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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 7
Paul Sandy
October 19, 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 Joe Flacco

Kevin Kolb, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookKolb silenced the critics Sunday by leading his team to an upset win over the Falcons. He passed for 326 yards and three scores, leading all QBs in fantasy scoring for Week 6. Kolb is expected to get at least one more start. Early reports have the team giving Michael Vick another week to heal. And who knows, if Kolb has another strong showing, head coach Andy Reid could make yet another QB change. Kolb faces a Titans pass defense that had been rather ordinary before last night.

Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Kolb can be picked up and played in all leagues.

Matt Cassel, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookNothing builds the confidence of a QB like a well-timed matchup against the Texans secondary. As was the case with practically every QB before him, Cassel lit up Houston. He ended the day with 201 yards and three scores. While the Forecast doesn’t call for Cassel to emerge as an every-week contributor, he’s capable of serving as a situational starter. The good news is he faces a poor Jaguars defense next week. As of Monday morning, Jacksonville owned the fourth worst pass defense.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Fantasy owners who will be without Matt Schaub or Peyton Manning can find solace with Cassel.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayHasselbeck can serve as a Band-Aid for fantasy owners who will be without the services of their regular starter this week. The Seahawks will play host to a weak Cardinals pass defense that has allowed six passing touchdowns in three road games this year. All things considered, 2010 hasn’t been too bad for Hasselbeck. He has posted seven touchdowns (5 pass, 2 rush) in five games and led his team to upset wins over the 49ers, Chargers and Bears. If you’re in a pinch, plug and play the Seahawks QB and look for 220 yards and a pair of scores.

Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hasselbeck is a passable option this week against Arizona.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Ryan Torain, Thomas Jones, Fred Jackson and Brandon Jacobs

Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Worth a LookWoodhead is now a three-time Forecast recommendation. Although fantasy sites have classified him as a RB, the Patriots are using the multi-dimensional Woodhead all over the field. He racked up 115 total yards on 11 carries and five receptions in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. Woodhead is as quick as a hiccup and deceptively strong. Chalk him up as another successful Bill Belichick reclamation project and look for more quality fantasy production in the weeks ahead. He’s playable this week against the Chargers.

Availability: Owned in ~35% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Head to the waiver wire and grab Woodhead immediately.

Chris Ivory, Saints
Worth a LookWith Pierre Thomas (ankle) still hobbled, Ivory busted loose for 158 yards rushing against the Buccaneers. Thomas could miss another game or two, so Ivory is an attractive bye week replacement option. The Saints draw a favorable matchup in Week 7 with a home tilt against the Browns. So far, Cleveland has allowed the tenth most rushing yards. As you consider Ivory as a potential pickup, understand that he’s a short-term value. Thomas will regain the starting spot when he returns. Ivory also carries some risk due the fact that he’s in a timeshare with Ladell Betts and Julius Jones.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Need help at RB this week? Tickle the Ivory.

James Starks, Packers
SleeperI’ve beaten this dead horse to a puddle of Elmer’s glue, but I’ll mention Starks again anyway. He came off the PUP list this week and is practicing with the team. After Green Bay lost another lead in the second half, the Packers coaching staff can’t be satisfied with their running game. The team needs to find a way to grind out yards (and the clock) when they get out in front of an opponent. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn haven’t been successful. It won’t be long before Starks gets his chance.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Grab Starks now before the rest of your league gets a look at him in action.

Justin Forsett, Seahawks
Worth a LookAs expected, Forsett saw his workload reduced due to the presence of Marshawn Lynch. What wasn’t expected is Forsett managed to post some decent stats despite a limited number of opportunities. He put up 76 total yards on 11 touches and scored a touchdown. If you play in a deeper league, Forsett could be a useful RB to own going forward. The Seahawks have a favorable schedule coming up with games against the Cardinals and Raiders.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Forsett provides decent roster depth as a situational fantasy RB.

Derrick Ward, Texans
Worth a LookWard has scored in three straight games, officially entering the realm of the fantasy relevant. Although he’s clearly second fiddle to Arian Foster, Ward continues to chip in useful fantasy numbers by way of touchdown runs. And it’s not as if Ward is exclusively a goal line sniper. He’s averaging 7.9 yards per carry as a change of pace RB. If Foster were to get injured, Ward would become an every-week starter with Top 15 fantasy potential. That’s the type of RB worth stashing on your roster if you have room.

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ward should be added as a handcuff or speculative bench player.

Donald Brown and Mike Hart, Colts
InjuryIndianapolis starting RB Joseph Addai took a punishing hit from Washington’s London Fletcher on Sunday night. The hit re-injured Addai’s shoulder. With the Colts on bye, Addai will have some time to recover but his timetable for returning to the field is uncertain. If you’re an Addai owner and you were counting on him to be ready for Week 8, add Donald Brown or Mike Hart as insurance. Brown has been sidelined with a hamstring injury of his own but you’d think he’ll be ready for action in two more weeks.  

Availability: Owned in ~52% and 48% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Brown or Hart if you typically count on Addai.

Tashard Choice, Cowboys
SleeperNo team has been a bigger disappointment this season than the Cowboys. Dallas has elevated Felix Jones to the role of lead RB. Marion Barber is still technically the starter but that’s a dog and pony show that doesn’t serve any purpose other than to reinforce the lunacy of the Dallas coaching staff. Barber has been demoted because the team has lost confidence in him. Period. If Felix Jones were to get injured (which isn’t too difficult to imagine), Tashard Choice has a good chance to become to workhorse. Grab and stash him in deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Choice is worth squirreling away on your roster in case Felix Jones gets hurt.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Dwayne Bowe, Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace and Roy Williams

Deion Branch, Patriots
Worth a LookIn Branch’s first game back with the Patriots, he put up nine receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. QB Tom Brady threw in Branch’s direction 12 times. The only difference between the connection today versus five years ago is Brady is a much more experienced and savvy passer. Don’t underestimate what Brady can do for Branch as a fantasy receiver. He’s a WR you can grab off your wire this week and plug into your lineup immediately. Pull out all the stops to get him on your team.  

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If he’s available, Branch is the must-grab wideout this week.

Patrick Crayton, Chargers
InjuryThe Chargers came out of Sunday’s loss to the Rams bruised and battered. Top wideout Malcom Floyd suffered a severe hamstring pull. All-Pro TE Antonio Gates injured his toe. Those two players accounted for 55 receptions in the first six games. While Gates may play this week, he’ll likely be limited. Look for Patrick Crayton to become QB Phillip Rivers’ top target for Sunday’s matchup against the Patriots. Given that Rivers averages 37 pass attempts per game and New England allows the fifth most passing yards per game, Crayton should get plenty of opportunity to make an impact. Consider Buster Davis in deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: San Diego’s injury issues will open the door for Crayton to produce.

Kenny Britt, Titans
Worth a LookThe Forecast recommended owners grab Britt last week with the intent to start him for Monday night’s game against the Jaguars. Those who heeded the advice were rewarded with yet another touchdown. The only bad news was starting QB Vince Young injured his knee. Britt is more valuable to owners with Young under center. Even with Young’s status up in the air, put in your waiver claim for Britt this week. If Young plays, Britt will be useful these next two weeks against the Eagles and Chargers. 

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt continues to rack up the TDs and is worth adding in all leagues.

Davone Bess, Dolphins
Worth a LookBess is another three-timer on the Forecast who still isn’t getting the respect he deserves. Despite posting three useful fantasy stat lines in a row, he’s currently available in 44% of fantasy leagues. Miami has shifted its offensive philosophy. No longer are they pounding the ball or featuring the Wildcat formation. Instead, they’re airing it out. QB Chad Henne has attempted 39 or more passes in three straight games. Miami faces a tough test this week against the Steelers, but Bess still can be played as a low-end WR3.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bess is roster-worthy regardless of your league size or scoring system.

Jason Avant, Eagles
Injury1 Week Plug & PlayWith plenty of quality WRs on bye this week, many fantasy owners will head to the wire to search for a replacement. Philadelphia’s Jason Avant is a sly pickup for owners seeking a one-week starter. DeSean Jackson (concussion) is expected to miss at least a couple games with a head injury. Avant has performed well with Kevin Kolb under center. He finished Sunday’s game against the Falcons with a respectable five receptions for 62 yards. Avant should produce this week against a Titans defense that has proven vulnerable to the pass. Plus, coming off a Monday night game, Tennessee will have a short week to prepare.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Avant is an excellent Week 7 plug and play.

Danario Alexander, Rams
Worth a LookWith Mark Clayton done for the year, the Rams elevated former practice squad wideout Danario Alexander to the active roster. He promptly made an impact, chipping in 72 yards and a touchdown. Alexander is a unique talent but has a lengthy history of injuries, including multiple knee surgeries. He’s a smart pickup in keeper and dynasty formats or in deep leagues. However, it’s too early to trust him in your starting lineup.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Alexander as a prospect in deep leagues (especially dynasty formats).

Derrick Mason, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayMason is coming off his first 100-yard performance this season. QB Joe Flacco threw his way 10 times and the sure-handed veteran caught eight of those throws. He’s not a bad plug-and-play choice this week in PPR leagues. The Ravens face a Buffalo team that has a decent pass defense but they have allowed 11 touchdowns through the air this season.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Mason is usable this week against the Bills.

Robert Meachem, Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayMeachem has recorded two straight games with a touchdown. He isn’t getting a ton of looks each week but he doesn’t need to in order to make an impact. Meachem’s specialty has always been the deep ball. He figures to get at least a couple targets this week against a Browns defense that has allowed a TD pass longer than 25 yards in four straight games and five out of six. Fair warning though. All Saints receivers are feast or famine. Meachem could easily disappear this week. In fact, the best free agent move this week might be to pick up Devery Henderson since he hasn’t scored in six weeks. I say that tongue in cheek but the reality is that’s how things usually work with Saints WRs.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Pickup and play any Saints WR as a boom-or-bust option.

Deon Butler and Mike Williams, Seahawks
Worth a LookWhen the Seahawks shipped Deion Branch off to New England last week, they were hopeful one of their remaining wideouts would step up. Deon Butler and Mike Williams answered the call. Butler recorded four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown while Mike Williams put up 123 yards on 10 receptions. Both players merit consideration as prospects who aren’t ready to be trusted but who could turn into fantasy contributors with more seasoning.

Availability: Owned in ~5% and ~17 of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Stash Butler or Williams as spot starters with the potential to emerge as something more.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Aaron Hernandez

Heath Miller, Steelers
Worth a LookMiller, the top free agent TE recommendation last week, came through with 50 yards and a touchdown in Week 6. The return of Ben Roethlisberger has spurred Miller back to fantasy significance. Over the next four weeks, the Steelers will face the Dolphins, Saints, Bengals and Patriots. All four teams rank in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to TEs.

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miller will be a useful fantasy TE on most weeks going forward.

Ben Watson, Browns
Worth a LookWatson is quietly having himself a productive fantasy year. He’s recorded five or more receptions in four straight games and posted two touchdowns over that same stretch. PPR leaguers in particular should consider putting in a claim for Watson if he’s available. There aren’t many TEs who are currently producing as consistently as Watson. He should continue his pace this week against the Saints. New Orleans has allowed a TE to post five receptions and/or a touchdown in five of six games this season.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Watson should be considered as a viable starting TE, especially in PPR leagues.

Todd Heap, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayIn recent years, it seems as if Heap has spent more time on the injury report than off. However, if you’re in a bye week pickle and need some help at the TE position, Heap is worth a look. He posted 49 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots on Sunday. The Ravens will face a Bills defense that has been smoked by opposing TEs lately. Buffalo has ceded five TE touchdowns in their last three games. Check the health status of Heap this week. He suffered a stinger and returned to the game. It looks like he’ll play.

 Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Heap plays this week, he should produce.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Matt Prater, Stephen Gostkowski and Nick Folk

Ryan Succop, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlaySuccop has tallied seven or more points in four straight games. He should continue his run of good fortune this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville has allowed 26 or more points in five straight games. Also keep your eye on who the Chargers sign to fill in for Nate Kaeding (groin), who will miss at least one game. If it’s someone who has some experience, that kicker would also merit consideration.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Succop should be more than adequate this week against the Jaguars

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: New Orleans Saints (vs. CLE)

Washington Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayLast week the Forecast recommended owners dig deep and start the Seahawks against Jay Cutler and the Bears. Seattle turned in a quality performance, recording six sacks and a safety. Go to the well one more time and tap the Redskins, who will face those same Chicago Bears. Chicago’s offensive line is a sieve. That combined with Cutler’s tendency to hold onto the ball is a recipe for disaster — and defensive fantasy points for Washington.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Plug and play the Redskins against the Bears.

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Tuesday Injury Report
Fantasy Game Recaps
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