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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 6
Paul Sandy
October 12, 2010
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SYMBOL LEGEND
Rockstar Rock Star Free Agent
Injury Injury Replacement
Worth a Look Worth a Look
1 Week Plug & Play 1 Week Plug & Play
Sleeper Sleeper

QUARTERBACKS

No Brainers: Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning

Shaun Hill, Lions
Worth a LookHill posted another quality fantasy stat line on Sunday, connecting for 227 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams. This guy is really producing but his long-term viability is limited because Matt Stafford will re-claim the starting job once he’s healthy. The Lions have a Week 7 bye so it wouldn’t be surprising if they let Stafford rest another two weeks and return in Week 8. If Hill gets the start, consider him a low-end QB1 against a tough Giants defense. However, if Calvin Johnson (shoulder) sits, Hill becomes a less attractive option.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Hill gets the start, he will continue to put up useful fantasy stats.

Vince Young, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayYoung has thrown at least one touchdown in four out of five starts this season. He has yet to exceed 200 yards passing but the outlook is good this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks 29th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 282.2 yards per game. They’ve also given up a league high 12 passing scores. Young should be good for 200 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. Plus you know he’ll top it off with some production on the ground. 

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young is worth a situational start this week.

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Worth a LookFreeman is averaging a respectable 16 fantasy points per game in standard scoring systems. Last week, he put up 280 yards passing and a touchdown against the Bengals and added 20 yards rushing. He’s the type of QB who won’t hurt your team because he’s relatively consistent but he won’t carry your team either. Consider adding him as a backup. Freeman will be especially useful in Weeks 7-8, when the Buccaneers face the Rams and Cardinals. If you currently start Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez or Eli Manning, it’s not a bad idea to think ahead and secure Freeman. 

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Freeman is a smart, preemptive waiver wire pickup for teams with bye week issues in the coming weeks.

Matt Flynn, Packers
InjuryGreen Bay QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to Washington. The generally accepted protocol for head injuries is the player will sit out for a week. If that holds true with Rodgers, backup Matt Flynn will get the start. Flynn is capable of putting together quality fantasy numbers. Some consider Flynn to be the most underrated backup QB in the game. Don’t be surprised if he has a strong showing in this game and becomes trade bait during the offseason. The Packers face a Dolphins defense that has been solid so far. But given how much the Packers throw the ball, Flynn has a chance to put up 250 yards and a couple scores.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Flynn a boom-or-bust pickup this week.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Michael Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Jackson, Felix Jones, Fred Jackson and Ryan Torain

Mike Hart, Colts
InjuryColts starter Joseph Addai injured his shoulder in Sunday’s win against the Chiefs. His status for Week 6 is in doubt. Backup Donald Brown is also injured. The Colts have a Week 7 bye, so it seems likely they’d let both Addai and Brown rest. If Mike Hart gets the nod for the Colts, he’ll be a threat to score a touchdown or two. He delivered when called upon last week against the Chiefs, putting up 55 yards and a score. Hart should be the top RB pickup in most leagues. Consider him a solid RB2 if Addai and Brown sit.
UPDATE: Donald Brown (hamstring) has returned to practice and Joseph Addai (shoulder) may return later this week. Move Hart down your waiver priority list but monitor the situation. Consider adding Brown if he's available.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hart should be grabbed in all leagues this week.

Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Worth a LookThe Forecast profiled Woodhead last week but since the Patriots were on bye, he was overlooked in many leagues. The shifty RB is filling the role of Kevin Faulk, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Woodhead has scored in two straight outings and figures to get 7-10 touches per game. His limited work makes him a risky play for fantasy purposes but he can be plugged in as an emergency option.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Find room for Woodhead as a bench prospect.

Willis McGahee, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayMcGahee has double-digit carries each of the last two weeks. He’s now posted TDs in two straight games and three out of five overall. Although McGahee failed in a couple goal line attempts and was removed from the goal line package late in the game last week, he remains a factor in Baltimore’s offense. Consider McGahee a worthwhile plug-and-play option this week against a Patriots defense that yields 112 yards per game on the ground. More importantly, McGahee will be a highly attractive bye week fill-in for Week 7 when the Ravens face the Bills. Buffalo has been bloodied by backup RBs this year.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McGahee is an adequate emergency RB most weeks.

James Starks, Packers
SleeperThe Forecast recommends adding Starks as a high-upside prospect. Although Packers starter Brandon Jackson had his best game of the year on Sunday against the Redskins, Green Bay is still desperate for a spark at the position. The Packers saw another second half lead evaporate largely because they couldn’t grind out the clock with an effective rushing attack. Starks will come off the PUP list and is eligible to play in Week 7. He’s reportedly fully healthy and showing good quickness.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Starks has the look of a player who could be huge during the second half of the season; get him now.

Derrick Ward, Texans
Worth a LookThe Buccaneers got rid of Derrick Ward because they thought he was out of shape and didn’t do a good enough job assimilating to Tampa’s offense. However, he’s had no trouble fitting in with the Texans. Ward has scored a touchdown in two straight games. It’s clear that he has leapfrogged Steve Slaton on Houston’s depth chart and is the handcuff for Arian Foster. Grab him to fill that role on your fantasy roster or squirrel him away on your bench in case Foster falters.

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ward is worth adding as a handcuff to Foster.

Deji Karim, Jaguars
Worth a LookWith Rashad Jennings out, Deji Karim assumed the backup role for the Jags and amassed 70 yards on 15 carries against the Bills. Karim received more action than was originally planned after Jacksonville starter Maurice Jones-Drew injured his wrist. MJD has already fought through knee and ankle injuries this season and his ailments are starting to become a concern. The wrist injury is unlikely to cause Jones-Drew to miss time but Karim is worth adding as a handcuff or specutlative pickup. Karim may have earned himself more playing time based on his strong showing.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: With Jones-Drew’s injuries piling up, picking up Karim isn’t a bad plan.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Mike Williams (TB), Brandon Lloyd and Michael Crabtree

Brandon Tate and Deion Branch, Patriots
Worth a LookWhen news broke about the trade that sent Randy Moss back to Minnesota, New England wideout Brandon Tate become the hot mid-week fantasy pickup. However, he’s still available in 35% of leagues so the importance of grabbing him is worth highlighting. Tate has shown flashes of explosiveness and will now become the will become the de facto deep threat opposite Wes Welker. Look for him to be a fast riser in the weeks ahead. Deion Branch, who was traded from the Seahawks to the Patriots yesterday, is also worth acquiring though it remains to be seen how much he has left. Consider adding Branch as a bench prospect.

Availability: Owned in ~65% and ~9 of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Tate should be owned in all leagues and Branch is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Roy Williams, Cowboys
Worth a LookI’m not a huge fan of Williams because he’s burned so many fantasy owners in recent years. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Williams has stepped up his game and appears to be in-sync with QB Tony Romo. The duo has hooked up for 11 receptions, 204 yards and three touchdowns in their last two outings. He should be grabbed in all leagues and is worth a start against the Vikings.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is producing like a legit weekly starter and should be picked up in all leagues.

Danny Amendola, Rams
Worth a LookAmendola, a recommended pickup last week, was targeted a league high 19 times on Sunday. He ended the afternoon with 12 receptions for 95 yards. With Mark Clayton out for the year with a torn knee ligament, Amendola becomes the top option in an offense that is often forced to throw 35+ times per game. He’s a hot pickup regardless of your scoring system but could become a top 25 player in PPR leagues. The Rams have a relatively favorable stretch of games coming up (Chargers, Bucs and Panthers), so chances are Amendola will continue to shine.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Amendola should be PPR gold going forward.

Kenny Britt, Titans
Worth a LookBritt isn’t catching a ton of balls but he continues to deliver touchdowns. The second-year WR has scored in three straight games. His upside will always be limited by Tennessee’s run-first philosophy but Britt should no doubt be picked up this week. He has quickly become QB Vince Young’s favorite target. The Titans draw a sexy matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed 12 passing scores this year (most in the NFL). Snag Britt in your league and don’t be afraid to start him. 

Availability: Owned in ~35% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt is a TD machine and can be played this week against the Jags.

Davone Bess, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayIn his last two games, Bess has posted 14 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown. Despite the substantial stats, Bess was roundly ignored on the waiver wire last week because the Dolphins were on bye. Don’t let him linger any longer. He is benefiting from having a true stud receiver in Brandon Marshall opposite him. Bess has the look of a WR who could be a consistent contributor for fantasy purposes. He should fare well this week against the Packers if Marshall draws coverage from Charles Woodson.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bess is worth adding in all leagues and should be given extra consideration in PPR leagues.

Anthony Armstrong, Redskins
Worth a LookArmstrong made a strong case for why he, not Joey Galloway, should be the #2 WR opposite Santana Moss on Washington’s depth chart. Armstrong caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. The score came on a leaping 48-yard touchdown in traffic. It was the second game in a row in which the 27-year-old rookie has caught a pass longer than 45 yards. Washington cut former top draft pick Devin Thomas last week, which shows the level of faith they have in Armstrong. Look for him to see an uptick in playing time in the coming weeks. Donovan McNabb isn’t shy about throwing the deep ball, so Armstrong could continue to make some noise.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Armstrong is a prospect worth stashing on your bench.

Steve Johnson, Bills
Worth a LookLike Kenny Britt, Steve Johnson isn’t catching a high volume of passes but many of the passes he is catching are going for touchdowns. In fact, he’s crossed the stripe four times in the last three games. Johnson has become the favorite target for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The third-year WR is on bye this week and has a tough matchup against Baltimore when he returns. However, an unfavorable short-term schedule shouldn’t dissuade you from grabbing Johnson. He clearly has some chemistry with Fitzpatrick, especially in the redzone. I like his chances of contributing useful stats moving forward.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider grabbing Johnson for WR depth even though he’s on bye.

Nate Burleson, Lions
Injury1 Week Plug & PlayThe Lions are reportedly “very concerned” about Calvin Johnson’s shoulder injury. If Megatron sits this week, Nate Burleson would become the top WR for Detroit. Burleson put up 56 yards and a touchdown against the Rams in Week 5. The Lions draw a tough matchup this week in the Giants. However, if you’re desperate for a WR, you could do worse than Burleson.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Burleson is worth a flier this week if Calvin Johnson rests.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Zach Miller

Heath Miller, Steelers
Worth a LookMiller might be the sneakiest of the sneaky pickups this week. The Steelers TE caught 76 passes last season but has been an afterthought this year due to the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger. With Big Ben back this week, Miller stands to regain his fantasy relevance. If you lost Jermichael Finley or have a bye issue, Miller is a savvy waiver acquisition in advance of Sunday’s meeting with Cleveland. He toasted the Browns for 139 yards and a touchdown in two games last year.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: It’s Miller time; grab Miller in anticipation of him performing like a top 12 TE going forward.

Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
Worth a LookLewis is a multi-timer on the Forecast. He has posted useful fantasy numbers in four out of five games this year. That’s huge for a TE. He’s coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Bills, his second multi-TD effort of the year. If the TE position has been a source of frustration this year, there’s no reason not to grab Lewis. He has a favorable matchup this week against a Titans defense that has given up some quality production to TEs in recent weeks. Jason Witten just put up 84 yards and a touchdown on Tennessee last week.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Lewis merits a roster spot in all TE-mandatory leagues.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Worth a LookPettigrew was listed here as a free agent target last week and followed through with 26 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. He leads all Lions in receptions with 26 and has posted 275 yards. If Calvin Johnson sits this week, Pettigrew would likely see an increase in targets. The Lions face a tough Giants defense that has only ceded one touchdown this year. Nonetheless, Pettigrew has become a reliable TE, who you can start almost any week.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Pettigrew is quickly entering the picture as a viable starting fantasy TE.

Andrew Quarless, Packers
InjuryThe Packers lost TEs Jermichael Finley (knee) and Donald Lee (shoulder) to injuries last week. Both players will miss time. Andrew Quarless will become the starter. While we haven’t seen much from the rookie TE, don’t dismiss him as an option for fantasy purposes. One reason to love Quarless this week is that he’ll likely be the most familiar target for Matt Flynn (assuming Flynn gets the start for the injured Aaron Rodgers). As second-string cohorts, Flynn and Quarless have worked together extensively in practice and throughout the preseason. Quarless is an exceptionally smooth route runner and is definitely cut from the receiving TE mold.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Look for Quarless to chip in 4-6 receptions this week.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Matt Bryant and Rob Bironas

Lawrence Tynes, Giants
Worth a LookEntering Week 5, Tynes had missed three out of six field goal attempts. The Giants switched holders on Sunday, and the move helped Tynes regain some confidence. He booted two field goals and four extra points against the Texans. With New York’s offense clicking and a favorable stretch of schedule on the horizon, Tynes is a solid pickup. He should post double-digit points this week against the Lions.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Tynes can be picked up in all leagues this week for a favorable matchup against the Lions.

Josh Scobee, Jaguars
Worth a LookRide the hot foot of Josh Scobee this week against the Titans. Scobee has been freakishly good over the last two games, recording 25 points. This includes three kicks from 49 yards or longer. Scobee has a good chance to continue his run of good luck against a Tennessee defense that has yielded nine or more points to kickers in three out of their last four games.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scobee merits starting consideration for Monday night’s tilt against the Titans.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. CLE) and Chicago Bears (vs. SEA)

New York Giants
Worth a LookThe G-men have returned to form after a poor start to the 2010 season and a poor end in 2009. After tormenting Bears QB Jay Cutler two weeks ago, the Giants shut down one of the NFL’s best offenses in the Texans. New York sacked QB Matt Schaub three times and recorded two turnovers. Bank on another big performance for the Giants this week against the Lions. Detroit has been playing better football of late but New York is dominating the line of scrimmage and should get to the QB.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: New York is a great defensive pickup that you can use each week going forward.

Seattle Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlaySeattle’s defense is worth a flier this week against a Bears offense that has been prone to mistakes and sacks this season. QB Jay Cutler has been sacked 17 times and he’s turned the ball over seven times in four starts. Many of those gaffs came at the hands of the Giants two weeks ago but Cutler had his share of breakdowns in his other three starts, as well. Seattle’s defense has put up some respectable defensive numbers, recording 11 sacks, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown in four games. Plus they have a couple kick returns for touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a flier on the Seahawks if you’re desperate.

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