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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 8
Thomas Casale
October 22, 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

Andy Dalton, Bengals
Rock StarDalton ripped the Lions on Sunday for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He has now gone over 300 yards in two consecutive games and has six touchdowns and just one interception over that span. Dalton has a tough match-up against the Jets this week but after that Dalton gets Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, San Diego and Indianapolis. The Bengals can’t run the ball, so Dalton is using short passes to offset Cincinnati’s lack of a running game. If you’re quarterback has been a disappointment, Dalton can help you play the match-ups for the rest of the year.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Dalton is inconsistent but will shine when the match-up is favorable.

Josh McCown, Bears
Injury ReplacementJay Cutler tore his groin against Washington and will be out a minimum of four weeks. McCown came in for Cutler on Sunday and the offense didn’t really miss a beat. McCown connected on 14-of-20 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 33 yards. Granted, it was against the Redskins’ struggling defense but McCown at least looked like he had a good grasp of Jim Trestman’s offense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: It’s McCown’s offense now and he has weapons around him. He’s worth a flier if you need quarterback help.

Case Keenum, Texans
Dumpster DiveKeenum got his first career start against one of the NFL’s best defenses and in one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play. He performed well all things considering. Keenum completed 15-of-25 passes for 271 yards and a score. More importantly, Keenum showed good pocket presence, got the ball down the field to Houston’s playmakers and gave the offense a shot of life that it badly needed. Keenum obviously still has a long ways to go before he can be counted on for fantasy purposes but at the very least he played well enough to earn another start after Houston’s bye week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Keenum should get one more start to show what he can do in Week 9 against Indianapolis.

On the Radar: Jake Locker (15%), Geno Smith (27%)

Running Backs

Mike James, Buccaneers
Injury ReplacementRock StarNothing has gone right for Doug Martin or the Buccaneers and now he’s out with a torn labrum. James replaced Martin against Atlanta and rushed for 45 yards on 14 carries. James is a tough, straight-ahead runner who will instantly come in and grab most of the touches. James isn’t near the talent Martin is but if there’s one silver lining it’s that Martin wasn’t doing a lot before he got injured. If Martin owners pick up James, it’s not like he has to replace 20 points a week in their lineup. James may not have a high ceiling but he’s a serviceable back worth adding.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: James’ won’t be as big of a threat in the passing game but will take over as the workhorse on the ground for the Bucs.

Chris Ivory, Jets
Rock StarIvory was pretty much a non-factor before Sunday’s 104-yard performance on 34 carries. Bilal Powell had been the Jets’ top fantasy back before this week but on Sunday he only touched the ball three times. While the distribution is perplexing giving the previous workload of the two backs, don’t forget that new Jets General Manager John Idzik personally traded for Ivory and there have been rumblings that he would have a much bigger role in the offense once he was healthy. Well, 34 carries is certainly a bigger role. Powell will still have a role as well. His three touches were more of an aberration but now is a good time to grab Ivory if he’s available in your league.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ivory could work his way into a weekly flex play if he continues to get the workload.

Roy Helu, Redskins
Grab & StashIt looks like Mike Shanahan’s days of terrorizing fantasy owners aren’t over after all. On Sunday starter Alfred Morris carried the ball 19 times for 95 yards. However, it was Helu who scored three touchdowns, including two from short range. Helu finished with 41 yards on 11 carries. The Forecast recommended Helu two weeks ago as a 1 Week Plug & Play. It looks like we were one week off. The bottom line is after starting the year off slowly, Helu’s role is growing, as him averaging 12 touches over the last three weeks will attest.
Availability: Owned in ~ 44% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Helu will be a borderline flex play in PPR formats as he continues to be worked into the offense more.

Shane Vereen, Patriots
Grab & StashVereen was dropped in a lot of leagues after the Patriots placed him on short-term IR. However, he’s no longer wearing a cast on his broken wrist and is eligible to return in Week 11 when the Patriots come off their bye. Now would be a good time to grab and stash Vereen if you have the roster room. Vereen was just becoming a huge part of New England’s offense before he got hurt and he’s going to pick up right where he left off. The good thing about Vereen is the presence of Stevan Ridley is really irrelevant to his fantasy value. Vereen is such a good receiver that he can help the Patriots’ offense in multiple ways. If you have a team that looks like it’s going to make a playoff push, getting Vereen now is a wise investment.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Vereen will pay big dividends come playoff time for the astute owners smart enough to add him now.

Donald Brown, Colts
Grab & StashTrent Richardson came to Indianapolis much to the joy of fantasy owners but he’s averaging just over 40 yards rushing a game. Richardson will be on a long leash because the Colts traded a first-round draft pick to get him but Brown should start seeing more playing time soon, especially with Reggie Wayne lost for the year. Brown is a good receiver out of the backfield. One way the Colts might try to replace some of Wayne’s production is to throw to their running backs more. Either way, Richardson hasn’t brought much to Indianapolis so far other than 1-yard gains and fumbling.
Availability: Owned in ~ 28% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Colts will start to sprinkle Brown into the offense more after their bye week.

Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Grab & StashAfter seven weeks we know one thing about the Dolphins: they’re not going to give the ball to Lamar Miller 20 times a game. Miller has displayed flashes this year but for some reason, Miami won’t give him a chance to show what he can do with more carries. Against Buffalo, Thomas carried the ball 12 times for 60 yards, compared to Miller who ran nine times for 43 yards. Miami doesn’t have much of a running game in general right now. However, if you’re in a deeper league looking for a flier, Thomas is owned in 70 percent fewer leagues than Miller and he gets just as many carries most weeks.
Availability: Owned in ~ 24% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: At some point Miami may start giving one back a majority of touches. There’s a 50/50 chance that guy is Thomas.

On the Radar: Peyton Hillis (22%), Michael Cox (6%)

Wide Receivers

Harry Douglas, Falcons
Rock StarLast week The Forecast suggested jumping on board Douglas when he was only owned in 46 percent of leagues before the mad rush to get him started. After his seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, that mad rush will take place in the leagues where Douglas is still available. Douglas won’t put up those eye-popping numbers every week but Julio Jones is out for the year and Roddy White still isn’t 100 percent. Matt Ryan has to throw to someone and he’s played with Douglas for six years, so the two are familiar with each other. Douglas is still going to be a fantasy factor even when White returns.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Douglas will put up strong fantasy numbers for the rest of the season.

Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Rock StarWhat a crazy week it’s been for Boykin. He went from a virtual unknown to now being the Packers’ No. 2 option in the passing game, at least for the time being. With Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley all out with injuries, only Jordy Nelson is ahead of Boykin for targets. Now, Jones could return after the Green Bay’s bye but if Boykin plays like he did on Sunday, that shouldn’t matter much. Against Cleveland, Boykin caught eight passes for 103 yards and a score on 10 targets. Cobb is expected to be out for a while, so Boykin’s fantasy value is here to stay.
Availability: Owned in ~ 37% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Boykin is a weekly WR3/flex play in the Packers’ offense.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Colts
Injury ReplacementThe Colts big win over Denver came at a huge price. Reggie Wayne was lost for the season, which means now the former first-round pick Heyward-Bey must step up and replace some of his production. T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener are the two biggest beneficiaries of Wayne’s injury but Heyward-Bey is going to see more targets come his way as well. He did catch four balls for 44 yards and a score on seven targets against Denver. Heyward-Bey has always been inconsistent. If he’s ever going to be a reliable fantasy receiver, now is the time.
Availability: Owned in ~ 16% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Heyward-Bey will see more targets with Wayne out, making him a spot starter against soft pass defenses.

Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlayAntonio Brown has been eating up targets but Sanders could strike against Oakland. The Raiders have had trouble with giving up big plays to outside receivers in the passing game. San Diego’s Vincent Brown gave Oakland trouble and Sanders could do the same, especially with the Raiders paying extra attention to Brown and tight end Heath Miller. Oakland is allowing 241 yards per gave through the air and Ben Roethlisberger has been playing better over the last month. Sanders has caught at least four passes in four of six games this year. He should make it five on Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 54% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Sanders will catch five passes and total around 75 yards against the Raiders.

Eddie Royal, Chargers
Grab & StashRoyal was a hot fantasy commodity earlier in the year because he kept scoring touchdowns every time you turned around but he cooled off over the last three games. Royal found the end zone on Sunday for the first time since Week 2. Keenan Allen is the best fantasy option in San Diego but Royal is only owned in 48% of leagues right now. The Chargers may lead the NFL in pass attempts this year, so having one of their receivers on your bench isn’t a bad idea. If you have to start a receiver in a pinch, why not start a guy on an offense that’s going to throw the ball 40 times a game?
Availability: Owned in ~ 48% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Royal has six touchdowns on the year and plays in a pass-first offense. If Allen went down, he would be a target monster. He’s worth a roster spot.

Kris Durham, Lions
Grab & StashDurham had his second straight solid fantasy day against Cincinnati, catching five passes for 41 yards. It could have been even better but Matthew Stafford just missed Durham for what would have been a sure touchdown. Durham still saw eight targets though and has 13 receptions in his last two games. It’s taking people a little while to buy into Durham. Truth is though if Stafford had thrown a better ball and completed that pass for a touchdown, Durham would be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week, so he could be a bargain.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Durham will continue to see targets in the Lions’ offense and be a WR4/flex play in PPR leagues.

Cole Beasley, Cowboys
Grab & StashBeasley makes The Forecast for the third straight week but he can’t be ignored anymore. Beasley caught six more passes for 53 yards against Philadelphia. He now has 14 receptions in his last three games. Beasley is currently owned in one percent of leagues. Think of it this way: Beasley has 10 receptions on 12 targets in the last two games and he’s owned in one percent of leagues. On the other hand, Miles Austin has zero catches on seven targets in the last two games and he’s owned in over 90 percent of leagues. So Beasley is getting looks from Tony Romo and he’s making the most of his opportunities. If anything, his role as the Cowboys’ slot receiver is only going to grow.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Beasley is closing in on flex play consideration in PPR formats.

Marvin Jones, Bengals
Dumpster DiveThe Bengals have been searching for a receiver to step up opposite A.J. Green and Jones is beginning to play well. Jones has scored in two straight games, while racking up 128 yards receiving. Defenses are always going to try and take Green away, so that will open up opportunities for other guys to make plays. Jones is starting to make some plays.
Availability: Owned in ~ 7% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Jones will continue to make some plays but won’t be a consistent week-to-week fantasy option.

On the Radar: David Nelson (1%), Brandon Gibson (7%), Mike Brown (1%), Brian Quick (1%), Aldrick Robinson (2%)

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed, Redskins
Rock StarThe Redskins haven’t had a stud tight end in a while. By the looks of Reed the last couple of weeks, that trend is coming to an end. Reed ripped the Bears for nine catches, 134 yards and a touchdown. He now has 13 catches on 15 targets in his last two games. Remember, other than Pierre Garcon it’s not like the Redskins are loaded at receiver, so Reed should continue to see plenty of targets going forward. Reed can really help those owners struggling at the tight end position right now.
Availability: Owned in ~ 39% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Reed looks like the real deal. He will emerge as a weekly TE1 for the rest of the year.

Ben Watson, Saints
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayJimmy Graham is questionable to play Sunday against Buffalo with a foot injury. If he can’t go, Watson is worth a one-week start. Drew Brees still looks to the tight end even without Graham, especially down in the red zone. Watson is athletic enough to create mismatches in the Saints’ offense. In his last game with the Patriots focusing on taking away Graham, Watson caught three passes for 61 yards. If Graham can’t go against Buffalo, Watson has a chance to put up solid fantasy numbers.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Watson will produce low-end TE1 numbers if Graham doesn’t play against Buffalo.

Rob Housler, Cardinals
Grab & StashHousler has teased fantasy owners since entering the league with his athletic ability but it has yet to translate into production. Against Seattle Housler caught seven passes for 53 yards and while most of that came in garbage time, there’s a chance Housler will continue to be a favorite target of Carson Palmer in the coming weeks. The Cardinals can’t protect Palmer right now. In Oakland when Palmer started to come under heavy fire every week, Brandon Myers benefitted by catching a bunch of those short passes. There’s a chance Housler will now become Palmer’s new security blanket in Arizona.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Housler won’t be a TE1 but expect him to start catching 4-6 balls most weeks from Palmer on underneath routes.

On the Radar: Tyler Eifert (41%), Zach Miller (13%), Delanie Walker (5%)

Kickers

Shaun Suisham, Steelers
Rock StarSuisham has been red hot over his last two games, making four field goals in each of them. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense is playing better after a slow start but they continue to struggle when it comes to scoring touchdowns. It’s not a huge surprise, considering Todd Haley’s offenses are routinely one of the poorest red zone teams in the NFL. Suisham won’t kick four field goals every week but with Oakland, New England, Buffalo and Detroit coming up, he has some more double-digit scoring games on the horizon.
Availability: Owned in ~ 9% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: At the very least, Suisham will be a solid fantasy kicker over the Steelers next four games.

Adam Vinatieri, Colts
Rock StarVinatieri connected on three field goals against Denver, including a 52-yarder. He’s now made three field goals in three of his last four games. Through seven games, Vinatieri is 15-of-17 overall and the 40-year old has shown he can still connect from long range. The Colts’ offense is good enough to move the ball consistently even without Reggie Wayne, so Vinatieri will continue to reward fantasy owners.
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Vinatieri will be a double-digit scorer most weeks kicking in the Colts’ offense.

Nick Folk, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayFolk has scored at least 10 fantasy points in two of his last three games. The Jets’ offense is moving the ball better than expected this year and Folk has benefited. On Sunday, New York faces a Bengals’ defense that has been decimated by injuries to its secondary. This looks like the kind of game where both Folk and the Bengals’ Mike Nugent could see a lot of opportunities. Start Folk with confidence this week if you need a kicker.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Folk will kick three field goals, as the Jets’ offense will move the ball but bog down in the red zone.

On the Radar: Mike Nugent (17%), Dan Carpenter (23%), Robbie Gould (65%)

Defense/Special Teams

Indianapolis Colts
Rock StarThe Colts’ defense heads into its bye week on a high note after sacking Peyton Manning four times and picking him off once. Indy’s defense also recorded a safety and recovered two fumbles. For the season now the Colts have registered 21 sacks, two touchdowns, eight interceptions and recovered five fumbles. Indianapolis also has an appealing upcoming schedule with Houston, St. Louis, Tennessee (twice) and Arizona on deck. If you’re looking for a fantasy defense to pile up the sacks and turnovers over the next month, the Colts should be on your radar.
Availability: Owned in ~ 39% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With their upcoming schedule, the Colts will be one of the better fantasy defenses during the month of November.

Carolina Panthers
Rock StarThe Panthers’ defense continues to be one of the NFL’s biggest surprises of 2013. Against St. Louis the Panthers recorded four sacks, an interception and recovered two fumbles. For the season Carolina now has 19 sacks, nine interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Those numbers are likely to increase when the Panthers take on struggling Tampa Bay Thursday. Carolina follows up that game with a match-up against the depleted Falcons, so if you’re going to add them, now is the time to do it.
Availability: Owned in ~ 74% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Panthers may not be an every-week start but they’ll produce big numbers when the match-up is favorable.

Green Bay Packers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Forecast suggested Green Bay as a Plug & Play last week and they did OK, racking up three sacks and an interception against Cleveland. However, we’re going back to the well one more time in hopes of an even better performance against Minnesota. The Packers have 13 sacks over their last three games and that trend should continue against Josh Freeman and the Vikings. Toss in a couple of turnovers and it will be a successful outing from the Packers’ defense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Expect four sacks and one or two turnovers from the Packers’ defense this week.

On the Radar: Dallas Cowboys (67%)


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