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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Surprise Scorers
Joe Levit
October 4, 2006

In fantasy football, performance points can be your bread and butter. They keep you alive in contests, but subsisting on them alone is a bland and mediocre experience. The added element of spice – that key ingredient that takes your fantasy squad over the top, allowing you to squeak by tough opponents and win going away versus lesser competition – is, simply: touchdowns.

One fourth (for most teams) through the pro football season, we find a number of surprising players who have been scoring. Many of these men are playing for fantasy owners who may not know their true value. They might be bench guys, or a player the owner assumes is simply on a hot streak. For the various individual reasons, these guys are getting the money looks this season so far, and since touchdowns are the name of the game, it’s a good time to go after a few of these players.

If you need further proof of how important actually scoring touchdowns is, take a quick look at these groups of fantasy starters who have yet to break the goal-line plane:

Running Backs

2006 TDs

Wide Receivers

2006 TDs

Tight Ends

2006 TDs

Warrick Dunn

0

Marvin Harrison

0

Ben Watson

0

Tiki Barber

0

Joe Horn

0

Randy McMichael

0

Reggie Bush

0

Reggie Wayne

0

Chris Cooley

0

Tatum Bell

0

Lee Evans

0

Jason Witten

0

Chris Brown

0

Derrick Mason

0

 

 

So, after those sobering statistics, who are the men astonishing fantasy owners so far this season? They are young players, for the most part, but they are making an impact before their time. Let’s take a look at these sudden stars, so you can determine who to continue starting, or who to target in trade talks.

Quarterbacks

Charlie Frye, Browns (3 scores) – Frye has rushed for more scores than running back Reuben Droughns. Don’t expect him to lead the team in rushing scores, but his tough-nosed ability to score in close means he can be a decent backup fantasy quarterback.

Running Backs

Kevan Barlow, Jets (4 scores) – Barlow has scored in three of the team’s four games this year, and is a fairly consistent force. He hasn’t rushed for even 50 yards in any one game (35, 42, 31, and 35 yards, respectively), but he is the designated stripe man. He has totaled nine or more fantasy points in the three games in which he has scored, and is currently a strong play in touchdown-only leagues.

Laurence Maroney, Patriots (3 scores) – Maroney just got done doing in the Bengals in Cincinnati. He scored twice and out-rushed Corey Dillon 125 yards to 67. He seems to be coming into his own, and while Dillon will still get some goal-line opportunities, and knows how to pick up tough yards, it seems clear that Maroney is one weapon the Patriots plan on wielding from the get-go.

Dominic Rhodes, Colts (3 scores) – It shouldn’t be surprising to fantasy owners that Rhodes is capable of scoring. He logged nine touchdowns while subbing for Edgerrin James back in his rookie season of 2001. That he is pushing back the Addai takeover says a lot about his status on the team. He will continue to produce when given the chance, but it’s likely that Addai will get more carries as the season progresses.

Joseph Addai, Colts (2 scores) – He has scored in both weeks where he was given 18+ touches, so an additional workload seems to be indicative of greater success. If he platoons all year with Rhodes, he is still a good start for a number of owners. If he can get the carries up to a 75%/25% split in his favor, he’ll be very valuable.

Marion Barber III, Cowboys (2 scores) – Julius Jones has performed well this year, but Barber is a talent forever waiting in the wings. While he is more suited to shots in the dark in touchdown-only leagues right now, he is only a Jones injury away from a much larger role. It could happen.

Wide Receivers

Reggie Williams, Jaguars (3 scores) – Ernest Wilford hasn’t shown up, and Matt Jones has recurring health issues. Williams is the pace car for the 3rd-year WR theory so far in 2006. He has been explosive at times, breaking tackles and showing a good change of direction.

Marques Colston, Saints (3 scores) – Wow. What else can you start off saying? Here is a guy that was drafted in the seventh round, and already ranks sixth in receiving yards with 336 this season. He is pulling an Anquan Boldin at this point. Can he keep it up, or will defenses realize he needs to be addressed?

Jerricho Cotchery, Jets (3 scores) – Another third-year wideout, Cotchery has gained more than 65 yards and a touchdown in three of four games, and two of those were against the Colts and Patriots, not exactly slouches. He is in sync with Chad Pennington, and is part of a resurgent young team.

Bernard Berrian, Bears (3 scores) – Yep, he’s also in year three. Berrian, like Cotchery, is benefiting from the surprising positive play of his quarterback. The leadership and accuracy that Rex Grossman has shown on offense is a big reason Chicago is playing so well. As long as Grossman avoids damage, Berrian will continue as his big-play threat.

Greg Jennings, Packers (2 scores) – Only 60 yards behind Donald Driver for the team lead, Jennings is catching on quickly as a rookie, and Brett Favre already loves to take shots downfield with him. With the offensive line a little better than expected, there is no reason Jennings can’t have some continued success.

Doug Gabriel, Patriots (2 scores) – Right now, Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell are just warm bodies, and Chad Jackson has not been able to stay healthy. Gabriel is making the most of his new opportunity – finally playing with a good quarterback. He has scored in each of the last two games and seems like the only receiver capable of making plays opposite a suddenly dominating run game.

Mike Furrey, Lions (2 scores) – Not too long ago, Furrey was a defensive back for the St. Louis Rams. Now, he is the number two wideout in an increasingly high-scoring offensive scheme. With Roy Williams drawing coverage, Furrey scored twice last Sunday. While the Lions appear to have already tanked their season, that doesn’t mean Furrey can’t help fantasy owners while racking up stats in garbage time.

Tight Ends

Chris Baker, Jets (2 scores) – Baker isn’t setting the world on fire, but he is a red-zone threat for the Jets. If you play in a TD-only league, look him up now. If not, still keep tabs on him. He’d be a nice play during your bye week.

Bryan Fletcher, Colts (2 scores) – With Ben Utecht ailing, more opportunity will come Fletcher’s way. Peyton Manning looks his way near the end zone, so he has a chance to be of some fantasy relevance.


Joe Levit provides fantasy football presentations for corporate outings or client appreciation events. Go to www.FantasyFootballSpeaker.com and find out what this service is all about. Joe can be reached at joelevit_writer@yahoo.com.