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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.

Andrew Walter: QB Oakland Raiders

What has he done so far
Andrew Walter was a third round draft pick for Oakland (#69 overall) this season out of Arizona State. He appeared in a couple preseason games for the Raiders, and posted average numbers for a rookie QB: 26-44 352 passing yards, one TD and two INTs. He had a solid college career but severely injured his throwing shoulder in his final season and spent the summer in rehab. He has not appeared in a regular season game for the Raiders.

Current Situation
Walter is still listed as the #3 QB for the Raiders behind Kerry Collins and Marques Tuiasosopo. The Raiders had high hopes for this season with Randy Moss and Lamont Jordan joining the team, but they are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with six games left to play.

Spotlight ETA
You're going to see Walter under center for the Raiders before the end of the 2005 season. While Kerry Collins has performed adequately for Oakland this season, he is shouldering much of the blame for their 4-6 record. His 2006 salary cap number is well over $10 Million, and you can bet that the Raiders are thinking about releasing him after this season. Tuiasosopo has been a long time backup for the Raiders, and he is a known commodity. As such, Walter will probably get the nod to start if the Raiders are eliminated from the playoff hunt in an attempt to give him some solid NFL experience going into the off season. If Collins is released, Walter would have a solid shot at starting the 2006 season.

Dynasty Upside
The Raiders have one of the most talented WR groups in the NFL. With Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Alvis Whitted catching the ball, the Raider QB will have plenty of weapons to choose from. Lamont Jordan has performed extremely well in his new starting role, giving the Raiders an excellent balance on offense. With Collins out of the way, Walter would be in a great position to take over and run a vertical offense that could make him one of the top fantasy QBs for 2006 and beyond.

Final Thoughts
While the Raidernation blames Kerry Collins for their woes, he has still performed well for a fantasy QB. Currently he ranks sixth among fantasy QBs and would probably finish somewhere in that area if he played all 16 games. However, the Raiders had high hopes of making the playoffs after their big offseason acquisitions and they will probably be eliminated from contention this week. At that point, Collins becomes a salary cap liability and will probably be cut during the offseason That will open the door for Walter to come in and take over. The Raiders view Tuiasosopo as nothing more than a backup QB, and Walter will be given the chance to earn the starting job. With all of the offensive firepower that Oakland has, if Walter can secure the starting job going into the 2006 season, he will make an excellent fantasy QB for your dynasty team going forward.


Mike Furrey: FS St. Louis Rams

What has he done so far
Furrey was an undrafted free agent for Indianapolis back in 2003. He spent time with the Colts and the Jets before eventually landing with St. Louis where he began his NFL career as a wide receiver. He spent his first two years buried in the depth chart, primarily working special teams and returning kickoffs and punts. This season, he switched to Free Safety in the hopes of making a bigger impact for the Rams. Five games into the 2005 season, he received his chance. Due to Michael Hawthorne's poor play, he was eventually released and Furrey took over as the starting FS. Furrey has been on fire ever since.

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
The free safety position has been a sore spot for the Rams as of late, and Furrey's gamble switching from WR to DB shows how desperate St. Louis was to fill the position. While he's made some mistakes in his new role, all in all Furrey has performed well. He'll be the starter for St. Louis the rest of the way, and he will have plenty of opportunity to showcase his stuff as the Rams finish out a disappointing season.

Dynasty Upside
It's hard to say if the Rams will bring in a true free safety during the offseason, but based on the last few games, Furrey clearly has potential. His tackle numbers are average for a DB, but his INTs. really him some fantasy potential. All three of them came in different games and all were for 30 yards or more (including a TD). That type of playmaking ability makes him an excellent fantasy DB as he could come up with a TD at any time. Assuming his tackle totals will improve as he adjusts to his new position, Furrey might be an excellent prospect come next season.

Final Thoughts
Switching from WR to DB is not very common in the NFL because so many players have become specialists by the time they reach this level. The fact that Furrey has done it and been successful is really a testament to his abilities. The threat of the Rams signing a true FS during the offseason is still a possibility, but Furrey's play up to this point warrants a roster spot in a dynasty league. If he can prove that he's capable of starting, he'll go into the 2006 season with a ton of experience and coaching on his side. Assuming he improves with experience, he could turn into a solid fantasy DB by next season.


Players You Should Already Be Watching

Justin Gage: WR Chicago Bears - Gage has been one of the most frustrating wide receivers from a fantasy prospective over the last two seasons. He's still sporadic in his output, but he had seven receptions last week against Carolina and four receptions including a TD against the Saints three weeks ago. With most of the other Bear WRs banged up, Gage seems to be more relaxed and is playing well. He's not a fantasy starter by any means, but if he settles down the rest of the season, he might be a nice prospect for 2006.

Taylor Jacobs: WR Washington Redskins - With Patten and Thrash both injured, Jacobs is going to get the start opposite Santana Moss. He was a second round pick for the Redskins back in 2003 and this may finally be his chance to shine.

Maurice Morris: RB Seattle Seahawks - Shaun Alexander is a TD machine, and many people forget that Morris was almost the starting RB this season because of Alexander's holdout. He only signed a one-year contract, and given how ugly it became last season, Morris is worth holding onto right now in the off chance that Seattle can't resign Alexander.

Dan Orlovsky: QB Detroit Lions - The Lions are bad. They are all but eliminated from playoff contention. Harrington and Garcia are not the long-term answer here, and Orlovsky might just see the field before the season is out. He had a solid college career, and could do well if given a chance to develop. When the playoffs are beyond their reach (again), the Lions could turn to Orlovsky to finish the season.

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