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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 9
Thomas Casale
October 29, 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
1 Week Plug & PlayThere are a few quarterbacks on byes this week like Peyton Manning. If you need a replacement, give Pryor a look. Pryor scored on a 93-yard run early against Pittsburgh but only totaled 101 yards for the rest of the game. Pryor should have a more productive day against an Eagles’ defense that allows 302 yards through the air. He has played well at home this season and that trend should continue Sunday against Philadelphia.
Availability: Owned in ~ 62% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Pryor will rack up 250 total yards and account for three touchdowns against the Eagles.

Jason Campbell, Browns
Dumpster DiveGoing up against a tough Chiefs’ defense, Campbell completed 22-of-36 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns in his first start of the season. More importantly though, Campbell didn’t commit any turnovers. He also got the ball down the field to the Browns’ playmakers. Josh Gordon caught five passes for 132 yards and Jordan Cameron caught four balls for 81 yards. It was only one start but so far when Campbell and Brian Hoyer have been under center, the Browns’ offense has made plays in the passing game.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Campbell will be inconsistent but he has the weapons around him to get on the QB2 radar like Hoyer was before he got injured.

On the Radar: Matt Barkley (1%), Thad Lewis (6%), Case Keenum (6%)

Running Backs

Ray Graham, Texans
Injury ReplacementArian Foster and Ben Tate are both questionable for Sunday’s game versus the Colts. There’s a chance both could play, one of them could play or neither could play at this point in the week. If it turns out that neither plays, the touches will be up for grabs between Graham, Deji Karim and Dennis Johnson. Out of that threesome the best bet to see the most playing time is Graham simply because he’s been on the practice squad and knows the offense. Houston already has a quarterback making only his second start, so the Texans will want the back in there that has the best understanding of the pass protections. Graham was productive in college, despite constantly battling injuries. If Foster and Tate don’t play, Graham offers the most upside out of the three running backs on the waiver wire, although he’s a longshot.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Graham is a fantasy longshot tied to the health of Foster and Tate.

Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Grab & StashThomas makes The Forecast for the second straight week and while he saw just nine carries compared to Lamar Miller’s 18, Thomas finished with 47 yards and a receiving touchdown. Thomas is getting touches near the goal line and most weeks he’s seeing as many carries as Miller. Thomas isn’t going to win you match-ups on his own but in deeper leagues he’s at least worth a roster spot right now if you have the room.
Availability: Owned in ~ 47% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Thomas and Miller will continue to split carries for the rest of the season, limiting both of their fantasy value.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Grab & StashIt’s not like fantasy owners should rush to be a part of the Panthers’ backfield mess but Stewart is likely to return in Week 9 and is available in a lot of leagues. Stewart joins a backfield committee that includes DeAngelo Williams and touchdown vulture Mike Tolbert. He’s also returning from two injured ankles but reports are Stewart is moving around well. His fantasy value would increase if something happened to Williams. For now, Stewart is worth stashing for owners looking to take a flier on a running back for the second half of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stewart won’t be an every-week starter but could emerge as a valuable bench player down the stretch.

Montee Ball, Broncos
Grab & StashBall disappeared for a while after a couple of early season fumbles landed him in the doghouse but a couple of things have his fantasy arrow pointing up again. First, Ronnie Hillman saw Ball’s fumbles and raised him, basically ending his playing time for good. Second, the Broncos want to start monitoring Knowshon Moreno’s carries over the second half of the season so he’s fresh for the playoffs. Denver is obviously going to make the postseason, so they don’t want Moreno running on tired legs. On Sunday, we began to see this plan implemented as Moreno got 14 carries to Ball’s 11. Ball was dropped in a lot of leagues after his slow start to the year. Now is the time to pick him back up.
Availability: Owned in ~ 36% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ball will become a match-up flex play as he takes over as the Broncos’ clock-killing back and starts seeing more goal line carries.

James Starks, Packers
Grab & StashStarks has regained his role as Green Bay’s No. 2 back after fumbling problems relegated rookie Johnathan Franklin to the bench. Against Minnesota Starks rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in garbage time. Eddie Lacy is clearly entrenched as the Packers’ bell cow, so Starks’ fantasy value is tied to his health. Lacy owners would be wise though to grab Starks if he’s available as insurance for the remainder of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Starks will only have fantasy value if Lacy misses time but he’s No. 2 on the depth chart.

Andre Brown, Giants
Grab & StashCurrently the slow-footed Peyton Hillis who needed 20 carries to get 70 yards on Sunday is owned in 80 percent of fantasy leagues. Meanwhile Andre Brown, who is recovering from a leg injury and is eligible to return to the Giants’ lineup in Week 10, is only owned in 40 percent of leagues. Brown is the much more talented back and while Hillis gives fantasy owners some instant value, Brown is going to see the majority of work over Hillis and Brandon Jacobs once he returns. Brown recently declared himself “ready to go.” The Forecast suggested getting Percy Harvin and Shane Vereen in previous weeks. Brown is another wise pickup because Hillis and Jacobs are just stopgaps.
Availability: Owned in ~ 41% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Brown will be the Giants’ top fantasy back as soon as he returns to the lineup.

On the Radar: C.J. Anderson (2%), Stepfan Taylor (2%), Lance Dunbar (7%), Deji Karim (1%)

Wide Receivers

Marvin Jones, Bengals
Rock StarJones had been playing better recently but he exploded on Sunday for 122 yards and four touchdowns on eight catches. However, Jones came in averaging 35 yards a game and he did his damage against the Jets playing on just 19 percent of the offensive snaps. Cincinnati has been waiting for another receiver to emerge in its offense and Jones has separated himself from the pack. He’s clearly the Bengals’ No. 2 receiver now. Jones will be the most coveted free agent in a majority of leagues this week. Just don’t overpay for him based on this one game. The fact that he only played 19 percent of the snaps on Sunday should be a major red flag that while Jones is an improving player, last week’s stat line will be the exception, not the rule going forward.
Availability: Owned in ~ 38% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Jones will be a match-up flex option over the second half of the season.

Tiquan Underwood, Buccaneers
Injury ReplacementMike Williams is out for the rest of the season, so Underwood will now be Tampa Bay’s No. 2 receiver. This is one of those good news, bad news situations. The good news being that Underwood is now the No. 2 receiver. The bad news being he’s the No. 2 receiver on the Buccaneers. Underwood did catch three balls for 47 yards against Carolina and Tampa Bay should be playing from behind a lot. Still, Underwood has a ways to go before fantasy owners can trust putting him in their lineups.
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Underwood will have a couple of worthwhile fantasy games but he won’t be consistent enough on a weekly basis.

Lance Moore, Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashMoore returned to the Saints lineup last week, catching three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Moore could find the end zone for a second straight week against the Jets. New York has struggled against second and third receivers. Jimmy Graham scored twice on Sunday but he clearly wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Look for Moore to pick up some of the slack this week and be heavily targeted by Drew Brees. Moore can also be added in leagues where owners are looking for backend depth at receiver.
Availability: Owned in ~ 23% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Moore will record his first 100-yard receiving game of the season versus the Jets.

Kenny Stills, Saints
Grab & StashStills isn’t a consistent receiver yet in the Saints’ offense but he’s flashed enough potential in his rookie season to make fantasy owners take notice. Stills caught three passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo. He’s now scored three touchdowns in his last two games. Stills is a tough guy to trust from week-to-week because you never know when his production will come but as he’s shown through seven games, Stills has the ability to make big plays in the Saints’ offense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 12% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stills will become a bigger part of the Saints’ offense over the second half of the season and become a WR4 in most formats.

Drew Davis, Falcons
Grab & StashMatt Ryan had to attempt 61 passes on Sunday and that could become a regular occurrence because Atlanta can’t run the ball. Davis benefited by seeing seven targets, catching five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Davis will move down to the No. 3 receiver when Roddy White returns. However, he’s worth adding right now after his strong performance against Arizona if you need depth at receiver.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Davis’ short-term fantasy value is tied to White’s health but with the Falcons’ season in shambles, Roddy won’t be rushed back into action.

Nate Burleson, Lions
Grab & StashCalvin Johnson is great but some week he’ll probably face a defensive coordinator who will make an in-game adjustment and not allow Megatron to catch 14 balls for 329 yards. Burleson is expected back in Week 10 and he’ll give Matthew Stafford another option in the passing game. Kris Durham has been playing well but he’s better suited to be a No. 3 receiver. Before injuring his forearm Burleson had 19 receptions for 239 yards in three games. If you play in a PPR league and need some receiver help, Burleson is an option.
Availability: Owned in ~ 10% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Burleson will go back to catching his usual 5-6 balls most weeks once he returns to the field.

Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
Grab & StashLast week’s Plug & Play, Sanders caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown against Oakland. Sanders has now caught at least four passes in five of the Steelers’ seven games. He’s also topped 50 yards receiving five times this year. Those may not be eye-popping fantasy numbers but Sanders is a receiver owners can throw in their lineup and expect to get double-digit fantasy points out of the flex position if they get in a bind.
Availability: Owned in ~ 54% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Sanders will continue to be a decent flex play in Pittsburgh’s pass-heavy offense.

David Nelson, Jets
Dumpster DiveNelson is an interesting player because he caught 61 passes for 658 yards and five touchdowns in 2011 with the Bills before suffering a serious knee injury. He recently signed with the Jets and in his last two games Nelson has caught 12 passes for 160 yards on 19 targets. It’s not a newsflash that the Jets need help at receiver and it looks like Nelson may provide some. Nelson did tweak his ankle late in the game against Cincinnati but if he can stay healthy, he could continue to rack up the receptions.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Nelson will emerge as Geno Smith’s favorite underneath target and become a flex play consideration in PPR formats.

Darius Johnson, Falcons
Dumpster DiveJohnson is a deep sleeper but he was a Forecast favorite from his college days at SMU. Johnson has come a long ways already from undrafted free agent to practice squad to seeing nine targets against Arizona on Sunday. Johnson finished with four catches for 40 yards. A pure slot receiver, Johnson’s could have fantasy value if the Falcons suffer one more injury at receiver. He’s a name to remember for the rest of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Johnson has the talent to make a fantasy impact if one of the three receivers ahead of him in Atlanta goes down.

On the Radar: Aaron Dobson (27%), Dexter McCluster (3%), Marquise Goodwin (1%), Myles White (1%)

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayStarting on offensive player on Minnesota not named Adrian Peterson doesn’t instill a ton of confidence but receivers and tight ends have a tougher time getting open in practice than they do across the middle of the field on the Cowboys’ defense. Pass catchers are destroying Monte Kiffin’s outdated Tampa-2 defense over the middle of the field. If Brandon Pettigrew could catch he would have had a much bigger day against Dallas on Sunday. Rudolph has 24 targets in his last three games. That trend should continue this week assuming whoever is under center for Minnesota can deliver him the football.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Rudolph will catch 4-5 passes and touchdown against Dallas.

Tim Wright, Buccaneers
Grab & StashThere isn’t much to get excited about when it comes to the Buccaneers’ offense right now but one positive has been the emergence of Wright. The rookie has come out of nowhere to catch 14 passes over Tampa Bay’s last three games. While those numbers don’t make Wright a TE1, he has a chance to become a weekly TE2 over the second half of the season, especially with Mike Williams out for the season. Mike Glennon looks for Wright (26 targets in the last four games), so expect him to be the biggest beneficiary of Williams’ absence. 
Availability: Owned in ~ 15% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wright will put up TE2 production most weeks over Tampa Bay’s final nine games.

On the Radar: Ben Watson (9%), Scott Chandler (28%), Joel Dreessen (1%), Jacob Tamme (1%)

Kickers

Josh Brown, Giants
Rock StarBrown kicked five field goals against Philadelphia and has now made all eight of his attempts in the last two games. The one thing to like about Brown going forward is the Giants struggle to run the ball and are stalling when they get inside the red zone. Brown also has a strong leg and the Giants’ offense is playing better than it did during that awful three-game stretch, which means he’s getting more opportunities. Brown was expected to be one of the better fantasy kickers this year and he’s starting to show why over the last two games.
Availability: Owned in ~ 16% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Brown will continue to reward fantasy owners as long as the Giants’ offense doesn’t implode.

Nick Folk, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayJudging by how little he’s owned, owners still aren’t buying into Folk but he’s been one of the most consistent fantasy kickers of late. Folk has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four games, including last week when the Jets got pummeled in Cincinnati. For the season, Folk is a perfect 19-of-19 on field goal attempts. He should have another big day on Sunday when the Jets take on New Orleans. Geno Smith has played better at home and he’s also had uneven performances, playing well after putting up a dud. This past Sunday would certainly qualify as a dud. Expect Folk’s hot streak to continue against the Saints.
Availability: Owned in ~ 37% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Folk will once again put up double-digit fantasy points.

Defense/Special Teams

Arizona Cardinals
Rock StarThe Cardinals’ defense had a huge day against Atlanta, recording four sacks and picking off Matt Ryan four times. Arizona heads into its bye with 23 sacks, 12 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Those numbers should increase significantly over the second half of the season given the Cardinals’ schedule. After the bye Arizona plays Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tennessee, Seattle and San Francisco. Other than the misfortune of playing the Seahawks in Seattle for Week 16, that’s a dream schedule for a fantasy defense. If your defense is underperforming and you need an upgrade, the Cardinals get a lot of offenses with quarterback issues to feast on over the next two months.
Availability: Owned in ~ 44% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Cardinals will be one of the top scoring fantasy defenses over the second half of the season.

Oakland Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayWith five more sacks and two interceptions against the Steelers on Sunday, the play of Raiders’ defense continues to be one of the surprises of the 2013 season. Oakland’s defense has kept the team in pretty much every game except one (Denver), while registering 21 sacks and scoring twice. This week rookie Matt Barkley could be making his first NFL start in the Black Hole. Mike Vick is still dealing with a hamstring issue and Nick Foles may not be cleared to play because of a concussion. If Barkley gets the start, the Raiders’ defense should have a big fantasy day.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Raiders will make it a long afternoon for Barkley, sacking him a few times and creating 2-3 turnovers.

Indianapolis Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayCase Keenum played well in his first start against a tough Chiefs’ defense. Now he’ll get another stern test when he takes on a Colts unit that battered Peyton Manning for four quarters. Indianapolis has 21 sacks and eight interceptions through seven games. Furthermore, they put a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks that doesn’t show up as sacks and makes them rush throws. With Keenum making just his second start, the Texans’ inability to protect the quarterback and both Foster and Tate banged up, Houston’s struggles on offense could continue on Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 43% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Colts front seven will dominate, harassing Keenum all game long.

On the Radar: Cleveland Browns (36%), Buffalo Bills (19%)


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a d v e r t i s e m e n t