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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 17
Paul Sandy
December 26, 2006

QUARTERBACKS

1. Tim Rattay, Buccaneers

Filling in for the ineffective Bruce Gradkowski and the injured Chris Simms, QB Tim Rattay has put up 212+ yards and a touchdown in each of the last two weeks. He’s a steady QB with plenty of gusto to get the ball downfield to his big play target Joey Galloway. If you need a passer for Week 17, he’s a good option. Rattay should put up the same type of stats he’s been delivering and then some against the Seahawks, who have already locked up their playoff spot. Seattle has allowed 22 passing scores this season—seventh most in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Rattay is a solid one-week option at home against the Seahawks.

2. Brian Griese, Bears

Sunday night’s game against the Packers has no bearing for Chicago, as the Bears have already clinched the #1 seed and homefield throughout the playoffs. Although Rex Grossman is expected to get the start, don’t be surprised to see backup Brian Griese get extensive work. Griese might not need to see much action to get on the scoreboard against a Packers defense that has given up the third most passing scores in the NFL. Start Griese if you’re in a pinch. He should put up around 200 yards and a touchdown or two in three quarters of work.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Griese is a sneaky play this week against a poor Green Bay pass defense.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Ron Dayne, Texans

Based on Dayne’s performance over the last three weeks, he likely has secured a roster spot and a chance to compete for the starting gig in 2007 with the Texans. Whether you’re competing this season or looking ahead to next year, Dayne is probably your best waiver wire bet (assuming he’s available). He could fare well this week against the Browns, who give up the third most rushing yards per game. Next year, he’ll likely compete with Domanick Davis and a free agent or drafted RB for the starting spot.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Dayne should be owned in all leagues.

2. Michael Pittman, Buccaneers

Pittman came up big in relief of the injured Carnell Williams. He put up 107 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Browns. If Williams is out again, plug and play Pittman this week against the Seahawks, who have struggled for most of the season against the run. When the day is done, don’t be surprised to see Pittman in the box score with another 100 yards and a score.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Pittman is worth a start this week against the struggling Seahawks.

3. Adrian Peterson, Bears

With Chicago’s playoff position set in stone, they’ll be resting some of their key players Sunday night against the Packers. Third-string RB Adrian Peterson should get plenty of touches. He’s actually scored two of the last three weeks in limited action. He has upside as a one-week starter. Plus, don’t be surprised if he competes with the temperamental Cedric Benson for the starting job in 2007. Thomas Jones hasn’t been shy about voicing his displeasure with team management in the past and the Bears may choose not to bring him back if they decide they want Benson to be the guy.  

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Peterson is a talented RB who could get a look in 2007. He’s also merits consideration as a starter in Week 17.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Vincent Jackson, Chargers

Jackson has quietly become San Diego’s top wide receiver over the past few weeks. He put up the best game of his young career last week against the Seahawks (5-97-2). With the Chargers still jockeying for the top seed with Baltimore, QB Phillip Rivers should play the entire game. That bodes well for Jackson, whose big play potential meshes well with Rivers’ big arm. Look for the two to hook up on another big play this Sunday against the Cards.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Jackson looks like a future stud, but is also worth a look in Week 17 as a starter.

2. Brandon Marshall, Broncos

Rookie Brandon Marshall has grabbed nine passes over the last two weeks, making him an attractive option in leagues that award points for receptions. Marshall and the Broncos should put up some quality numbers against a San Francisco defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass. Also keep him in mind for 2007 since Rod Smith is approaching AARP eligibility.   

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Marshall could fare well against the 49ers this week and is work a spot start in deep leagues.

3. Brandon Jones, Titans

Jones was touted here several weeks back but hasn’t posted consistent yardage. He did emerge in Week 16 as a favorite target of QB Vince Young. Jones grabbed five receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. He’s playable this week against the Patriots because he’s scored in three of the last four weeks; however, Jones’ biggest value is in keeper and dyansty leagues. His teammate Drew Bennett will be a free agent next season. If Bennett leaves, Jones could be the favorite to become the #1 wideout.   

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Pick Jones up in your keeper/dynasty league or keep him in mind for 2007.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Tony Scheffler, Broncos

It took awhile, but this Scheffler kid is starting to play like he belongs. The Broncos second-round draft pick in 2006, has caught three touchdowns in the last three weeks. The talent is there. The chemistry with Jay Cutler is there. The offensive gameplan is there. Scheffler has all the makings of a future stud TE. Acquire him if he’s available on your wire. Play him this week or stock him away until 2007.  

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues
Forecast guidance: Scheffler is available in too many leagues. If yours is one of them, don’t hesitate to pick him up and play him or keep him for 2007.