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Prospecting - Week 8

  Posted 10/28 by Will Grant and Jeff Pasquino, Exclusive for Footballguys.com

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.

Prospecting focuses on low risk players that could be huge payoff roster moves that you might be able make before the guys in your league think about it. The 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.

We will be breaking this down into three major sections:

  • Golden Nuggets - For shallower leagues (10 teams or fewer, 18 or fewer roster spots - About 180 or fewer players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use only a handful (1-5) IDP players.
  • Panning For Gold - For medium size leagues (12 teams, 18-20 roster spots a team - About 200-240 players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use a moderate amount (6-8) of IDP players.
  • Digging Deep - For large size leagues (14 or more teams and/or 21 or more roster spots a team - Over 240 players that are already rostered in the league). When IDP is included, we will be looking at players that are of use for leagues that use a full setup (11) of IDP players.

Let's get started!

Golden Nuggets - Shallower Leagues

Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets

Why did he catch our eye?

The rookie for the Jets was finally getting some touches in October, even as the third running back on the New York depth chart. Now with the season-ending injury to Leon Washington, we saw in Week 7 what Greene can do with a decent workload against a mediocre run defense as he posted a 100+ yard game with two touchdowns.

Current Situation

  • Team info: Greene is now the second running back on the depth chart for the Jets, behind only Thomas Jones. Greene should see 10-15 touches at a minimum each game for the rest of 2009.
  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2009 - 3rd Round
  • Contract info: 4-year rookie contract - free agent in 2013

Timeframe

Today. The Jets wanted the youngster to show signs of being able to handle the speed of the NFL and all the complexities that come with being the featured tailback for the team, and he showed enough against the Raiders to boost most everyone's confidence in Greene going forward. Greene will step right in for the injured Leon Washington (broken leg) and get plenty of work as the Jets love to run the ball all day long if they can.

Final Thoughts

The Jets really liked Greene, so much that they traded most of their Day 2 picks in the 2009 NFL Draft to move up and get him early in Round 3. New York has three capable backs now with Thomas Jones and Greene along with the injured Washington, so long term the hope would have to be to keep one back with Greene to form next year's backfield. For now, Greene gets at least nine more games to display his abilities to help to clarify the direction of the Jets for next year and beyond.

Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Why did he catch our eye?

Harvin has been playing well for the Vikings this season, but on the offensive side of the ball, he's been stuck behind Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson for touches. He's also been battling shoulder injuries these last two weeks. However, Berrian injured his hamstring against Pittsburgh this week and Harvin saw an increased role. He and Favre showed better connection than they have earlier this season and Favre was throwing the ball more to Harvin downfield as well as getting him the quick passes right off of the line.

Current Situation

  • Team info: Harvin is the #3 WR on the Minnesota depth chart, but he is also their primary kick returner.
  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2009 - 1st Round
  • Contract info: 5-year contract - free agent in 2014

Time Frame

Limited now. Better long term. In shallow leagues, Harvin was probably drafted early and then dropped when the passing game didn't feature him as much as Berrian and Rice. However, hamstring injuries tend to linger, and Berrian could be sidelined for an extended period. Harvin will definitely be an offensive weapon of the future for the Vikings, but if he gets more opportunities this season, he can really have an impact.

Final Thoughts

The Vikings like to throw quick screens to Berrian and let him turn a short gain into a longer one. Harvin attacks the defense when he has the ball, and he fits this role well for Minnesota with Berrian on the sidelines. He's a special player and is a legitimate threat to go all the way when he has he ball. Favre is becoming more comfortable with him now, and is looking to him downfield as well as the quick outs. If Harvin continues to perform, Favre and the Vikings will find ways to get Harvin more involved in the offense. In leagues that award points for kick returns, Harvin is a double threat and should be a solid starter as long as Berrian is out.

Panning For Gold - Medium Leagues

Danny Woodhead, RB, New York Jets

Why did he catch our eye?

Danny Woodhead was one of those guys who had an excellent summer, posting big games in the preseason. That alone will get your attention, as any player who dominates in August has the potential to do it for real once the regular action starts.

Current Situation

  • Team info: The Jets are thinner this week than last due to Leon Washington's broken leg. Woodhead was on the practice squad two weeks ago but now he becomes third on the depth chart.
  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: Undrafted
  • Contract info: Undisclosed contract

Time Frame

The Jets are a strong running team, employing at least two backs in every contest. In Weeks 6 (Buffalo) and 7 (Oakland) the Jets have topped 300 yards on the ground, so you know that the rushers for the Jets have a ton of fantasy value. Woodhead will be active every game going forward as both the third running back and also a solid special teams contributor.

Final Thoughts

New York was quick to sign and hold on to the younger rusher, grabbing him immediately after the 2008 NFL Draft. He was injured before the regular season but now he seems ready to go and to hit the ground running. Should anything happen to Shonn Greene or Thomas Jones it would be Woodhead's job to lose as the next man up. Woodhead has a good chance to contribute this season even as the third back, but certainly his biggest upside is at least close to the average carry number going forward.

George Wilson, SS, Buffalo Bills

Why did he catch our eye?

The Buffalo LB and DB corps have been decimated with injuries. Last week we talked about Jairus Byrd getting more opportunities and the same holds true with Wilson. He's seeing time now in place of Donte Whitner, but he's making the most of his opportunities. Over the last two weeks, Wilson has racked up 14 solo tackles, 7 assists and 2 INTs.

Current Situation

  • Wilson is a backup DB who is seeing more playing time due to the injuries in the Buffalo secondary. It's hard to see him beating out Whitner's stats had been declining before his injury, and his off the field problems have given Wilson a chance to take over.
  • Age: 28
  • Drafted: 2005 - Undrafted (originally a WR).
  • Contract info: Final season of a one-year contract - free agent in 2010

Time Frame

You should be looking at picking up Wilson now and watching the injury reports to make sure that he's starting every week. He's in a contract year, so he's motivated to play hard and he's doing a great job with the limited action the he has been seeing. The Bills are really decimated on the defensive side of he ball, and a guy who is making seven solo tackles a game is going to be in the lineup as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

Wilson's long term prospects are somewhat questionable. He's never put up more than 37 tackles in a season, so he's already reached 'career' bests in many of his stats. DBs typically don't 'break out' in their fifth season, especially without changing teams. It remains to be seen if Wilson can continue this type of production. However, you can't ignore that Wilson has been playing well these last few games and the Bills definitely need all the help that they can get on the defensive side of the ball. Grab Wilson as a short term solution with possible long term potential.

Digging Deep - Deep Leagues

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams

Why did he catch our eye?

Amendola has been a guilty pleasure of a player to watch ever since the former Texas Tech Red Raider graduated in 2008 and wound up on the Dallas Cowboys. That was the year for Hard Knocks to be covering the Cowboys, affording us the opportunity to see what this little guy was all about. Amendola has bounced around the league from Dallas to Philadelphia to now St. Louis, who has apparently found a good role for him on both offense and special teams.

Current Situation

  • Team info: Slot wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams
  • Age: 24 on 11/02
  • Drafted: 2008 - Undrafted
  • Contract info: Undisclosed contract

Time Frame

The Rams are one of those terrible teams this year that are searching for any player to step up and contribute to a woeful offensive unit. With Donnie Avery as the top receiver option for the Rams (and he is often hurt), St. Louis quickly goes down to a one-dimensional attack with Steven Jackson doing whatever he can individually to move the chains. After Avery and Jackson, all bets are off as both Keenan Burton (WR2), but given that the Rams will often be trailing this year, they can certainly employ the young, diminutive speedster into the offense.

Final Thoughts

Danny Amendola reeled in five passes last week, all for short yardage, but the Colts pass defense is among the elite this year. QB Marc Bulger needs someone to step up and be the anchor to that passing game, and a smaller possession receiver is a tried and true method currently used with Wes Welker on other defenses. Amendola has often been compared to Welker (especially since both are Texas Tech alumni) and a move-the-chains, possession receiver is a desperate need for St. Louis. Amendola should continue to get targets as well as returning kicks, making him a very intriguing player going forward and one that could become a starting wideout on a team desperate for playmakers.

Thomas DeCoud, FS, Atlanta Falcons

Why did he catch our eye?

DeCoud moved into the starting FS role for the Falcons when Erik Coleman moved to starting SS. He did not see much playing time his rookie season, but DeCoud has really come on strong and earned the starting spot this year. Over the last five games, he has 25 solo tackles, 4 assists, 2 INTs and 6 passes defensed.

Current Situation

  • Team info: Free safety for the Atlanta Falcons
  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2008 - Third Round
  • Contract info: Four-year contract - free agent in 2012

Time Frame

Right now. DeCoud played well against the Cowboys last week, and has proven that he can handle the starting job. He has great cover skills as well, and he is a natural fit for the free safety position. He has racked up almost 40 fantasy points over the last two weeks, and should continue to produce at a high level from here on out.

Final Thoughts

DeCoud has really come into his own, and with Coleman moving to strong safety, DeCoud has gotten his opportunity to shine. He possesses excellent cover skills, but has really improved on his tackling and run support as well. He was all over the field against the Cowboys, and should be a big time player going forward. Grab him now and take advantage of his increased production. He could turn into an excellent long-term prospect.