1. Sage Rosenfels, Texans
If you took the Forecast’s “Sage” advice last week and plugged Rosenfels into your lineup, you were rewarded with a respectable performance. The backup QB posted 200 yards and one TD through the air plus added a rushing TD. Rosenfels is 3-0 as a starter this year and is beginning to garner some attention from the media. He looks more capable of being a starter in this league than a lot of the guys who are playing now. Don’t be surprised if he competes for a starting gig in Houston or someplace else next season. A matchup this week against the Colts doesn’t look great, but Indy doesn’t have anything to play for right now. I expect Rosenfels will put up another 200-yard, 2-TD performance.
Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rosenfels looks like a capable fantasy QB and can be used if you’re in a pinch.
2. Shaun Hill, 49ers
If you were one of the two dozen or so people who watched the Bengals-49ers tilt on Saturday night, you saw the surprisingly poised third-string QB Shaun Hill pick apart the Bengals. Hill went 21-for-28 with 197 yards passing and one TD. He also rushed for a score. Keeper and dynasty league owners should consider adding Hill to their rosters at this point. Alex Smith has been vocal in his displeasure with the coaching staff. He may have worn out his welcome in the Bay Area. If Smith gets the boot, Hill could compete with a draft pick or veteran QB for the starting spot in 2008. While the 49ers took a step backward this year, they still have talent and could surge ahead next season. Hill could be the 2008 version of Derek Anderson.
Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hill is worth acquiring in dynasty/keeper leagues
1. Aaron Stecker, Saints
Reggie who? Aaron Stecker has been awesome in relief of Reggie Bush, putting up back-to-back solid performances. He’s been tough between the tackles and effective around the goal line. If Stecker is available in your league and you need a RB this week, he should be your primary target. The Saints face the Eagles who are coming off an emotional win and could be primed for a letdown. Philly is a stout defense against the run but with the way the New Orleans offense is performing, don’t be surprised to see Stecker finish with 90-100 all-purpose yards and a TD.
Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stecker should be a more than adequate RB2 this week.
2. Dominic Rhodes, Raiders
Fantasy owners who got unexpected points during the second half of the season from Justin Fargas will be without their RB for the remainder of the season. Fargas sprained his MCL Sunday against the Colts. The Raiders will now turn to Dominic Rhodes (who is likely on your waiver wire) or LaMont Jordan (who likely isn’t). If Rhodes gets the nod, and I think he will, a matchup against the Jaguars isn’t great. However, Jacksonville’s defense is beat up so it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see Rhodes put up 80+ yards if he starts. Consider him if you’re out of options.
Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Rhodes gets the start, he’s a low-end RB2.
3. Samkon Gado, Dolphins
Gado continues to plod along and post decent stats week in and week out in relief of the injured Jesse Chatman. He put up 43 yards and a TD against the Ravens. While not breathtaking stats, the bottom line is he’s tallied three scores in the last two games. Despite the production, Gado is not a recommended start this week against the Patriots unless you’re in an otherwise hopeless situation.
Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gado isn’t a great option against the Pats, but might get a goal-line plunge.
4. Chris Henry, Titans
Henry is scheduled to return from a four-game suspension this week. His value for fantasy purposes this season is probably nil. However, the Titans like the flash he brings to the offense. Look for him, not Chris Brown, to be the complement to LenDale White in 2008. Based on Tennessee’s run-oriented offense, Henry could become a significant fantasy contributor even in a committee backfield — much the same way Fred Taylor / Maurice Jones-Drew and Deuce McAllister / Reggie Bush have succeeded over the past two seasons.
Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henry is worth stashing on your bench in dynasty / keeper leagues.
5. Darren Sproles, Chargers
Dynasty league owners take note: Darren Sproles could very likely be the primary backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008. Michael Turner will be a free agent after the season and is expected to compete for a starting job elsewhere. Sproles saw his first extensive action of his career on Sunday. He rushed for 122 yards and two scores. Although he might not make much of an impact in 2008, Sproles could follow a similar path to that of Turner — and audition for a starting gig with another team in 2009.
Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Sproles a high-upside project-type player in dynasty leagues.
1. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
Gonzalez has come on strong over the past four weeks, surpassing 85 yards in three of his last four games. He’s also racked up three scores in the last two games. With Marvin Harrison likely to remain out of the lineup, Gonzalez is a strong play from here on out. Tony Dungy has indicated that he has no plans to rest his starters this week. Start Gonzalez with confidence this week against the Texans.
Availability: Owned in ~57 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gonzalez is the type of hot player who could lead your team to a championship.
2. David Patten, Saints
Patten has been money for the last two weeks, amassing 193 yards and two scores. Considering the efficiency with which Drew Brees is throwing the football (26-for-30 in Week 15), Patten’s prospects for the remainder of the season look good. This is the Saints team we were all expecting when the season began. Consider him a decent play this week against an Eagles defense that ranks 15th in the NFL against the pass.
Availability: Owned in ~41 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Patten merits consideration in all leagues.
3. Roydell Williams, Titans
Williams continues to tease and taunt fantasy owners with his big performances, which are often followed by disappearing acts. He posted his best game of the season in Week 15 — a monster 94-yard, 2-TD effort. Williams ended the week as the top-scoring fantasy WR in the majority of leagues. With the Jets on tap next, maybe Williams can finally put up back-to-back games with good fantasy stat lines. I’d consider him as a high-upside play for owners playing in a toilet bowl or consolation tourney.
Availability: Owned in ~6 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Give Williams a look as a WR4, flex player or desparation play.
4. Darrell Jackson, 49ers
Jackson was a complete nonfactor at the beginning of the season. I was half expecting his name to pop up around midseason if he could get on the same page as Alex Smith. Never happened. Smith got hurt and Trent Dilfer came on. Dilfer never connected with Jackson either. Now Shaun Hill is under center and Jackson seems to have new life. Hill threw his way 10 times on Saturday against the Bengals, and Jackson ended the day with eight receptions for 86 yards. It was a long overdue performance for the former Seahawk. Playing him is risky this week against the Bucs, but he could be an option in PPR leagues. More than anything, it proves Jackson may have something left in the tank after all. Keep him in mind for 2008.
Availability: Owned in ~27 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson is a longshot but might be worth a desperation play in PPR leagues.
1. Tony Scheffler, Broncos
Scheffler’s on-again-off-again season continued in Week 15. He hit a high note when he caught seven passes for 100 yards and a TD against the Texans. Pick Scheffler up and play him this week against the Chargers if he’s available in your league. In last year’s game in San Diego, Scheffler caught two TD passes. The Bolts also allow the fifth most fantasy points to TEs, which adds to the allure of Scheffler this week.
Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scheffler is usable this week against the Chargers.
2. Kevin Boss, Giants
Jeremy Shockey broke his leg and suffered some ligament damage on Sunday against the Redskins. He will miss the remainder of the season. His replacement Kevin Boss looked pretty darn good, racking up 31 yards and a TD in adverse weather conditions. If you lost Shockey or you’re just plain desperate for help at TE, Boss is worth a look. He’ll square off against the Bills next week, who rank 28th in the NFL against the pass.
Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Boss is a desparation play but should see a fair amount of looks this week against Buffalo.
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Arizona Cardinals
Two things could’ve happened to the Falcons after the appalling resignation of Bobby Petrino. They could’ve funneled all of the anger and hatred into their game on the field. Or they could’ve packed it in and collapsed. Much to the benefit of owners of the Tampa defense, Atlanta chose the later path. The Falcons were awful. Tampa scored a touchdown on defense and added the first kickoff return for a TD in franchise history. Atlanta only managed three points. That pathetic performance happened in front of the Falcons hometown crowd. Imagine what kind of showing they’ll have when they fly across the country to play in front of a crowd that’s fired up for their playoff-contending team.
Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Cardinals are a sneaky pick-up and play in what is championship week in most fantasy leagues.