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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 12
Paul Sandy
November 21, 2006

QUARTERBACKS

1. Joey Harrington, Dolphins

Revenge could taste pretty sweet this week for Joey Harrington when he faces his former team, the Lions. Detroit ranks 22nd in the NFL against the pass and they’ve given up 16 passing scores this season. He’s a nice one-week stop gap if your regular QB got hurt on Sunday or faces a tough matchup in Week 12. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Harrington flirt with a 300-yard, 2-TD performance. Harrington looked decent against the Vikings thowing for over 250 yards and a touchdown (plus he had another 57-yard TD called back on a penalty).  

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Harrington is a good spot starter when the matchup is right, including this week.

2. Jeff Garcia, Eagles

Of the QBs on this list, Garcia might have the most upside. With the offense the Eagles run and with the talent surrounding him, he could put up some great stats. But what Garcia has working against him is a tough, tough schedule. The Eagles go on the road to face the Colts (3rd in the NFL vs. the pass) this week. Then they’ll square off against the Panthers at home before facing the Redskins, Giants, and Cowboys on the road. The Redskins game is the only sure thing. Garcia is at best a servicable replacement to Donovan McNabb. He’s worth a roster spot. Just don’t let your season ride on his shoulders.    

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Assuming Andy Reid announces he’s the starter, Garcia will be an okay option if you lost McNabb.

3. Aaron Brooks, Raiders

Oakland seems like a pretty strange place to go looking for a fantasy QB these days. However, Aaron Brooks was surprisingly efficient in his first start since returning from a pectoral muscle injury. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 179 yards and a TD—adding 34 yards rushing. A favorable schedule gives fantasy owners reason to be optimistic about Brooks. The Raiders get the formidable Chargers this week before facing the Texans, Bengals, and Rams. In leagues with 12 or more teams, it’s slim pickings as far as QBs go. Brooks might not be the sexiest option, but you should be able to squeeze some points out of him in at least a couple of those games.     

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Brooks has some great matchups in the coming weeks and is worth a look in leagues with 12+ teams.

4. Josh McCown, Lions

Drew Bledsoe and Mark Brunell have already been demoted. Who’s next? The smart money is on Jon Kitna, who now has more interceptions (12) this season than touchdowns (11). If McCown were to inherit the keys to Detroit’s offense, he could have considerable value during the fantasy playoffs when the Lions will face the Vikings and Packers in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively. If your team is a playoff contender and you lost Donovan McNabb or you’re counting on Kitna, McCown is a sneaky pickup.      

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues
Forecast guidance: McCown could be the starter by Week 13. Acquire him if you’re desperate for a QB with upside.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Tony Romo and David Garrard

Other quarterbacks worth considering this week: Chad Pennington

RUNNING BACKS

1. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers

Well, the inevitable finally happened and DeShaun Foster (elbow) got hurt, opening the door for DeAngelo Williams. The Forecast has been pimping Williams for some time now, and he lived up to the high expectations. The rookie gutted the Rams for 114 yards on 20 carries. The performance had to catch the eye of head coach John Fox, who has been desperate to get more out of his running game ever since Stephen Davis left. Foster will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Regardless of the results, look for the shifty Williams to become the focal point of the Carolina rushing attack over the next few weeks. If you play in a deeper league, where Williams is not available, consider acquiring FB Brad Hoover, who figures to get plenty of work at the goal line and on receptions.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Williams is the top pickup if he’s available.

2. Samkon Gado, Texans

Gado’s name pops up on the Forecast more than pimples on teenager with a potato-chip addiction. For the second week in a row, Gado led all Texans rushers, turning 10 carries into 69 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart Wali Lundy also logged a fine effort, posting 61 yards and a score on eight carries. Folks, what we have here is a full-blown, textbook running back by committee situation. But don’t run away in fear. Embrace it. For the Texans have a Charmin-soft schedule in the coming weeks. Both backs should fare quite well against the likes of the Jets (Week 12), Titans (Week 14), and Colts (Week 16). 

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Acquire Gado and start him on even numbered weeks if you’re desperate.

3. Justin Fargas, Raiders

LaMont Jordan’s awful 2006 season came to a merciful end on Sunday when he tore the MCL ligament in his knee. He will be put on the IR, which means backup Justin Fargas climbs up to the starting spot on the depth chart. Fargas, who is no stranger to the injury report himself, has performed okay with the limited carries he’s received. He’s averaging 3.7 ypc this season. Although those numbers aren’t going to help you get your greedy mitts on the championship trophy, the fact that Fargas will likely be getting 20 touches per game makes him a serviceable reserve RB for most teams.     

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues
Forecast guidance: With LaMont Jordan done for the year, Fargas is now the Raiders starter—for whatever that’s worth.

4. Jason Wright, Browns

With Reuben Droughns (foot) on the sideline in Week 11, Jason Wright stepped into the limelight and seemed to move the ball at will against the Steelers. He ended the day with 80 all-purpose yards. Droughns is reportedly going to be listed as questionable for this week’s game against the Bengals, so Wright may get the nod again. Cincinnati gives up 123.2 ypg on the ground, so he’s a decent option if your regular starter is injured.  

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Wright looked like the total package against the Steelers. The Browns may give him more looks in the coming weeks regardless of Droughns’ status.

5. Damien Nash, Broncos

I won’t pretend to assume that I know what’s going on in the head of Mike Shanahan. I will however speculate that Damien Nash’s bruising 10-carry, 52-yard performance on Sunday night caused the coach to take notice. Shanahan now has three running backs in his stable (Nash, Mike Bell, and Tatum Bell) who have at one point or another shown the one-cut style he so ardently desires. How will it play out? My opinion is that there won’t be a clear-cut starter for the rest of the season. Instead, Shanahan will start the player he thinks best matches up with Denver’s opponent on a given week. Not an ideal situation for fantasy owners, but points can be had if you’re an active owner who can make lineup changes right up to game time.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: If you’re in the playoff picture and you’re relying on the Denver backfield for points, acquiring Nash should be a priority.

6. Arlen Harris, Lions

Lions RB Kevin Jones was carted off the field with an apparent ankle injury in Week 11. Details about the extent of that injury are sketchy, but Jones will be listed as doubtful this week. With Jones sidelined, the primary beneficiary will likely be Arlen Harris. Harris played under offensive coordinator Mike Martz while the two were in St. Louis. He fits well into the scheme and led the Lions with 10 carries for 40 yards and scored the team’s lone touchdown against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Detroit’s schedule in the next three weeks doesn’t favor good production. He’ll face the Dolphins, Patriots, and Vikings. All defend the run well. The Vikings and Patriots rank #1 and #2, respectively.        

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Harris will likely get the start on Thanksgiving and is worth a look if your other options are limited.

7. T.J. Duckett, Redskins

Duckett has been invisible since the Redskins acquired him from the Falcons this preseason. He reportedly has been slow to pick up Washington’s complex offense. A season-ending injury to Clinton Portis has forced Duckett into action. He responded well in Week 11, carrying the ball five times for 26 yards. Look for Duckett to spell Ladell Betts, who was recommended here last week. Duckett could be a nice change of pace for Betts and will also likely get the goal line work.     

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Duckett is a good pickup in TD-weighted leagues and a marginal pickup in others.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Anthony Thomas

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Terrance Copper and Devery Henderson, Saints

Copper was a Forecast recommendation last week and Henderson two weeks ago. With rookie of the year frontrunner Marques Colston questionable at best after suffering an ankle sprain, both Copper and Henderson merit a roster spot. The severity of Colston’s sprain is unknown. As it stands, he is likely to draw the dreaded “day-to-day” classification. Copper figures to be more consistent than Henderson if Colston were to miss time. However, Copper suffered an ankle injury of his own and will likley be questionable for Week 12. Check out the latest news to determine who is the top choice.

Availability: Owned in ~3% and 30% of leagues, respectively
Forecast guidance: Copper and Henderson will have considerable value in all leagues if Colston misses time.

2. Reche Caldwell, Patriots

I was gunshy about recommending Caldwell last week after he broke out with a 90-yard, 1-TD performance. Now that he backed it up in Week 11 posting 70 yards and a score on three receptions, I’ve got enough confidence in him to give him his proper due this week. With Doug Gabriel in the doghouse, Caldwell has emerged as a favorite target of Tom Brady. A matchup on Sunday against the Bears looks iffy, but down the road he’ll face the Lions and Texans, among others. If you can stomach the potential inconsistency that comes with owning any New England wideout, Caldwell presents a lot of upside.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Caldwell has had strong outings in three of his last four games and should be owned in all leagues.

3. Marty Booker, Dolphins

Booker led all Miami receivers with six catches for 84 yards on Sunday against the Vikings. It was his third good performance in his last four games. Booker has an attractive matchup this week against the Lions. Don’t hesitate to start him if you need a third or even second wideout. Booker is receiving essentially the same number of looks from QB Joey Harrington over the last couple weeks as Chris Chambers. He has an excellent opportunity to reward owners who start him this week with 70-80 yards and a possible score.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Booker is worth a start this week.

4. Ernest Wilford, Jaguars

Jacksonville’s receiving unit has had a serious case of stone hands in recent weeks. In particular, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams have struggled with dropped passes and they continued to do so on Monday night. Ernest Wilford has seized the opportunity to become the team’s most sure-handed pass catcher. He nabbed six receptions for 87 yards against the Giants before suffering a freak leg injury when he collided with a video camera. Check the status of Wilford. If he plays, he may be worth a spot start against the Bills.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Wilford looks like David Garrard’s favorite target and is worth a look in leagues with 10 or more teams.
 
5. Mark Bradley, Bears

Bradley was recommended here last week and came through with 80 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. His score came on a quick hit pass in which he made one cornerback miss and out-sprinted the rest of the secondary for a 57-yard TD. The play proves Bradley is almost fully recovered from the reconstructive knee surgery he underwent in 2005. Bradley is seeing increase action because Bernard Berrian is recovering from a rib injury. As Berrian gets healthy, Bradley may go back to a reserve role, so keep your expectations in check. But also keep your eye on Bradley as a potential future star.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Bradley has produced in two straight weeks. Ride him as long as he’s getting all of Berrian’s looks.

6. Santonio Holmes, Steelers

Holmes scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday against the Browns. The Steelers have big expectations for him; he was their first round pick this year. Holmes is beginning to realize his potential. The 5-11 wideout has exceeded 50 yards receiving in five of the last six games. The problem with Steelers wideouts over the past couple years (other than Hines Ward) is that there haven’t been enough balls to go around. But Pittsburgh has attempted an average of 42 passes per game over the last three contests. If that trend continues, Holmes could develop into an even more reliable fantasy threat. The only knock on him is his propensity to put the ball on the ground. He has five fumbles this season.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Holmes has tremendous upside and merits a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Mark Clayton and Bryant Johnson

Other receivers worth considering this week: Arnaz Battle and Ronald Curry

TIGHT ENDS

1. George Wrighster, Jaguars

Wrighster has been mentioned here on a couple of occasions. People continue to want to write him off as an inconsistent player who only contributes in the red zone. Monday night should silence those skeptics. Wrighster caught four passes for 57 yards. The Jaguars have apparently turned to Wrighster out of desperation since most of their receivers have had difficulting hanging onto the football. Should the Jags continue to use him on all parts of the field, he could become a surprise over the last several weeks of the season.   

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Wrighster’s performance on Monday night proves he can be more than just a red zone target. Consider adding him in deeper leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Miami Dolphins

If you listened to the Forecast last week and plugged the Dolphins into your lineup, you were rewarded with a pair of defensive touchdowns plus a few sacks and turnovers. Miami was a good play last week against the Vikings, but they could be even better on Thanksgiving against the Lions, who only managed 10 points against the Cardinals in Week 11.    

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues
Forecast guidance: The Dolphins should fare well in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems in Week 11—and possibly beyond.

2. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts come off their first loss of the season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. They’re looking to make a statement and should have great success this week against the Eagles, who will be without Donovan McNabb. McNabb’s replacement will likely be Jeff Garcia. Although Garcia is a former Pro-Bowler, those days are distant memories. Garcia has thrown 15 interceptions compared to 14 TDs since leaving the 49ers. It’s be surprising if Philly scores more than 10 points.   

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues
Forecast guidance: The Colts are a slick pickup because the face a reeling Eagles team in Week 12.