1. David Garrard, Jaguars
Jags head coach Jack Del Rio has indicated that Byron Leftwich is his starting QB when Leftwich gets healthy. Don’t believe it for a second. Jacksonville looks like a much better team with David Garrard at the helm. The team put up 37 points on the Titans in Week 9, and Garrard tossed three TDs. At the very least, you can count on Garrard starting this week against Houston. If Garrard continues to get the nod beyond that, he has tremendous upside for fantasy owners in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems. The Jaguars will face the Texans, Giants, Bills, Dolphins, Colts, and Titans over the next several weeks. He has a chance to post quality stats in most of those contests.
Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Garrard is worth a look as a spot starter in leagues of all sizes.
2. Joey Harrington, Dolphins
In his last two games, Joey Harrington has thrown for 551 yards and five TDs. He’s very quiely becoming a good fantasy QB, and should continue to deliver stats for fantasy owners who are gutsy enough to start him. The Dolphins are playing loose right now, and the pressure-free environment favors continued success for Harrington. He will square off against the Chiefs, Vikings, and Lions, over the next few weeks. If you’re desperate for points from your QB, you might be able to get some production out of him in a couple of those games—particularly against the Lions (his former team). Lower your expectations for Harrington a bit if your league penalizes for interceptions.
Availability: Owned in ~27% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Harrington is a servicable backup QB in deeper leagues and can be used as a starter when the matchup is favorable.
3. Jake Plummer, Broncos
Plummer has been a popular whipping boy for the media this season. Despite high expectations, the Broncos offense started slowly and failed to move the ball effectively. Much of the blame fell on the QB’s shoulder, as it often does. Plummer weathered the storm amisdst constant speculation that rookie Jay Culter would get the nod. He turned in his best performance to date in Week 9, tossing three TDs in a confidence-building effort. I wouldn’t want to rely on Plummer as my primary starter over the next few weeks, especially considering his tough upcoming schedule, but he is worth a look as a backup.
Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Plummer has the tools to re-emerge as a quality player, but give him a couple more weeks before you plug him into your lineup.
Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Damon Huard and Tony Romo
1. Anthony Thomas, Bills
Buffalo starter Willis McGahee suffered a broken rib early in Sunday’s win over the Packers. His replacement, Anthony Tomas, stepped in and performed admirably, racking up 95 yards on 20 carries. McGahee is expected to miss two to four weeks and, considering the nature of the running back position, you have to think the level of contact might sway him toward the high side of that estimate. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Thomas start for the remainder of the regular season in most fantasy leagues. The Bills face a soft Indianapolis run defense next week followed by Houston. That schedule points to solid production from Thomas.
Availability: Owned in 6% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Thomas is the top pickup in most leagues this week.
2. Maurice Morris, Seahawks
Morris had been a supreme disappointment in replacement of Shaun Alexander before exploding for 138 yards on Monday night. If he was dropped in your league, acquire him now. Unsubstantiated reports indicate Alexander may be out longer than expected, and possibly for the rest of the season. Morris isn’t going to carry your squad into the playoffs, but he might be a decent enough player to start when the matchup is favorable.
Availability: Owned in 58% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Morris should be owned in all leagues.
3. Cedric Benson, Bears
Thomas Jones can’t seem to keep things going. Coming off a 111-yard, 1-TD showing against San Francisco in Week 8, Jones was shut down by the Dolphins on Sunday, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. The upset loss at the hands of Miami may have been an eye-opener for the coaching staff. The Bears are going to need a bigger, more consistent contribution from the running game if they have hopes of making a run during the playoffs. It’s clear that QB Rex Grossman cannot carry the team. If Jones continues to struggle to produce consistently, Cedric Benson may be come a bigger factor. He carried the ball eight times for 34 yards in Week 9.
Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Benson is a good prospect in deeper leagues and could become a regular contributor if Jones falters..
4. Jerome Harrison, Browns
Harrison has been recommended here a couple times. While he hasn’t had a big game yet this season, the table is set for him to explode any week now. A good performance in Week 8 against the Jets not withstanding, starter Reuben Droughns has been a letdown thus far in 2006. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. As the 2-6 Browns continue to slip out of playoff contention, fantasy owners should expect the rookie Harrison to get a look. He carried the ball twice on Sunday for 13 yards.
Availability: Owned in 3% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Harrison may emerge as a fantasy contributor over the second half of the season..
1. Matt Jones and Ernest Wilford, Jaguars
Nothing upsets the dynamic of a team’s fantasy outlook more than a change at QB. With Byron Leftwich under center, Reggie Williams was the top receiver. With David Garrard calling the plays, Matt Jones and Ernest Wilford are getting more looks—and Reggie Williams has become insignificant. Against the Titans, Wilford hauled in three passes for 33 yards and two scores. Jones led the team with 66 yards receiving. Take your pick of these two and look for more good performances in the future. Jacksonville has a great upcoming schedule and should continue to score in the thirties with regularity.
Availability: Owned in ~48 and 27% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Jones and Wilford are won’t be consistent enough to start every week, but they are solid reserves in deeper leagues.
2. Kevin Curtis, Rams
Curtis was touted here last week as a receiver with rising value. He delivered the goods on Sunday, leading all St. Louis wideouts with seven receptions for 79 yards. If he’s still on your waiver wire and you need a third or fourth wideout for a playoff run, put Curtis’ name near the top of your list. Although he suffered a rib injury, reports indicate it’s not a major issue. He should continue to put up nice numbers against teams like Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona.
Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Curtis is back. Based on his recent role in the offense, don’t be afraid to utilize him when the matchup is right..
3. Devery Henderson, Saints
With Joe Horn battling a hamstring injury, Devery Henderson stepped into the starting lineup and posted an impressive 111-yard, 2-TD game. The speedster has the skills to become a star in the league and the only thing holding him back is playing time. Monitor Horn’s status. If it looks like he’ll miss time, Henderson could become a viable fantasy starter. Drew Brees is the hottest QB in the NFL right now and can seemingly do no wrong. Acquire him this week as a prospect.
Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Henderson will be a decent fantasy receiver as long as Joe Horn is hurt. Otherwise he will be too inconsistent to own in most leagues..
4. Mark Clayton, Ravens
Clayton, who was a poplular sleeper pick this preseason, hooked up with QB Steve McNair on eight receptions for 73 yards. Baltimore’s offense has been much more fantasy-friendly since head coach Brian Billick took over the reigns, so Clayton’s value is on the rise. The Ravens will face a Tennessee team that just gave up three passing TDs to the Jaguars in Week 9, so Clayton is a good pickup if your fantasy squad needs a wideout to start this week.
Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Clayton is a former first round draft pick who could become a top 20 wide receiver in the next couple years. He’s a great prospect in keeper and dynasty leagues and can be used as a WR3 next week.
5. Joe Jurevicius, Browns
Jurevicius was recommended here a couple weeks ago after he returned from an injury. He caught three passes for 76 yards on Sunday against the Chargers. While I wouldn’t want to be relying on him week in and week out, Jurevicius is an okay option in deeper leagues or leagues that start four receivers. The Browns always seem to be playing from behind so you can count on Jurevicius getting at least a handful of looks. As a bonus, he’s particularly effective in the redzone.
Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Jurevicius is worth a look as a spot starter in leagues with 12 or more owners or leagues that start four receivers.