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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 9
Paul Sandy
November 2, 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: Michael Vick and Kyle Orton

Matthew Stafford, Lions
Rock StarStafford wasted no time in returning to fantasy prominence. After missing five games with an injured shoulder, he returned Sunday and tossed four touchdowns with 212 yards passing. Detroit’s offense is flying high with Calvin Johnson developing into the NFL’s top receiver and Brandon Pettigrew quietly becoming a top shelf TE. If you could use some depth at QB, acquiring Stafford should be a priority. He’s a playable this week against the Jets and is an even stronger option when the Lions face the Bills in two weeks and the Cowboys in three weeks.
                     
Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stafford needs to be owned in all leagues.

David Garrard, Jaguars
Rock StarAttention owners of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers: You’re going to need a bye week replacement for your QB in Week 10. Why not be proactive and grab Jacksonville’s David Garrard now? When he returns from his bye, Garrard will face the Texans. Houston has allowed the most fantasy points to QBs and they rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense. Plus, Garrard is coming off a confidence-boosting five-touchdown performance against the Cowboys. He opened the game with 12 straight completions, the best streak of his career.

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Grab Garrard now and stash him for his Week 10 matchup against the Texans.
   
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayThere aren’t many QBs out there who have been more consistent than Josh Freeman. Is he putting up the type of passing numbers that will carry your squad? No, but Freeman has been chipping in a touchdown and 220+ yards practically every week. With a positive matchup this week against the Falcons, Freeman should be on your radar if you need a plug-and-play QB. Atlanta has the sixth worst pass defense in the NFL. Freeman put up three TDs in two games against the Dirty Birds in 2009.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Freeman is worth a spot start this week against the Falcons.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ricky Williams, Michael Bush, Danny Woodhead and Mike Tolbert

LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
Rock StarThe Forecast has called for owners to pick up Blount on a couple of occassions, including last week when he was the top recommendation. If for some reason, he’s still out there on your wire, he’s a must grab. The undrafted rookie racked up 120 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against the Cardinals. Each year one or two RBs emerge during the second half of the year and go on a tear. Blount could be that guy. Tampa faces a reasonable schedule to close out the season with favorable matchups against the Falcons (twice), Panthers, Redskins and Lions. They also face the Ravens, 49ers and Seahawks.  

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Blount should be owned in all leagues.

Mike Hart, Colts
Injury ReplacementHart ran hard Monday night against the Texans, churning out nearly 100 yards on the ground. With Indianapolis starter Joseph Addai injured and backup Donald Brown not fully recovered from a hamstring injury, Hart pounced on the opportunity. Unfortunately, he left the game in the fourth quarter with a twisted ankle. Hart’s status is in question. So is Donald Brown’s. So is Addai’s. Who’s left? Javaris James, who is the cousin of former Colt great Edgerrin James, took many of the fourth quarter carries. Keep your eye on the situation. The Colts will likely opt to sign a veteran free agent to block for Manning and carry the ball every once in awhile.   

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hart deserves a roster but only if his ankle injury is minor.

Darren Sproles, Chargers
1 Week Plug & PlaySproles has experienced an uptick in value since Malcom Floyd got hurt. After tallying nine receptions for 77 total yards two weeks ago, Sproles posted an identical 77 yards Sunday against the Titans. This time he added a touchdown for good measure. Sproles isn’t necessarily a player you want to trust week in and week out but he’s passable for the occasional spot start. You have to like his chances this week against a Texans defense that rates at the bottom of the NFL when it comes to defending the pass.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Sproles is a nice option this week against Houston.

Willis McGahee, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayMcGahee is coming off a bye but don’t forget about him. He’s scored a touchdown in three of Baltimore’s last four games. With six teams on bye this week, McGahee could be an adequate stopgap if you’re in a pinch. The Ravens will face a capable Miami run defense but McGahee is a threat to score on a goal line plunge regardless of the opponent.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McGahee is a decent replacement option almost any week.

Julius Jones, Saints
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlaySaints lead RB Chris Ivory pulled up gimpy with a tight hamstring in Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers. The extent of the injury isn’t known but with New Orleans on bye in Week 10, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ivory rest this week. If Ivory sits, Julius Jones and Ladell Betts would split the carries. Jones has looked like the better back over the last couple games. He’s a sneaky plug-and-play option against the Panthers. Carolina has a middling run defense and the Saints rushed for 121 yards against them earlier this season.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If you’re desperate for RB help, you could do worse than Jones.

Keiland Williams, Redskins
Injury ReplacementForecast favorite Ryan Torain pulled his hamstring in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. Washington is on bye this week so we likely won’t have a good read on Torain’s injury until next week. However, if you’re a Torain owner and you are counting on the Redskins RB, it’s worth acquiring Williams as insurance. Torain has had durability issues in the past and could be slow to heal. Former starter Clinton Portis is still recovering from a groin tear and could also be a candidate for stashing in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is a smart pickup for Torain owners.

Chester Taylor, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayChicago head coach Lovie Smith has indicated Chester Taylor will be the team’s goal line RB going forward. Most weeks that announcement doesn’t mean much. But in Week 9, the Bears will face a woeful Buffalo run defense that is the worst in the NFL, allowing 188.7 rushing yards per game. If you play in a TD-heavy league and need a bye week fill in, roll the dice with Taylor.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Taylor is a feast or famine type RB this week against the Bills.

Kevin Smith, Lions
SleeperLions second stringer Kevin Smith carried the ball 12 times on Sunday, equal to starter Jahvid Best. The distribution of carries tells us a couple things. First, Smith is healthy. He went down last season with a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery. Second, the team is likely concerned with Jahvid Best’s ability to carry the full load. Best is dealing with turf toes (plural) and has an extensive injury history. Given how potent Detroit’s offense is right now, Smith is worth stashing. The Lions have a series of advantegeous matchups throughout the remainder of their scheudle. Smith could be a pleasant surprise if he continues to earn more playing time.

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is worth a speculative pickup in deep leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Lance Moore

Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Rock StarWalker’s schizophrenic season was on the upswing in Week 8. He had a career game against the Cowboys, posting eight receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars are on bye this week so fantasy owners will have to wait until Week 10 to get him in their lineups. The good news is the team will face a generous Texans pass defense. If Sims-Walker is on your wire, don’t let the bye discourage you from adding him.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Sims-Walker should be owned in all leagues.

Steve Breaston, Cardinals
Rock StarBreaston returned to action on Sunday after spending four weeks in the infirmary with an injured knee. He showed no signs of rust, recording eight catches for 147 yards. Breaston made his biggest impact after starter Max Hall was benched for Derek Anderson. It’s unclear who will start for the Cardinals this week. Breaston’s rapport with Anderson is undeniable. In Week 1, the duo hooked up for 132 yards. He could turn out to be a decent third WR going forward especially if the team turns back to Anderson.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Breaston should be rostered in most leagues.

Nate Washington, Titans
Injury ReplacementWeek 7 phenom Kenny Britt went down on Sunday with a hamstring injury. It is reportedly severe and will keep him out for an extended period of time. Nate Washington will become the top target in the offense. Washington caught four passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. Tennessee is off this week but when they return, Washington could be a viable third receiver or flex option.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Washington is set to become the top target in Tennessee when the Titans return from bye in Week 10.

Sidney Rice, Vikings
Worth a LookMinnesota’s release of Randy Moss may signal that Sidney Rice is getting closer to returning to the field. Rice has started jogging with the team and catching passes. He’s highly unlikely to return this week against the Cardinals but could make his debut in two or three weeks. If you have a deep roster and you’re already in a good position to make the playoffs, Rice is worth stashing.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rice is worth grabbing and holding if you’re in the playoff mix.

Vincent Jackson, Chargers
Worth a LookJackson ended his holdout last Friday, reporting to the Chargers and signing his tender. He’ll be able to play in Week 12 against the Colts. It goes without saying that Jackson isn’t going to help your fantasy team much unless you make it to the postseason. If you’re getting close to clinching a playoff berth, stash him on your bench. He could make your strong fantasy team even stronger come playoff time.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Put in a waiver claim for Jackson if you can stay afloat with dead weight for four weeks.

Mario Manningham, Giants
1 Week Plug & PlayManningham is coming off a bye but he has scored in two straight games. His most recent score came against the Cowboys on a sick catch-and-run play in which he juked two defenders before sprinting to the endzone. Manningham has the explosiveness to make an impact on any week. The only problem is he’s the third receiver and can completely disappear, as he did in Weeks 4-5. With a matchup this week against the Seahawks, Manningham is worth a spot start. Seattle has the fourth worst pass defense in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Manningham is a smart spot starter against the Seahawks.

Brandon Tate, Patriots
Worth a LookWhen New England traded Randy Moss, Tate become the hot pickup. He didn’t make much of an impact initially but broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown on Sunday against the Vikings. He finished with three receptions for 101 yards. Chances are Tate will continue to be a boom-or-bust type player for the rest of the year. Still, this is New England and Tom Brady. If Brady gains some confidence in the speedster as a reliable target, Tate could rise quickly.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Tate is worth a roster spot as a prospect with upside.

Brandon LaFell, Panthers
Worth a LookLaFell caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown against the Rams and has now posted back to back quality fantasy starts. Carolina’s offense doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence but QB Matt Moore has proven to be capable of propping up WRs with decent quality stats. LaFell is worth keeping an eye on or adding as a prospect in deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Two useful games in a row make LaFell ownable.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Worth a LookAl Davis had to wait a season and a half, but the first round pick he spent on Darrius Heyward-Bey finally started paying off. DHB recorded his first career 100-yard performance Sunday against the Seahawks. He also scored a touchdown. It’s worth noting the team was without their top wideout Louis Murphy who was out with a lung injury. Even so, DHB is worth adding as a speculative prospect who could catch fire. The Raiders are starting to get on a roll, having won three of their last four games.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Heyward-Bey is worth a look as a bench option in deep leagues or dynasty leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Brandon Pettigrew and Marcedes Lewis (bye)

Jacob Tamme, Colts
Rock StarTouted here last week, Tamme rewarded owners savvy enough to pick him up with a first quarter touchdown Monday night against the Texans. As the replacement for Dallas Clark, Tamme has the potential to become a top 10 fantasy TE. If this position has been a source of frustration for you in 2010, Tamme should top your waiver priority list.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Tamme is worth picking up in all TE-mandatory leagues.

Todd Heap, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayDon’t sleep on Heap. The veteran TE has scored three touchdowns in his last two games. If he was left on your waiver wire last week because the Ravens were on bye, don’t be afraid to dial up his number this time. Heap is a favorite target of Joe Flacco in the redzone. Baltimore will face the Dolphins this week. Miami has been very average against TEs this season.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Heap is a solid TE, especially in non-PPR leagues.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Dan Carpenter, David Akers and Sebastian Janikowski

Kris Brown, Chargers
Injury ReplacementBrown has filled in capably for the injured Nate Kaeding. He’s connected on multiple field goals in each of the last two games. The Chargers face a Texans defense against whom they should have no trouble moving the football. Be sure to check Kaeding’s status this week. Whichever San Diego kicker gets the start is worth owning and playing. Both kickers are widely available in fantasy leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is a lock for 8-10 points if he plays.

Robbie Gould, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayIf your regular kicker is on bye, you could do worse than Chicago’s Robbie Gould this week. The Bears face a Bills defense that has been extremely generous to kickers this season. Opposing kickers have averaged 11.5 points per game against Buffalo in the last four contests. Chicago’s offense has struggled of late but they should be able to move the ball against a weak Buffalo defense.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gould is worth a spot start against the Bills.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Green Bay Packers (vs. DAL)

New Orleans Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Saints defense regained some of their swagger Sunday night against the Steelers. They sacked Ben Roethlisberger three times and forced two turnovers while holding Pittsburgh to just 10 points. Look for the New Orleans defense to build on that momentum this week against the Panthers. Carolina QB Matt Moore is a gunslinger who doesn’t mind taking chances. The result is a 5:10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Don’t be surprised if the Saints get their first defensive touchdown of the year this week.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Plug and play the Saints this week against the Panthers.

Buffalo Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayI know, 100 words ago I just established the Bills defense is weak. However, no QB has been sacked more frequently than Chicago’s Jay Cutler. Cutler has been dropped 27 times in six games. He’s also thrown seven interceptions and coughed up three fumbles. If your regular defense is on bye or you just need a spark at the position, the Bills will no doubt reward you with a handful of sacks and a turnover or two.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: It’s Buffalo’s turn to feast on Jay Cutler; take advantage.

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