If you’re a fantasy owner suffering from Daunte Culpepper’s implosion in Miami, Shaun Alexander’s subjection to the Madden Curse in Seattle, or Terrell Owens’ three-ring circus in Dallas, you’ve probably been scouring the waiver-wire for possible replacements. With free agents, however, it’s hard to separate legitimate replacements with one-week wonders. Take a look at these guys: they might not win the league for you, but they could be the missing pieces your team needs to get back into contention.
Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals were a popular sleeper pick this preseason, but all they’ve managed to do this year is find creative ways to blow games. In last week’s shockingly-not-so shocking choke against the Bears, Leinart was the only bright spot, leading the Cards to 23 points against one of the NFL’s top defenses. The 23 points were the most the Bears have allowed this year, and Leinart put them on the board with a shaky offensive line and an ineffective Edgerrin James. The former Heisman Trophy winner threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns and has thrown for 485 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception in two starts this year. The Cardinals are playing the deceiving Raiders, who are surprisingly leading the league in pass defense despite being winless on the season. Regardless, Leinart should put up solid numbers as he seeks his first NFL win.
Travis Henry, Tennessee Titans:
Don’t waste any more time waiting; Travis Henry is for real. The Titans back carried the ball 32 times for 178 yards against the Redskins last week and has 301 yards on the ground over his last two games. Quarterback Vince Young is still adjusting to life in the NFL, so the Titans should rely heavily on the run from here on out. The Titans have a bye this week, but grab Henry while you can. In Week 8, Henry should run all over a weak Houston Texans defense. The seventh-year back is finally showing signs of the player who rushed for 23 touchdowns for the Bills from 2002-03 before injuries cost him the starting job to Willis McGahee.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS:
Randy McMichael, Miami Dolphins:
As long as Joey Harrington keeps starting, McMichael will keep getting the ball. McMichael is third on the team in receptions and yards on the year, but has been Harrington’s primary target over the past two weeks. The 255-pound target has caught 15 passes for 156 yards in Harrington’s two starts and should see plenty of action against a weak Green Bay pass defense this week. McMichael hasn’t seen the end zone yet this year, but had five touchdowns last year and should see increased red-zone opportunities if the Dolphins can break out of their offensive slump.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers:
Jennings was red-hot before the Packers had their bye last week, catching 13 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns in his previous three games. Donald Driver still gets most of the looks from Brett Favre, but Jennings, the rookie from Western Michigan, is leading the Packers in receiving yards and touchdowns. Running back Ahman Green hasn’t played in the last two games and is questionable for Sunday, so the Packers should rely heavily on their passing game against a tough Miami Dolphins defense. Look for Favre to get it done through the air with Jennings as a major target.