FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 6
Thomas Casale
October 8, 2013
Follow Follow @ThePigskinGuy
 
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

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders
Rock StarPryor returned from a concussion and completed 18-of-23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego. He also added 31 yards rushing. Pryor has now scored 20 or more fantasy points in three of his four starts. He has a terrible match-up against Kansas City and then a bye week. However, Pryor then gets to play weak defenses like the Giants, Eagles, Steelers and Cowboys. Pryor has had a nice start to the year and the second half of his fantasy season should be even better.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Pryor is a strong QB2 that can be used when your starter is on a bye or injured.

Jay Cutler, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayCutler is still available in some leagues. He’s coming off a 358-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Saints. Even better, Cutler gets to feast on a Giants’ defense this week that’s giving up 269 yards per game through the air. New York is in disarray right now, so the Bears’ offense should be able to do pretty much anything it wants on Thursday. Look for Cutler to have another big game.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Cutler will approach 300 yards and throw at least two touchdowns.

Nick Foles, Eagles
Injury ReplacementGrab & StashMike Vick hurt his hamstring against the Giants. Foles replaced him and played well, connecting on 16-of-25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Granted, it was the Giants’ defense but Foles at least looked like he had command of Chip Kelley’s offense. Vick is expected to miss at least a week. Things will get tougher for Foles when he faces Tampa Bay’s defense but he’s worth picking up because hamstring injuries can linger, especially for a player like Vick where mobility is crucial to his success.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Foles will have a tougher time against the Bucs but is worth picking up in case Vick is out for an extended period of time.

On the Radar: Ryan Tannehill (38%), T.J. Yates (2%)

Running Backs

Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Rock StarA Forecast favorite, Ellington is getting better every week but is still only owned in 46% of leagues. On Sunday Ellington totaled 83 yards on just 11 touches. Ellington averaged 7.5 yards per touch, compared to starter Rashard Mendenhall’s 2.6 yard per touch. Through five games, Mendenhall has done very little. It seems like it’s just a matter of time before Ellington goes from 11 touches a game to around 20.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ellington isn’t the starter but he’s the fantasy back to own in Arizona.

Zac Stacy, Rams
Rock StarStacy got the start on Sunday in the revolving door that is the Rams’ backfield and performed well; rushing for 78 yards on 14 carries before leaving with a rib injury. Stacy is fine and will be St. Louis’ starter, at least for the short-term. While Stacy is certainly worth adding this week, just keep in mind that Jacksonville is terrible at stopping the run. The Rams next five games before their bye are against Houston, Carolina, Seattle, Tennessee and Indianapolis, so keep your expectations for Stacy realistic.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Stacy has a good opportunity in front of him but running behind a weak line and with a tough schedule ahead it will likely relegate him to no more than a flex play most weeks.

Roy Helu, Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayOne of the better fantasy stats going is that the Cowboys came into last Sunday giving up eight receptions per game to opposing running backs. They held true to form against Denver, as Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno combined for nine receptions. Alfred Morris hurt his ribs against Oakland two weeks ago but had the bye to get healthy. Still, with Morris maybe not yet 100 percent and Dallas struggling so much to cover running backs out of the backfield, Helu makes for a sneaky flex play this week in PPR formats.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Helu will catch at least six passes against Dallas and have a larger than usual role in Washington’s offense.

Brandon Bolden, Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashBolden caught six passes for 40 yards against Cincinnati. LeGarrette Blount got the start but saw only three carries after fumbling. If Stevan Ridley is out again this week, Bolden is going to be an intriguing flex play. There aren’t many certainties in the NFL but a Patriots/Saints game should be pretty high scoring. New England will be throwing a lot, meaning Bolden will see significant playing time, especially if Ridley is out. Bolden scored 12 points in PPR leagues last week. He could eclipse that number against the Saints.
Availability: Owned in ~ 28% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Bolden will be a strong flex play this week in PPR leagues as he benefits from being New England’s pass catching back.

Pierre Thomas, Saints
Grab & StashThomas is always a great bench running back to have in case you are in a bind. The problem is he has a couple of big games a year but it’s hard to predict when they’ll come. One of those games came on Sunday when he caught nine passes for 55 yards and scored twice. Even though these games are hard to predict, Thomas is a good guy to own because he plays on such an explosive offense. If Thomas is still on your waiver wire, he’s worth picking up to stash on your bench.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: An underrated player, Thomas can always be thrown in as a flex play if you need him.

Mike Goodson, Jets
Dumpster DiveGoodson just came back from a four-game suspension on Monday and while it may take him a couple of games to find a niche in the Jets’ offense, it’s not like Bilal Powell or Chris Ivory are setting the world on fire. Powell is a nice player but nothing special. Ivory is always hurt, so there’s a chance Goodson could carve out a role in the Jets’ backfield, especially as a receiver. Goodson could be worth a shot.
Availability: Owned in ~ 7% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Goodson will start seeing some time as the third-down back in the next game or two. 

On the Radar: LeGarrette Blount (74%), Brandon Jacobs (25%), Marcel Reece (11%)

Wide Receivers

Vincent Brown, Chargers
Rock StarIt seems like every San Diego receiver is on this list at some point. However, Brown is probably the most talented of the bunch. He was a beast in college but injuries have slowed his progression in the NFL. Brown came into Sunday’s game with only 91 yards receiving on the season but exploded for 117 against Oakland. Brown now has 15 receptions in his last two games. He has the tools to become the Chargers’ No. 1 receiver as the year goes on.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: The Chargers spread the ball around on offense but Brown will have more big fantasy days in his future.

Keenan Allen, Chargers
Rock StarAllen graduates to Rock Star Free Agent this week. Philip Rivers throws it a ton, so any Chargers’ receiver is a good play right now. Allen has shown over the last two games that he’s ready to produce right now and is worth picking up. The Chargers can’t run the football and Rivers is going to have to keep throwing it until his arm falls off this year, giving Allen plenty of opportunities to make fantasy owners happy.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Allen is building chemistry with Rivers, which makes him a weekly WR4/flex play at the moment.

Austin Pettis, Rams
Rock StarThe Rams are far from an offensive juggernaut but the one consistent fantasy player starting to emerge is Pettis. On Sunday Pettis caught four passes for 49 yards and two scores. Pettis has now scored in three of his last four games. That’s pretty remarkable for a receiver in the Rams’ offense. Pettis is a possession receiver which makes him the most valuable commodity in St. Louis considering they rarely throw the ball over 10 yards. Pettis is becoming as a nice flex play in PPR leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~ 40% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Pettis has become Sam Bradford’s favorite receiver, especially in the red zone. Consider him a flex play when the match-up is favorable.

Terrance Williams, Cowboys
Rock StarWilliams has filled in for the injured Miles Austin the last two games and put up strong fantasy numbers. Against Denver Williams caught four passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. Sure, that was the fourth highest scoring game in NFL history and virtually every player put up big numbers but it’s still pretty impressive for a rookie. If Austin can’t go again on Sunday, Williams has another good match-up against a Washington defense giving up just under 300 yards passing a game. Even once Austin returns, Williams will have a big role in the offense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Get Williams now because Austin has a history of hamstring problems and the rookie’s role in the offense is only going to get bigger.

Leonard Hankerson, Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayIf you need a receiver this week, give Hankerson a look. The Cowboys can’t stop anyone through the air. They rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 326 yards per game. So far through five games, three quarterbacks have topped 400 yards passing against Dallas. Hankerson only has seven receptions in his last two games but he’s seen seven targets in each of them. If he sees seven targets versus the Cowboys’ struggling pass defense, Hankerson has a good chance to find the end zone Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 21% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hankerson is a hit or miss receiver. He should hit against Dallas.

Rueben Randle, Giants
Grab & StashRandle was a preseason darling and then responded by having a big game in Week 1. However, he disappeared before showing up again on Sunday against Philadelphia when he caught six passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 13 targets. The thing about the Giants is they’re going to have the throw the ball a lot the rest of the way. Their defense is struggling and they can’t run the football, so Randle will have opportunities most weeks. Randle will still be inconsistent because of the presence of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz (Randle only had eight targets in his two previous games) but he’s worth picking up and stashing.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Randle won’t put up great numbers every week but he’s worth a bench spot in case Nicks or Cruz gets hurt.

Kendall Wright, Titans
Grab & StashWright put up one of his typical 6-catch, 74-yard stat lines on Sunday. He really must have like 10 of those in the last two seasons. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t really have a preference to one receiver in his first start. Five different Tennessee players saw at least five targets, including Wright who saw a team-high eight. Wright is never going to put up big fantasy numbers but he’s out there if you need a guy to put up 10-15 points in a PPR league during your bye weeks.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wright is a solid bye-week replacement in deeper leagues if you need a receiver to catch six passes for 72 yards.

Ted Ginn, Panthers
Grab & StashWhile Mike Shula continues to ruin most of Carolina’s offense, the one surprise is Ginn. He caught another four passes for 78 yards on Sunday on just five targets. Ginn isn’t catching a ton of passes – just 10 in his last three games – but he’s making the most of his receptions by gaining 211 yards over that span. There isn’t a lot to like about the Panthers’ offense since they hired Shula but Ginn has been a pleasant surprise so far.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Ginn should start to see more targets in the coming weeks if he keeps making plays.

Cole Beasley, Cowboys
Dumpster DiveThe Cowboys have been high on Beasley for the last two years. On Sunday, Beasley caught all four of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Beasley is still way down the food chain in Dallas when it comes to targets but he’s a guy worth keeping an eye on. If Miles Austin continues to struggle with injuries, Beasley could carve out a role as a slot receiver with the Cowboys.
Availability: Owned in ~ 2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Beasley doesn’t have much fantasy value now but that could change if Austin continues to miss time with injuries.

On the Radar: Ryan Broyles (45%), Donnie Avery (51%), Brandon Gibson (7%), Tandon Doss (3%), Rod Streater (14%)

Tight Ends

Charles Clay, Dolphins
Rock StarClay scored again on Sunday and it’s a bit surprising he’s still not owned in more leagues. Clay has scored in two straight games, he’s gone over 100 yards once this year and he’s caught at least five passes three times. At a position as weak as tight end, Clay should be owned in virtually all leagues. At worst, he’s Miami’s third option in the passing game most weeks and Ryan Tannehill looks his way in the red zone.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: While not an elite fantasy tight end, Clay is a serviceable TE1 in most 12-team leagues.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Grab & StashPettigrew has had just an atrocious start to the season but with all the injuries to Detroit’s receivers, his role in the passing game is increasing once again. On Sunday, Pettigrew caught four passes for 59 yards. This a week after catching seven balls for 54 yards. Even more impressive is Pettigrew caught 11 of 12 targets, considering he’s always struggled with drops. Those obviously aren’t huge fantasy numbers but Pettigrew was non-existent in the Lions’ first three games, so at least Matthew Stafford is starting to look his way again. Remember, this a guy who caught 83 passes two years ago, so he could help pick up some of the slack if the Lions don’t trade for a receiver.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Pettigrew is inconsistent but with all of the Lions’ injuries he’ll be a TE2 in PPR leagues.

Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Grab & StashEvery summer people overreact to rookie tight ends when in reality you can count the number of tight ends that made a huge fantasy impact in their first year on one hand. The same thing happened this year with Eifert who will no doubt be a good player one day but that’s different than making a fantasy impact in his first year. However, Eifert is coming on a little in his last two games. He’s caught eight passes for 92 yards on 12 targets. The Bengals badly need someone to step up and take some pressure off of A.J. Green. Maybe as the year goes on that guy will be Eifert.
Availability: Owned in ~ 55% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Eifert will work his way into a weekly TE2 if the targets keep coming his way.

On the Radar: Brent Celek (33%), Delanie Walker (5%), Sean McGrath (4%), Tony Scheffler (1%)

Kickers

Alex Henery, Eagles
Rock StarHenery booted five field goals on Sunday, including two from 40 yards and beyond. Henery can be a bit inconsistent – he has three misses already on the season – but he has a big leg and playing in the Eagles’ offense the scoring opportunities are there most weeks. Vick is expected to miss a week or two, so Philadelphia’s offense may end up bogging down and giving Henery more scoring chances. With games against Dallas, the Giants, Oakland, Green Bay and Washington coming up, Henery should be involved in some high scoring contests.
Availability: Owned in ~ 39% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Henery will be a reliable fantasy kicker most weeks if the match-up is favorable.

Justin Tucker, Ravens
Rock StarTucker was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts Sunday, including a long of 50 yards. It’s the second time this season Tucker has kicked at least three field goals in a game. Tucker has also been consistent. Other than the Cleveland game in Week 2, he’s either scored in double-digits or fallen just short every week. Tucker is one of the top kickers still available on the waiver wire.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tucker will continue to be one of the most consistent fantasy kickers for the rest of the year.

Robbie Gould, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayGould kicked just one field goal against New Orleans but the two weeks prior he scored in double-digits. He has a good chance to get back there Thursday night when the Bears face the Giants. New York is really struggling on defense, so the Bears and Gould should have plenty of scoring opportunities. If you need a kicker this week, Gould is a good option.
Availability: Owned in ~ 62% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Gould will get back into double-digits against the Giants.

On the Radar: No one.

Defense/Special Teams

Cleveland Browns
Rock StarThe Browns’ defense gave up 24 points to Buffalo but they also scored twice and recorded four sacks. It was the third time this season Cleveland has registered four sacks in a game. Ray Horton’s aggressive style is perfect for fantasy owners, just like it was in Arizona last year. Cleveland gets Detroit this week but with Horton calling the shots expect the sacks and turnovers to be there all season. Another added bonus is the Browns play the Jets in Week 16 when most fantasy title games are taking place.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Cleveland’s defense will continue to be a great match-up play throughout the year.

Arizona Cardinals
Rock StarHorton may have left the Cardinals but their defense has still been pretty nasty so far through five games. Arizona sacked Cam Newton seven times on Sunday. They now have 14 sacks, seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries in five games. That’s pretty good for a defense still available in most leagues. The Cardinals’ defense could have another good game this Sunday when they face San Francisco and a struggling Colin Kaepernick.
Availability: Owned in ~ 32% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Cardinals have some tough match-ups on the horizon but they’re one of the most underrated fantasy defenses.

Cincinnati Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayJeff Tuel was a turnover machine in college and unless Buffalo can run the ball effectively on Sunday, he’ll be in for a long day. The Bengals have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, so running lanes won’t be easy to come by for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. This isn’t rocket science. If the Bengals’ defense is still available in your league pick them up and start them against a quarterback that wouldn’t even be on most rosters. It’s that simple.
Availability: Owned in ~ 77% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: The Bengals defense will smother Tuel all day. Six sacks and three turnovers are realistic expectations.

On the Radar: Carolina Panthers (66%), Tennessee Titans (55%)


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