It is that time of year, that strange fantasy moment when several previously irrelevant names pop up out of nowhere that you would be foolish to completely overlook. Even then, many of these players are best left off of your starting rosters. With the playoffs pending, it is beneficial to at least familiarize yourself with some of these out of the blue options in case one of them chameleon into fantasy gold in the blink of an eye.
Kevin Boss, Giants- Boss came up big with 5 for 76 and 2 TDs on 8 targets against the Falcons, his best of the year by far. Could be they are making a focused effort to get him the ball more, as all 4 of his TDs have come in the last 3 games.
David Thomas, Saints- The ex-Patriot has 9 catches for 111 and a TD in the last two games, but little else this year. The one caveat is that this week the Saints face the Pats, and we know how ex-players like to show up their old teams so there is a crease of opportunity there I guess. For the long haul don’t expect this much out of him regularly though, with a talented Jeremy Shockey also on the team.
James Casey, Texans- Okay I admit it, I went a little overboard hyping up Casey before the Titans game. He did have a 32-yard catch, but only two total on four targets. I expect his targets to increase gradually in order to try and replace Owen Daniels though, so keep tabs on him.
Leonard Pope, Chiefs- This is one guy I can’t quite figure out. He was released by the Cardinals after three seasons of inconsistent play, particularly in the way of penalties, and he was never any good at blocking due to his tall frame. That is exactly what I don’t get though—the guy is 6’8″, how do you not throw him the ball in the end zone every time you are in the red zone? He seems to have decent hands. For what it is worth, he did score his first TD as a Chief last time out.
Jermichael Finley, Packers- After missing three games, he came back to lead the team in targets with 10, and finished with 7 catches for 54 yards. This guy has the talent to be a star, and maybe he is just getting started?
Brandon Pettigrew/Will Heller, Lions- Pettigrew catches more passes, but both he and Heller have 2 TDs in the last three games. I don’t trust either without Stafford under center though, frankly.
Brady Quinn, Browns- I like to slam Quinn when I am not busy slamming Leinart, but to be fair he had his best pro game last week. 304 yards with 4 TDs is impressive even if it did come against the Lions. If I were you, let everyone else pick him up. His next four opponents are Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Kansas City who has proven to be a sturdy test as of late.
Vince Young, Titans- Young may never be as valuable in fantasy as he can be in real life, but who knows, he is playing the best ball of his young career and could get better in these final weeks. If he can run for 50 yards and pass for 175 with 2-3 total TDs, he is a viable fantasy player.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs- Looks like Cassel is acclimating himself in Kansas City. He has passed for 2 TDs with 245+ yards in 2 of the last 3 games.
Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders- Gradkowski reminds me of Jeff Garcia, a tough guy with a determined attitude. I liked him in Tampa and thought he should have gotten more of a chance there. The Raiders need someone to lead them since Russell is deficient, and Grad posted 2 TD passes in his first start.
Matt Leinart, Cardinals- If you own Kurt Warner it would seem to be a no-brainer to handcuff him with a former Heisman trophy winner. Well, maybe not. Not the way Leinart has performed this year anyway. It seems funny to say it, but I would be more confident in Gradkowski at this point than Leinart, even though Matt is surrounded by Pro Bowl talent. As a Cardinals fan, I badly want Leinart to prove me wrong—way wrong. Luckily for me, Warner was on the practice field today which I am hoping means this is a mute point.