||Rock Star Free Agent
||Grab & Stash
||1 Week Plug & Play
|Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
||$0 - $5
||$6 - $15
||$16 - $25
||$26 - $40
|Based on $100 cap,
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.
Nick Foles, Eagles
Eagles starting QB Michael Vick sustained a concussion and an eye injury in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. The concussion was reportedly severe and he’s going to miss this week. Backup Nick Foles will get the start. He had a Jeckll-and-Hyde performance after he relieved Vick on Sunday. Foles completed 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Should Foles get the nod this week, the Forecast likes his chances of posting some helpful numbers against a Redskins defense that is among the worst in the NFL at defending the pass.
Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast: Roll with Foles if you can afford to gamble.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Wilson continues to be a fine fantasy spot starter and backup. He tallied 188 yards and two touchdowns through the air and added 34 yards rushing in Sunday’s win over the Jets—useful numbers in almost any leagues. He now has an 11:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in home games. The Seahawks are on bye in Week 11 so Wilson won’t provide any immediate relief for your fantasy club. However, he’s worth adding for the fantasy homestretch with a couple decent remaining matchups, including Miami in Week 13 and Buffalo in Week 16.
Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
Forecast: Stash this steady performer as insurance in case your regular starter goes down.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Bradford has quietly been an efficient fantasy QB for the past five games. He managed to lead his team to a surprising tie against the 49ers on the road, passing for 275 yards and two touchdowns. The return of Danny Amendola will spur Bradford back to relevance as a reliable backup QB. Amendola is Bradford’s security blanket and caught 11 passes on Sunday. St. Louis has a tough slate of games coming up (NYJ, ARZ and SF) so Bradford is more of a stash option. The schedule softens during the fantasy postseason with matchups against the Bills, Vikings, and Bucs.
Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
Forecast: With his young WR corps rounding into shape, Bradford will be a top 15 QB for the remainder of 2012.
John Skelton, Cardinals
If you need a bye week replacement for Week 11, the options are limited. Try to get your hands on Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer or Ryan Fitzpatrick. If none are available, throw a Hail Mary and add Arizona’s John Skelton. The Forecast likes his chances of posting some useful numbers against the Falcons on Sunday. Skelton’s passing yardage has steadily increased in his three most recent starts, climbing from 262 yards in Week 7 to 306 yards in Week 9. The Falcons have a solid pass defense but you can count on Skelton attempting 40+ throws. By sheer volume, he should be good for 260 yards and a touchdown or two.
Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
Forecast: Take a flier on Skelton who is always trustworthy for decent yardage.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Like Michael Vick, 49ers QB Alex Smith left Sunday’s game with a concussion. His status for Week 11 is in question. If you typically rely on Smith as your fantasy starter, put in a waiver claim for Colin Kaepernick, who would start against the Bears on Monday night if Smith can’t go. The second-year QB looked a little shaky throwing the ball but what he lacks in experience and accuracy, he can make up for with mobility. He rushed the ball for 66 yards on eight carries, at times making St. Louis defenders look helpless. Even against a stout Chicago defense, Kapernick’s ability to scramble makes him a viable fantasy starter in deep leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast: Kaepernick is worth a look if Alex Smith is still seeing cobwebs during the later part of the week.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Andy Dalton (90%), Joe Flacco (88%), Carson Palmer (87%) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (72%)
On the Radar: Byron Leftwich (0%), Christian Ponder (37%) and Jake Locker (20%)
Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram, Saints
The Forecast profiled Ivory and Ingram last week and both players were helpful in Week 10 with Ivory amassing 85 total yards and a touchdown on just eight touches and Ingram producing 67 yards on the ground. Both players are worth adding at this point but if you start them, make sure you have a bottle of antacid tablets handy on Sunday. Predicting their respective workloads is a crapshoot. Still, with a relatively favorable matchup against the Raiders up next, you could do worse than to add a piece of the Saints backfield.
Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast: Ivory and Ingram are good bets to produce at least 60-70 yards against the Raiders.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
After Reggie Bush fumbled early in the first half of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Titans, the coaching staff decided they’d seen enough and decided to bench him. Backup Daniel Thomas took over. Although his numbers (55 total yards) didn’t wow you, the bottom line is Miami’s staff is starting to lose faith in Bush and Miami has a favorable upcoming game against a terrible Bills run defense. Regardless of Bush’s status, Thomas can be started with a fair amount of confidence since he’s the goal-line RB. Look for him to finish with at least 50 yards and a touchdown.
Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
Forecast: Thomas is starter material in all leagues for Sunday’s meeting with the Bills.
Marcel Reece, Raiders
Despite conflicting reports out of Oakland last week, Marcel Reece got the start instead of Taiwan Jones on Sunday against the Ravens. Reece was solid even in a blowout loss, amassing 104 all-purpose yards. Keep in mind this is a guy who was a wide receiver in college. His ability to catch passes is a given but the fact that he was able to post 48 yards rushing bodes well. He should be owned in all leagues at this point even if the news that Darren McFadden (ankle) will try to play this week holds true. Reece is a viable RB2 or flex on Sunday with the Saints coming to town. New Orleans is playing better football now than they were earlier in the season but this is still a favorable matchup for Reece.
Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast: With McFadden still in a walking boot, Marcel Reece will likely be fantasy relevant again in Week 11.
James Starks, Packers
After rushing for 61 yards on 17 carries back in Week 9, Starks was roundly ignored by fantasy owners last week because he was on bye. With an upcoming game against a Lions defense that was shredded by Adrian Peterson on Sunday, Starks figures to get more attention on the waiver circuit this time around. Head coach Mike McCarthy will likely use Starks as his primary rusher with Alex Green serving as the change of pace. Look for 60-70 yards from him with a possible touchdown. Fantasy owners looking toward the playoffs might also consider stashing Cedric Benson, who could be ready to take the field again in Week 14.
Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
Forecast: Starks is the RB to own in Green Bay and should deliver low-end RB2 numbers against the Lions.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
Atlanta starting RB Michael Turner rushed the ball 13 times for 15 yards against New Orleans. It’s tough to make the Saints defense look good at anything. Yet Turner somehow managed. His futility could point to increased opportunities for change-of-pace RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who piled up 62 total yards on just seven touches. If you’re on the prowl for RBs with upside, Rodgers should make your list. While it’s unlikely that Atlanta will hand the starting job to Rodgers, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he consistently touches the ball 10-12 times per game for the remainder of the season—especially if the Falcons clinch early and feel compelled to rest Turner for the postseason.
Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast: Stash Rodgers in anticipation of him seeing in increase in carries as the team protects Michael Turner for the playoffs.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Wells is scheduled to come off the designated IR list in Week 12. Arizona’s running game and offensive line never really got going this season so Wells’ upside is limited. However, once he returns he figures to be the bellcow for the Cardinals. He’s worth adding if for no other reason than it’s a good defensive move to prevent your league mates from owning another starting RB. Arizona’s schedule is a mixed bag with some tough matchups and some decent ones.
Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
Forecast: Wells is worth adding to your bench in deep leagues.
Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Woodhead exploited a favorable matchup on Sunday against the Bills, racking up an impressive 61 yards and two touchdowns. He has at least four receptions in his last four games and typically chips in with a carry or two on the ground. Take your chances on him again this week against the Colts. With Brandon Bolden on suspension, Woodhead should continue to see enough stats to maintain his relevance. Indianapolis is average against both the run and the pass. Woodhead should end up with around 50-60 yards again with the possibility of a touchdown always on the table.
Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast: Woodhead is always worth a spot start if you in a RB pickle.
Joique Bell, Lions
Bell only carried the ball once versus the Vikings but still managed to post a decent fantasy line for PPR leaguers. He caught seven passes for 44 yards. The effort was a bit less than many owners may have been hoping for considering how bad Minnesota’s run defense had been playing. However, don’t give up on Bell yet. Green Bay is up next. The Packers will likely be without star linebacker Clay Matthews. Don’t be surprised if the Lions have success running the football against their division rival. If Bell is still available and you need to fill a hole, take a chance on him.
Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast: Expect another solid stat line from Bell this week against the Packers.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Rashard Mendenhall (91%), Jonathan Dwyer (74%), LaRod Stephens-Howling (74%), Andre Brown (89%), Vick Ballard (86%) and Daryl Richardson (65%)
On the Radar: Lance Dunbar (0%) and Ronnie Hillman (29%)
Danario Alexander, Chargers
In a season that has been a barren wasteland for waiver wire receiving prospects, we might finally have a borderline stud WR with staying power. San Diego’s Danario Alexander has taken San Diego by storm. Just a few weeks after the club signed him, Alexander is already the team’s best receiver. In his last two games, he has posted 195 yards and a touchdown. Last week the Forecast compared Alexander to former Charger Vincent Jackson, who the team opted not to bring back. If Alexander can stay on the field (he’s always been an injury risk), he could produce Jackson-like numbers for the rest of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast: Alexander should be the top pickup in most leagues this week.
Cecil Shorts and Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
Shorts has been helpful in three of his last four outings and has earned WR3 status for the rest of the season. Jacksonville’s offense should get a boost from one of the most favorable remaining schedules from a passing perspective. They’ll face the Texans, Titans, Bills, Jets, Dolphins and Patriots. Even with the return of Laurent Robinson last week, the passing offense continued to feature Shorts in a big way. He was targeted 13 times. Jags QBs have now thrown his way 39 times over the last four games, an average of nearly ten per game. With a target rate like that, he’s startable against any opponent, even the Texans this week. Also consider Robinson, the 2011 fantasy free agent phenom, who caught nine passes on 15 targets for 77 yards.
Availability: Owned in ~61% and ~9% of leagues, respectively.
Forecast: Shorts should be owned in all leagues and Robinson in deep PPR leagues.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Last call on DHB, whose fantasy ownership has been on a slow ascent over the past few weeks. The speedster WR has posted helpful numbers in four straight games and draws a cherry matchup this week against the Saints. New Orleans has the second-worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing 307.3 yards per game through the air. Heyward-Bey has an excellent chance to make a couple explosive plays in this game. Following the Saints, Oakland faces the Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Chiefs and Panthers. Look for their offense to continue to score points at an above-average clip.
Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast: Heyward-Bey should be owned in all leagues and has tremendous upside against the Saints.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins
After being laid up for a month and a half, Pierre Garcon is set to test is injured foot in practice this week. If he can run and make cuts without pain, he will likely play this week. If not, we can officially skewer his 2012 season with a dinner fork. If Garcon was dumped in your league, it might be worth adding him for a few days to see what happens. Worst-case scenario: You release him later in the week. Best-case scenario: You get a solid WR3 on the cheap.
Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
Forecast: We should know by Friday whether Garcon will play again this season.
Golden Tate, Seahawks
Despite a limited number of chances in Seattle’s run-first offense, Golden Tate continues to produce. One week after recording two touchdowns, Tate again played a large role on the stat sheet putting up 51 yards and a touchdown receiving and throwing another touchdown pass. Seattle is on bye this week but owners in deep leagues, especially those that award bonus points for long touchdowns, would be wise to stash the explosive Tate. He’s a nice option to pull off the bench to deploy as a boom-or-bust WR3.
Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast: Tate’s big-play potential makes him a useful WR in bonus yardage leagues.
Donnie Avery, Colts
Avery has been a tough nut for the Forecast to crack. He’s been recommended here before but has been hit or miss this season. With a favorable matchup against the Patriots on tap next, we’ll go back to the well one more time. New England has the 29th-ranked pass defense and they’ve allowed 19 passing scores this season. Although the Pats will get a boost from Aqib Talib, who they acquired from Tampa, Andrew Luck still should be able to find seams in New England’s secondary. Roll the dice with Avery in what should be one of the higher-scoring games of Week 11.
Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
Forecast: Avery has the upside to put up 100 yards against the Patriots.
Donald Jones, Bills
Jones, a plug-and-play recommendation last week, came up big in Week 10, posting a 6-74-1 stat line. It was his third straight game with useful fantasy numbers. Maybe Jones’ sudden surge will fade out but the Forecast isn’t quite ready to dismiss him from the conversation yet. Buffalo has a juicy stretch of games coming up with tilts against the Dolphins, Colts, Jaguars and Rams. Owners in deep leagues might be able to squeeze some decent numbers out of Buffalo’s No. 2 WR. Plug and play him if you’re desperate.
Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast: Spot start Jones against Miami’s 28th-ranked pass defense.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Sidney Rice (84%) and Danny Amendola (88%)
On the Radar: Emmanuel Sanders (27%), Brandon Stokley (24%), Chris Givens (21%), Mohamed Sanu (2%), Riley Cooper (0%) and Jarius Wright (0%)
Logan Paulsen, Redskins
Week 10 saw 15 tight end touchdowns scored with several players at the position re-emerging from a midyear slump (namely Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph). Both Pitta and Rudolph are worth a look if you’re TE needy. However, neither will help much in Week 11 since Pitta draws the Steelers and Rudolph is on bye. Instead, consider adding Washington’s Logan Paulsen, who has capably stepped into Fred Davis’ shoes. Paulson has averaged 59.3 yards per game in his three most recent games. He’s also been targeted a minimum of six times in each of those contests. Although he has yet to score a touchdown, Paulsen’s steady dose of yardage makes him a safe, smart play.
Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast: Bank on 60 yards from Paulsen this week against the Eagles.
Dwayne Allen, Colts
With Colby Fleener (shoulder) injured, Dwayne Allen sits atop the TE depth chart in Indianapolis. Although he failed to make an impact in last Thursday’s win over the Jaguars, there’s reason to be bullish on Allen this week. The Colts face New England this week. The Patriots have allowed six TE touchdowns in their last seven games. If you typically start Martellus Bennett, Kyle Rudolph or Jared Cook, Allen is a sneaky pickup for Week 11. Start him and look for 50 yards and a score.
Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast: Allen is a sneaky one-week plug-in option against the Patriots.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Greg Olsen (83%), Brandon Pettigrew (89%) and Kyle Rudolph (78%)
On the Radar: Dennis Pitta (41%), Scott Chandler (54%), Dallas Clark (12%) and Joel Dreessen (46%)
Connor Barth, Buccaneers
Barth booted two field goals and four extra points in Sunday’s win over the Chargers. It was the second time in the last three games in which he reached double figures. Barth has also attempted multiple field goals in five of his last six games. That should tell you Tampa is moving the ball well, which is leading to plenty of kicking opportunities for Barth. Although he’s not the most accurate kicker in the league, he’s worth a spot start when the matchup dictates. That’s the case on Sunday when Tampa faces a Panthers team that is among the most generous in the NFL to opposing kickers.
Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast: Count on a double-digit performance from Barth in Week 11.
Kai Forbath, Redskins
“Cobra” Kai Forbath has been sweeping the leg well since taking over the kicking the duties for Washington back in Week 6. He has yet to miss a three-point kick, going eight for eight. He’s drilled multipe field goal kicks in three straight games and with a favorable tilt against the reeling Eagles up next, Forbath is a good bet to make it four in a row. Philadelphia has allowed 26 or more points in four straight games. With an extra week to prepare, the Forecast likes Washington’s chances of posting 30+ points.
Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast: Forbath has a good opportunity to put up 10+ points against the Eagles.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Blair Walsh (91%) and Justin Tucker (85%)
On the Radar: Matt Prater (66%) and Dan Bailey (52%)
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
Last week the Forecast advised owners to put in a claim for the Dallas Cowboys DST, who were facing the Eagles. All they did was score three touchdowns. But rather than chasing Dallas’ breakout performance, instead consider going with the Redskins, who face those same Eagles. Philadelphia rookie Nick Foles will get his first NFL start. Considering how porous the Eagles offensive line has been, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Washington to force Foles into some mistakes and sacks.
Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast: Give the Redskins a look against a mistake-prone Eagles offense.
The Bengals defense completely derailed the Giants in Week 10, recording four sacks and four turnovers. They also held New York to just 13 points. Add them in time to exploit this week’s game against the Chiefs. Despite a solid performance on Monday night, Kansas City typically has trouble moving the football. The Chiefs have also made their share of mistakes, allowing three DST touchdowns in their last four games. The Bengals are due for a DST touchdown of their own so take a chance on them.
Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast: Ride Cincinnati’s momentum and give them a spot start against the Chiefs.
Other Notables and No-Brainers: Denver Broncos (95%) and Atlanta Falcons (84%)
On the Radar: Dallas Cowboys (65%) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42%)