Facing the first bye week of the season, owners who start athletes such as Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, and Marion Barber (well, when they’re healthy) can stop, take a deep breath, and hope that a week’s vacation provides their money-players with enough time to mend. In conjunction with the bye, Week 4 means that the difference-making free agents have largely been claimed, but value can still be found! The following athletes offer moderate to high-upside as “utility” skill position players.
Mark Sanchez: He’s been covered already. However, if the Jet pilot remains available … do yourself a favor, especially those of you belonging to dynasty leagues, and add him to your roster. Sanchez is athletic enough to buy time with his feet, TE Dustin Keller is a reliable target and the Sanchez-to-Cotchery connection is just getting warmed up!
Joe Flacco: Also, covered in last weeks’ piece. However, as with Sanchez, I feel the need to repeat myself. Whereas Joe Flacco was a competent game manager last season, he’s blossoming into a full-fledged fantasy stud this season. Flacco has eclipsed 300 passing yards in 2 of his first 3 tilts with 6 TDs (to just 2 INTs) and has been in absolute command of the huddle. The Balty QB has a cannon for an arm and his above-average touch is making TE Todd Heap relevant once again. The Ravens maintain a power-rushing identity, but Joe Flacco’s ability to move the ball down-field with a flick of the wrist prevents opponents from stacking the box. Imagine how good this guys going to be when he has a game-breaking wideout at his disposal!
Kevin Kolb: Those owners who had the chutzpah to make the grab and start were rewarded with an eye-popping Sunday. The first signal caller to throw for 300+ yards in each of his first 2 starts, Kevin Kolb will be rewarded for his record-setting play by being benched following the team’s Week 4 bye. Donovan McNabb remains the team’s undisputed starter. However, those owners with available roster space would be wise to stash the #2. With the exception of last year, McNabb hasn’t played a full slate since the ‘03-’04 season. Kolb has displayed a nice rapport with both TE Brent Celek (8/104/1) and WR DeSean Jackson (6/149/1) and is one hard hit away from reclaiming the starting gig.
LeSean McCoy: McCoy looks very much like the athlete he was drafted to succeed: veteran RB Brian Westbrook. A dynamic runner boasting a Rolodex of moves, McCoy can catch the ball out of the backfield and has even proven himself adept at picking up the blitz. With Westbrook a frequent training-room flyer (as he was this weekend), McCoy could emerge as a weekly “must start” by mid-season.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Playing “Flash” to RB Brandon Jacobs’ “Smash,” Bradshaw tallied 104 yards on 14 carries Sunday. Bradshaw erupts through the smallest hole and narrowest crease, and gets to full speed within a stride or two. A surprisingly punishing runner given his size (5-9/198), Bradshaw is almost impossible to arm tackle and will happily drag a would-be tackler along for another three yards until defensive help arrives. Capable of assuming feature back responsibilities, Bradshaw makes the most of his 10-12 weekly touches. And, with Brandon Jacobs a sure bet to miss a game or three to injury every season, his understudy is that much more appealing.
Fred Taylor: The Patriot running game was thought to be in good hands when the team drafted Laurence Maroney with their first round pick in ‘06, but Maroney hasn’t shown anything since his 835/6 2007 season. The Patriot brain-trust believed that facing an obvious make-or-break campaign, Maroney would be a motivated runner. Alas, no. Enter free-agent acquisition Fred Taylor. Fast Freddy totaled 105/1 on 21 totes Sunday and earned himself a spot atop New England’s rather congested stable of backs – for now, anyway.
Glen Coffee: Frank Gore has suffered his annual injury, thus affording the rook’ runner with his opportunity to shine. Coffee posted impressive digits during the pre-season, and his pounding running style meshes well with coach Mike Singletary’s offensive mentality. QB Shaun Hill (who is serviceable if you need a vanilla QB) is solid enough to keep opposing defenders from keying upon the run, and with the listless St. Louis Rams on San Fran’s Week 4 docket, Coffee should be a fine spot-start.
Pierre Garcon: WR Anthony Gonzalez’s knee injury propped open the door for the second-year receiver, and “Frenchy” kicked it open using his blazing speed and penchant for finding the end zone. Grabbing 4 balls for 112 yards and 2 TDs over his last 2 games, Garcon has burst upon the Colt receiving scene and is rapidly gaining QB Peyton Manning’s trust.
With Gonzalez’s untimely knee injury keeping him sidelined for the foreseeable future and crippling countless teams whose owners gambled upon “Gonzo” as a break-out pass catching candidate, Garcon constitutes a “must grab” wideout. Veteran WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark rightfully command most of the opposing secondary’s attention, and with the explosive Garcon in the receiving mix, few teams have the defensive depth needed to match-up with Indy’s pass catching corps. Marvin who?
Mike Sims-Walker: I was reluctant to add the Jaguar to this list last week, but Sunday’s 6/81 receiving day coupled with Jacksonville’s dearth of play-making pass-catchers makes Sims-Walker a worthwhile addition. Another player who has capitalized upon his opportunity, the second-year man is the Jaguars’ most dangerous receiving weapon. What is it with multiple surnames and Jacksonville?
Brent Celek: He can’t keep this up, can he? Dunno, but after banking 22/245/2 over his first three games Celek is a must-grab tight end. Celek’s value will take a hit when McNabb returns to the huddle, but his production can’t be ignored, and he’s a nightmare to tackle after the catch.
I'm the Head of Youth Services for the Edgewater Free Public Library; I place great value on education and literacy... hell, I proof-read everything. Ever proof a Chinese Food Take-Out menu? I do, great for a laugh. Anyway, a long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan... I harbor hopes, however slender, that my beloved Vikes' will claim a SuperBowl trophy during my lifetime.
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