Two weeks ago,when DeShaun Foster trotted to the sidelines with a hyperextended elbow againstthe Rams, the door to Carolina's starting job cracked open--and Williams bargedin, gaining 114 yards on 20 carries (both career highs). The run-first Panthersdrafted the NCAA's Division 1-A alltime leader in all-purpose yards as theirlong-term (and possibly short-term) answer in the backfield. But Williamsmissed three weeks in October with a sprained ankle, leaving Foster in thestarting role. As a result many fantasy owners dropped Williams while othersstayed away, unsure of his status. Over his eight games the first-round pickout of Memphis has piled up 4.8 yards per run and 7.6 per catch (compared withFoster's 3.9 per carry and 5.8 per catch). Now fully healed, Williams could beamong the NFC's best runners over the final quarter of the season.
The loss of astarting tailback would normally cripple an offense. But for Oakland, replacinga struggling LaMont Jordan with an eager Fargas shouldn't be too much of achore. Serving mainly as Jordan's backup through the first 10 games of theseason, Fargas rushed for 50 or more yards five times, gained 3.7 yards per runand had 367 yards from scrimmage. Over his first nine games, Jordan had 50-plusyards in four of them, 3.8 yards per carry and 508 yards from scrimmage.Fargas's biggest advantage is the better personnel he'll have around him. Withthe return of QB Aaron Brooks and wideout Jerry Porter (who missed seven gamesover a contract dispute and a hip injury), and the emergence of wide receiverRonald Curry, the Raiders at least have something resembling an NFL offenseagain. That alone makes Fargas a solid second fantasy running back or utilityplayer.
After theSeptember trade that sent Deion Branch to the Seahawks, New England naysayersmoaned that Tom Brady had no good receivers left. While the man widely expectedto step into Branch's big shoes, former Raiders wideout Doug Gabriel, has beena flop, Caldwell has quietly become the Pats' most dependable receiver,catching a career-high 38 balls for 462 yards (28 catches and 344 yards ofwhich came in the last six weeks). As games increase in importance, look forNew England to open up the offense and ride Brady's talent. That means Caldwellwill be on the receiving end of the sort of plays that made Branch a star.
The Saints'Marques Colston is stealing the headlines, but fellow rookie Holmes is having astellar season too, leading the AFC's first-year wideouts with 32 grabs, 486yards and 44.2 yards per game. What's more, the bulk of his production has comesince Week 5. Holmes is not starting yet, but the first-rounder from Ohio Stateinjects energy and speed into the Steelers' air attack while providing amuch-needed deep threat opposite Hines Ward. With Ben Roethlisberger throwingfor 54.2 more yards per game than he did last season, there will be plenty ofchances for Holmes to shine.
As Washingtontumbled in the NFC standings, the change from Mark Brunell to Campbell wasinevitable. In Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Chris Cooley, the Redskinshave outstanding receivers, and it'll be up to the strong-armed quarterbackfrom Auburn to utilize them better than his 36-year-old predecessor. Campbellunderwent a year of seasoning on the sidelines before being put in thisposition, so while he's still raw, he's not likely to be overwhelmed. (Think aslightly less experienced Tony Romo, minus the Jessica Simpson rumors.)Campbell will be in the top half of NFC fantasy passers through the rest of'06.
Remember him?Brooks was supposed to come in and be the long-ball bomber that Randy Moss,Jerry Porter & Co. needed to bring the vertical passing game back to RaiderNation. A slow start and then a strained pectoral muscle quickly dashed thosegrand plans--and landed Brooks on nearly every waiver heap in fantasyland.Well, he's back, and with Porter on the field again, Ronald Curry getting openregularly and Moss at last seemingly interested, Brooks has become a viableoption as a fantasy backup. He even has the potential to put up big numbersjust when you'd need them most: He has games against the Texans, Bengals andRams in Weeks 13 through 15.
For a player,it's never a bad thing to hear your coach (and play-caller) tell reporters thathe plans to get you more involved in the offense. Those welcome words reachedWilliams after Week 10, when he had caught Brian Billick's eye with severalclutch third-down catches. Although Williams has just 13 receptions this year,he leads the team with 14.7 yards per grab. Along with the rest of thoseinvolved in Baltimore's passing game, his stock is rising.
Jackson andMalcom Floyd, another unheralded 6'5" wide receiver for San Diego, arestarting to become prime targets, especially near the goal line; each has threetouchdown catches. Like Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Jackson is a formercollege basketball player (he led Northern Colorado in scoring and assists as ajunior), which makes him a tough cover for smaller defensive backs, especiallywhen he's running a corner fade in the end zone. Now that Philip Rivers isgetting more comfortable as a pro passer, he's getting more latitude each week.Look for all the receivers' numbers to increase and for Jackson to become ago-to guy near the end zone when teams stack the line to contain LaDainianTomlinson.
Like his olderbrother, Santana Moss of the Redskins, Sinorice is a speedy, elusive wideoutand kick returner out of Miami who has the ability to score from anywhere onthe field. Once his injured left quadriceps heals, the rookie will provide EliManning with a slot receiver who can also stretch the defense to open up thepassing game. With Amani Toomer gone for the year, Moss's skills are sorelyneeded.
In training camplast year Chicago envisioned a lethal passing combo of Rex Grossman to Bradley.Injuries to both--Bradley tore his ACL in October 2005 and suffered a highankle sprain this season, while Grossman broke his ankle and missed the first13 games last year--limited their playing time together. They finally clickedtwo weeks ago when Bradley invaded the Meadowlands: He had a four-catch, one-TDgame against the Giants, then followed that with a four-catch, one-TD gameagainst the Jets. With Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian and Rashied Davis, theBears' receiving corps is one of the league's deepest, but Bradley could rivalMuhammad as the best--and become a reliable second or third fantasyreceiver.
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Even as a backup, Fargas has rushed for 50 or more yards five times.
The Skins' talented receivers help make Campbell a legit fantasyQB.