The season is never over for fantasy owners participating
in keeper or dynasty leagues. While their teams may have
been eliminated from playoff contention, it’s never
too early to begin preparing for 2004. A few well-timed
acquisitions now could pay huge dividends come next year.
Scour your waiver wire for long-term prospects and unload
players whose future might not be as bright. Here are
a few names to get you started on your quest for keeper
or dynasty league gems.
Kurt Warner – Rams
By now we all know who wears the pants in the Warner
family. Kurt Warner’s wife Brenda has made numerous
statements through various media outlets that she and
her husband want to be in a new NFL city by this time
next year. Look for Mrs. Warner to get her wish. Kurt
Warner will enter the 2004 season as a starter.
Mark Brunell – Jaguars
I really think Brunell has some good years ahead of him.
He won’t be with the Jaguars next season but
if he lands in the right situation, he could resurrect
his career (ala Rich Gannon). I expect teams like San
Diego, Oakland and Miami to take a good hard look at
Drew Henson – Texans
Henson was drafted by the Texans this spring, so technically
he’s fair game in your league. He’s currently
a New York Yankee, but if baseball doesn’t pan
out, rumor has it he’ll be traded by Houston
to either Green Bay or Pittsburgh. He’s an excellent
long-term prospect for dynasty leagues.
Charlie Batch – Steelers
Batch is another decent dynasty player. The Steelers
aren’t likely to make the playoffs this season
and that means we can expect some significant changes
to an offense that sputtered its way through 2004.
Tommy Maddox isn’t the future, so look for the
Steelers to give Batch a chance to compete for the
starting job in 2004. If he wins the job, he could
come up big with Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress as
Lee Suggs – Browns
Considering all the troubles surrounding William Green,
Lee Suggs has a decent shot becoming a starter in 2004.
While I expect Green will be back with the team next
season, his future doesn’t look quite as bright
as it did three months ago.
Justin Fargas – Raiders
Look for a major youth movement this offseason in Oakland.
Starting running back Charlie Garner is in the third
year of a four-year contract. However, the final year
can be voided either by the Raiders or by Garner himself.
Fargas could be starting for the Raiders in 2004.
Willis McGahee – Bills
McGahee will probably only see a few carries before the
season is over. However, he should be fully healed
by preseason 2004. It will be very interesting to see
how the Bills handle their backfield with Travis Henry
and McGahee both angling for playing time.
Najeh Davenport – Packers
Tony Fisher – Packers
As of Week 12, the Packers have three running backs averaging
five or more yards per carry. Don’t be surprised
if the Packers use one of their backups as trade bait
this offseason. If Davenport or Fisher ends up in a city
like Detroit or Pittsburgh, either back could be starting
Chris Brown – Titans
If the Titans don’t make it to the Super Bowl this
year, count on the team making some significant changes
in 2004. That could mean Eddie George taking on a lesser
role. Acquire Brown as a potential successor to George.
Arlen Harris – Rams
Marshall Faulk’s career seems to be winding down.
He’s suffered one injury after another. While Faulk
will certainly be back with the Rams in 2004, his injury
history always raises the possibility of him being sidelined
before the 2004 season even starts. Pick up Harris now
and hold him in case Faulk succumbs to injury.
Ladell Betts – Redskins
The trade for Trung Canidate hasn’t worked out
like Dan Snyder and Steve Spurrier had hoped. Ladell
Betts appears to be the best running back this team has.
Betts has been hurt for the past month, so he may have
been dropped in your league. If so, acquire him. The
Redskins may start him in 2004 if they can’t find
a better option through the draft or free agency.
Thomas Jones – Buccaneers
Thomas Jones seems to be running with more authority
and zip than he did during his entire stint in Arizona.
His improved play could have him starting in Tampa
or another NFL city in 2004. Hop on the Jones bandwagon
before it’s too late.
Tyrone Calico – Titans
Even though he is still raw, Tyrone Calico is putting
together a fine fantasy football season. If he doesn’t
suffer through a sophomore slump in 2004, he could
become one of the stars of the NFL.
David Terrell – Bears
Terrell has made no secret that he thinks he deserves
more playing time. In mid-November, Terrell was quoted
saying, “In the offseason, I’ll do what
I have to do to help myself.” Likewise, Chicago’s
management has hinted that they haven’t been
happy with Terrell’s play. Look for the former
first-round draft pick to have a new home in 2004.
Cedrick Wilson – 49ers
With Terrell Owens scheduled to become a free agent,
Cedrick Wilson could find himself starting for the
49ers in 2004. The third-year receiver is an excellent
prospect in dynasty leagues.
Javon Walker –Packers
If you count yourself among the disciples of the theory
that suggests wide receivers breakout in their third
year in the NFL, be sure to add Javon Walker to you
roster. Walker has shown flashes of skill but tends
to drop passes. Even so, with Brett Favre expected
to return in 2004, Walker could finally reach his potential.
Donte Stallworth – Saints
After a solid rookie campaign, Stallworth has flopped
in his second season. Like Javon Walker, the third-year
could be a charm. Acquire him now before his stock
skyrockets in 2004.
Brian Finneran – Falcons
Michael Vick’s broken leg put Atlanta’s high-octane
offense on hiatus for a year. Rumors are starting to
surface that Dennis Green might be coaching this team
in 2004. If so, the passing offense could be ignited.
Acquire Finneran as a dynasty sleeper if he’s available.
Bobby Engram – Seahawks
Engram’s strong play of late has likely landed
him on a fantasy squad in your league. If not, don’t
hesitate to acquire him. While it may seem odd to see
a veteran like Engram named on a keeper or dynasty list,
starter Darrell Jackson will be a free agent in 2004.
If the Seahawks don’t offer him a big-time contract,
he’s as good as gone. That could open up a starting
spot for Engram in Seattle’s high-powered offense.