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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 17
Thomas Casale
December 24, 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.

Quarterbacks

Matt Cassel, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayThe pickings are slim if you need a quarterback in Week 17 but if you’re in a bind, Cassel is worth a shot. Cassel is coming off a miserable performance against Cincinnati but in his two games prior he threw for 647 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. The Lions are strong against the run but allow 252 a game yards through the air. Plus, how motivated will Detroit be one week after getting eliminated from the playoffs? Cassel should end the season on a high note.
Availability: Owned in ~ 6% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Cassel will put up borderline QB1 numbers.

Kyle Orton, Cowboys
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayNow that Tony Romo is out for the season Orton has the keys to Dallas’ offense. Orton hasn’t played much in last four years but there are a couple of things in his favor. This is the same Eagles’ defense that just two weeks ago got lit up by Cassel and the Vikings. Dallas has more weapons than Minnesota, so Orton can do some damage if given time in the pocket. Also, back in 2010 Orton put up 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns in 13 games. It’s not like he hasn’t had success before in the NFL. The Cowboys are going to have to score to hang with Philadelphia on Sunday. Orton having a strong fantasy outing certainly isn’t out of the question.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Orton will score around 20 fantasy points.

Running Backs

James Starks, Packers
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayEddie Lacy re-aggravated his ankle injury against the Steelers on Sunday. Starks came in and ran for 47 yards on 10 carries. If Starks gets 10 carries against the Bears’ miserable rush defense he could go for 130 yards. Lacy is a beast and will do everything he can to play this week with the NFC North title on the line but there’s no way he’ll be 100 percent. Starks is going to get his touches in a dream matchup for a running back. If Lacy can’t go, Starks is elevated to a RB1 this week.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 46% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Starks is a RB1 if Lacy can’t play and a flex option if Lacy is active but not 100 percent healthy.

Edwin Baker, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayBaker ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against a tough Jets’ defense. It’s the second week in a row Baker has found the end zone. He has another tough match-up on Sunday against Pittsburgh but it’s clear the Browns want to give Baker a long look over these final two games. Assuming Cleveland doesn’t fall behind big early, Baker should see around 20 carries again this week and could score for the third game in a row.
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Baker is a flex consideration for Week 17.

Knile Davis, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayAndy Reid said he will consider sitting his starters on Sunday. The Chiefs are a 10 point underdog this week to the Chargers, so the boys in Vegas have read between the lines and are pretty much guaranteeing the Chiefs starters won’t play. It makes sense because Kansas City is locked into its playoff seed and they look like a tired team, especially on defense. Davis will likely get the start and that’s a good news/bad news situation. Davis has always been talented but as we saw again on Sunday, he’s one of the all-time biggest fumblers dating back to his college days at Arkansas. Hopefully if owners start Davis he won’t fumble early on and get benched. If he can hang onto the ball, Davis can have a strong fantasy outing in place of Jamaal Charles.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Davis is a RB2 this week assuming he gets the start in place of Charles.

Shonn Greene, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayAgainst Jacksonville Greene saw 19 carries compared to Chris Johnson’s 22, finishing with 91 yards and a score. Sunday’s game could be more of the same for the two running backs. If you had to pick one team other than the Lions who won’t show up this week, it has to be Houston. It’s been a nightmare season for the Texans and the players can’t wait for it to end. This has a chance to be another game where Tennessee can run the ball 40+ times and Greene sees at least 15 carries, including the ones near the goal line. If you’re scrambling for a running back this week, Greene is a viable option.
Availability: Owned in ~ 21% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Greene is a flex play consideration in 12-14 team leagues or if you need to take a flier on a running back.

Wide Receivers

Griff Whalen, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayWhalen had his second strong fantasy game in a row against Kansas City, catching seven passes for 80 yards. Whalen has seen 13 targets in his last two games, catching 11 of them. The Colts are still playing for seeding this week, so their starters are expected to go against Jacksonville. Whalen has been a nice surprise for the Colts’ offense over the last couple of weeks. Expect Andrew Luck to continue looking his way on Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Whalen will put up another double-digit scoring week in PPR formats.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayPatterson only caught three passes for eight yards on Sunday but he scored again on a 54-yard run. When Leslie Frazier likely gets fired Monday they can ask him what took so long before the coaching staff got Patterson involved in the offense. Patterson has now scored a touchdown in four straight games and five of his last seven. Look for the electrifying rookie to end the season with a bang against the reeling Lions.
Availability: Owned in ~ 43% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Patterson is a good bet to put up over 75 total yards and a touchdown this week.

Brandon LaFell, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlaySteve Smith will miss the season finale with a sprained knee, leaving LaFell and Ted Ginn as the Panthers’ starters. LaFell will likely be Cam Newton’s top target at receiver against a dreadful Falcons’ pass defense that allowed 255 yards a game and 28 touchdowns heading into Monday night’s tilt with San Francisco. Both Carolina receivers are solid starts this week but LaFell will probably see more targets and put up the better overall numbers.
Availability: Owned in ~ 47% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: LaFell is a strong flex play given the matchup and Smith being out.

Rueben Randle, Giants/Jerrel Jernigan, Giants
1 Week Plug & PlayRemember the days when Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz played receiver for the Giants? Cruz is now hurt and Nicks stopped playing hard in May. The two best starts this week at receiver for the Giants are Randle and Jernigan. Randle will start for the second week in a row against an awful Redskins pass defense. Meanwhile, Jernigan has 13 receptions, 147 yards and a touchdown in the last two games since taking over as the slot receiver. Both receivers are viable flex options this week given the favorable matchup.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% and1% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Randle is the better start on paper but Jernigan has been getting the looks from Eli Manning, making him an intriguing flex play in PPR leagues.

Tight Ends

Joseph Fauria, Lions
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayFauria was just a red zone target but with Brandon Pettigrew inactive because of an ankle injury, he caught some passes outside of the end zone for once. Fauria was targeted seven times against the Giants, catching three passes for 43 yards. If Pettigrew is out again this week, Fauria’s number should be even better. Calvin Johnson is hurt and could be held out against the Vikings now that Detroit has been eliminated from the playoffs. Also, Minnesota’s defense struggles badly against the pass, allowing an NFL worst 36 touchdowns on the season. Fauria is worth a shot if you need a tight end.
Availability: Owned in ~ 14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Fauria has a good chance to score for the eighth time this season.

Ryan Griffin, Texans
1 Week Plug & PlayMatt Schaub is struggling this season but you can always count on him to target tight ends, Andre Johnson and virtually no one else. Garrett Graham didn’t play on Sunday because of a hamstring injury, so it was Griffin who caught five balls for 62 yards. Griffin has seen 11 targets in the last two games, catching all of them for 128 yards. Houston is just playing out the string but if Graham misses the finale, Griffin is one of the few Texans worth starting consideration in Week 17.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Griffin is a low-end TE1 candidate for Week 17 if Graham doesn’t play.

Kickers

Graham Gano, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayHeading into Monday night’s game with San Francisco, Atlanta had given up the most fantasy points to opposing kickers. Up until Sunday, Gano had made at least two field goals in four straight games. Gano has been inconsistent this year but Carolina should have little trouble moving the ball on the Falcons’ Swiss cheese defense. Gano will get plenty of scoring chances to reward fantasy owners in the season finale.
Availability: Owned in ~ 56% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Gano will score double-digit fantasy points for the seventh time this season.

Defense/Special Teams

Arizona Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayIt’s still hard to believe the Cardinals’ defense isn’t owned in over 90 percent of fantasy leagues by now. This unit has been nasty all year and Arizona has been particularly strong over its last three games. Over that span the Cardinals’ defense has scored two touchdowns, recorded a safety, five interceptions, 11 sacks and recovered two fumbles. There are 12 better defenses than that in some leagues? The 49ers’ offense has played better of late but San Francisco can still struggle when it can’t run the ball and Arizona only allows 84 yards a game on the ground. The Cardinals’ defense will continue its streak of strong play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 80% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: The Cardinals will be a Top 10 fantasy defense in Week 17.


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