FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 10
Paul Sandy
November 6, 2012
 
SYMBOL LEGEND
Rockstar Rock Star Free Agent
Injury Injury Replacement
Grab & Stash Grab & Stash
1 Week Plug & Play 1 Week Plug & Play
Dumpster Dive Dumpster Dive
Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
$ $0 - $5
$$ $6 - $15
$$$ $16 - $25
$$$$ $26 - $40
$$$$$ $41+
Based on $100 cap,
12-team league.

Given the diverse scoring systems and sizes of fantasy leagues, producing a weekly list of free agents that satisfies the masses can be challenging. For the most part, the column will hone in on players who are available in at least 35% of all fantasy leagues. If you play in a small league (8 teams), chances are there may be better players to pick up than you see listed here. If you play in a large league (16 teams), the majority of the players highlighted may already be on a squad; however, expect to find hidden gems, as well.

In addition to scouting “rock star” free agents who had breakout performances in the previous week, the Forecast will dig deep to identify players who may be worth a spot start or a roster stash.

QUARTERBACKS

Alex Smith, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlayPrior to San Francisco’s Week 9 bye, Alex Smith had arguably his best game as a pro, completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. If he wasn’t claimed in your league last week because of the bye, he’s worth grabbing now either as a backup or as a spot starter. With a couple high-profile QBs on bye this week, Smith isn’t a bad Plan B fantasy starter. He faces a Rams defense that’s average against the pass. St. Louis has allowed nine passing scores in their last three games. For fantasy owners who like to take a longer view, Smith might be the ideal QB pickup. He has remaining games against the Rams (twice), Saints, Dolphins, and Patriots. 

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Smith will put up solid numbers against the Rams and merits a matchup-based start.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayDespite playing through a knee contusion, Miami QB Ryan Tannehill had a solid afternoon against the Colts. He passed for 290 yards and a touchdown. Tannehill has been a bit up and down this year, which means fantasy owners need to scrutinize his matchups before starting him. With the Titans on tap next, this is one of those occasions in which starting Tannehill makes complete sense. Tennessee has ceded an NFL worst 20 passing touchdowns this season. You can safely expect a useful stat sheet from Tannehill this week.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spot start Tannehill and pencil him in for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Forecast recommended Wilson for a one-time start last week and he was as good as billed, tossing three touchdowns against the Vikings. It was his second straight game with multiple touchdown throws. Can he make it three in a row? A home game against the Jets is up next. Although New York has a stingy pass defense, Wilson has been money at home with a 6:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in three games at CenturyLink Field. Conservatively pencil Wilson in for 175 yards and two scores. That might be good enough to merit starting consideration in competitive leagues with 12 or more teams.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wilson is worth a look at home against the Jets.

Jake Locker, Titans
Grab & StashAfter a six-week layoff, Locker (shoulder) appears close to returning to the field. For a time, it looked like grizzled veteran Matt Hasselbeck would hang onto the starting job after leading his team to a couple unexpected wins. However, an embarrassing loss to the Bears opens the door to for Locker to regain the starting job. Prior to getting hurt, Locker was putting up some noteworthy numbers including a 378-2-0 line against the Lions in Week 3. The Titans face a Miami club that struggles against the pass so Locker could be worth plug-and-play usage if you’re QB needy. Otherwise, he’s probably a better buy-and-hold candidate.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Add Locker in deep leagues in anticipation of him returning to the lineup this week.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jay Cutler (84%), Carson Palmer (79%), Josh Freeman (91%) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (73%)

On the Radar: Sam Bradford (38%), Joe Webb (0%) and John Skelton (7%)

RUNNING BACKS

Marcel Reece, Raiders
Injury ReplacementThe dreaded high ankle sprain ripped through Oakland’s backfield on Sunday, sidelining both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. Both players will likely miss time. The Raiders will now look to fullback Marcel Reece to shoulder the load with Taiwan Jones serving as a change of pace. The club appears very reluctant to give Jones more than a handful of carries because he has fumbling issues. Reece, who is an excellent receiver, could get 20 touches against the Ravens. He posted 95 yards and a touchdown on Sunday—with all of the production coming through the air. Use him as a RB2 in PPR leagues or a flex option.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Reece is this week’s must-add RB.

Isaac Redman, Steelers
Rock StarWith Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Jonathan Dwyer (quad) out, Isaac Redman was pressed into the starting lineup for Sunday’s matchup with the Giants. Redman was a beast, rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown. It was old-fashioned Steeler football and with a home meeting against the Chiefs coming up next Monday night, Redman is a must-grab. Even if Dwyer returns to action, Redman figures to get 10-15 touches, which should be more than enough to contribute useful numbers.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Redman should be owned in all leagues but his long-term value is subject to debate.

Joique Bell, Lions
Rock StarBell led all Lions rushers with 73 yards on the ground against the Jags. He also scored a touchdown and added 36 yards receiving. Starter Mikel Leshoure rightfully will get most of the attention in the Motor City since he crossed the stripe three times. However, Bell is no slouch, especially in PPR leagues where he’s averaging over three receptions per game over his last six outings. He’s a savvy pickup for Sunday’s meeting with the Vikings, who have been gutted by opposing RBs for three straight games. Earlier this year, Bell caught six passes against Minnesota.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Now a regular contributor to Detroit’s offense, Bell is trustworthy this week against Minnesota.

Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram, Saints
Rock StarIvory made his season debut on Monday Night Football and likely had Saints fans wondering what the coaching staff was thinking keeping him on the bench up to this point. Ivory ran with excellent burst, vision and toughness. He ended the game with over 40 yards and a touchdown. The much-maligned Mark Ingram also had a solid night posting over 75 all-purpose yards. It will be interesting to see how the team uses its RBs going forward. For a time, it looked like the three lead backs rotated series. With Darren Sproles likely out at least another week or so, there are 8-10 extra touches to go around.

Availability: Owned in ~2% and ~40% of leagues respectively.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Make a play for Ivory because we’ve seen what Ingram has to offer.

Daryl Richardson, Rams
Grab & StashWith the Rams on bye in Week 9, Richardson’s ownership dropped below the 70% threshold so the Forecast is profiling him again. In the last three games, Richardson has 35 touches compared to 36 for starter Steven Jackson. What we have here is a true 50-50 timeshare. As the season . . . and Jackson’s contract . . . draw to a close, expect the tables to tilt in Richardson’s favor. By Week 14, when St. Louis plays the patsy Bills, it will probably be a closer to a 60-40 or even 70-30 split with Richardson leading the way.

Availability: Owned in ~68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Stash Richardson for his long-term value but keep him benched against the Niners.

James Starks, Packers
Grab & StashStarks got the start and most of the work on first and second down during the Packers Week 9 game against the Cardinals. He produced a respectable line (17-61-0) although he did put the ball on the ground once. Look for Starks and Alex Green to continue to split the work until Cedric Benson is healthy enough to return. Green Bay has its bye in Week 10 so Starks won’t help right away. Consider him a low-end RB2 or flex play against the Lions in Week 11.

Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Look for Starks to get at least two more starts when the Packers return from bye in Week 11.

Ronnie Brown, Chargers
1 Week Plug & PlayEarlier this season, Brown looked spent. He lacked burst and went down on first contact too often. Now he’s hitting his stride and is shaping up to be a poor man’s Darren Sproles. In fact, Brown is second among all RBs with 32 receptions. But he’s not a one-trick pony. He also has 10 rushes over the last two outings. You can count on him for 10-12 touches per game. It’s too early to call Brown a matchup-proof option in PPR leagues but he should definitely be rostered in all schemes that give a point for a catch. The Bolts face a Bucs defense that gave up a whopping 17 receptions to RBs in Week 9.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Brown is a legit RB2 or flex option in PPR leagues.

Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Bolden, Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Patriots four-headed rushing attack draws a cherry matchup this week against the Bills. Buffalo ranks last in the NFL against the run. It’s too bad that outside of Steven Ridley, it’s difficult to project the distribution of playing time and touches. Still, fantasy owners can count on abundant fantasy production in this game. Back in Week 4 when New England faced Buffalo, Ridley and Bolden combined for 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Woodhead added 23 yards and a touchdown through the air. Monitor the news out of New England to assess the health of Bolden who has missed time with a knee injury. If he can’t go, Vereen is a good play. Woodhead is worth starting regardless.

Availability: Owned in ~16%, ~53% and 26% of leagues.
FAAB:
Forecast: Spot start from this pool of RBs as needed

Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayAlthough he failed to score the touchdown the Forecast predicted last week, Thomas was still an active part of Miami’s offense in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. He racked up 62 total yards on eight touches. In Week 10, Miami plays host to a Titans defense that is among the worst in the NFL at stopping the run. They allow 141.6 yards per game on the ground. Count on a heavy dose of Reggie Bush and Thomas, with Thomas getting the goal-line work. He’s good for a plug-and-play start.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB:
Forecast: Give Thomas the starting nod and look for 60+ yards against a weak Titans defense.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
1 Week Plug & PlayThe ‘Quizz Show is finally starting to generate some positive ratings. Rodgers has caught nine passes and exceeded 50 all-purpose yards in his last two games. Take your chances with him this week if you’re desperate for RB help. The Falcons face the Saints in Week 10. New Orleans ranks last in the NFL against the run, allowing over 170 yards per game. The Eagles ran roughshod over them on Monday night in the first half before falling behind. The Forecast likes Rodger’s chances of putting up 50-60 total yards with a possible touchdown in what should be the highest-scoring game of Week 10.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB:
Forecast: Consider Rodgers for a bench spot or a deep league desperation play against the Saints.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals and Cedric Benson, Packers
Grab & StashWells and Benson were placed on IR several weeks ago but are eligible to return to the playing field in Week 12. They are worth rostering if you have a postseason playoff berth in your sights. Reports out of Arizona indicate Wells is fully healthy already. Based on what the remaining Cardinals RBs have shown, Wells should have little difficulty stepping back into a feature role. News out of Green Bay as it relates to Benson has been harder to come by. Still, he’s worth a stash.

Availability: Owned in ~28% and ~34% of leagues respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wells and Benson are stash-worthy if you have playoff hopes.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jonathan Dwyer (76%), Vick Ballard (69%), Kendall Hunter (49%), LaRod Stephens-Howling (79%) and Pierre Thomas (90%)

On the Radar: Lance Dunbar (0%) and Ronnie Hillman (33%)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Chris Givens, Rams
Grab & StashHere at the Free Agent Forecast worldwide headquarters, we love us some Chris Givens. Unfortunately, the rest of the fantasy world doesn’t seem to share our sentiments. Givens is still available in close to 80% of fantasy leagues. This is a kid who has recorded a 50-yard reception in five straight games—a rookie record . . . as in never been done before . . . ever. Yeah, the Rams play the 49ers this week. It’s a tough matchup but Givens still needs to be owned if for no other reason than he has a dream schedule come playoff time. The Rams face the Bills, Vikings and Bucs in Weeks 14-16.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: With a juicy schedule and big-play potential, Givens could be the darling of the 2012 fantasy playoffs.

Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Grab & StashLike Givens, Kerley was on bye in Week 9 and is under-represented on fantasy squads. QB Mark Sanchez has thrown Kerley’s way 22 times in New York’s last two games. He’s basically force-feeding him the ball. That yielded terrific results in Week 7 (7-120-0) and so-so results in Week 8 (5-43-0). With a matchup against the Seahawks coming up, Kerley is a risk. Don’t add him to play him immediately. Add him for WR depth. New York’s schedule eases up starting in Week 10 with a slate of games that includes the Rams, Patriots, Jaguars and Titans.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Kerley will make a fine WR4 for the rest of the year.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Grab & StashThe Forecast has been preaching patience on Heyward-Bey for the past month. If you bought and held him, that patience is starting to pay off. DHB has put up 70 yards or a touchdown in three straight games and Oakland’s schedule is about to lighten up. He’s playable against the Ravens in Week 10 but the real benefit to adding him is his Week 11 matchup against the Saints. Add him if you have a WR on bye during that week and consider him an ideal WR4 or WR5 for the duration of the 2012 season.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Owners of Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Percy Harvin should consider preemptively adding DHB for his Week 11 meeting with the Saints.

Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlaySteelers wideout Antonio Brown pulled up gimpy with an ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Initially it appeared to be a high ankle sprain. Then it wasn’t a high ankle sprain. And later it was a mild high ankle sprain. Whatever the truth is, Brown will likely be listed as questionable. Since Pittsburgh plays on Monday night, it’s important for Brown owners to add either Emmanuel Sanders or Jerricho Cotchery. The Forecast leans toward Sanders since he’ll likely start and be on the field for more snaps.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Sanders will be serviceable on Monday night if Antonio Brown sits.

Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayAvery and Hilton both crossed the century mark on Sunday against the Dolphins and both are readily available in fantasy leagues. If your fantasy club lacks quality WR depth, the Forecast advises you to get yourself a share of the Indianapolis receiving unit. You couldn’t hand pick a more favorable schedule for Andrew Luck and company. Indy will face the Jaguars, Patriots, Bills, Lions, Titans, Texans and Chiefs from Weeks 10-16. Only the Texans pose a significant challenge. Avery is a safer pickup in PPR leagues based on his high volume of targets. Hilton has big-play ability and will likely end the year with more touchdowns. If you have eyes on starting Avery this week, check his status as he left Sunday’s game with a hip injury.

Availability: Owned in ~36% and ~8% of leagues respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Adding a piece of Indy’s surging pass attack for the stretch run is a savvy move.

Danario Alexander, Chargers
Grab & StashThe Forecast saw enough of Alexander in Week 9 to recommend him as a stash-worthy WR. Alexander caught all three passes Phillip Rivers threw his way, ending the game with 61 yards receiving. Head coach Norv Turner singled out Alexander’s performance and suggested he would be a big part of the offense going forward. San Diego is sorely lacking weapons in the passing game so Alexander has some upside. He brings some of the same tools to the table as former Charger Vincent Jackson—most notably size and speed. If Rivers starts chucking it deep to Alexander a couple of times per game, there could be some value here.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Alexander has some deep league intrigue because the Chargers are desperate for a playmaker at WR.

Donald Jones, Bills
Dumpster DiveJones, who is the No. 2 WR for the Bills, posted a 6-65-0 line on Sunday against the Texans. That follows a respectable 4-47-1 line from Week 7. Numbers like that might normally fly under the radar but Jones faces the Patriots in Week 10. That’s worth noting because in his last two outings against New England, Jones has gone for 2-90-1 and 5-101-0. The Patriots have allowed 17 passing scores this season—tied for third most in the NFL. It’s pretty much a given that Buffalo will be playing from behind in this game and will likely need to pass 40+ times, which should open the door for decent numbers from the Donald. Also note that top WR Stevie Johnson has a bad thigh bruise that will make him questionable to play Sunday.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spot start Jones as a boom-or-bust WR3.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Brian Hartline (87%), Danny Amendola (83%)
Nate Washington (78%), Michael Crabtree (91%), Andre Roberts (88%), Sidney Rice (73%), Cecil Shorts (56%)

On the Radar: Ryan Broyles (22%), Michael Floyd (8%),  Brandon Gibson (40%), Josh Morgan (1%), Golden Tate (18%), Randy Moss (29%), and Clyde Gates (0%)

TIGHT ENDS

Brandon Myers, Raiders
Rock StarAt the rate he was catching passes, you knew it was just a matter of time before Myers scored his first touchdown. The fourth-year TE notched a TD early in the fourth quarter on Sunday and crossed the stripe again less than five minutes later. While fantasy owners could ignore Myers’ solid reception and yardage totals, they’ll have a harder time dismissing him now that he’s popped the cork on his touchdown production. Expect his ownership level to skyrocket. Add him this week and start using him as a legitimate TE1. He’s proven to be matchup proof. The Raiders face a Baltimore defense that is merely average at stopping opposing TEs.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Myers should be owned in all TE-mandatory leagues.

Dustin Keller, Jets
Rock StarWith the bye week now behind him, Keller is an attractive grab who could produce top ten TE numbers for the rest of the season. In his last two games, he posted 14 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. There’s no debate when it comes Keller’s skills; he has what it takes to be a TE1. It’s really just a matter of whether he can stay healthy and whether Mark Sanchez can get him the ball on a consistent basis. The Jets face the Seahawks this week. It’s not a great matchup but it’s not unreasonable either. Circle Week 15 on your calendar. With a trip to your league’s championship game on the line, it might be nice to start Keller against the Titans, who are among the worst in the NFL against the TE position.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Keller is worth considering as a low-end starting TE.

Dwayne Allen, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayWith fellow rookie TE Colby Fleener (shoulder) out, Dwayne Allen has capitalized on his increased role in the offense. He’s posted ten receptions for 131 yards in the last two games. QB Andrew Luck has fed him a steady diet of targets, throwing his way 12 times. Allen is worth considering for a bench spot. Indianapolis faces a Jacksonville defense that has shut down some capable TEs this season, including Brandon Pettigrew and Jermichael Finley most recently. Fifty yards is doable this week but asking for a touchdown is a little much.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Roll with Allen in deep leagues if you’re TE needy this week.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jermaine Gresham (88%)

On the Radar: Joel Dreessen (40%), Anthony Fasano (27%) and Logan Paulsen (10%

KICKERS

Adam Vinatieri, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayVinatieri isn’t as accurate as he once was but that doesn’t mean the 17-year veteran kicker can’t be trusted for fantasy. On the contrary, the Colts offense moves the ball and gives Vinatieri lots of kicking opportunities. In fact, only two kickers have attempted more field goals this season. He has connected on multiple field goals in six of his last seven outings. With a favorable matchup against the Jaguars on tap this week, Viniatieri is a no-brainer start if you could use a few added points. Jacksonville is among the most generous teams in the league to opposing kickers.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Lock and load Vinatieri for a favorable Thursday night game against the Jags.

Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayIf your regular kicker is underperforming or on bye, give Miami’s Dan Carpenter a look for a one-time start. The Dolphins host a Titans club that ranks last in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 34.2 points per game. Carpenter has averaged 10 points per game over his last two outings and after a shaky start to the season, he hasn’t missed in his last three games. Miami should be able to move the ball and put up 24+ points.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for double-digit numbers from Carpenter in Week 10.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Shaun Suisham (69%) and Robbie Gould (87%)

On the Radar: Connor Barth (52%), Phil Dawson (37%) and Dan Bailey (15%)

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

Dallas Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Cowboys have a pretty solid NFL defense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show up on the fantasy stat sheet very often. About the only category in which they rate well is sacks. Look for the Cowboys to finally make their mark with some turnovers and perhaps a touchdown next week against the Eagles. Philadelphia continues to make costly mistakes. They had an interception returned 99 yards for a touchdown on Monday night plus gave up numerous sacks. The Eagles offensive line is brutal so DeMarcus Ware should pad the stats all day.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Give the Cowboys a look on Sunday against the reeling Eagles offense.

Detroit Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayIf you can’t get your hands on the Cowboys or one of the notable defenses listed below, take a flier on the Lions in Week 10. Detroit faces a Vikings offense that will be without one of its top weapons in Percy Harvin. Even with Harvin, the offense has been pretty stagnant outside of Adrian Peterson. The Forecast like’s Detroit’s chances of putting eight or nine men in the box to clamp down on Peterson. Should the Lions get an early lead, they should have little trouble rattling QB Christian Ponder, who seems to be regressing as an NFL passer.

Availability: Owned in ~68% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Take a chance on the Lions against Minnesota.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Denver Broncos (90%), Miami Dolphins (78%), Steelers (81%) and Patriots (80%)

On the Radar: Raiders (25%) and Redskins (33%)


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