FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 13
Paul Sandy
November 27, 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

Colin Kaepernick 49ers
Rock StarKaepernick is here to stay. After dismantling the Bears last week, the second-year QB defeated Drew Brees and the Saints on Sunday. He passed for 231 yards and a touchdown plus scored another on the ground. Although the numbers don’t exactly leap off the page, Kaepernick still managed to turn in a quality stat line. With upcoming games against the Rams, Dolphins and Patriots, Kaepernick has the potential to be a top five fantasy QB in December. If your team is an underdog entering the postseason, Kaepernick is a smart pickup. As a multidimensional QB, he has the potential to put up some huge numbers and carry your team on any given week.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Look for Kaepernick to perform at a near-elite level for the rest of the season.

Chad Henne, Jaguars
1 Week Plug & PlayHenne has injected a shot of adrenaline into the Jaguars offense. On Sunday, he led the team to a win over the Titans, passing for a respectable 261 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second helpful stat line in a row. Fantasy owners who are desperate for QB help should not hesitate to grab Henne and start him against the Bills. Buffalo has a middle-of-the-row pass defense. Although the Bills have shown improvement over their last two games, the matchup is ripe for another multi-touchdown effort from Henne. Look for 250-275 yards with a couple scores.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Henne is worth a spot start in leagues with 12 or more teams.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayIt’s Week 13 so hopefully it hasn’t come to this point for your fantasy club. However, if you’re grasping at straws trying to find a QB to start, you could do worse than rookie Ryan Tannehill, who will go up against the Patriots on Sunday. Tannehill was useful on Sunday against arguably the NFL’s best secondary in the Seahawks, passing for 253 yards and a touchdown while adding 33 yards rushing. Eight of the last nine QBs to face New England have put up good or great numbers against them. This includes fantasy afterthoughts like Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Russell Wilson.

Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tannehill will be no worse than serviceable against the Patriots in Week 13.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Joe Flacco (88%), Jay Cutler (70%) and Russell Wilson (45%)

On the Radar: Jake Locker (23%) and Sam Bradford (45%)

RUNNING BACKS

Michael Bush, Bears
Rock StarInjury ReplacementBears starting RB Matt Forte sprained his ankle in Sunday’s win over the Vikings. His status for Week 13 is in doubt. It’s the same ankle that caused Forte to miss the later part of the 2011 season so there is reason to be concerned. If the Forte owner in your league failed to add Michael Bush as a handcuff, acquiring him should be a top priority. Should Forte rest, Bush would become an every-down RB and a must start even against a solid Seahawks rush defense. He rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday versus the Vikings.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Bush is a must-grab in any league in which he’s available.

Bryce Brown, Eagles
Rock StarInjury ReplacementRookie Bryce Brown looked like the total package showing good speed, power, hands and pass blocking skills on Monday night against the Panthers. In the first half, he took a handoff 65 yards for a score. In the second half, he scored from five yards out. Starting RB LeSean McCoy reportedly wasn’t close to returning prior to the game and is having trouble passing the post-concussion tests. With a short week to prepare, there’s a good chance he rests for at least another game. Should Brown get the nod again in Week 13, he would be a no-doubt fantasy starter against the Cowboys.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Brown should be added in any league in which he went unclaimed last week. 

Knowshon Morneno, Broncos
Rock StarMoreno got the surprise start in Sunday’s win over the Chiefs. He carried the ball 20 times for 85 yards and added 26 yards through the air. With Willis McGahee (knee) done for the year, the coaching staff opted to go with the veteran, who is better in pass protection than rookie Ronnie Hillman. The team’s most prized asset is QB Peyton Manning so deploying Moreno as the featured RB is unlikely to be a one-time event if the team has concerns about Hillman’s pass blocking. For owners who spent big on Hillman last week, it’s like a Ndamukong Suh kick to the groin. Denver has some enticing matchups remaining, especially Oakland in Week 14 and Cleveland in Week 16 so Moreno is a must add.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Grab Knowshon and hope he breaks his “no-show” tendencies. 

Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Rock StarWells missed seven games with a foot injury but was back on the field for Sunday’s tilt against the Rams. He carried the load, rushing 17 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, Wells indicated he was tired but otherwise no worse for wear. Consider him a very low-end RB2 for the rest of the season. Although Arizona’s offensive line is starting to gel, the team has a fairly difficult slate of games remaining with matchups against the Jets, Seahawks, Lions and Bears. Wells is playable against the Jets, who were just gouged by New England’s backfield. After that, starting him gets riskier.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Wells should be owned in all leagues. 

Bilal Powell, Jets
Grab & StashThe Jets have shifted their backfield to a true timeshare. Over the last two games, backup Bilal Powell has 27 touches compared to 33 for starter Shonn Greene. Perhaps most importantly, Powell has taken over the goal-line work. As the better bet for a touchdown and the better bet to catch passes, you could make the argument that Powell not Greene is the Jets RB to own and start for the final stretch of games. New York faces a favorable stretch of opponents, including a not-as-good-as-billed Cardinals defense next week followed by the Jaguars, Titans and Chargers.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Powell is worth adding in any league but at this point it’s more prudent to stash him than start him.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
1 Week Plug & PlayRodgers has reached double-digit touches in two straight games. Although the focus of the running game inexplicably continues to center on veteran Michael Turner, Rodgers has some appeal in deep PPR leagues because he’s an above-average pass catcher out of the backfield. Since the Week 7 bye, Rodgers has hauled in 20 receptions, an average of four per game. Atlanta has a favorable tilt of matchups remaining with games against the Saints, Panthers, Giants and Lions. Activate him in spot situations when you’re desperate. 

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Rodgers should go for at least 60 total yards with a few receptions against New Orleans this week.

David Wilson, Giants
Grab & StashInjury ReplacementOft-used Giants backup Andre Brown suffered a broken leg in Sunday night’s game against the Packers. Rookie David Wilson will ascend the depth chart into the backup role; however, look for the Giants to sign a RB this week. The slot behind Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the more productive backup RB positions in fantasy. Bradshaw’s gimpy feet preclude him from carrying the full load. Grab and stash Wilson in anticipation of him averaging ten touches per week for the month of December.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Consider adding Wilson as a boom-or-bust option to deploy off the bench.

Shane Vereen, Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayVereen was a nonfactor for the first half of the season but he has come on strong since the Patriots had their bye in Week 9. In the last two games, he’s touched the ball 24 times and scored twice. For the moment, he has overtaken Danny Woodhead as the team’s No. 2 option at the RB position, which earns him consideration as a very low-end RB2 or flex option. Vereen’s game is built on speed. He took a short dump-off pass 83 yards for a touchdown on Thanksgiving night. As long as he’s healthy and getting consistent playing time, he’s worth a roster spot and starting consideration in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Vereen is shaping up to be one of the more valuable backup NFL RBs to own in fantasy.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Injury ReplacementIt seems every time Jonathan Stewart gets a chance to be the bell cow for Carolina he either gets hurt or is ineffective. As it happens, Stewart suffered an ankle injury on Monday night. His status for next week is unknown at this point. He hasn’t exactly been one to play through injuries in the past so look for DeAngelo Williams to get the start. William’s upside is limited by Cam Newton’s tendency to call his own number when the team gets inside the ten-yard line. However, with a favorable matchup against the Chiefs up next, Williams could post decent yardage if his number is called.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Add Williams and start him as a very low-end RB2 or flex against KC.

Rashard Jennings, Jaguars
Injury ReplacementJennings was benched two weeks ago in favor of Jalen Parmele. Unfortunately, Parmele injured his leg in Sunday’s win over the Titans. Jennings came on, rushing for 43 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. It should come as little surprise that he averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry. Jennings doesn’t possess the elusiveness of visibility to be a featured RB. As miserable as he’s been, Jennings still deserves your attention this week because Jacksonville faces Buffalo—a team that’s notoriously bad against the run. Should Parmele and Maurice Jones-Drew both miss this game, Jennings could be useful as a RB2.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If Jennings draws the start against the Bills, he should go for at least 75 yards.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Daniel Thomas (60%)

On the Radar: Justin Forsett (3%), Brandon Jacobs (6%), Joique Bell (48%), Cedric Peerman (4%) and Chris Rainey (2%)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Rock StarGarcon, who was sidelined for most of the season with a foot injury, showed no lingering affects in the Thanksgiving Day throttling of the Cowboys. He scored a 59-yard touchdown outrunning and outmuscling Dallas defenders along the way. As Robert Griffin’s favorite weapon in the passing game, Garcon is WR2 material as long as his foot holds up. If he was dumped in your league, go after him hard. Washington faces the Giants in Week 13. New York has been burned by big pass plays all season so you can trust Garcon.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Garcon should be owned in all leagues.

Ryan Broyles, Lions
Rock StarA plug-and-play recommendation last week, Broyles dazzled during the early game on Thanksgiving Day. He caught six passes for 126 yards against the Texans. With Titus Young in the doghouse, Broyles has a chance to produce like a WR3 for fantasy in December. Lining up opposite Calvin Johnson means Broyles is single covered all game, which gives the dangerous speedster plenty of big-play upside each week. Up next, Detroit hosts a below-average Colts pass defense. If Young remains out of the starting lineup, activate Broyles and look for at least 85 yards with a better-than-even chance for a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Bank on another healthy stat line from Broyles this week if he starts over Titus Young again.

T.Y. Hilton, Colts
Rock StarHilton caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. He also returned a punt for a touchdown. Including the punt return, Hilton now has five touchdowns in his last four outings. In a season that has seen little production from rookies at the WR position, Hilton is one of the few bright spots. Indianapolis closes out the 2012 season with one of the more favorable schedules from a passing perspective. They face Detroit this week followed by Tennessee, Houston and Kansas City. Hilton can be comfortably used as a WR3 in any of those games.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Hilton has officially entered the fantasy equation as a WR3.

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
Rock StarThe Forecast pegged Sanu as a fast riser last week, advising fantasy owners to take a chance on the rookie WR. He scored two touchdowns against the Raiders and has now hit paydirt four times in his last three games. Although Sanu’s yardage hasn’t been anything special, QB Andy Dalton clearly has eyes for him in the redzone. Add him in time for Sunday’s game against the Chargers if you need a third WR or flex play in non-PPR leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Sanu is cementing his role as the starter opposite A.J. Green and can be started in non-PPR leagues.

Davone Bess, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayBess had his best game of the season in Week 12, catching seven passes for 129 yards against Seattle. But his mention here isn’t simply a case of the Forecast chasing one good stat line. On the contrary, QB Ryan Tannehill has thrown his way 20 times in the last two games. Plus, Miami faces New England this week and Bess is a Patriot slayer. He’s scored or posted 90+ yards in five straight games against New England. With consistency like that, Bess worth a spot start as a WR3.

Availability: Owned in ~35% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Expect Bess to put up at least 80 yards with a likely score against the Patriots.

Chris Givens, Rams
Grab & StashGivens experienced a two-week dry spell caused in part by a suspension for breaking curfew. He was back to his big-play ways on Sunday catching five balls for 115 yards and a touchdown. As the Forecast has suggested previously, Givens is an excellent WR to stash for the fantasy postseason. St. Louis will face Buffalo, Minnesota and Tampa from Weeks 14-16. A more favorable stretch of schedule from a passing perspective you would be hard pressed to find.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Squirrel Givens away with an eye on his juicy schedule during the fantasy playoffs.

Cole Beasley, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementCowboys starter Miles Austin left Thursday’s loss to the Redskins with a hip injury. He appears likely to miss this week’s game against the Eagles. After Austin left, QB Tony Romo targeted possession wideout Cole Beasley early and often. Romo threw his way 13 times. Beasley was among the NFL’s leading WRs during the preseason. Fantasy owners in PPR leagues would be wise to add Beasley, who could become a poor man’s Wes Welker during the final month of the season.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stash Beasley in PPR leagues.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Cecil Shorts (88%), Justin Blackmon (78%) and Andre Roberts (71%)

On the Radar: Jeremy Kerley (45%), Santana Moss (57%), Tiquan Underwood (0%), Julian Edelman (18%), Aldrick Robinson (1%), Jarius Wright (1%) and Mike Thomas (0%)

TIGHT ENDS

Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayClark’s revival tour continued in Week 12 when he caught four passes for 65 yards against the Falcons. It was his third straight game with either a touchdown or 60+ yards. QB Josh Freeman’s confidence in his veteran TE continues to grow. Clark should be considered a low-end TE1 for the rest of the season. Tampa faces a Denver outfit that has given up some big numbers to TEs in recent weeks, including Jimmy Graham (5-63-1), Jermaine Gresham (6-108) and Greg Olsen (9-102-2). After the Broncos, Clark draws the Eagles, Saints and Rams.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Plug and play Clark against a Broncos defense that has been generous to TEs this season.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Grab & StashAfter a midseason slump, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta is righting the ship. He has scored a touchdown and recorded at least five receptions in two of his last three outings. The 6-42-1 line he posted on Sunday against the Chargers is indicative of the type of production we should see out of Pitta going forward. Fellow TE Ed Dickson sprained his knee and is likely to miss some time. The injury could lead to a couple more targets per game for Pitta. Add him as a backup TE but think twice before starting him against the Steelers in Week 13. Note that Baltimore’s schedule eases starting in Week 14 with the Redskins.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider Pitta a borderline TE1 in 12-team TE-mandatory leagues.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jermichael Finley (84%), Dustin Keller (60%) and Kyle Rudolph (77%)

On the Radar: Charles Clay (0%), Jacob Tamme (36%), Lance Kendricks (3%) and Rob Housler (2%)

KICKERS

Dan Bailey, Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayBailey has drilled three field goals in back-to-back games and has scored seven or more points in seven straight outings. It’s not always pretty but more often than not, the Cowboys find a way to put points on the board. That will certainly be the case this week against the Eagles. Philly’s defense showed some pluck on Monday night but they still gave up three touchdowns and 30 points. Three weeks ago when the Cowboys and Eagles met, they combined for 61 points. Expect another high-scoring affair with plenty of kicking opportunities for Bailey.

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for double digits from Bailey in Week 13 and consider using him as your postseason kicker.

Phil Dawson, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Browns aren’t as bad as you think. Neither is Phil Dawson. He has booted multiple field goals in eight ouf of 11 games this season. In fantasy leagues that give a yardage bonus for kickers (i.e. most leagues), Dawson ranks inside the top 12 in fantasy production. That makes him a solid K1 on any given week. When he goes up against the Raiders, the Forecast comfortably tabs him as a high-end K1. Oakland has ceded 34 or more points in four straight games. Even the Browns should be able to move the ball against them, which will again put Dawson in double-digit territory.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Lately every kicker has fared well against the Raiders and so will Dawson.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Connor Barth (62%) and Shayne Graham (83%)

On the Radar: Rob Bironas (27%), Kai Forbath (6%) and Mike Nugent (26%)

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

New York Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayComing off a torching at the hands of the Patriots, it may seem like there’s little hope for the Jets defense. But with the Cardinals and third-string QB Ryan Lindley coming to town, New York’s defense should be able to score some fantasy points for your club. Last week, the Rams picked off Lindley four times, returning two for interceptions. Count on the Jets to stir up at least a few sacks with a couple turnovers and a DST touchdown. If they start December on a high note, the Jets could ride the momentum to be an every week fantasy starter with a favorable schedule (ARZ, JAX, TEN and SDG).

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Bet on Rex Ryan’s crew to take advantage of a young QB this week.

Dallas Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayIt’s an all-Ryan edition of the Forecast. While Rex is beating up on the Cardinals, brother Rob’s defense should capitalize on an equally favorable matchup against the Eagles. Philadelphia coughed up the ball several times on Monday night. Nick Foles showed a strong arm on Monday night but there is no getting around that the Eagles offensive line is the worst in the NFL. Having recorded multiple sacks in four straight games, Dallas should have little difficulty padding the stat sheet in Week 13.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Dallas will have a top ten fantasy defense this week.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: New York Giants (84%) and Cincinatti Bengals (80%)

On the Radar: Cleveland Browns (28%)


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