FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 7
Thomas Casale
October 15, 2013
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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

Nick Foles, Eagles
Rock StarFoles followed up his two quarters of impressive work against the Giants with a strong outing at Tampa Bay. Foles completed 22-of-31 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles’ offense looked sharp overall under Foles, racking up 425 total yards. Chip Kelly hasn’t said who will be the starter when Mike Vick is healthy but it will be hard to remove Foles if he keeps playing this well. Foles gets a Dallas’ defense on Sunday that’s giving up 308 yards per game through the air, so he should continue his strong play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 29% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Grab Foles now and see what happens over the next couple of weeks. If he ends up shining in Kelly’s offense, Foles will be a steal.

Joe Flacco, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayFlacco takes a lot of heat but he doesn’t have many weapons around him right now and the Ravens can’t run the ball consistently. For what he has to work with, Flacco is having some strong games like last week against Green Bay when he put up 342 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s defense is far from the dominating unit it was a couple of years ago. With Ray Rice struggling to get anything going on the ground look for Flacco to have a solid fantasy day throwing the football.
Availability: Owned in ~ 63% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If you need a replacement for Drew Brees this week, Flacco should put up around 250 yards and a couple of scores against Pittsburgh.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayIf you are in a deeper league and need a quarterback to start this week, Tannehill has a great match-up. The Bills are allowing 271 passing yards a game. On Sunday they gave up 337 yards and three touchdowns to Andy Dalton. Buffalo also let the Jets Geno Smith torch them for 331 yards and two scores. Tannehill is off to a good start and he could have his best fantasy day of the year so far when he faces Buffalo.
Availability: Owned in ~ 39% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tannehill will eclipse 300 yards for the third time this season against the Bills.

On the Radar: Mike Glennon (7%), T.J. Yates (2%)

Running Backs

Zac Stacy, Rams
Rock StarStacy got his second straight start on Sunday and performed well against a tough Houston rush defense, running for 79 yards on 18 carries. Stacy was one of the most underrated players in the country when he played at Vanderbilt and after two games he’s clearly the most talented running back on the Rams’ roster. St. Louis doesn’t have a great offensive line but Stacy is a powerful runner that hits the hole quickly. Stacy should be one of your top waiver wire priorities if he’s still available in your league.
Availability: Owned in ~ 67% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Stacy has ended the committee in St. Louis. Consider him a RB2/flex play going forward depending on the match-up.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Rock StarSomeone must have knocked Jacobs on the head before Thursday night’s game and he woke up thinking it was 2007. Jacobs rumbled to 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Jacobs came into the game having done virtually nothing, so there is concern this might be a one-week wonder. He also injured his thigh late in the game. However, right now Jacobs is the only show in town with David Wilson and Andre Brown hurt. Jacobs may not run for 100 yards every week but he’s guaranteed to get goal line carries and a majority of touches, so he’s certainly worth adding to your roster.
Availability: Owned in ~ 29% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Jacobs will be the Giants bell cow until either Wilson or Brown returns.

Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Rock StarEllington makes The Forecast for what seems like the sixth weeks in a row. However, he’s still available in over 30% of leagues, despite racking up 92 yards and a touchdown against San Francisco on just 12 touches. Ellington’s numbers are going up every week, even if his touches remain the same. The Forecast believes even though Ellington weighs just under 200 pounds, if he continues to produce at this level, the rookie will start to see 18-20 touches a week. Ellington should be owned in virtually all leagues at this point over Rashard Mendenhall.
Availability: Owned in ~ 65% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ellington is becoming a weekly flex must-start in PPR formats, as his production continues to increase.

Joseph Randle, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementDeMarco Murray sprained his MCL against Washington and will most likely miss Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. Lance Dunbar outplayed Randle this summer and entered the season as Dallas’ No. 2 back. However, he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury and has missed the last two games, so it could be Randle who gets the call against Philly. Randle is a straight-ahead runner who lacks vision. His blocking is atrocious. Even on Tony Romo’s touchdown pass to Terrance Williams Sunday Randle almost got his quarterback killed. Dunbar will get more touches if he’s healthy but as of Monday, Randle looks like he may get the start. The good news is Randle is a Jerry Jones’ guy, the Eagles have a weak defense and he’ll catch some passes out of the backfield. Just be careful because Dallas doesn’t run the ball a lot with Murray, so they certainly aren’t going to run it much without him in the lineup.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Randle is worth adding if you can get him for the right price. Just don’t overpay because his long-term value is limited.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Brown
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Browns travel to Green Bay on Sunday and chances are they’ll be playing from behind. This doesn’t set up as a game where Cleveland will be hammering Willis McGahee into the line 20 times. Rather, look for Ogbonnaya to have a big role as a receiver out of the backfield like he did against Detroit when he caught seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Ogbonnaya actually out-touched McGahee on Sunday and don’t be surprised if that trend continues against Green Bay as well.
Availability: Owned in ~ 15% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If you need a flex play in a PPR format this week, Ogbonnaya is a better option than McGahee versus Green Bay.

Khiry Robinson, Saints
Dumpster DiveFor some reason it seems like the Saints have 12 running backs active on gameday. Robinson is obviously down on the pecking order in New Orleans but he looked good in the preseason and has played well every time he’s gotten opportunities during the year. Against New England, Robinson ran for 53 and a touchdown on seven carries. Mark Ingram’s time is about up in New Orleans, so there’s a chance Robinson could take over his role. Again, Robinson isn’t going to see a lot of touches right now but if he keeps producing, his role in the offense should increase.
Availability: Owned in ~ 2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Robinson could emerge as the Saints’ power back if the team has finally lost faith in Ingram.

On the Radar: Mike Tolbert (9%), Michael Cox (3%)

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle, Giants
Rock StarRandle has had two big games in a row after catching three passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. Randle has now seen 19 targets and scored three times in his last two games, so he can no longer be ignored. As The Forecast pointed out last week, Eli Manning is going to have to put the ball up a lot for the remainder of the season because the Giants’ defense can’t stop anyone. Even with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz still ahead of him for targets most weeks, Randle will see passes coming his way going forward. Also, rumors are Nicks is on the trading block, so Randle could be starting soon.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Randle is a player on the rise and a nice flex play right now when he gets a favorable matchup.

Harry Douglas, WR Falcons
Rock StarWith Julio Jones gone for the year Douglas’ fantasy value increases dramatically. Also, Roddy White could miss Week 7 and might not be 100 percent healthy all season because of the way the Falcons mismanaged his ankle injury early in the year. Matt Ryan needs someone to throw to besides Tony Gonzalez and Douglas will likely to be that guy. Douglas already has three games this year with at least four catches and that was with Jones and White both in the lineup. The Forecast believes owners have been a little slow to grab Douglas. He’ll be a hot commodity soon, so get on him now.
Availability: Owned in ~ 54% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Douglas may not be a superstar but he should rack up the receptions with Jones out and White less than 100 percent.

Terrance Williams, WR Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayWilliams didn’t see as many targets last week with Mikes Austin back in the lineup but he still scored for the second consecutive week. Williams has now rewarded owners with three straight double-digit scoring weeks in PPR leagues. He could make it four next week against Philadelphia in what on paper looks like will be a high-scoring affair. The Eagles will do everything they can to slow down Dez Bryant, leaving Williams with some single coverage to exploit. Tony Romo has been looking for the rookie in the red zone too, so that’s another plus for his fantasy outlook.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Williams will have another good fantasy day against the Eagles. Consider him a strong flex play.

Riley Cooper, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayStaying in the same game, Cooper is another good Plug & Play consideration this week. Cooper came into last Sunday’s game with eight receptions for 93 yards on the season. However, with Nick Foles at quarterback, Cooper caught four passes for 120 yards and a score. So was Cooper just a one-week wonder? Well, Brandon Carr will be covering DeSean Jackson and he’s the Cowboys only consistent cornerback. That could mean another big day for Cooper. Foles targeted Cooper six times against Tampa Bay, so we’ll see if Foles continues to look his way against a shaky Dallas secondary.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Secondary receivers have eaten Dallas’ secondary alive this year. Cooper will have opportunities to make plays against them on Sunday.

Percy Harvin, Seahawks
Grab & StashHarvin was eligible to be activated off the PUP list on Monday and while he won’t start practicing with the team this week, Peter Carroll said his return is “just around the corner.” Harvin was dropped in a lot of leagues and even if he doesn’t return for another couple of weeks, grabbing him now makes a lot of sense for owners who expect to make a run at their fantasy championship.
Availability: Owned in ~ 57% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: There’s going to be a mad rush to add Harvin in leagues where he was dropped soon. Beat the rush.

Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
Grab & StashOn Sunday Sanders scored on a 55-yard pass, finishing with 70 yards on three receptions. He isn’t going to win owners their fantasy weeks but Sanders can be plugged in as a replacement if needed. Sanders has actually caught at least four balls in every game this season except for Sunday when he finished with three receptions. Antonio Brown has been a target monster but Sanders is still seeing enough passes come his way to be on the fantasy radar.
Availability: Owned in ~ 49% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Sanders will continue to produce solid, but not spectacular, fantasy numbers because the Steelers will have to throw the ball so much this year.

Kris Durham, Lions
Grab & StashDurham has been the main beneficiary of Nate Burleson being out with an injury. On Sunday with Calvin Johnson banged up Durham saw 13 targets, catching eight of them for 83 yards. Durham and Matthew Stafford are former college teammates and Stafford said after the game that he trusts Durham to always be in the right place at the right time. Durham isn’t going to be a fantasy stud but the Lions are very thin at receiver and unless they make a trade, Detroit doesn’t have much else right now.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The fact that Stafford trusts Durham at least puts him on the fantasy radar going forward with Detroit’s lack of depth at receiver.

Cole Beasley, Cowboys
Dumpster DiveBeasley makes the Dumpster Dive section for the second week in a row. One week after catching four balls for 47 yards, Beasley caught four passes for 44 yards against Washington. You can say one thing about Beasley: He sure is consistent. The Forecast mentioned last week that Dallas has been high on Beasley for the last couple of years and he’s now seen nine targets in the last two games. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Dallas but Beasley is getting playing time. He’s a guy to watch.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Beasley is starting to get on the field more and if Miles Austin gets hurt again, his role in the offense will increase.

Rod Streater, Raiders
Dumpster DiveStreater is a guy who is starting to come on a little bit. Against the Chiefs he caught three passes for 46 yards and in his last two games he has six receptions for 106 yards and a score. Now, those aren’t stellar fantasy numbers but the one thing to like about Streater is defenses are going to start paying more attention to Denarius Moore, making Terrelle Pryor go elsewhere the ball. Streater could benefit over the second half of the season as defenses try to take Moore away and make other receivers beat them.
Availability: Owned in ~ 14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Streater’s numbers will go up over the second half of the season.

On the Radar: Brandon LaFell (18%), Marvin Jones (1%), T.J. Graham (1%), Tandon Doss (2%), Kenny Stills (9%), Austin Collie (8%)

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Rock StarRudolph has been one of fantasy football’s biggest busts in 2013. It’s not his fault; it’s the offense he plays in. If Rudolph played with a quarterback that could take advantage of his physical abilities, he would be one of the top fantasy tight ends. On Sunday, Rudolph had his first really big fantasy day of the year against Carolina when he caught nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Even more encouraging is Rudolph saw 11 targets. Rudolph is always going to be inconsistent in Minnesota’s offense but hopefully he’ll start to see more targets in the coming weeks.
Availability: Owned in ~ 29% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: If Rudolph was dropped in your league and you need a tight end, grab him and use him when he has a favorable match-up.

Jeff Cumberland, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayWith Kellen Winslow out, Cumberland was the Jets’ leading receiver against Pittsburgh, catching four passes for 59 yards. Cumberland scored in two consecutive games before Sunday and has found the end zone in two of the four games he’s played this season. The Patriots held Jimmy Graham without a catch last week but that’s because they covered him with Aqib Talib. Talib won’t be on Cumberland, so expect him to have another solid fantasy performance.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Cumberland will be a low-end TE1 against the Patriots this week.

Jordan Reed, Redskins
Grab & StashReed hadn’t played since Week 3 but against Dallas he hauled in four passes for 58 yards. In his last two games Reed has now caught nine balls for 108 yards, so he’s shown some promise when he’s been on the field. It feels like the Redskins haven’t had a threat at tight end in forever but Reed is a talented player who can stretch the field. He’s seen 12 targets in his last two games, so if Reed continues to get opportunities, he will start to make a fantasy impact.
Availability: Owned in ~ 21% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for Reed to develop into a weekly TE2 and occasional TE1 in the Redskins’ offense.

Tim Wright, Buccaneers
Grab & StashWhenever a team makes a quarterback change, we have to wait and see if the new quarterback has a connection with a certain player. In Tampa Bay, apparently Wright and Mike Glennon have a connection. In the two games Glennon has started Wright has caught 12 passes for 132 yards on 15 targets. Wright and Glennon likely built chemistry together working on the second-team offense all summer. Wright still can’t be counted on as a TE1 at this point but his arrow is certainly pointing up.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wright has come out of nowhere the last two weeks but he could continue to post solid fantasy numbers with Glennon at quarterback.

On the Radar: Joseph Fauria (2%), Lance Kendricks (4%)

Kickers

Mason Crosby, Packers
Rock StarThe once potent Packers’ offense has had to settle for field goals the last two weeks. While that’s been bad news for fantasy owners, it’s been good news for Crosby, who has now connected on 12-of-13 field goal attempts in Green Bay’s last three games. It’s an impressive start to the season for a guy who was fighting just to keep his job in training camp. Green Bay’s offense is likely to turn around at some point and start scoring touchdowns but there’s no reason fantasy owners shouldn’t ride the hot foot of Crosby while it lasts.
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Crosby has fixed his accuracy problems and kicks for an offense that consistently moves the football. That’s a winning fantasy combination.

Ryan Succop, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlaySuccop has had two games this year where he’s made four field goals. In both of those games the Chiefs’ defense caused turnovers and gave Kansas City’s offense multiple opportunities in good field position. The Chiefs aren’t the kind of team that’s going to have a lot of long drives that will give Succop scoring opportunities. However, the Chiefs’ defense is so nasty it will have games where they create turnovers and set the offense up to score points. Sunday against the turnover prone Texans should be one of those games. Kansas City’s defense will smother Houston, giving its offense a short field and Succop some field goal chances.
Availability: Owned in ~ 34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Succop will hit three field goals and three extra points on Sunday.

On the Radar: Shaun Suisham (8%), Nick Folk (15%)

Defense/Special Teams

Miami Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayThere isn’t much analysis here. The Bills have just been decimated by injuries at the quarterback position. Every guy they put under center gets hurt. Now they are being forced to sign Matt Flynn off the street to likely start against Miami, whose defense is pretty tough in the first place. The Dolphins come in with 13 sacks and six interceptions. Look for those numbers to increase significantly after they play Buffalo on Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Dolphins will register at least six sacks and three turnovers against the Bills.

Green Bay Packers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Packers don’t have a great fantasy defense but they do have a great match-up with Brandon Weeden and the Browns coming to Green Bay this week. The Packers do have 17 sacks on the year but have only forced two interceptions. Expect that to change after Green Bay faces Weeden. The Browns looked like they had something going with Brian Hoyer but Weeden has no pocket presence and constantly throws into coverage. The Packers will get out to a lead and eat him alive.
Availability: Owned in ~ 46% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Green Bay will surpass its season total of two interceptions and sack Weeden a few times as well.

On the Radar: St. Louis Rams (40%), Carolina Panthers (60%)


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