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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.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: QB St. Louis Rams

What has he done so far
Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round pick for the Rams this season (#250 overall) from Harvard. He was an excellent athlete in college, and has good size and excellent field vision. He took over for the Rams last week when Jamie Martin went down to injury and led St. Louis to 17 fourth quarter points and a huge overtime victory 33-27 against Houston. His first start came last week against Washington where he did not fair as well, but still had a rushing TD. His stats to date: 40-66 473 passing yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 8-45 rushing yards 1 TD.

Current Situation
Fitzpatrick is still the starter for St.Louis, and will lead the Rams against Minnesota this week as well. Marc Bulger is injured, and could possibly miss the rest of the season. Jamie Martin is still injured and will not be ready to start for at least another week. The job is currently Fitzpatrick's to lose.

Spotlight ETA
OK, a big week against Houston doesn't turn Fitzpatrick into Peyton Manning, and a tough defense like Washington held him in check pretty well last week. In fact, Fitzpatrick's starting job may be more the result of Jamie Martin's injury than anything else. However, he is currently the starting QB on the #1 passing offense in the NFL and that puts the spotlight squarely on him now.

Dynasty Upside
Marc Bulger is the starting QB for the Rams. He's signed through the 2007 season. Jamie Martin is the primary backup, but his contract is up at the end of this season. Fitzpatrick is also signed through the 2007 season, so unless he or Bulger are traded, Fitzpatrick won't be anything more than a backup. He's a handcuff for Bulger in the short term. After 2007? It's hard to say. It depends on what his role is. At this point, he's more 'potential upside' than anything else.

Final Thoughts
Fitzpatrick is an interesting prospect at this point. One great game against a weak pass defense doesn't mean much, but in a dynasty league, where 'potential upside' is the basis for every rookie draft, Fitzpatrick has to be considered for a roster slot as well. Even if he totally tanks this week against Minnesota, he has more NFL experience than Phillip Rivers or Aaron Rogers. Yet neither of those guys are available in any dynasty league. Make no mistake: Fitzpatrick is probably a longer-term prospect than either of them. But given his performance so far, and the fact that he'll be starting for at least another game, Ryan Fitzpatrick is worth spending a roster slot on.

Marlon McCree: SS Carolina Panthers

What has he done so far
Marlon McCree was a 7th round draft choice for Jacksonville (#233 Overall) back in 2001. He played 12 games his rookie season, and was played in 29 games for the Jags before leaving for free agency. He signed with Houston where his stats dropped considerably. He finished 2004 with just 31 total tackles, no sacks and only one INT. He signed with Carolina back in March and has been Carolina's starting Strong Safety since the third game this season. In his ten games as a starter for the Panthers he has totaled 54 solo tackles, 10 assists, three INTs and nine pass defenses. He also the leading tackler for the Panthers this season.

Current Situation
McCree signed a one year deal with Carolina this off season, and has done a great job since taking over the starting role. The Panthers have an excellent run defense (currently ranked 2nd in total rushing yards and 4th in yards per attempt), and McCree is a big part of that. 1st round Rookie Thomas Davis started the season, but he was not quite ready to make the jump to the NFL. While Davis is the better long term prospect for the Panthers, McCree has certainly earned the right to retain the starting position. Over the last four games, McCree has 29 total tackles (24 Solo); five passes defenses and even a fumble recovery.

Spotlight ETA
McCree had a nice sophomore season in Jacksonville where he posted career bests in tackles (56 Solo, 15 assists), one sack, six interceptions and five pass defenses. When McCree transferred his services to Houston, those stats took a massive hit. While McCree probably won't hit six interceptions before the end of the season, McCree should post personal best totals in every other defensive stat. That performance should land him a fat free agent contract this offseason, and a starting job on another team in 2006.

Dynasty Upside
McCree was on track to become a solid fantasy DB when he left Jacksonville in 2002. Yet in Houston he was never able to really prove his worth and spent most of 2004 coming off the bench. His one-year stint in Carolina has re-energized him and he's on his way to posting career best totals. Davis was the 14th overall selection in the 2005 draft, so expecting McCree to stay with Carolina for 2006 is a stretch. He should draw interest this offseason and will probably be a starting DB for another team in 2006..

Final Thoughts
McCree is a risk. He's already shown that he will disappear in the wrong situation, and he could turn into a fantasy bust if he lands on the wrong team next season. However, given his current performance in Carolina, he's worth a shot. There's an outside chance that Thomas Davis could move to free safety or linebacker next season. If that happens, Carolina could re-sign McCree to a long-term contract. If that happens, he'll get a great chance to expand on this season's success and really prove he can perform at this level. One thing is certain: McCree will get a chance to start in 2006 for someone. Given that, and his current performance over the last several weeks, he is worth a slot on your dynasty roster.

Players You Should Already Be Watching

Bryan Fletcher: TE Indianapolis Colts - Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard combined for over 725 yards and 11 TDs last season. In 2003, they had 880 yards and four TDs Clark is the #1 guy now, but Fletcher has three TD catches in three weeks. With 152 yards receiving and three TDs, he's going to finish with more fantasy points than many TEs who are already on dynasty rosters. He's currently ranked 26th as a fantasy TE, and would move into solid backup territory with another TD score this week.

Stefan LeFors: QB Carolina Panthers - Anyone think Chris Weinke is a good fantasy QB? Anyone? Yeah, we think LeFors has more potential too. Opportunity? How about a 9-3 team that is ranked 31st in yards per attempt (3.14). Carolina is going to have to pass to win. LeFors is worth having at this point in case Delhomme goes down to injury.

Eric Shelton: RB Carolina Panthers - Speaking of 3.14 YPC, think that the Panthers need help at RB? Shelton is on IR for this season, but anyone writing him off at this point is making a mistake. With Foster going UFA after this season, and Davis slowing down, Shelton should have an excellent opportunity to take the starting job for 2006.

Todd Bouman: QB New Orleans Saints - Rumors have been swirling that Aaron Brooks isn't in the 2006 plans for the Saints. While much of the focus is on rookie Adrian McPherson, Bouman should not be forgotten either. He had a solid campaign his rookie season in Minnesota, and could take over the staring job if McPherson is not ready to go.

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