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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 3
Paul Sandy
September 18, 2007

QUARTERBACKS

1. Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers
Garcia received top billing here last week because of a favorable matchup against the Saints. He fulfilled that prophecy, putting up a more-than-respectable 243 yards and two touchdowns. If your QB play has been shaky so far, Garcia could be just the guy to give your team a lift. I consider him a better pickup than Cleveland’s Derek Anderson, who threw five touchdowns but faces a tough stretch of schedule coming up (OAK, BAL, NE, BYE). The Bucs will benefit from another soft defense on Sunday when they play host to the Rams. Plug and play Garcia this week. Beyond that, he looks like a capable backup or spot starter with the potential for an even greater contribution.  

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Garcia is a solid backup QB in all leagues and deserves a spot start this week against the Rams.

2. Derek Anderson, Browns
Anderson gutted the Bengals secondary on Sunday, throwing for 328 yards and five touchdowns. It’d be easy to chalk up his performance as a one-time fluke but the bottom line is that it wasn’t the first game in which Anderson has put up good numbers. He played in four games in 2006 and threw multiple TDs in two of them. Moreover, a couple of his solid outings last year were against the Steelers and Ravens. The kid has talent. The big knock on him is that he’s prone to making mistakes. With the talent surrounding him, Anderson could continue to hold off Brady Quinn and put up good numbers.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Anderson has a tough schedule coming up but he’s still worth a roster spot after his five-touchdown game in Week 2.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Sammy Morris, Patriots
This is the third and final time the Forecast will mention Morris, who continues to play an important role on the Patriots offense. On Sunday night, he carried the ball 10 times (compared to 15 for Laurence Maroney). Plus Morris got the goal line work and scored a touchdown. If he’s available in your league and you’re thin at RB, Morris is worth a look. With games coming up against the Bills, Bengals, Browns and Cowboys, he should continue to produce 50+ yards per game with the occasional touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is a good player stash on your bench as the bye weeks approach.

2. DeShawn Wynn, Packers
Any time a RB scores twice in a game, it catches the attention of fantasy footballers. When it’s a guy who’s available on the waiver wire, it stirs up the anthill and sends owners scurrying to put in their free agent requests. Wynn’s 50-yard, 2-TD performance will likely earn him more touches in Green Bay’s backfield rotation. He’s definitely worth a roster spot because Brandon Jackson looks tentative and isn’t getting it done. Even so, don’t expect the Packers to hand Wynn the starting job outright. The job share between Wynn, Jackson, Ryan Grant, and Vernand Morency (injured) will continue until one player cements himself as the best runner. Until that happens, Wynn is a backup with decent upside.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Acquire Wynn now and hold him for a couple weeks to see if you can catch lighting in a bottle.

3. Ron Dayne, Texans
Dayne isn’t scoring touchdowns and he’s not racking up big yardage. What he is doing, however, is carrying the ball plenty. Believe it or not he has more carries than Larry Johnson, Reggie Bush and Ronnie Brown. His 31 rushes equal those of starter Ahman Green. While his 2.5 yards per carry average doesn’t look sexy on the stat sheet, he has value because of all the touches. It’s easy to write the former Heisman Trophy winner off as a plodder, but Dayne has shown at times throughout his career that he can pile up big fantasy stats. He scored five touchdowns in his final three games of 2006.

Availability: Owned in ~27% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dayne’s surprising workload makes him a worthwhile fourth or fifth RB in leagues with 12+ teams.

4. Selvin Young, Broncos
Mike Shanahan threw fantasy owners a rare bone this week when he told the media just how much he thinks of rookie Selvin Young. “I can see him as a starter," Shanahan said. "He is a starter in this league." If Travis Henry were to suffer a significant injury, Young looks like he’d be the main guy. In Denver’s offense, that could mean monster stats. Considering that Henry has already been nicked up with a bum ankle and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2002, Young is worth a look. He busted loose for a 40-yard run in Week 2.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young is a quality backup RB in all leagues and has tremendous upside particularly in keeper leagues.

5. Mewelde Moore, Vikings
Moore made a name for himself when he stepped in for the oft-injured Michael Bennett back in 2005. Since then he’s slipped in and out of the Vikings lineup and has had minimal playing time outside of special teams. He resurfaced this past week because Chester Taylor (hip) was unable to play. Moore made the most of his opportunity, gaining 50 yards on six carries. Plus he added good production in the passing game (36 yards), which is his strong suit. He won’t have any value when Taylor returns, but is a decent spot starter this week against the Chiefs (assuming Taylor is out again) especially in points-per-reception leagues. Moore should put up another 70-80 all-purpose yards as the Vikings continue to spell rookie Adrian Peterson.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moore is an okay one-week starter in Week 3 if Chester Taylor is inactive.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Roydell Williams, Titans
I debated about whom to make my top WR recommendation this week. Williams gets the nod because of higher upside than the other guys on this list. The Titans are desperate for someone to emerge as a top threat in the passing game. Williams synched up with QB Vince Young for 72 yards on four receptions in Week 1. If the duo can stay on the same page, the potential exists for something special. Vince Young has the ability to get the ball to his third-year wideout anywhere on the field. Williams is worth a flier this week if you have room for a WR who you can be patient with.

Availability: Owned in ~1 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is a wideout who could breakout in his third year and is worth a flier.

2. Shaun McDonald, Lions
McDonald was mentioned last week as an option in deeper leagues, but the way things are shaping up, he may prove to be even more valuable. He was the target of 10 passes in Week 2, catching seven balls for 71 yards. Can the Lions continue to have four WRs with fantasy value? I have my doubts, but with Mike Martz calling the plays, anything is possible. McDonald is worth a look as a spot starter or flex player.

Availability: Owned in ~26 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McDonald is getting enough looks to be worth a roster spot in leagues with 10 or more teams.

3. Joe Jurevicius, Browns
The sure-handed Jurevicius pulled down two touchdown grabs in the Browns Week 2 shootout with the Bengals. When he’s healthy and the Browns are getting good play from the QB position, Jurevicius is a good fantasy player. He closed out the 2006 season with 22 receptions in his final four games. It’s worth noting that those four games came with QB Derek Anderson under center. The two seem to have a good rapport, which could be a sign of more good things to come. Don’t underestimate Jurevicius this week when entering your free agent requests.  

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jurevicius looks like one of QB Derek Anderson’s most trusted targets and is a decent backup or low-end third WR.

4. Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson, Seahawks
Both Seahawks wideouts were recommended here last week. Both contributed in their own ways. Engram caught five passes for 71 yards. Burleson hauled in two passes for 39 yards and a TD. With the Bengals 27th ranked pass defense on tap next, there won’t be a better time to own a Seahawks receiver. Acquire one and give him a start this week if your receiving corps could use a bit more punch in Week 3. I favor Engram because he’s more consistent.

Availability: Owned in ~8% and ~11% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Enrgram and Burleson are solid options this week against the Bengals.

5. James Jones, Packers
A favorite preseason sleeper of the fantasy masses, Jones came alive in Week 2. He hooked up with Brett Favre on four catches for 75 yards. Green Bay has averaged 40 pass attempts over the first two weeks. That trend should hold up (or increase) through the rest of the season because the running game is stagnant. With so many balls flying around, Jones will continue to be a fantasy factor. The return of Greg Jennings may open up the offense even more and shouldn’t negatively impact Jones’ stats.

Availability: Owned in ~25 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jones is a solid backup or spot starter in most leagues.

6. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars
Two weeks into the season, it looks like Dennis Northcutt is going to be the Jaguars top receiver in 2007. So far he’s been targeted by QB David Garrard 15 times. The opportunity to grab an NFL team’s #1 receiver off your waiver wire is rare, but Northcutt is available in over 90% of all fantasy leagues. This is Jacksonville, so the expectations are definitely not 1,200 yards and 10 TDs. However, he could approach 850 yards and five or six scores. That production would make him roster worthy in most leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~8 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Northcutt is Jacksonville’s top wideout through two weeks and thus merits a roster spot.

7. Marty Booker, Dolphins
Booker seems to make an annual appearance on the Free Agent Forecast. With the mediocre talent the Dolphins have had at the QB position, Booker hasn’t put up consistent numbers in recent years. He has posted the occassional solid game like the 79-yard, one-touchdown effort he pasted on the Cowboys in Week 2. Considering the way Miami is throwing the ball around (nearly 40 attempts per game) Booker could prove to be a viable bench player who you could use if the matchup is right.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Booker’s not a bad fantasy reserve who could be started in a pinch as long as Miami continues to emphasize the passing game.

8. Antonio Bryant, Free Agent
NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell reinstated Bryant yesterday. The move means Bryant is free to sign with any team. Several squads are currently short on WR talent so look for Bryant to get a few tryouts and land on a squad somewhere. At this point the 26-year old WR is only worth a flier deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Keep Bryant on your radar. If he lands in the right situation, he could become a fantasy factor once again.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Owen Daniels, Texans
Daniels was a Forecast recommendation prior to Week 1. He surfaced as a favorite target of Matt Schaub on Sunday, catching five passes for 58 yards. It looks like Houston WR Andre Johnson could miss next week’s game against the Colts, so Daniels along with rookie WR Jacoby Jones, will be asked to shoulder the load in the passing game. If TE has been a source of frustration over the first couple weeks, acquiring Daniels should be a priority.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Daniels is worth a start this week against the Colts and could develop into a consistent fantasy starter as Schaub becomes more comfortable with him.
 
2. Jeff King, Panthers
Last week, the Forecast told you King was a player to watch. He followed up a five-catch effort in Week 1 with a four-catch game on Sunday against the Texans. On the year, he has nine receptions for 74 yards. That’s better production than Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis. The reason why it’s somewhat likely that King will continue to produce is that Carolina’s receivers outside of Steve Smith are awful. Right now, King is QB Jake Delhomme’s second-best option in the passing game. For that reason, I like him better than some of the other TEs out there like Donald Lee and Ben Utecht, who may be more popular pickups this week.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: King is a decent backup TE who could help your squad when your regular starter has a bye or an unfavorable matchup.

PLACE KICKER

Nick Folk, Cowboys
I rarely recommend kickers but Folk is a special case. He has the potential to be a difference maker and yet is available in nearly 90% of fantasy leagues. The rookie kicker plays on the NFL’s top offense. That makes it no surprise that Folk has put up 22 points and is second in the NFL in scoring among kickers. Unless you were one of the owners who made the ill-advised moves of taking a kicker early in your draft and feel compelled to stick with your guy, Folk is a good acquisition this week.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Folk will likely be a top 10 kicker in 2007 and could be even better. He’s worth a pickup in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Houtson Texans
The Texans young defense is coming together nicely. The team has held opponents to an average of 12 points per game. More significantly for fantasy owners, Houston has six sacks, six forced turnovers and two defensive touchdowns (among the best in the NFL in all categories). They’re worth a pickup this week, but you might want to hold off on starting them with the Colts coming to town.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Texans defense has been outstanding in all aspects of the game and they’re worth a roster spot in all leagues.

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