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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 11
Paul Sandy
November 14, 2006

QUARTERBACKS

1. Steve McNair, Ravens

McNair was pegged here a couple weeks ago as a bye week replacement and a player who had the potential to emerge over the second half of the season as a fantasy contributor. Now that Brian Billick is calling the plays, the Ravens offense is heating up. McNair was one of fantasy’s top QBs in Week 10, posting 373 yards and three TDs against his former team the Titans. As the former MVP continues to get more comfortable in Baltimore’s offense, he could come up huge. He’s a solid pickup in all leagues at this point.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Use McNair as a spot starter when he faces a favorable opponent.

2. Vince Young, Titans

I’ve had my eye on Young for some time now. He’s been on the cusp of being worth a roster spot. Although I wouldn’t be comfortable starting him on a weekly basis, he’s worth a look if you’re team is in a pinch (i.e. your regular QB is facing the Bears). Young had a career-high 211 yards passing on Sunday against the Ravens with 39 yards and a TD on the ground. He would’ve had a passing TD as well, but a TD to TE Bo Scaife was ruled a lateral and not a forward pass.    

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Young is worth a look in leagues with 12 or more teams.

3. Trent Green, Chiefs

After a series of quality starts, Kansas City backup Damon Huard looked average on Sunday against the Dolphins. While the job will remain his in the short term, another mediocre performance or a loss would likely open the door for Trent Green to get his starting job back. Green has been sidelined since he sustained a concussion on a violent collision in Week 1. The Chiefs face the Browns, Ravens, Chargers, and Raiders to close the season. At least a couple of those games look like they could be decent opportunities for Green.     

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Green appears to be one more poor Damon Huard performance away from the starting lineup.

4. Jason Campbell, Redskins

The future is now for the Redskins. Coach Joe Gibbs announced Monday that second-year QB Jason Campbell would start this week against Tampa. Campbell is a decent prospect in leagues with 12 or more owners and keeper/dynasty leagues. Just don’t plug him into your lineup until he shows you something. Campbell faces some stiff competition in the coming weeks, but will benefit from having St. Louis on the schedule in championship week (Week 16).    

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Campbell is a great prospect in dynasty and keeper leagues and could be a fantasy force in 2007.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Tony Romo

RUNNING BACKS

1. Ladell Betts, Redskins

Betts is sure to be fantasy football’s most coveted free agent in Week 11. Redskins starter Clinton Portis broke his hand in the first half against the Eagles. Betts was his usual steady self coming off the bench. He carried the ball 20 times for 83 yards. I mentioned Betts last week in the Keeper/Dynast Edition of the Forecast. He will be a free agent next season. That means over the next month, he’ll be auditioning for a starting job in 2007. Should he excel over the next few games, his value could skyrocket in keeper and dynast leagues. From what I’ve seen, there’s no reason to think Betts isn’t cut out to be an NFL starter.     

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Betts is the top pickup in most leagues this week.

2. Damien Nash, Broncos

More Shanahan-igans in Denver. It should come as no surprised to anyone who has been playing fantasy football for awhile that Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan pulled unknown RB Damien Nash off the practice squad and activated him for Sunday’s game against the Raiders—in the process de-activating Mike Bell and Cedrick Cobbs. Relying on Denver’s backfield is akin to dousing yourself in kerosene and lighting a fat stogie. You might enjoy a few good puffs, but eventually you’ll get burned. Still, whoever starts for Denver has value in fantasy football. Right now the starter is Tatum Bell, but with Bell’s turf toe injuries still a concern, the backup has value, as well. As it stands, that backup appears to be Damien Nash. Said Shanahan regarding his decision to activate Nash, “I thought we needed a guy who was healthy, a guy that was kind of biting at the bit a little bit to get his opportunity and see what he could do going into the second half of the season." Nash is worth stashing on your bench if you have room or if Tatum Bell is a key player on your team.     

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Nash is a good sleeper pickup in deep leagues.

3. Samkon Gado, Texans

Samkon Gado took another turn on Houston’s backfield by committee carousel in Week 10 against the Jaguars. Gado led all Texans RBs with 17 carries for 67 yards. It wasn’t exactly an awe-inspiring performance, but the fact is RBs are scarce at this point in the season. If he could somehow wrestle the starting spot from Wali Lundy, Gado could come up big. Much like he did for the Packers in 2005. Houston faces an incredibly soft schedule the next two weeks (Bills and Jets), so Gado has good upside.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Looks like a RBBC situation in Houston, but the schedule is such that you might be able to squeeze some value out of Gado in the next few weeks.

4. Mewelde Moore, Vikings

Moore has always been one of my least favorite fantasy players. Mostly because he’s the type of guy who in years past has exploded for a huge game only to disappear the next week. I’ve taken the bait on him before and recommended him only to be burned a week or two down the road. But I think he’s worth a look in the deepest leagues (i.e. those with 14 or more teams) or leagues that reward points for receptions. Moore has resurfaced as a fantasy option the past couple weeks, posting two decent starts in the last three games. He put up 100 yards three weeks ago against the Patriots and 72 in Week 10 against the Packers—most of his production coming on receptions. He could be an even bigger part of the offense because FB Tony Richardson suffered a broken arm on Sunday. Upcoming games against the Cardinals, Lions, Jets, Packers, and Rams could provide more opportunities for Moore.    

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Moore is worth considering in deep leagues and those that reward points for receptions.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Anthony Thomas and Maurice Morris

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Mark Clayton, Ravens

Clayton was a Week 9 recommendation and he came up big on Sunday against the Titans. The second-year wideout put up a nice 7-catch, 125-yard, 1-TD effort. With the Ravens passing offense finally showing signs of life, Clayton looks like he might finally live up to the preseason hype. He’s out-produced his counterpart Derrick Mason over the last couple weeks and may be becoming Steve McNair’s favorite target—despite McNair’s lengthy history with Mason. Snag Clayton off the wire this week. He’s worth a spot in all leagues.  

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Clayton is worth a roster spot, if not a starting spot, in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems.

2. Terrance Copper, Saints

Doh! So much for the Devery Henderson recommendation last week. Like most, I was lulled into Henerson’s big performance in Week 9. Unfortunately, he followed it up with a goose egg in Week 10. Instead, it was Copper who drew most of the looks from Drew Brees. Copper caught six passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. His value is tied to Joe Horn’s health. If Horn continues to sit with a nagging groin injury, Copper is a worth play as a #3 wideout—especially this week against a frayed Bengals defense.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Copper will be a great one-week start this week against the Bengals if Joe Horn sits again.

3. Mark Bradley, Bears

Bradley was one of my sleepers entering the preseason. I thought his speed would be a nice downfield complement to Muhsin Muhammad. The way it played out, Bernard Berrian (ribs) secured the starting spot. Over the first half of the season, Berrian was a dominant fantasy force. But now he’s injured and expected to miss up to three more weeks. Bradley is getting his shot. He posted 79 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. Bradley is no stranger to success. In 2005, he caught 18 passes in his first seven games before injuring his knee.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Bradley might step into Bernard Berrian’s shoes and post quality stats over the next few weeks. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues.  

4. Bryant Johnson, Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald reportedly aggravated his hamstring injury in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. It’s all speculation at this point, but at this point in the season a tweaked hammy could keep Fitzgerald out for the duration of the fantasy season if not the NFL season. The Cardinals offense is in a funk, but if they manage to get things going again the schedule bodes well—especially if your team needs to string together some good performances in the next few weeks to make a playoff run. Over the next three games, Arizona faces the Lions, Vikings, and Rams.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues
Forecast guidance: The Cards face some favorable opponents in the coming weeks, so if Larry Fitzgerald misses time, Johnson could come up big.

5. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys

Terry Glenn is battling a thigh injury that could cause him to miss significant time. Considering how comfortable QB Tony Romo looks under center, the wideouts who lineup opposite Terrell Owens have the opportunity to put up some good stats. That includes Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. Crayton led the Cowboys in receiving in Week 10, catching five passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. If you have a roster spot to spare, consider adding Crayton. He could fill Glenn’s shoes in the coming weeks.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Crayton in deeper leagues. He could run wild opposite T.O. if Terry Glenn misses significant time. 

6. Drew Bennett, Titans

Bennett has show flashes of fantasy success this season, but his inconsistency has caused many owners to dump him. He is available in over 40% of all fantasy leagues. If he’s lurking on the waiver wire in yours, consider grabbing him. Titans rookie QB Vince Young is showing signs of becoming a decent NFL QB. Young connected with Bennett on Sunday for six completions and 115 yards.    

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues
Forecast guidance: As Tennessee’s top wideout, Bennett deserves a roster spot in all leagues.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Chris Henry

TIGHT ENDS

1. Kris Wilson, Chiefs

If you play in a deeper league and are desperate for some help at TE, consider taking a flyer on Kansas City backup TE Kris Wilson. Wilson will likely assume some of the pass-catching duties of Tony Gonzalez, who sustained a shoulder injury in Week 11. Gonzalez will like miss 2-3 weeks of action. Even with Gonzo in the lineup, Wilson has posted some decent stats in recent weeks. Believe it or not, he’s found the endzone in two of the last four games.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Take a flyer on Wilson in deeper leagues.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Owen Daniels and Jerramy Stevens

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins defense came out of their bye week like gangbusters. They knocked off two playoff contenters (Chicago and Kansas City), holding both teams to 13 points or less and recording a good amount of sacks and turnovers in the process. If your team is desperate for some points from your defense, and your league rewards for holding opponents to a low score, give the Dolphins a look. They’ll play host to the Vikings in Week 11. Minnesota’s offense is among the league’s lowest scoring and they turned the ball over a couple times against the Packers in Week 10. 

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues
Forecast guidance: The Dolphins should fare well in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems in Week 11—and possibly beyond.