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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 9
Paul Sandy
October 30, 2007

QUARTERBACKS

1. Kellen Clemens, Jets
With a 1-7 record, the Jets are making the switch at QB. Kellen Clemens will take over for Chad Pennington this week. Whereas Pennington is a game manager, Clemens approaches the game with gunslinger’s mentality. The Jets have an above average receiving corps. Wideouts Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles will enable Clemens to make some big plays. He isn’t worth starting at this point, but could be a good backup in a season in which the QB position has been decimated by injuries and poor play.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a flier on Clemens in deeper leagues. Keep your eye on him in leagues where QB depth is less of an issue.

2. Sage Rosenfels, Texans
The Texans have averaged 292.8 passing yards per game in their last five contests. If you need to scour your waiver wire this week for QB, the Texans are a decent place to start. Right now, I’m betting that Sage Rosenfels gets the nod over Matt Schaub who has been bruised and battered the last two weeks. Schaub suffered a concussion against the Chargers and was taken to the hospital for evaluation after the game. If Rosenfels gets the start, you could do worse. He won’t carry your squad but probably won’t kill you either.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rosenfels is a reach, but the Texans should pass enough to make Rosenfels a servicable play in Week 9.

2. J.P. Losman, Bills
Considering the state of the QB position, owners with Eli Manning or Marc Bulger on bye this week might have a hard time finding help. One option to consider is J.P. Losman, who stepped in for an injured Trent Edwards (wrist) and led the Bills on two scoring drives. Losman’s most significant play was an 85-yard TD hookup with Lee Evans. If Losman gets the start this week (and there’s no guarantee he will), he’s a sneaky play against the Bengals. Cincinnati has given up 18 passing scores this season (tied for most in the NFL).   

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Trent Edwards is out, consider using Losman against the Bengals.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Ryan Grant, Packers
Grant came in for an injured DeShawn Wynn early in Monday night’s matchup with the Broncos. He looked sharp, rushing the ball 22 times for 104 yards. He also came close to reaching paydirt on a couple goal line carries. Prior to the bye, head coach Mike McCarthy said he’d like to see more toughness from Wynn. Based on Grant’s performance and Wynn’s injury history, McCarthy might be compelled to go with the more sturdy back. The Packers acquired Grant from the Giants in a trade and compared him to Dorsey Levens.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Grant is worth a look in all leagues.  

2. Chris Henry, Titans
Henry has scored a touchdown in back-to-back weeks, displaying some nifty moves and speed. The rookie looks ideally suited to play the part of “lightning” to LenDale White’s “thunder”. He took four carries and turned them into 48 yards. Look for Tennessee to continue to work him into the mix as the season plays out. Head coach Jeff Fisher stated last week that the backup job was Chris Brown’s when he was healthy. Fisher might be singing a different tune with Henry playing so well. Keep your eye on how the situation plays out this week. If it looks like Henry will be active, don’t be afraid to use him against the Panthers. In keeper leagues, Henry should be a top priority.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henry has been spectacular in limited playing time; acquire him now in anticipation of a bigger workload.

3. Adimchinobe Echemandu, Texans
The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but Echemandu certainly got things rolling in the running game better than any Texans RB this season. With Ahman Green and Ron Dayne both injured, Echemandu stepped into the lineup and amassed 62 yards on six carries. The bulky yards per carry can be attributed at least in part to the fact that the Texans were getting blown out by the Chargers and San Diego wasn’t exactly playing to stop the run. However, with the Texans falling out of the playoff race, they’ll likely want to see what they have in Echemandu. Don’t wait to see if he’s the real deal. Get him now because Houston has a relatively easy upcoming schedule (OAK, NO and CLE). 

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Echemandu has good upside in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems.

4. Justin Fargas, Raiders
Dominic Rhodes has slid down the Raiders depth chart in favor of Justin Fargas. That’s noteworthy because starter LaMont Jordan is battling through some injuries that make him a question mark to play on most weeks. Jordan was active but ineffective in Week 8, carrying the ball 12 times for just 16 yards. Fargas also had 12 carries, but did a lot more with them. He ended the day with 61 yards rushing and added 36 yards receiving. If you’re facing a bye week issue, Fargas is a decent option. He figures to get plenty of work this week against the Texans—especially if Jordan rests.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Fargas is worth a roster spot in all leagues.

5. Michael Robinson, 49ers
Robinson was scouted here last week as the guy who would benefit the most if Frank Gore missed time. Gore ended up starting, but aggravated his ankle injury. He might rest a week to let the injury fully heal. If he does, Robinson could serve as a decent second RB or flex player against the Falcons. He looked quite versatile in limited action, turning three receptions into 43 yards. Give him extra consideration in leagues that give points for receptions.   

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: With Gore battling injuries, now is a good time to pickup Robinson.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Brandon Stokley, Broncos
Stokley was highlighted here last week. With Javon Walker out indefinitely with a knee injury, Stokley is the de facto number one receiver for the Broncos. Yes, Brandon Marshall is still in the picture, but Stokley is more experienced and more reliable. He caught a team high five passes for 71 yards Monday night against the Packers. Because he’s a slot receiver, he rarely draws coverage from the opponent’s top defender. On most weeks, regardless of the matchup, you can start Stokley with confidence.

Availability: Owned in ~39 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stokley should be owned in all leagues at this point.

2. Reggie Brown, Eagles
Brown is finally starting to live up to preseason expectations. After being a relative non-factor for the first few weeks of the season, he has posted an 89-yard game and a 105-yard game over the last three outings. Donovan McNabb threw Brown’s way a season-high 12 times on Sunday against the Vikings. If the WR position is a weakness on your roster, acquiring Brown should be a priority. The Eagles offense is starting to click and if they figure out their redzone issues, Brown could be a top 15-20 WR for the second half of the season.

Availability: Owned in ~60 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is a worth consideration as a starter when the matchup is right.

3. David Patten, Saints
The resurgence of the Saints offense coincides with David Patten surfacing as a fantasy contributor. Patten has posted 100-yard receiving games in two of the last three weeks. Drew Brees looks like he’s getting his mojo back and the offensive line is giving him the time to throw the deep ball. Patten has been the biggest beneficiary and is averaging 17.1 yards per reception (tied for 8th best in the NFL). The schedule looks relatively favorable over the next few weeks. Following the Jaguars this week, the Saints get the Rams and Texans. Patten looks like a good WR3 over that stretch.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Patten is a good spot starter in leagues that play three receivers.

4. Mark Clayton, Ravens
Were it not for Lee Evans, Mark Clayton might’ve been the favorite whipping boy of fantasy owners over the first half of the season. Clayton was supposed to be the next third-year WR to break out and became a fantasy stud. He was injured late in the preseason and has been slow to recover. With the Ravens coming off a bye week, now is a great time to give Clayton a second look. He finished with a season high 49 receiving yards in his last outing. If you can afford the roster space, take a flier on him in anticipation of a big second half.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Roll the dice one more time with Clayton, who is coming off a bye and should be fully healthy.

5. Arnaz Battle, 49ers
His stats haven’t been sexy, but Battle is getting a boatload of looks each week. He has been thrown to 10 times in each of the last two games. QB Alex Smith returned from an injury last week. If Smith can shake off the rust and improve his accuracy, Battle could turn those targets into actual receptions. He’s a good prospect this point based on the number of looks he receives. However, keep him away from your starting lineup unless you’re desperate.

Availability: Owned in ~25 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Battle is a reserve WR at this point but could emerge as something more based on the number of looks he’s getting.

6. Joe Jurevicius, Browns
Give Jurevicius a look this week as a WR3 or flex player. He’ll go up against one of his former teams in the Seahawks. While Seattle’s defense is relatively stout, Cleveland has put up big scores against other good defenses, including the Ravens. Jurevicius is coming off a 5-catch, 76-yard performance on Sunday—his best of the season. As teams continue to key in on Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, Jurevicius should find some soft coverages. He’ll have a decent chance of replicating that performance this week.

Availability: Owned in ~8 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jurevicius is always a threat to score a TD and could be worth a spot start against the Seahawks.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis was one of the most highly touted TEs in the history of the NFL coming out of college. He has failed to live up to the hype—mostly because of injuries and poor QB play. In Week 8, he showed flashes of greatness. On the day he had seven receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. The return of Alex Smith should help Davis. If the two can get in sync and stay healthy, Davis could have a big second half.

Availability: Owned in ~57 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Davis should be owned in all leagues and is a low-end starter at this point.

2. Jeff King, Panthers
King was a hot pickup earlier in the year when he was catching 4-6 passes a game. After Jake Delhomme went down with an injury, King’s value went down the tubes. He bounced back nicely in Week 8 with an impressive 10-catch, 82-yard performance. Chances are it will be King’s biggest receiving output for the rest of the year. However, it was promising to see David Carr look his way so often. Stash him on your bench if you play in a deeper league.

Availability: Owned in ~18 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: King is a low-end reserve TE at this point who could re-emerge as an important part of the Panthers offense over the second half of the season.

3. Will Heller, Seahawks
Heller is coming off a bye week so many owners might forget that he scored two touchdowns back in Week 7. If your regular TE is idle this week, consider rolling the dice on Heller who faces an attractive matchup this week against the Browns. Cleveland gives up more points to TEs than any team in the NFL, which makes Heller a sneaky play.

Availability: Owned in ~0 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Play the matchups this week and give Heller a start.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Washington Redskins
A lot of owners dumped the Redskins last week in anticipation of a blowout at the hands of the Patriots. That proved to be a good move. I like their chances of bouncing back this week against the Jets. New York ranks 27th in the NFL in scoring offense. Second year QB Kellen Clemens will be under center for just his second career start. So far this season he has four interceptions and one touchdown. I expect he’ll experience some growing pains against a Washington defense that will be looking to bounce back after getting embarassed in Week 8.   

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Washington looks like a great play this week against the Jets.

2. Detroit Lions
With the Bears and Giants on bye this week, many owners will be in need of a one week replacement. It might take some intestinal fortitude to pick up and play the Lions, but they could reward you with some unexpected points. Surprisingly, Detroit leads then entire NFL with 23 takeaways. I like their chances this week with the Broncos facing a road trip following a short week of preparation.   

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Lions are a good bye week replacement at home against the Broncos.

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