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Free Agent Forecast - Week 12
By Paul Sandy
November 18, 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

Included among the free agent recommendations in the past two weeks were Jake Plummer, Bobby Engram, Troy Walters (hamstring), Tim Rattay, Tyrone Wheatley, Andre Davis and Eddie Kennison. Each player has met or exceeded expectations and continues to hold value in leagues of any size. Adrian Murrell, another previous recommendation, is also still worthy of acquiring despite not seeing many opportunities Sunday night against the Patriots.

Kelly Holcomb, QB, Browns
Upcoming Opponents: PIT, @SEA, STL
After an incredible playoff performance last season, Holcomb was a favorite sleeper quarterback among fantasy owners. Unfortunately, Holcomb failed to live up to the hype. In his first six games of the season, he threw six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Last week, Holcomb finally had a breakout game, exploding for nearly 400 yards and three scores. If your quarterback has been letting you down, use Holcomb this week against the Steelers who have given up touchdowns in high quantities this season.

Dallas Clark, TE, Colts
Upcoming Opponents: @BUF, NE, TEN
Unless you own one of the top two players, tight end has been a particularly frustrating position to manage in 2003. Go ahead and grab rookie Dallas Clark this week. He’s been recommended here before and is coming off the first 100-yard game of his short career. Clark should be a solid start this week. The Colts receiving corps resembles a M*A*S*H unit with Marvin Harrison, Troy Walters and Marcus Pollard all struggling through a variety of injuries.

Joe Jurevicius, WR, Buccaneers
Upcoming Opponents: NYG, @JAC, NO
With Keyshawn Johnson deactivated for the remainder of the 2003 season, Jurevicius has been elevated from his original Long-Shot ranking this week to Elite status. Before getting hurt in Week 2, it looked like Joe Jurevicius was going to play a significant role in Tampa’s offense. The former Giants receiver caught two touchdowns in just a week and a half of work. Now with Johnson gone, it looks like he could quickly re-enter the fantasy mix as a major point scorer. The Buccaneers face some of the league’s softest defenses during the fantasy playoffs, including New Orleans, Houston and Atlanta.

Quincy Morgan, WR, Browns
Upcoming Opponents: PIT, @SEA, STL
Morgan was another Cleveland player who entered the season with high expectations. Prior to last week, he had been a tremendous disappointment, netting only one touchdown on the season. But Sunday against the Cardinals, Morgan finally showcased his skills, putting up 116 yards and a touchdown. With starter Kevin Johnson out of the picture, the Browns will continue to count on Morgan for a larger offensive contribution. Cleveland faces the Steelers this week and Morgan is worth considering in larger leagues.

Todd Peterson, PK, 49ers
Upcoming Opponents: @GB, @BAL, ARZ
I rarely recommend kickers, but I liked what I saw from the 49ers offense Monday night against the Steelers. San Francisco got excellent production out of all the key players, including upstart quarterback Tim Rattay. If you’ve been watching your current kicker turn in too many three and four point games this season, Peterson could provide consistency down the stretch.

Upside Free Agents

Thomas Jones, RB, Buccaneers
Upcoming Opponents: @NYG, @JAC, @NO
In desperate need of a spark, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden called Thomas Jones’ number this week. Jones responded with an impressive nine carry, 134-yard performance. While Tampa lost the game, Jones likely earned himself a few more carries in the coming weeks. Acquire him now, but hold off starting him until his role in the offense becomes clearer.

Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Panthers
Upcoming Opponents: @DAL, PHI, @ATL
Reports out of Carolina indicate quarterback Jake Delhomme has earned the trust of offensive coordinator Dan Henning. As a result, Henning won’t hesitate to call more passing plays. In addition, receiver Steve Smith is drawing most of the attention from opposing defenses. These two factors should add up to some successful outings for Muhsin Muhammad. Sunday against the Redskins, Muhammad posted his best game of the season, catching nine passes for 189 yards. Next week, the Panthers go up against the stingy Dallas defense, which ranks first in the NFL against the pass. Otherwise, Muhammad would be worthy of Elite status.

Sammy Morris, RB, Bills
Upcoming Opponents: IND, @NYG, NYJ
Bills starting running back Travis Henry suffered a cracked fibula Sunday against the Texans. He is currently listed as questionable to play this weekend. Head coach Greg Williams said in his weekly press conference, "Travis Henry seems to be pretty good getting around today.” Even so, expect him to sit out. If he does, Sammy Morris and Joe Burns will likely share the carries. Monitor the news to see who the Bills will start. However, at this point, I recommend acquiring Morris because he’s number two on the depth chart and has seen more carries than Burns recently.

James Thrash, WR, Eagles
Upcoming Opponents: NO, @CAR, DAL
In Week 11, the Eagles fashioned what has to be considered one of the best offensive performances of their 2003 season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb passed 314 yards and two touchdowns. While wideout James Thrash only posted 48 receiving yards, he led the team with six receptions. Thrash doesn’t deserve starting consideration this week unless you’re desperate; however, if the Eagles offense continues to improve, he could close out the season strongly.

Kevin Johnson, WR, Jaguars
Upcoming Opponents: @NYJ, TAM, HOU
In a surprising move, the Cleveland Browns decided to release top receiver Kevin Johnson last week. While several teams filed waiver claims for Johnson, he landed in Jacksonville where he is expected to start opposite Jimmy Smith. If Johnson is available in your league, he could be a valuable player to own by the end of the season. Current number two receiver Troy Edwards has delivered some solid games this year. Johnson is expected to see limited duty this week, but might be starting by Week 13.

Long-Shot Free Agents

None this week.

Wait-and-See Free Agents

Kelly Campbell, WR, Vikings
Upcoming Opponents: DET, @STL, SEA
While Randy Moss was phoning in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Campbell provided solid production for the Vikings, catching four passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, Campbell only has 14 receptions this season and hasn’t been consistent enough to recommend at this point. If Moss’ attitude becomes a problem, Campbell could become a reliable receiver. Until then, hold off.

One Week Wonders

David Tyree, WR, Giants
Upcoming Opponents: @TAM, BUF, WAS
With Ike Hilliard and Jeremy Shockey dinged up with injuries, rookie David Tyree led all Giants receivers with five receptions for 106 yards. Once Hilliard returns to full strength, Tyree will likely post inconsistent numbers for the remainder of the year.

Scotty Anderson, WR, Lions
Upcoming Opponents: @MIN, GB, SD
Playing from behind, the Lions turned to the passing game and found some success. Wide receiver Scotty Anderson led all Detroit receivers with 87 yards and a touchdown and has now posted back-to-back solid games. Unfortunately, Anderson suffered a high ankle sprain and was placed on the injured reserve list. He will be out for the rest of the year.