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Dynasty Watch

The purpose of this column is to spotlight deeper roster moves that could pay off big over the course of the season. Unless stated in a player's write up, we're not looking for one-week wonders here, but shark moves that could really strengthen your team down the road.

Dynasty Watch focuses on low risk, huge payoff roster moves that you might be able make before the guys in your league think about it. This aim of this column is to make you look like a genius to the other owners in your league. When news breaks and the other owners are scrambling to make a waiver wire move, we want them to be upset time and time again that the player is already on your squad.

Shaun Hill: QB Minnesota Vikings

What has he done so far
The Vikings signed Hill as an undrafted free agent in 2002. It has been speculated that the signing came about because he attended HC Mike Tice's alma mater, Maryland. Hill, 25, suffered a right shoulder injury during his junior year at Maryland and did not work out well for draft evaluators. Hill's arm strength proved suspect during his first training camp, but a strong performance during the 2003 NFL Europe season helped earn Tice's trust. In 2003, Hill lead NFL Europe in passing yards with 2,256, and tied for second in passing touchdowns with 13. Hill made the best throw of his pro career in an Aug. 19 preseason game against the New York Jets, hitting receiver Troy Williamson in stride for a 54-yard pass that traveled about 60 yards in the air, and the Vikings are confident he can make all of the throws in their offense.

Current Situation
QB Dante Culpepper is done for the season. The Vikings have publicly said they expect him to be ready for next seasons training camp. Comments circulating from numerous sources have the severity of his injury requiring 12-15 months of rehab. Assuming that these comments are correct, there is a chance that most if not all of the 2006 season will be a wash for Culpepper as well. The current starting QB Brad Johnson is 37 years old. J.T. O'Sullivan, 6th round draft pick in 2002, was recently signed by the Vikings to be the teams 3rd string QB. O'Sullivan bounced around the league for the past few years, and was out of football when signed by the team. Behind O'Sullivan is WR Koren Robinson who has not played QB since he was in High School.

Spotlight ETA
Johnson is 37 years old. Over the course of his career, he has gone from the back up for the Vikings, to the Vikings Starter, to the Starter for Tampa Bay, and then returned as the back up for the Vikings. Johnson fell out of favor in Tampa Bay for making poor decisions, throwing too many interceptions (21 in 2003), and his inability to put points on the board. Hill sits directly behind Johnson, with no other viable QB that can overtake him on the roster. Should anything happen to Johnson, or should he be benched for his propensity to make poor decisions, Hill is the starting QB for the Vikings.

Dynasty Upside
During his Sunday night television show on KSTP Channel 5, Tice had this to say about Hill: "He understands our system very well, he has been in our system since Day One, and I have no qualms at all if something happened, God forbid, to Brad, to have Shaun go in there. I feel like Shaun Hill is an underrated quarterback myself, I'm sure there is a difference of opinion in the building on that. I think Shaun is a lot better athlete than he has been given credit for." Hill has the confidence of his Head Coach, and is a single injury away from being the starting QB of the Vikings for perhaps well into the 2006 season depending on the return of Culpepper. The Vikings are loaded with first round NFL draft picks at WR, and if given the opportunity, Hill could take advantage of the starting role.

Final Thoughts
With Hill, you are waiting on either an injury to 37 year old Brad Johnson, or for him to once again display the poor choices and mental errors that ran him out of Tampa Bay. Either way, this 6'5" QB is the next in a line that virtually ends with him. He has been in the Vikings system for the last 4 years giving him an understanding that can't be matched by an outsider. He has the confidence of his Head Coach. The Vikings are loaded with talented WRs that Hill could take advantage of. Surely Hill is sitting on your leagues waiver wire. If you have a roster space, take a chance on this young man, and stock him away.

Shawntae Spencer: CB San Francisco 49ers

What has he done so far
Spencer was a 2nd round draft pick, #58 overall in 2004 for the 49ers. As a rookie he started 12 games for San Francisco at corner and finished the season with 62 solo tackles, 8 assists and 7 pass defenses. This season, Spencer has started every game for the hapless Niners and has really improved on his play. For the first half of the season, he has already amassed 43 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 INT and 7 pass defenses.

Current Situation
Starting corner for the Niners is not the best place to be if you're an NFL player. If you're looking for a solid fantasy performer though, this situation is perfect. San Francisco ranks dead last in passing yards allowed and yards per attempt allowed. They're 30th in passing TDs allowed as well. Given the injuries that have been sustained by the SF secondary, Spencer is in no danger of losing his job.

Spotlight ETA
No time like the present for the 49er DBs. Their run defense is actually pretty solid given how bad the team is, and they allow only 3.77 yards per attempt. Spencer is already a starter for the Niners and will be for a long time.

Dynasty Upside
If Spencer's mid-season stats are any indication of what he will do for this season, he will finish with one of the better DBs. in the league. 80 solo tackles would place him in the top 10 for cornerbacks from a fantasy prospective. Given the fact that Spencer is just in his second year, and the Niners have several years of rebuilding to go through, Shawntae is an excellent dynasty prospect.

Final Thoughts
As we said with Mike Adams last week, people love to throw on San Francisco. Their defensive secondary is banged up and they give up a lot of yards. That's great news from a fantasy IDP prospective because it means that there are plenty of opportunities for DBs. to make tackles, interceptions and defend passes. San Francisco is in the middle of a turnaround plan, and will take several years before they're in a place where they can build a lead and grind it out. In the mean time, their defense is going to be on the field a lot, and that means great upside for defensive players on their team. Spencer was a second around draft pick who was expected to make an immediate impact. He's already done that and has secured the starting job. Given his long term prospective, and state of the Niners for the near future, Spencer is an excellent dynasty prospect for the near and long term.

Players You Should Already Be Watching

RB Vernand Morency, Houston - With Domanick Davis hobbled; it was Johnathan Wells who got the call. Morency did see the field with 8 carries for 24 yards. Morency took over for Tatum Bell at Oklahoma State, and the team never missed a beat. The rookie hits the hole hard and fast and is able to gain yards after contact. He is capable of making long runs and also punching it in from short. Surely he is on a roster in your league. Keep an eye on him, and be prepared to make a play for him.

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