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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 12
Paul Sandy
November 22, 2005

QUARTERBACKS

Obvious Acquisitions: Kurt Warner and Trent Green

1. Jamie Martin, Rams

Marc Bulger sprained his shoulder on Sunday. He has suffered the same injury twice before and both times it cost him 2-3 games. If that timeframe holds true, Jamie Martin could make a nice stopgap. Martin performed admirably in Bulger’s absence earlier this season, throwing three TDs in three games against formidable competition. This time around the 11-year veteran will have the added benefit of working with Isaac Bruce, who was out of the lineup during Martin’s last tour. The Rams backup has completed 68.9 percent of his passes this season, which is higher than Bulger. Acquire Martin now and use him when the match-up is favorable, including this week against the Texans and in Week 14 versus the Vikings. Next opponent: @ Houston.

2. Mike McMahon, Eagles

The news came out of Philadelphia yesterday that Donovan McNabb will undergo surgery to repair his sports hernia injury. As a result, Mike McMahon will likely remain the Eagles starting QB for the duration of the fantasy season. McMahon was a pleasant surprise this week, putting points on the board against a stout New York Giants defense. All told, McMahon had 298 passing yards and two touchdowns (1 pass and 1 run). It’s been well documented that Philadelphia doesn’t run the ball well, favoring the pass heavily. That bodes well for owners who pick up McMahon. Next opponent: versus Green Bay.

One Week Wonders: None

RUNNING BACKS

Obvious Acquisitions: Marion Barber and J.J. Arrington

1. Patrick Pass, Patriots

Pass, who returned from a hamstring injury this week, picked up right where he left off. He contributed to the New England offense on the ground and through the air, ringing up 89 all-purpose yards. With Corey Dillon (leg) sidelined for what could be an extended period of time, Pass may well continue to post fine statistics for the duration of the fantasy season. Soft match-ups against the Chiefs, Jets, and Bills make Pass a great acquisition this week. Next opponent: @ Kansas City.

2. Tony Fisher, Packers

After a three touchdown performance two weeks ago, Samkon Gado became the darling of the fantasy football community. However, he’s coughed the ball up three times in the past two games and may be losing the trust of the Packers coaching staff. If he falls out of favor, Tony Fisher would likely resume his role as the starter. At the very least, he has reasserted himself as an excellent third-down, pass-catching specialist. Handcuff him to Gado if you are in the playoff chase. Next opponent: @ Philadelphia.

3. Maurice Hicks, 49ers

Kevan Barlow suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Seahawks. His replacement, Maurice Hicks, took a handoff 50 yards the first time he touched the ball. On the day, he had 87 total yards and a touchdown. Hicks was given the opportunity because Frank Gore, who typically backs up Barlow, suffered a hip flexor injury in practice. The status of both players is a bit up in the air at this point. However, if you are planning to start Barlow this week, you should consider adding Hicks as insurance. Next opponent: @ Tennessee.

4. Kevin Faulk, Patriots

Word out of New England is that Kevin Faulk is close to returning from a broken foot, which he suffered in Week 3 of the 2005 season. That Faulk wasn’t placed on the IR suggests that coach Bill Belichick thinks his veteran running back still has an important role to play this year. With Corey Dillon battling a lingering leg injury, Faulk could step into the starting spot sometime in the next few weeks. He’s a sneaky free agent pick up who just so happens to have one of the easiest schedules versus the run in the coming weeks. If Belichick gives him the starting nod, Faulk could quickly become a fantasy force. Next opponent: @ Kansas City.

One Week Wonders: None

WIDE RECEIVERS

Obvious Acquisitions: Bobby Engram, Amani Toomer, and Drew Bennett

1. Matt Jones, Jaguars

Still available in over 40 percent of all leagues, Jones has scored four touchdowns in the last five games. A game this week against the 23rd ranked pass defense of the Cardinals could help the former NCAA QB turned receiver continue that streak. Arizona has given up 28 or more points in four straight games. What’s unique about Jones is that he typically gives you a bonus point or two because the Jaguars like to use him on end-arounds or as a passer. Acquire him this week and don’t shy away from plugging him into your lineup. Next opponent: @ Arizona.

2. Brandon Lloyd, 49ers

Although the 49ers offense might seem like an odd place to find a promising fantasy receiver, Brandon Lloyd has a ton of upside—especially in dynasty and keeper leagues. Lloyd was the focal point of the San Francisco offense this week against the Seahawks, catching seven passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. If you’re in the hunt for the playoffs and your #3 WR position has been iffy, give Lloyd a look. He has a favorable schedule in the coming weeks with games against Tennessee, Arizona, and Seattle. Next opponent: @ Tennessee.

3. Reggie Brown, Eagles

Brown was a hot acquisition two weeks ago when Terrell Owens was suspended. But last week, many owners who picked him up promptly gave up on Brown after Donovan McNabb was injured. If he’s available in your league, consider dedicating a roster spot to the rookie. Mike McMahon looks markedly better than he did during his time in Detroit and should be able to get the ball to his receivers. With upcoming games against Green Bay and Seattle, Brown may come in handy if your team is lacking in the WR department. Next opponent: versus Green Bay.

4. Roddy White, Falcons

Rookie Roddy White is starting to live up to the expectations the Falcons placed upon him when they made him their top selection in the 2005 NFL draft. White scored the first touchdown of his career in Week 10 and followed it up with a 108 yard effort on Sunday. What’s most promising about White is that Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick is starting to make headlines for his arm rather than just his legs. Vick logged his first 300-yard passing game in Week 11. This followed two straight 200-yard efforts. Next opponent: @ Detroit.

5. Braylon Edwards, Browns

Edwards, the fourth rookie wideout on this list, was the first receiver taken in the 2005 NFL draft. He caught six passes for 90 yards against the Dolphins. It wasn’t the first big performance for the former Michigan Wolverine. Back in Week 2, Edwards burned the Packers for 107 yards and a touchdown. It seems the only thing holding back this speedy WR is inconsistent play from QB Trent Dilfer. A game this week against the Vikings, who were just torched by Donald Driver for two touchdowns last night, gives Edwards the potential for another big performance. Give him a look if you’ve been eliminated from the playoffs and are looking for a player with upside to help you play the role of spoiler. Next opponent: @ Minnesota.

One Week Wonders: Andre Davis, Eric Parker, and Randy Hymes

TIGHT ENDS

Obvious Acquisitions: Dallas Clark

1. Zack Hilton, Saints

In 2003, a little known third-year TE for the Saints came out of nowhere and scored four touchdowns in the final six games of the season, averaging 58 yards per outing. That tight end’s name was of course Boo Williams. There’s no telling whether Zack Hilton, another third-year TE for the Saints, will duplicate Williams’ fabulous finish. However, it may give you pause before you dismiss Hilton’s performance as an aberration. If TE is the weak link in your otherwise solid squad, give Hilton a shot. The Saints have been struggling to move the ball on the ground, which led to 50 pass attempts on Sunday. If the pattern continues, Hilton could thrive. Next opponent: @ New York Jets.

One Week Wonder: Kyle Brady

TEAM DEFENSE

Obvious Acquisitions: Denver Broncos

1. New Orleans Saints

Although the Saints give up an average of 26.6 points per game, their match-up this week against the Jets is simply too good to pass up. New York has scored just three total points in their last two outings. What’s worse, in that same span the Jets have turned the ball over 11 times and been sacked on seven occasions. The Saints are actually tough versus the pass, giving up just 170.4 yards per game through the air. Look for them to harass QB Brooks Bollinger, who will return to the starting lineup after suffering a concussion in Week 11, into a handful of mistakes. Next opponent: @ New York Jets.

One Week Wonders: Cleveland Browns