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Free Agent Forecast - Week 15
By Paul Sandy
December 9, 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

Marty Booker, WR, Bears
Upcoming Opponents: MIN, WAS, @KC
One of last week’s top recommendations, Booker finally had a breakout performance against the rival Packers Sunday. He caught five passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. If he’s still available in your league, acquire him and start him this week against the Vikings.

Boo Williams, TE, Saints
Upcoming Opponents: NYG, @JAC, DAL
Another previous recommendation, Williams continues to impress. He caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown Sunday and deserves starting consideration in leagues that use a tight end.

Robert Ferguson, WR, Packers
Upcoming Opponents: @SD, @OAK, DEN
While Javon Walker has been Green Bay’s primary pass catcher in recent weeks, Robert Ferguson has also emerged as a frequent receiving target. Acquire Ferguson this week for your playoff run or toilet bowl. In Sunday’s game against the Bears, he led the team with seven receptions for 79 yards. Next week the Packers travel to sunny Southern California to face the Chargers. The warm weather should help Brett Favre’s get a better grip on the ball and San Diego’s weak defense should help him find Ferguson open across the middle of the field.

Thomas Jones, RB, Buccaneers
Upcoming Opponents: HOU, ATL, @TEN
Jones was recommended here a few weeks ago after a 134-yard performance against the Packers. Since that game he’s scored a couple touchdowns but has only played a minor role in Tampa’s offense. However, with the season on the line, Jon Gruden made Jones the focal point of his offense Sunday. Jones responded, carrying the ball 20 times for 89 yards and adding a couple receptions. Grab him this week for your playoff run and certainly don’t be afraid to use him against a Texans defense that gave up more than 200 yards to rushing to Fred Taylor and Labrandon Toefield Sunday.

Jamel White, RB, Browns
Upcoming Opponents: @DEN, BAL, @CIN
White was a decent fantasy player for part of the 2002 season. But after a poor 2003 preseason, he found himself behind William Green and James Jackson on the depth chart. With Green in doobie rehab and Jackson hurt, White stepped into the feature role Monday night and delivered. He looked good running the ball and even better catching passes out of the backfield. Depending on the nature and severity of Jackson’s injury, White could be a nice surprise during your fantasy playoffs. Although he plays tough defenses the rest of the way, don’t be surprised if he goes for 90-100 total yards per game due to his receiving abilities.

Ryan Longwell, PK, Packers
Upcoming Opponents: @SD, @OAK, DEN
Looking for a kicker for the stretch run? Consider Longwell. The Green Bay kicker connected on four field goals Sunday and faces some favorable matchups in the next two weeks. He’ll travel to warm weather San Diego in Week 15 and Oakland in Week 16. I expect a minimum of 7-8 points in each game. If your current kicker hasn’t been providing that level of production, go ahead and grab Longwell.

Upside Free Agents

Erik Bickerstaff, RB, Cowboys
Upcoming Opponents: @WAS, NYG, @NO
With every Cowboys loss, you can just sense that Bill Parcells’ blood pressure climbs a few points. At the same time, you can sense that Troy Hambrick’s grasp on the starting job continues to slip. Hambrick had a decent game Sunday against the Eagles, but Parcells also utilized the services of rookie Erik Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff is an unknown player who was academically ineligible for most of his time in college. He carried the ball nine times for 41 yards in his first game, 4.6 yards per carry. If you’re relying on Hambrick during the playoffs or if you play in a dynasty/keeper league, go ahead and grab Bickerstaff.

Dante Hall, WR, Chiefs
Upcoming Opponents: DET, @MIN, CHI
Hall has been relatively quiet as a kick return specialist for the entire second half of the season, but he made an impact on offense this week for Dick Vermiel’s Chiefs. Quarterback Trent Green threw the ball to Hall’s way 15 times, completing 11 passes for 124 yards. I had been leaning toward putting Hall in the One-Week Wonder category, but the fact that he had 17 offensive opportunities (including two runs) Sunday indicates the coaching staff wants to put the ball in his hands. If you’re in a playoff game this week, he probably can’t be trusted at this point. However, if he has a strong showing against Detroit on Sunday, he could be a nice sleeper against Minnesota in Week 16.

Long-Shot Free Agents

None

Wait-and-See Free Agents

None

One Week Wonders

Travis Taylor, WR, Ravens
Upcoming Opponents: @OAK, @CLE, PIT
Taylor finally connected with quarterback Anthony Wright on two receptions for 77 yards. Unfortunately, Marcus Robinson and Todd Heap are the primary targets, leaving few passes for Taylor.

Jed Weaver, TE, 49ers
Upcoming Opponents: @CIN, @PHI, SEA
Everyone was catching passes for the 49ers during Sunday’s 50-14 destruction of the Cardinals, even the tight end. Weaver grabbed four receptions for 76 yards. If only Arizona could be on the schedule every week.