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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.

Michael Turner: RB San Diego Chargers

What has he done so far
Turner was extremely productive in college, ranking 13th on the NCAA all-time rushing list with 4,941 yards. Turner started 11 games as a junior rushing for just short of 2,000 yards with 19 touch downs. He topped 2,000 all purpose yards as a senior with 17 touch downs. He came into the league as a fifth round draft pick out of Northern Illinois, not the most impressive resume for the NFL or Fantasy Football. Add that he was drafted by San Diego who starts all-World, future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Turner got limited playing time as a rookie in 2004. In week 17 he started and led the team with 87 yards on 15 carries against the Chiefs. Turner started the season in a battle with Jesse Chatman for the back up running back spot, however, Chatman was cut, handing the job to Turner.

Current Situation
Turner has had limited action this season, averaging about 4 carries for 24 yards a game, with 6 yards a carry. He has scored a touch down in three of the past six weeks. Two weeks ago, Tomlinson aggravated his injured ribs during the game against Indianapolis, and finished the day watching from the sidelines as Michael Turner played well in relief. However, against KC last week Turner only had one tackle on special teams.

Spotlight ETA
Although Tomlinson could have rested last week, he took every carry against Kansas City. Turner did not even touch the ball. Now that the Chargers are out of the playoff hunt, Turner may have an expanded role in week 17, but the real value in Turner is for the future. We are convinced that he will be starting in the NFL eventually.

Dynasty Upside
Turner will be a starting running back in the NFL. Turner is an absolute monster between the tackles. He's never brought down on the first hit, or the second. It takes numerous hits and tacklers to take him down. He is averaging 6 yards a carry this season. Should you feel that the Indy game was an aberration with the 83 yard touch down run, he still had 7 carries for 30 yards outside of the run for an average of 4.2 yards a carry. Turner is a bruiser at 5'10", 237 lbs. He has very good balance and power, with strength and vision as a runner. Turner runs between the tackles and can take a pounding. He has power to push inside and break tackles and just enough speed to get to the corner. Turner runs with a good body lean, low center of gravity and exceptional leg drive. He could be the starting running back on many NFL teams.

Final Thoughts
Tons and tons of Fantasy owners have been deceived by Michael "the Burner" Turner. With the nick name "Burner" the average person envisions a little fast scat back with blazing speed. That nick name is about as sarcastic as they come. Turner is not stop watch fast, is not elusive in the open field, and will not outrun people. He is a big back with great power that will run into and over people. Turner is a thickly built running back with powerful legs who has the speed, balance, and power to become a starter in the NFL. Don't be the Fantasy Owner who has never watched a Charger game, but is convinced that Turner is a little "Burner". He is exactly the opposite.

Ben Taylor: LB Cleveland Browns

What has he done so far
Ben Taylor was a 4th round draft pick (#111 overall) for Cleveland out of Virginia Tech in 2002. He saw very limited duty as a rookie, but began 2003 as a starting inside LB for the Browns. He had some solid games for the Browns, including a 16 solo tackle game against New England before back and elbow injuries limited him for the rest of the season. In 2004 he had a slow start, and tore a chest tendon week three against the Giants. He finished the season on injured reserve. This season he has started every game for the Browns and is their #2 tackler behind Andra Davis.

Current Situation
The Browns use a 3-4 defense, and Taylor plays ILB opposite Andra Davis. They are the two best tacklers on the team, and Taylor has an impressive 74 solo tackles and 35 assists through 15 games this season. He is only under contract with Cleveland for the rest of 2005.

Spotlight ETA
Taylor is a forgotten man in most leagues. Andra Davis is the big news from the Browns, and Taylor is still a free agent in many leagues. He's not much for rushing the QB (no sacks in his four seasons) or defending the pass (only one career interception and just three career pass defenses) he does know how to stuff the run. Currently he's ranked #28 in solo tackles for LBs, and 18th in combined tackles and assists.

Dynasty Upside
Tackles are the bread and butter of IDP leagues, and Taylor has those down cold. He's come on pretty strong as of late with 64 combined tackles in his last eight games. If he could improve as a pass defender or record a couple sacks during the season, he could be a starting LB in many IDP leagues.

Final Thoughts
The Browns are just starting to adjust to their new 3-4 defense, and Taylor is a big part of that. His ability to stop the run will be a big help to the Browns as they hope to improve going into next season. His tackles make him a very consistent IDP candidate, and if he starts to pick up on the passing game, he's going to be a solid player. The major concern with him is his health. He's been nicked up for most of his career, but he has put that behind him this season. Given his performance to date, the Browns will probably re-sign him to a longer-term contract after this season. He definitely has upside potential, and is worth stashing on your roster for 2006.

Coming Up

Over the next couple weeks during the NFL playoffs, we'll do a summary of the 25 guys that we have written about here in our Dynasty Watch. We'll show you how they finished, and update you on if we still believe that they are worth a roster slot and why. Stay tuned.

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