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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.

Doug Gabriel: WR Oakland Raiders

What has he done so far:
Gabriel had a nice breakout year in 2004. After posting just one reception during his rookie season, Gabriel started five games for the Raiders last year and had 33 receptions for over 550 yards and 2 TDS. In the 2005 pre-season he averaged a whopping 21.8 YPC (5 total receptions) and had 2 TDS as well. He has yet to catch a pass for the 2005 regular season.

Current Situation:
With Ron Curry lost for the season, and Gabriel moves to the #3 slot on the Raider Depth Chart. He's currently listed on the NFL injury report (questionable), but should be able to go for this weekend's game. With Jerry Porter still recovering from his pre-season injuries as well, Gabriel could see significant playing time opposite Randy Moss very soon.

Spotlight ETA:
As long as Randy Moss is on the field, Gabriel won't be in the direct 'spotlight.' However, Oakland is going to throw the ball a lot between now and the end of the season. Porter battled a hamstring injury throughout most of the pre-season, and has a history of being dinged up. If Porter is limited in his action or goes down to injury, Gabriel could make the starting lineup. Even as a #3 WR, Gabriel should still see playing time this season.

Dynasty Upside:
Randy Moss limits the upside potential of Gabriel a bit since Moss is the clear #1 guy on this team. However, the #2 guy on a team that's probably going to throw for 4000 yards isn't too bad either. Gabriel has great speed, and can really stretch the field. With Moss pulling the better secondary players to his side of the field. Gabriel will see a lot of one-on-one coverage against weaker corners. Will that translate into monster games where he posts 150 yards and 3 TDS? Probably not. However, if Gabriel can push for playing time, you can expect a steady stream of games with 1-4 receptions for 18-80 yards.

Final Thoughts:
After Randy Moss, the WR situation in Oakland is up for grabs. Porter is the #2 guy, but injuries have limited his performance. Ronald Curry is the #3 guy but he's lost for the year to injury. Gabriel and Alvis Whitted are the next tier of WR, with Gabriel being the stronger, more proven of the two. Gabriel is a young WR with blazing speed. Given the chance to start opposite Moss, he just might prove to be a great #2 wideout. Gabriel also returns kicks, and in leagues that award points for return yardage, Gabriel will have even more value.


Nathan Vasher: CB Chicago Bears

What has he done so far:
Nathan Vasher was a 4th round draft pick last season for Chicago. He progressed quickly and even started seven games for the Bears because of several injuries to their secondary. Vasher finished 2004 with just 28 solo tackles, but snagged five interceptions, including one for a TD. With the departure of R.W. McQuarters, Vasher was able to secure the starting lineup opposite Charles Tillman. In the first two games this season, Vasher already had three interceptions and 5 passes defended. He had another interception called back due to a pass interference call.

Current Situation:
Vasher has secured the #2 slot opposite Charles Tillman, and is known for being a ball hawk. While he's not known as a 'shut down' corner, and he doesn't rack up the tackles, Vasher is always looking to snag an interception or knock a pass down. In a recent telephone interview, Cincinnati Bengal wideout Chad Johnson ranked Vasher in the category with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacker as one of the best players on the Bears Defense. Johnson is know for talking trash about his upcoming opponent, but refused to do so with the Bears because he was 'afraid to push the wrong buttons'. Vasher a starting CB for the Bears, and his aggressive play should keep him in the lineup from now on.

Spotlight ETA:
The time is now. Vasher is making waves this season, and he's already starting to draw attention from NFL and fantasy players alike. Tillman and Jerry Azumah are the guys that everyone thinks about when you are talking Chicago CBS, but you'll know Vasher's name by the end of the season. He's a waiver wire pickup right now in most leagues.

Dynasty Upside:
Vasher is not the kind of guy to put up 70 tackles in a season. He has just three solo tackles over the first two games. However, when the ball is in the air, Vasher is always around. As a 16 game starter, double digit interceptions is a definite possibility. He'll also defend 15-20 passes this season as well. In leagues that give points for passes defended, interceptions and interception return yards, Vasher is going to be an excellent DB.

Final Thoughts:
While the Chicago offense is going to struggle this season, their defense is rock solid. With guys like Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown and Tommie Harris pressuring the QB, and DBS like Charles Tillman and Mike Brown on the field, Vasher could see a lot of action coming his way. He won't rack up a ton of tackles though, so check your league scoring rules first. If your league focuses on tackles and sacks, Tillman and Brown are better choices from the Chicago Secondary. However, if your league awards points for interceptions, passes defended, and interception return yards, Vasher is a great candidate who is probably sitting on the waiver wire right now. With guys like Chad Johnson noticing him, he's not going to be there for long.

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