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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 13
Paul Sandy
November 28, 2006

QUARTERBACKS

1. Joey Harrington, Dolphins

Harrington draws the top recommendation again this week after he lit up his former team in front of a national audience on Thanksgiving. His 3-TD afternoon carried the Dolphins to an easy win over the Lions. Harrington provides lots of upside in a fantasy football world that’s been rocked by QB injuries and benchings in recent weeks. While I wouldn’t suggest starting him every week, he’ll provide a good performance when the matchup is favorable. Use him as part of a QB platoon system if your team is headed to the playoffs and you need some help at QB.  

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Harrington is a good spot starter when the matchup is right and should be owned in most leagues with 10+ owners.

2. Jay Cutler, Broncos

Cutler will get the start this week in replace of Jake Plummer. A strong-armed rookie who looked every bit like the heir apparent to John Elway during the preseason, Cutler should not be underestimated as a fantasy prospect. Remember, it was just a short time ago that Tony Romo went from relative unknown to fantasy stud. Will there be mistakes with Cutler calling the signals? Defintely. However, with a homerun threat like Javon Walker at his disposal, it’s not hard to imagine that Cutler will have some amazing games before the season is over.    

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Don’t wait until he has a big game to grab Cutler. He’s got the talent, the offensive scheme, and the upcoming schedule to contribute in all leagues.

3. Vince Young, Titans

In Week 12, Young had the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for. He sliced and diced the Giants in the fourth quarter, pulling off an improbable upset win. On the day, Young amassed 249 yards passing, 69 yards rushing, and three scores. His star is definitely on the rise and with an upcoming game against the Texans in Week 14, it’s not to late to get production out of the rookie. Young, who was recommended here back in Week 11, has now rushed for or thrown a TD in eight straight games.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Following his coming out party, Young has value in all leagues as a spot starter.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Tony Romo, Matt Leinart, Jeff Garcia, and David Garrard

RUNNING BACKS

1. Sammy Morris, Dolphins

After Ronnie Brown broke his hand in Thursday’s tilt against the Lions, Sammy Morris stepped in and had a game. He finished with 12 carries for 91 yards. Too bad every defense can’t be as punchless as Detroit’s. Although Miami’s schedule will get more difficult in the weeks ahead (JAC, NE, BUF, NYJ), Morris has shown the ability to run and to catch the ball out of the backfield giving him enough versatility to contribute (though he will likely split time with Travis Minor). If your team needs a third RB or a flex player, Morris could be the guy. Brown is expected to miss 2-3 weeks as he recovers from surgery on his injured hand.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Morris is the top free agent RB target and deserves a roster spot in all leagues.

2. Jerrious Norwood, Falcons

Losers of four straight, the Falcons are struggling to move the ball. Starting RB Warrick Dunn hasn’t had a 100-yard game in seven weeks and looks tired. With his job on the line, head coach Jim Mora Jr. may turn to rookie RB Jerrious Norwood to kickstart the offense. Norwood has averaged 6.0 yards per carry this season on 68 carries. With Warrick Dunn at 31 years of age, he’s running on borrowed time. Norwood is the future and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him getting the majority of carries by the end of the year.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Norwood has high upside in leagues of all sizes. Don’t be surprised if he has a big game before too long.

3. Cedric Houston, Jets

The Jets have rotated three running backs in the last two games. While the production has been less than stellar, Houston has been the best of the bunch. He had 50 yards rushing against the Bears two weeks ago and found the endzone on Sunday against the Texans. Houston is not worthy of starting, but he will provide depth for your squad at a position that may otherwise be thin.  

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Houston isn’t starter material at this point, but is worth a look nonetheless.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: DeAngelo Williams and Ladell Betts

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Marty Booker, Dolphins

Booker was touted here last week in advance of Thursday’s game against the Lions. If you played him, you were rewarded with a spectacular 115-yard, 2-TD game. If not, hopefully it’s not too late to pick him up off your waiver wire. Booker is QB Joey Harrington’s top receiver and with RB Ronnie Brown expected to miss time, the passing game will be relied upon more heavily over the next few games. Although the schedule isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air, Booker is worth a look as a third or fourth wideout.  

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Booker looks like the real deal with Harrington under center. He’s a quality acquisition in all leagues.

2. Santonio Holmes, Steelers

Hines Ward aggrevated his hyperextended knee on Sunday and missed most of the fourth quarter during the Steelers loss at the hands of the Ravens. He reportedly underwent an arthroscopic procedure on the knee. Ward is out for the team’s Week 13 matchup against the Bucs and likely won’t return before Week 15. With the the door essentially closed on any hope off Pittsburgh making the playoffs, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ward miss the rest of the season. If your team is gearing up for the playoffs and WR is a weakspot, you may not find a wideout with more upside than Holmes. Also consider Cedric Wilson who is not as flashy as Holmes, but will perhaps get more looks. 

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Holmes looks like a future star but with Hines Ward injured, the future is now. Acquire him now before he breaks out.

3. Marcus Robinson, Vikings

Robinson has played in seven games this season and scored a touchdown in four of them. He officially supplanted Troy Williamson as a starter a couple games ago. If he stays healthy, Robinson will continue to be the focal point of Minnesota’s offense. The risk that comes with playing Robinson is that he will disappear on you. He has posted three games with 25 or fewer yards receiving. Fortunately, Minnesota’s schedule is such that Robinson should produce during the fantasy playoffs. Beginning in Week 14, he will face the Lions followed by the Jets and Packers. All of them rank 20th in the league against the pass or worse.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Robinson is a bit inconsistent, but is now the starter for the Vikings and is worth considering in deeper leagues.

Picks from previous weeks worth repeating: Devery Henderson, Terrance Copper, Reche Caldwell, Bernard Berrian, and Chris Henry

TIGHT ENDS

1. Jermaine Wiggins, Vikings

Wiggins has led Minnesota in receptions in each of the past two seasons. It’s odd that it took him so long in 2006 to make a significant impact. Over the first 10 weeks of the season, Wiggins had just one game in which he posted over 30 yards receiving. But he’s come alive over the last two games, catching six passes in back-to-back contests. Wiggins has become a bigger contributor our of sheer necessity because a few of the receivers have been dropping too many passes. Minnesota faces a favorable schedule after this week’s game against Chicago, so he’s a good pickup if your playoff ticket is already punched.   

Availability: Owned in ~35% of leagues
Forecast guidance: With back-to-back six reception games, Wiggins is a worth a look in leagues of all sizes.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have held opponents to 13 points or less in their last three games. They should fare well again this week against a Cleveland Browns team that was shutout last week by the Bengals. During that game several Browns players were seen arguing with one another on the sideline. The team is showing signs of frustration. They’ll have trouble moving the ball on a Kansas City defense that held the Broncos to just 38 yards rushing on Thanksgiving. Well-rested and well-prepared coming off an extended rest, the Chiefs will likely hold the Browns to 10 points or fewer.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues
Forecast guidance: The Chiefs have a cushy matchup against the Browns and should perform well in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems.

2. Oakland Raiders

For the better part of three quarters on Sunday, the Raiders contained the LaDaininan Tomlinson-led San Diego Chargers. If it weren’t for a couple of bad officiating calls, Oakland might have pulled off the upset. Considering the success they had against the Chargers, the Raiders should theoretically have little difficulty containing the Houston Texans. The Texans managed just 11 points against the Jets and QB David Carr appears to be on the verge of being benched. Look for a sloppy game with plenty of turnovers.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Pickup and start the Raiders this week against a reeling Texans offense.