Posted 11/18 by Mike Anderson and William Grant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
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.
Edell Shepherd: WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What has he done so far:
Playing for San Jose State in 2001, Shepherd had a game for the ages against Fresno State with 8 receptions for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Coming off a great season, Shepherd entered the NFL Draft in 2002. Unfortunately, Shepard played at 165 pounds coming out of College, and was as one scout call him "pencil thin". With the fear that he couldn't make it in the NFL at that size, wouldn't be able to block anyone, and would be easily knocked out of his routes, Shepherd went undrafted with the 2002 class. He was first signed by Chicago and then came to Tampa Bay as a project. Shepherd suffered a season ending foot injury in training camp last season, and never took the field.
Joey Galloway has stayed surprisingly injury free so far this season. Outside of some cramping in the game against the Lions, Galloway's season is nothing like last year when he missed 6 games, and started just 7 times due to a groin injury and a badly sprained ankle. Michael Clayton is practicing, but has been hampered by a "second-degree dislocation" of the shoulder that happened during training camp and was re-aggravated in the game against the Lions. Clayton did not play in week 10, and is listed as questionable for this week's game. Ike Hilliard started in place of Clayton in week 10, and finished with 3 receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown. In this mix is Edell Shepherd who caught 3 balls for 87 yards and a touchdown in week 10.
The one thing that Shepherd brings to the table is speed. Outside of Galloway, who has had some injury issues over the course of his career, Shepherd is the only active receiver on the team with game breaking speed. Coming out of College, Shepherd displayed good balance and body control, and was much quicker than his 40 time indicated. While playing for San Jose State, Shepherd ran past defenders, and was a big time play maker. Galloway turns 34 today as this article is posted on Friday the 20th of November. We wish him the best on his birthday, but the fact remains that he missed substantial time in 2004, 2000, and 1999. At 34 years old, he is almost certainly slowing down from the world class speed he displayed earlier in his career. Galloway is having a great season. If something should happen to him, and reduce his ability to play this season, it is Edell Shepherd that will step into his starting position and spread the field for the Buccaneers.
Let's assume that Galloway is able to play all season with out any issues. (We certainly send that out as a birthday wish to him). Under that assumption, Shepherd is still a player that will find himself on the field for the rest of the season. After his huge performance in week 10, Head Coach Jon Gruden commented that "If he's going to come out and play like that, (only) an idiot wouldn't put him on the field. The guy's a good player. When you play good, you get a chance to play more." We know that if the Buccaneers maintain the current status quo, Shepherd will be the next long ball receiver for the team after Galloway. We also know that if Shepherd continues to play like he did in week 10 against the Redskins, he will continue to see time on the field.
Often in Dynasty Watch, we are talking about the future only. Next year, maybe the year beyond before the player truly takes off. With Shepherd, we could easily be talking about the here and now. Shepherd exploded onto the landscape this last week, and made a strong argument for more playing time this year and beyond. He brings speed to the table, which outside of Joey Galloway, the Buccaneers are lacking. All eyes of the Tampa Bay coaching staff are on this young man who missed all last season due to injury. If he comes back with another strong performance in the upcoming weeks, he will be positioned nicely going into the 2006 season.
Chris Harris: FS Chicago Bears
What has he done so far:
Chris Harris was a sixth round pick for Chicago this season, # 181 overall from Louisiana-Monroe. The Bears had hoped that he would add depth to their solid defensive secondary, but Harris beat out Mike Brown for the starting role by the second week of this season. Since then he's proven to be a nice surprise for the Bears. To date he has 35 solo tackles, five assists, one INT and four pass defenses. Over the last two games, Harris has 13 solo tackles, one Sack, one pass defense and a fumble recovery.
2004 starter Mike Green was benched during the first game of the season, and Harris has been the starter since week two. Since then Harris has recorded two or more solo tackles in each game, and has really come on strong in November. At this point, the job belongs to Harris, and Green has little chance of re-claiming the starting job without an injury.
Harris is getting better each week. He had several concerns coming out of college, including his ability to defend the pass, but he has come on very strong since signing with the Bears. Mike Green was #2 in tackles for Chicago in 2004 and Harris has made him a mere afterthought. As the Bears head into the next five games, their defense will be tested. If the Bears want to hold on to their first place lead, they are going to need big games from Harris.
Last season Mike Green and Todd Johnson were #2 and #3 in tackles for the Bears. In this type of defense, the safeties need to make the big plays. Harris has good size and hits like a truck. He's a strong tackler who was known for his solid run support in college. As a full time starter for the Bears at FS, Harris will have plenty of opportunities to rack up tackles. In an IDP league, these are bread and butter for a DB. He won't pull down more than a couple interceptions each year, but his pass defending skills should improve with time.
Mike Green might not have been an all-pro DB for the Bears, but his skill set is pretty solid. As a sixth round pick, Harris was able to beat out Green for the starting job. While Green is more of a SS than a FS, this fact should not be overlooked. Harris is the real thing, and he has performed well in a defense that is really carrying this team. Going forward, Harris will have plenty of opportunity to get better. The Bear defense is the strength of the team, and Harris is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. By this time next season, with the right coaching, he could be one of the better Free Safeties in the NFL. From an IDP prospective, expect the bulk of his points to come from tackles. If the Bears can help him improve on his pass coverage skills, Harris will be an excellent DB for several years to come.
Players You Should Already Be Watching:
RB Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - With first-round draft pick Cadillac Williams, Michael Pittman, and perhaps even six-time Pro-Bowler Mike Alstot ahead of him, Graham has still managed to carry the ball 28 times this season, with 17 of them coming in week 6 against Miami. With Williams and Pittman both dealing with injuries this season, Graham could be starting by default for the team before the season is over. This undrafted free agent beat out Pro-Bowler Charlie Garner in the preseason to make the active roster and could make for a very shark like pick up.
RB Dee Brown, Kansas City Chiefs - The starting RB for the Chiefs is going to score a mind boggling amount of Fantasy Points. Unheralded Brown is now the #2 running back on the team. The coaching staff seems to love this undrafted free agent who was former high school quarterback, and is extremely shifty at the line of scrimmage in traffic.
RB Derrick Blaylock, New York Jets - As your leagues trading deadline approaches, don't forget that Blaylock was the one that was brought in to back up the ageing Curtis Martin. With his season ending injury, he might be able to be had cheaply as a flyer.
RB Verron Haynes, Pittsburgh Steelers - Bettis is ready for the retirement bus, Staley can't stay healthy, and Fast Willie Parker is not a back who can carry the load the entire season. At this point, you have to look at Haynes as the short yardage back of the future for the Steelers. If Pittsburgh doesn't sign or draft a new RB for the 2005 season, Haynes could be an excellent prospect for 2006 and beyond.
QB Charlie Frye, Cleveland Browns - Nine games into the season and Cleveland only has two rushing TDS. They are 3-6 now, four games out of first and fading fast. Dilfer has been the team QB up to this point, but expect to see Frye before the season is over. (Probably once they are out of the playoffs for sure). Frye was a third round pick for the Browns, and has a great chance to make an impact with the Browns this season.