by Jeff West
November 27, 2003
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    This weekly article will discuss those players “Heading North” (fantasy value is rising), “Going South” (fantasy value is falling), or “East-West” (fantasy value is still undetermined, but worth watching).

    The biggest game, as far as fantasy owners were concerned, this past week was the Baltimore Ravens overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks.  The problem, however, is the biggest stars from the game probably weren't even on your bench this week.  Baltimore QB Anthony Wright threw four TD passes in addition to his 319 passing yards.  All four of the TDs went to WR Marcus Robinson.  If that name sounds familiar, it's because he helped many fantasy owners to championships following his 1400 yard, nine TD effort in 1999.  Before the game, both players were fantasy free agents in nearly every league.  The other fantasy heroes in the game were Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck and WR Darrell Jackson.  While both of these players were on someone's fantasy rosters, they probably were both riding pine as neither has been consistent and a matchup against a tough(?) Baltimore defense was not promising.

    As Thanksgiving Day approaches, it is time to give thanks, as fantasy owners for some players who have surprised most of us.  We can be thankful of QBs Jon Kitna, Steve McNair, and Trent Green.  All three were draft-day steals who are putting up solid numbers this year.  We should be thankful for RBs Jamal Lewis, Ahman Green, and Stephen Davis.  All three are amongst the league leaders in yardage, but may all have been taken in the second round.  We should also give thanks to WRs Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss, and Keenan McCardell.  Those four make owners look pretty smart.  Thanks are given also to Shannon Sharpe.  The old man has been remarkable during a quiet year for the position.  Can we also muster some thanks for an idiot kicker, Mike Vanderjagt?  Through twelve games he is a model of consistency.  A final prayer of thanksgiving goes to the Cowboys defense.  They may not be the flashiest defense in the league, but no one is scoring on them.

"Heading North" – Players whose fantasy value is rising

    Warrick Dunn, one of the "good guys" in the league, made a plea for more playing time a few weeks back.  Coach Reeves obliged and the result has been some amazing games from Dunn.  That has all ended as Dunn is on injured reserve for the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his foot.  This should open the door for TJ Duckett the rest of the season.  He's been a TD vulture during Dunn's run, scoring at least one TD in four straight games.  He also has a 100-yard effort to his credit against a tough Carolina defense earlier in the season.  With Vick still doubtful, the team will need Duckett to carry the load against a formidable Titans rush defense.

    It appears that the Colts have their Edge again.  With Marvin Harrison hurting, the Colts have turned to RB Edgerrin James to carry the team.  In the past two weeks, James has 235 rushing yards and five TDs.  He has a couple difficult games upcoming against New England and Tennessee, but if you make the playoffs, he'll be a horse for you as the next two games are against Atlanta and Denver.

    Keep an eye on Saints TE Boo Williams.  He had a breakout game last week against the Eagles, catching nine passes for 110 yards and a TD.  With Ernie Conwell sidelined for the season, and Donte Stallworth and Joe Horn gimpy, Boo could continue to get looks from QB Aaron Brooks.

"Going South" – Players whose fantasy value is slipping

    Dallas continues to win by playing good defense. On offense Quincy Carter seems to make the big play when needed. The running game, led by Troy Hambrick has been doing all it can to sabotage the Cowboys' season.  Parcells brought in Adrian Murrell, one of his favorites, to light a fire under Hambrick.  Now that Murrell has been released again, Hambrick is back to his uninspired running.  Against the Panthers he managed only 26 yards on 12 carries.  Aveion Cason had that many yards, plus a nifty TD, on just six carries.

    Packers' WR Donald Driver caught 7 balls for 72 yards and a TD in week five against the Seahawks.  It's been all downhill since then.  For a man who is supposed to be the Packers' #1 WR, he's coming up awfully small.

"East-West" – Players whose fantasy value is still undetermined

    It's always interesting to watch the waiver wire acquisitions following the games.  This week the name I've seen most often is Buccaneer's WR Charles Lee.  Lee had a very nice game against the Giants on Monday night, grabbing five passes for 91 yards and a TD.  With Keyshawn banished, this big, physical receiver will get more opportunities as long as Joe Jurevicius is rehabbing his bum knee.  If you need a one-week pickup, Lee might be OK as the Bucs have some weak passing defenses ahead on their schedule.  Once Jurevicius is 100%, however, look for Lee's contributions to decrease.

    If you grabbed RB Larry Johnson to back up Priest Holmes, you may want to rethink your decision.  Holmes owners were sitting pretty this time last season, then the padre went down when they needed him most.  If you fear the same thing this year, think about grabbing Derrick Blaylock as the handcuff to Holmes.  He touched the ball six times last week for 53 total yards and a TD.

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