FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 13
Thomas Casale
November 26, 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

Carson Palmer, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashPalmer threw for over 300 yards on Sunday against Indianapolis. He’s been red hot over his last three games throwing for 974 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception. Palmer has another good matchup this week against a Philadelphia pass defense that ranks dead last in the NFL allowing 300 yards per game. The Eagles have been playing better overall of late on the defensive side of the ball but Palmer should have another strong fantasy outing and he’s a good guy to grab as a QB2 for the rest of the season.
Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Palmer will pass for over 250 yards and throw two touchdowns.

Josh McCown, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayJay Cutler will likely miss one more week with his ankle injury, meaning McCown gets the start against a Minnesota pass defense that’s so bad it made Matt Flynn look like Brett Favre. McCown threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams on Sunday. Overall, McCown has produced solid fantasy numbers while filling in for Cutler and he should put up QB1 numbers this week against Minnesota. If Aaron Rodgers misses Thursday’s game and you’re playing quarterbacks based on matchups, McCown is a strong option this week.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 37% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: McCown will throw for close to 300 yards and at least two touchdowns against Minnesota.

Mike Glennon, Buccaneers
Grab & StashGlennon has emerged as one of the better QB2s in fantasy football. Against Detroit, Glennon threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie has now thrown for at least 230 yards in five of his last seven games. He’s also thrown two touchdown passes four times over that span. Glennon is starting to become a reliable 18-20 point per week fantasy quarterback. Glennon has a tough schedule over the final month with Carolina, Buffalo, San Francisco, St. Louis and New Orleans but he’s a good guy to own in case you need him in a pinch during fantasy playoffs.
Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Glennon will be a strong QB2 who can be used if your starter goes down.

On the Radar: Ryan Tannehill (41%), Matt Flynn (3%), Ryan Fitzpatrick (20%)

Running Backs

Dennis Johnson, Texans
Rock StarJohnson replaced an ineffective Ben Tate on Sunday and ran for 74 yards on 13 carries. Tate just hasn’t looked like the same running back he was earlier in the year since he’s been playing through those four broken ribs. Johnson provided the dreadful Texans’ offense with a bit of a spark on Sunday. This week he gets a Patriots’ defense that just gave up 280 yards rushing to Denver. Tate will return and be the starter but Johnson is a must-grab for the rest of the year. With the Texans completely out of it, they’ll be evaluating some younger players for next season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Johnson could become a flex option, especially if Tate continues to struggle.

Benny Cunningham, Rams
Injury ReplacementZac Stacy was on his way to having a huge fantasy day but he left with a concussion after racking up 87 yards and a score in the first half against Chicago. Cunningham took advantage of the awful Bears’ rush defense by gaining 109 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He now has 181 yards in his last two games. If Stacy can’t play next week Cunningham will get the start against the 49ers. It’s not a great matchup but Stacy owners should grab Cunningham as insurance.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: The Rams are running the ball well and Cunningham is the clear No. 2 now behind Stacy.

Montee Ball, Broncos
Injury ReplacementGrab & StashAt the time this column is being published Knowshon Moreno is dealing with a lower right leg injury but the seriousness of it isn’t known. Early reports suggest Moreno will likely miss Sunday’s game at Kansas City. If that’s the case, it’s a tough call as to which back will replace him right now. Ball has been given every opportunity to not only grab a stranglehold on the No.2 job but to also see his playing time increase over the last couple of weeks. However, Ball’s fumbling problems have now left the door open for undrafted rookie C.J. Anderson to see more carries if Moreno is out. The Forecast is guessing Ball will get one more chance but he’s now owned in 70 percent of leagues, compared to two percent for Anderson. If Ball is already owned in your league, take a flier on Anderson.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: If Moreno is out, Ball and Anderson will both see touches with Ball likely being the better fantasy option to start.

Brandon Bolden, Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashMuch like Denver, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen with the Patriots’ backfield but other than Shane Vereen, everyone’s role is up in the air right now. Stevan Ridley is the most talented runner but after yet another fumble that put Denver up 7-0 last week, you have to wonder if that’s the final straw for him. LeGarrette Blount replaced Ridley but also fumbled, paving the way for Vereen and Bolden to finish the game as New England’s 1-2 punch. Bolden rushed 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown against Denver. He could see a good amount of touches again this week versus Houston, especially if the Patriots build an early lead and Ridley remains in Bill Belichick’s doghouse.
Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Bolden is a flex option this week as he has a chance to rack up around 60-70 total yards and a touchdown.

Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Grab & StashThere’s no question who the man is in Minnesota’s backfield but Adrian Peterson owners need to guard against his hamstring injury. It’s obviously not bothering him too bad considering AP just ripped the Packers’ defense for 146 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. However, one thing fantasy owners have to worry about late in the season with teams that are out of the playoff hunt is they’ll be more cautious with injured players. If in a couple of weeks Peterson’s hamstring gets worse, Minnesota is likely to sit him to prevent further damage. Gerhart ran for 91 yards on eight carries Sunday. He’s not Peterson but he’ll put up solid fantasy numbers if called upon.
Availability: Owned in ~ 17% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Peterson owners should grab Gerhart for the playoffs in case AP’s hamstring costs him time late in the year.

Bilal Powell, Jets
Grab & StashThe ever-changing Jets’ backfield is pointing in Powell’s direction once again after Chris Ivory suffered an ankle injury against Baltimore. Powell offers some value in PPR formats if he’s going to get most of the reps because of his ability as a receiver but the Jets’ offense overall is headed south right now. Powell is worth picking up for the rest of the year but expectations should obviously be no more than a match-up flex play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 43% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Powell offers some flex play appeal in PPR formats because of his ability as a receiver.

On the Radar: Fozzy Whittaker (7%), Mike Gillislee (1%), Ronnie Brown (1%), C.J. Anderson (2%)

Wide Receivers

Nate Burleson, Lions
Rock StarBurleson’s return from a forearm injury was a successful one. Against Tampa Bay he caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Burleson has played in four games this season and he now has at least six receptions in every one of them. In PPR leagues Burleson has recorded weeks of 13, 11, 22 and 20 points. Yet, Burleson is still available in 65 percent of fantasy leagues. Burleson is a weekly flex play in PPR formats, so if he’s still available in your league, go get him.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Burleson is good for around 15 points a week in PPR formats.

Rod Streater, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashAfter two games it’s becoming clear that Streater is Matt McGloin’s favorite receiver. Denarius Moore didn’t play on Sunday but through two games with McGloin under center Streater has 11 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. The Dallas’ pass defense was helped out by windy conditions against the Giants but it still ranks 30th in the NFL allowing 298 yards per game. Streater should put up his third strong fantasy game in a row on Thanksgiving, especially if Moore can’t go again. 
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Streater will put up double-digit fantasy points against the Cowboys.

Darius Johnson, Falcons
Dumpster DiveThe Forecast mentioned Johnson a few weeks ago after he was activated from the practice squad as one of our favorite receivers in college football the last couple of years. Johnson had his best game as a pro against the Saints, catching six passes for 67 yards. Johnson did also have a costly fumble and he’s more on the dynasty league radar but the bottom line is he’s gone from a little known undrafted free agent to a receiver that’s seen 15 targets in his last two games. If Roddy White continues to struggle, Johnson could keep getting looks from Matt Ryan over the final month. Either way, keep an eye on Johnson as an emerging slot receiver for next year and beyond.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Johnson is worth a look in 16-team PPR leagues if you need depth at receiver for the playoffs.

Justin Hunter, Titans
Dumpster DiveRemember Kenny Britt? He used to play for the Titans. While Britt rots on the bench now, Hunter is starting to see a bigger role in the offense. Hunter had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against Oakland. Granted, the Raiders’ pass defense is dreadful but Hunter has now seen 13 targets in the last two games, so Ryan Fitzpatrick is looking the rookie’s way. There’s no denying Hunter’s physical ability. If he starts getting more opportunities, Hunter could be a fantasy factor down the stretch.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hunter will start becoming the big-play receiver Britt was supposed to be in Tennessee.

On the Radar: Donnie Avery (15%), Tiquan Underwood (1%), Jacoby Jones (12%), Ace Sanders (4%), Eddie Royal (55%)

Tight Ends

Jacob Tamme, Broncos
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayTamme filled in for an injured Julius Thomas against New England and caught five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Thomas is expected to return this week versus a beat-up Chiefs’ defense but if he can’t go, Tamme is a viable replacement. Peyton Manning is targeting the tight end a lot, especially in the red zone.
Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tamme has a good chance to find the end zone again if Thomas doesn’t play.

John Carlson, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayCarlson put up two solid fantasy performances in a row before being held in check by the Packers. Still, Carlson has seen 19 targets in his last three games and he should reward fantasy owners once again on Sunday when he takes on the Bears. The Forecast suggested Jared Cook as a Plug & Play last week against Chicago and he responded with four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. It’s hard to believe but the Bears may have the worst defense in the NFL right now and they’re particularly bad at covering the tight end. Carlson should have a productive game.
Availability: Owned in ~ 27% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Carlson will be a low-end TE1 this week.

Ladarius Green, Chargers
Grab & StashIt took the Chargers some time but they’re finally getting the talented Green involved in the offense. Green scored his first touchdown of the year on Sunday and over the last two games he has seven receptions for 161 yards. San Diego is starting to run more two tight end sets to get both Green and Antonio Gates on the field at the same time. Green is more of a player to target in 2014 but he can still help owners this year in deeper leagues as well over the final month.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Green will continue to become a bigger part of San Diego’s offense over the final five games.

On the Radar: Jared Cook (51%)

Kickers

Blair Walsh, Vikings
Rock StarWalsh was dropped in a lot of leagues but he’s now made multiple field goals six times, including in three straight games. On Sunday Walsh made 4-of-4 field goals against Green Bay and he has another good matchup this week when Minnesota faces the Bears. Walsh hit a rough patch in the middle of the season when the entire Vikings’ offense was struggling but he’s back on track now. Walsh also gives fantasy owners the added bonus of one of the strongest legs in the NFL.
Availability: Owned in ~ 43% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: As long as Minnesota’s offense doesn’t implode, Walsh will continue to produce consistently.

Justin Tucker, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayTucker was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals against the Jets and he’s now made 22 kicks in a row. Tucker has connected on eight field goals in his last three games, including kicks from 46, 52 and 53 yards. In his first game against Pittsburgh, Tucker kicked three field goals and he should end up in the same neighborhood again this time around. Ride his hot leg.
Availability: Owned in ~ 64% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tucker will kick three field goals, including at least one from beyond 40 yards.

Jay Feely, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayFeely had a monster game in Arizona’s dismantling of the Colts by connecting on 4-of-5 field goal attempts and four extra points. Feely has been a strong fantasy option dating back five games now. He’s kicked at least two field goals in each of those five games and depending on your scoring system has scored at least nine fantasy points over that span. The Cardinals and Eagles could play a high scoring game, so Feely should have multiple opportunities once again this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 54% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Feely’s streak of kicking at least two field goals in a game will continue.

On the Radar: No one

Defense/Special Teams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rock StarThe Buccaneers’ defense has been red hot of late. In its last three games Tampa Bay’s defense has registered seven sacks, seven interceptions, a safety and two touchdowns. Darrelle Revis injured his groin which isn’t great news but overall this unit is playing inspired since the offense started showing signs of life again. Home games in Week 14 against Buffalo and an underachieving San Francisco team in Week 15 make the Bucs an appealing defense to add for the playoffs.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: he Bucs will be a strong matchup play defense during fantasy playoffs.

Buffalo Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Falcons played well on Thursday night against New Orleans but that was their Super Bowl. Now they have to travel to Ontario to take on the Bills in a classic letdown spot. Also, Matt Ryan has been a turnover machine and that’s bad news when facing the Bills, especially in Buffalo. The Bills’ defense has forced 16 interceptions and recorded 36 sacks this year. Atlanta’s offensive line has had all kinds of problems protecting Ryan, so expect him to have a long afternoon against the Bills.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Bills will sack Ryan five times and pick him off twice.

Pittsburgh Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Steelers aren’t what they used to be on the defensive side of the ball but since getting lit up by the Patriots, Pittsburgh’s defense has played pretty well for fantasy owners. Over the last three games the Steelers’ defense has recorded 10 sacks, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries. A team like Detroit can put up a lot of points on the Steelers but Baltimore doesn’t have the same kind of weapons. The Ravens have had issues on the offensive line this year, so Pittsburgh should put up another strong defensive performance.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If you have a defense like the Chiefs and need a replacement this week, the Steelers are a strong substitute.

On the Radar: Dallas Cowboys (68%), Miami Dolphins (37%)


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