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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 14
Paul Sandy
December 4, 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

Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Rock StarWilson officially threw his hat in the ring for rookie of the year consideration on Sunday, leading the Seahawks to an upset win over the Bears. He passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also flashed his scrambling skills, amassing 71 yards on the ground. Wilson now has recorded multiple touchdown passes in four straight games and five of his last six. He has become a viable QB1 in 12-team leagues. Up next, Seattle faces Arizona. Although the Cardinals have provided a stiff test for opposing QBs, Wilson remains a strong fantasy play based on his recent streak.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Wilson should be universally owned.

Nick Foles, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayFoles showed poise on Sunday night against the Cowboys, throwing for 251 yards and a touchdown. More impressively, he avoided getting sacked and turning the ball over. It was a confidence-boosting performance that will carry forward to next week against a soft Redskins pass defense. Washington has allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL. If you’re in your league’s toilet bowl and need a Hail Mary type QB to start this week, Foles could be your man. With Michael Vick done for the season, Foles will start the remainder of the season (barring injury).

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for adequate numbers from Foles in a favorable matchup this week.

Jake Locker, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayLocker attempted 45 passes on Sunday, netting 301 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. It was a helpful fantasy performance but an uneven NFL performance given the second-year QB also threw three interceptions. Assuming he gets the start again this week, the Forecast likes his chances of putting up top 15 QB numbers. He has posted serviceable fantasy stats in all three games since reclaiming his starting role. Tennessee faces a nicked up Colts defense. Look for at least 280 yards and a pair of scores from Locker.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider Locker a desperation QB play for Week 14 against the Colts.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Joe Flacco (87%), Carson Palmer (89%), Jay Cutler (71%) Colin Kaepernick (73%) and Ben Roethlisberger (91%)

On the Radar: Ryan Fitzpatrick (68%), Brandon Weeden (24%) and Alex Smith (46%)

RUNNING BACKS

Montell Owens, Jaguars
Injury ReplacementIt’s slim pickings on the waiver wire for RBs and WRs this week. If you made your league’s playoffs, hopefully you already had your postseason roster buttoned up. One RB who emerged as a potential fantasy contributor is Montell Owens, the fourth-string RB in Jacksonville. With Jalen Parmele out for the season and Rashad Jennings suffering a concussion on Sunday against the Bills, Owens could get the start on Sunday against the Jets. Maurice Jones-Drew still looks iffy to play. Owens rushed seven times for 29 yards and added a reception and a two-point conversion in a game that was a blowout. If he draws the start, look for him to net close to 20 touches versus the Jets.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Owens is worth adding for depth or to block other owners from getting him but starting him is risky.

Joique Bell, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayBell had a two-game lull from Weeks 10-11 but he has bounced back nicely. In his last two outings, he has posted double-digit fantasy points. On Sunday, he rushed seven times for 81 yards and added three catches for 21 yards. Detroit has a reasonable schedule to close out the season, starting with a game next week against a Packers defense that was gouged by Adrian Peterson for over 200 yards last week. With the Lions out of the playoff picture, look for them to continue to give Bell playing time over veteran Kevin Smith.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Bell is worth starting as a flex in PPR leagues.

James Starks and Alex Green, Packers
1 Week Plug & PlayAlthough the production hasn’t always been there, the Packers have remained stubbornly committed to the running game. They’ve attempted 26 or more rushes in seven straight games. At one time or another, Alex Green and James Starks have been given a chance to be the featured RB. Neither one established himself in the role so right now carries and playing time are pretty much being divided up 50-50. The Forecast doesn’t recommend starting either player as a RB2 at this point. However, the both should see double-digit touches against the Lions.

Availability: Owned in ~42% and ~40% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Starting a Packer RB at this point is an act of desperation but with a favorable matchup, you could do worse.

Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, Texans
Grab & StashThe Texans eased up on Arian Foster’s workload in Sunday’s win over the Titans. He carried the ball just 13 times—his lowest total since Week 1 of last season (a game in which he was hurt). With a two-game lead for home-field advantage, Houston may continue to lighten Foster’s load. Look for a slight uptick in opportunities for Justin Forsett and Ben Tate. Forsett carried the ball 14 times for 64 yards against Tennessee, equaling Foster’s carries. It was his third straight game with more than 60 all-purpose yards. Tate saw his first action since Week 7 and ended with 18 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~58% and ~5% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stash Tate and/or Forsett in case the Texans choose to rest Foster in their final game or two.

Bilal Powell, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayPowell has recorded 11 or more carries in three straight games. On Sunday, he put up 58 yards in what was probably the least watchable NFL game of the year—a 7-6 snoozefest against the Cardinals. Based on his recent spike in touches, Powell should be owned in more than the 24% of leagues in which he’s currently rostered. The Jets have cherry matchups versus the Titans and Jaguars over the next two weeks. Powell merits consideration as a low-end flex option in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Based on his steady dose of touches, Powell is worth a look for a spot start in leagues with more than 12 teams.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Bryce Brown (92%), Vick Ballard (71%), Knowshon Moreno (84%), Pierre Thomas (63%), Jacquizz Rodgers (75%), Mark Ingram (50%), DeAngelo Williams (74%) and Jonathan Dwyer (78%)

On the Radar: Peyton Hillis (25%), Bernard Pierce (11%) and Jeremy Stewart (0%)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Chris Givens, Rams
Rock StarA longtime Forecast favorite, Givens has established himself as a WR3 for fantasy. After notching 115 yards and a touchdown in Week 12, he asserted some PPR moxie, catching 11 passes for 92 yards against the 49ers. With Danny Amendola dealing with a nagging foot injury, there’s little debate about who is QB Sam Bradford’s favorite target. Activate Givens this week against the Bills if your WR corps could use a little pick me up. Buffalo possesses an above-average pass defense but so does the San Francisco team Givens just torched. He is getting enough targets to be relevant against nearly any opponent. 

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Givens is shaping up to be a viable WR2 or WR3.

Golden Tate, Seahawks
Rock StarTate came to play on Sunday against the Bears. He recorded an excellent 5-96-1 stat line in the overtime win. It was his fourth touchdown in his last four games and his best fantasy number this season. On most weeks, Tate’s yardage won’t wow you but you can’t argue that the guy has a nose for the endzone. He’s currently tied for ninth in the NFL among WRs with seven receiving touchdowns. Consider him an adequate WR3 or flex player for the rest of the year and add him in any league in which he’s available.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Tate should be owned in all leagues.

Jason Avant, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Forecast has long been an admirer of Avant. His name has rarely, if ever, appeared here before but he always seems to make big plays when given a chance. With DeSean Jackson out for the year, Jeremy Maclin constantly battling injuries and TE Brent Celek (abdomen) banged up, the situation is ripe for Avant to become a trustworthy fantasy receiver over the next three games. He connected with Nick Foles for four receptions and 79 yards on Sunday. A look at the Eagles’ schedule (Tampa, Cincinnati and Washington) reveals potential for big receiving yardage from Avant going forward.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Avant is a sneaky addition to any fantasy lineup.

Donnie Avery, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayIt’s been tough for fantasy owners to decipher Indianapolis’ wide receivers this season. While Reggie Wayne has been the one constant, Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton (71% owned) have flashed on and off the radar. Hilton, who was a recommended pickup last week, delivered again in Week 13 with 100 yards on six receptions. Avery reemerged with a monster 5-91-2 stat line after a quite three weeks. Is Avery trustable for fantasy? Even in deep leagues, he’s not a WR you’d want to trot out every week. However, he’s roster worthy and can be used when the matchup is favorable. The Colts close out the fantasy season with games against the Titans, Texans and Chiefs. You could make the case for starting Avery and Hilton in any of those games.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Avery and Hilton are worth starting as WR3 or flex options.

Mike Thomas, Lions
Injury ReplacementWell, it was good while it lasted for Ryan Broyles. The rookie tore up his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Colts, ending his season. With Titus Young still in the doghouse, Mike Thomas will reportedly become the new No. 2 WR opposite Calvin Johnson. Get a jump on your fellow owners in deep, ultracompetitive leagues and stash Thomas with the hopes that he can duplicate Broyles’, Burleson’s and Young’s production as Detroit’s second WR. Thomas was a nonfactor in Week 13 but could explode onto the scene this week against the Packers.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Preemptively add Thomas but take a wait-and-see approach before pushing him into your active lineup.

Josh Gordon, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayEarly in the season, Gordon had an incredible three-game stretch in which he scored four touchdowns. After that, he sort of disappeared but has since creeped back into the fantasy discussion. His numbers have trended upward over the last three games, culminating with a 6-116-1 line in Week 13. Gordon should benefit from a juicy schedule over the next two games, with favorable matchups against the Chiefs and Redskins.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Consider adding “flash” Gordon as a boom-or-bust WR3.

Kendall Wright and Nate Washington, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayHas there been a more erratic set of WRs this season than that of the Titans? Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Kenny Britt have all at one time or another put up a productive string of games. All have also disappeared for stretches. Despite the maddening inconsistency, the Forecast is optimistic on Tennessee’s chances to close out the season on a high note. The Titans have a new offensive coordinator and Sunday saw an uptick with Wright going for 6-78-0 and Washington putting up 3-96-0. The club faces Indianapolis next week followed by the Jets and Packers. The Colts secondary is banged up so look for decent production among Tennessee’s top three WRs.

Availability: Owned in ~44% and ~66% of leagues, respectivey.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Wright and Washington are very low-end WR3 options against the Colts.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Danario Alexander (84%), Anquan Bolidn (88%), James Jones (87%) and Sidney Rice (88%)

On the Radar: Rod Streater (1%), LaVon Brazill (1%), Riley Cooper (1%) and Louis Murphy (0%)

TIGHT ENDS

Jacob Tamme, Broncos
Rock StarTamme had a crummy middle part of the season but has since reentered the ranks of the quality fantasy TEs. In his last three games, he has posted at least 50 yards or a touchdown. Sunday against the Bucs, he caught a season-high nine passes on 13 targets. With a favorable matchup this week against the Raiders, Tamme is a smart plug-and-play TE. The Raiders have been toasted in their last four games by opposing TEs, including: Ben Watson (6-80-0), Jermaine Gresham (4-41-1), Jimmy Graham (6-29-1) and Dennis Pitta (5-67-1).

Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Add Tamme for your postseason run and play him with confidence.

Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayLast call on Clark, who has been profiled here the last couple weeks and has contributed useful fantasy numbers in four straight games. He caught three passes for 21 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Broncos. Next he’ll face an Eagles defense that has ceded either a 100-yard game or a touchdown to a TE in four of their last five outings. Add Clark and set your sights on 40 yards and a touchdown from the veteran TE.

Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: The arrow is pointing up on Clark; pick him up him and expect more good things.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Brandon Myers (80%), Jermichael Finley (84%), Brandon Pettigrew (89%), Greg Olsen (92%) and Kyle Rudolph (81%)

On the Radar: Ben Watson (2%), Marcedes Lewis (33%), Jeff Cumberland (0%) and Tony Scheffler (1%)

KICKERS

Connor Barth, Buccaneers
Rock StarBarth has been an elite fantasy kicker for the last month and a half. He has drilled multiple field goals in five of his last six outings. On Sunday against the Broncos, he connected on three field goals (including a 55 yarder) plus three extra points, which made him the second-highest scoring fantasy kicker in most leagues. Up next, Barth and the Bucs will host an Eagles defense that allows 26.7 points per game and has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to kickers.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Barth is a recommended play in all fantasy leagues.

Alex Henery, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayAlong with all the other Eagles offensive players, Henery stuggled to put up reliable fantasy numbers over the first half of the season. However, with the emgerence of Bryce Brown, the tide is turning for the Eagles place kicker. He has gone for 19 points over the last two games, including a solid nine-point effort against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Henery has converted 21 straight field goal kicks, so as long as his team keeps moving the ball, he’ll keep banging them through the uprights. Look for more success this week against a Tampa defense that ranks 19th in scoring defense.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spot start the suddenly red hot Henery against an average Bucs defense.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jason Hanson (90%) and Matt Prater (76%)

On the Radar: Greg Zuerlein (58%)

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

St. Louis Rams
Rock StarJeff Fisher’s defense is playing well of late. The Rams have scored three DST touchdowns to go along with a safety, five sacks and five turnovers in their last two games. St. Louis should reward fantasy owners with another strong stat line this week against the Bills. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has turned the ball over 16 times this season, among the most in the league. Spot start the Rams and look for them to rank among the top 10 fantasy defenses for Week 14.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Give the red hot Rams DST a look this week against Buffalo.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Bucs DST has not made much of a fantasy impact lately. In their last two games, Tampa has recorded just one sack and three turnovers. But those games were against Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan so be careful not to dismiss the Bucs entirely. The Forecast likes their chances of making some noise in Week 14 against the Eagles. Although Philadelphia’s offense seemed to turn the corner on Sunday night against the Cowboys, Dallas’ defense still scored a touchdown and finished among the highest scoring fantasy units at the position. If your regular DST has left you wanting more, consider playing the matchups and rolling with the Bucs.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Exploit a favorable matchup against the Eagles by starting Tampa’s defense.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Dallas Cowboys (78%) and New York Jets (76%)

On the Radar: Cleveland Browns (28%), Arizona Cardinals (68%) and San Diego Chargers (53%)


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