for head coach Bill Cowher to begin experimenting with Haynes to see how the 2002 fifth-round draft pick fits into the equation.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
Upcoming Opponents: @DEN, CIN, KC
It always seems like when there’s a quarterback change, previously underutilized players elevate their productivity. In his first start, Doug Flutie looked to tight end Antonio Gates four times, completing three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Monitor this connection this week. If Flutie continues to rely on his tight end, Gates could provide decent production for the rest of the year.

One Week Wonders

Ricky Proehl, WR, Panthers
Upcoming Opponents: WAS, @DAL, @PHI
Proehl seems to come up with one or two huge games per year. Sunday against the Buccaneers the former Seahawks and Rams receiver caught three passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, Proehl is the number three receiver in a run-oriented offense and isn’t worth a roster spot at this point.

Bryant Johnson, WR, Cardinals
Upcoming Opponents: @CLE, STL, @CHI
Johnson posted his first touchdown of the year last week. It came during garbage time, with less than a minute on the clock and the Cardinals trailing by 29. Look for a more reliable option if you need a wideout.

Jeremi Johnson, RB, Bengals
Brandon Bennett, RB, Bengals
Upcoming Opponents: KC, @SDG, @PIT
It is worth noting that the Bengals pulled stud running back Rudi Johnson at the goal line on a couple of occasions. Johnson and Bennett each filled in nicely scoring a touchdown. With Corey Dillon presumably slated to return to health in the next few weeks, neither Bennett nor Johnson hold much value.