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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 17
Paul Sandy
December 27, 2005

QUARTERBACKS

Obvious Acquisitions: None

1. Billy Volek, Titans

Volek, who filled in for the injured Steve McNair last week, is no stranger to fantasy success. He threw 15 touchdowns over a five week stretch in 2004. Snatch him off your waiver wire this week and don’t be afraid to plug him in if you’re desperate for some QB help. He’ll face a Jacksonville defense that clinched a playoff berth last week and may be hungover from the celebration. Bank on Volek posting a minimum of two touchdowns if he gets the start. Next opponent: @ Jacksonville.

2. Kyle Boller, Ravens

Boller is a name I never thought I’d see occupy this space. However, his audition for a starting job in 2006 continues to go better than expected. He has six touchdowns in the last two games and looks more poised than at any other time in his career. Strong play from receivers Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason, and Todd Heap have given Boller added confidence. He has the potential to post more strong stats this week against the Browns, who were gutted by the Steelers 41-0 last week. Perhaps it’s time to forget about Boller’s past play and give him a start. Next opponent: @ Cleveland.

One Week Wonders: None

RUNNING BACKS

Obvious Acquisitions: Julius Jones and Jonathan Wells

1. Frank Gore, 49ers

Gore came highly recommended here last week and fulfilled the Forecast’s prophecy. He carried the ball just 10 times for 68 yards, but scored two touchdowns. If he’s still available in your league, make a point to grab him in time for the Week 17 finale against the Texans. Houston ranks 27th in the NFL against the run and they’re coming off a game in which they surrendered four rushing touchdowns to the Jaguars. Next opponent: vs. Houston.

One Week Wonders: LaBrandon Toefield

WIDE RECEIVERS

Obvious Acquisitions: Brandon Stokley and Ernest Wilford

1. Mark Clayton, Ravens

I’ve been recommending Clayton for a few weeks now and he just keeps on producing. In fact, the rookie has scored in five straight weeks. His 90-yard, 1-touchdown performance solidified his status as a dependable fantasy receiver. Despite his consistency, Clayton is surprisingly still available in over half of the leagues on CBS Sportsline. If you play in a dynasty or keeper league, make a point to stash him on your roster. If the Ravens land a veteran free agent QB during the offseason, Clatyon’s value could skyrocket. Next opponent: @ Cleveland.

2. Sammie Parker, Chiefs

Parker, another prior Free Agent Forecast recommendation, has been streaky this year. On Saturday, he torched the Chargers secondary on a 42-yard bomb that went for a touchdown. He should find continued success this week against the Bengals in a game that has shoot-out written all over it. The Bengals have given up 20 passing touchdowns this season, which ranks toward the bottom of the NFL. Look for Parker to hook up with QB Trent Green on at least one long pass as the Chiefs fight for their playoff lives. Next opponent: vs. Cincinnati.

One Week Wonders: Corey Bradford and Ricky Proehl

TIGHT ENDS

Obvious Acquisitions: Zach Hilton

1. Alex Smith, Buccaneers

Tampa rookie TE Alex Smith started out the 2005 campaign with a huge game against the Vikings, catching two touchdowns. He had pretty much fallen off the face of the Earth until the last two weeks when he re-emerged as a key part of the offense. Over that span, Smith has caught 12 passes, including eight for 75 yards on Saturday. While he didn’t score, the number of looks he received suggests that QB Chris Simms has confidence in his abilities. I expect another good performance from Smith against a Saints team that had trouble stopping Detroit’s Marcus Pollard (6-44) last week. Next opponent: versus New England.

One Week Wonders: Adam Bergen

TEAM DEFENSE

Obvious Acquisitions: Pittsburgh and Seattle

1. New York Giants

The Giants defense has cooled off in recent weeks, but they should supply fantasy owners with plenty of points on Saturday when they face the Raiders. Oakland hasn’t scored more than 10 points in a game in five weeks. Their offense looks sickly right now and with RB Lamont Jordan likely to miss another game, they will likely continue to struggle. The team generated fewer than 250 total yards of offense last week against the Broncos. The Giants will have little difficulty stopping an Oakland offense that is predictably one dimensional. If they’re available in your league give them a shot. Next opponent: @ Oakland.

One Week Wonders: Kansas City