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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 11
Paul Sandy
November 16, 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: Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez

Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Rock StarUp until Monday night, Cassel was leading all QBs in fantasy scoring in Week 10, posting 469 yards and four touchdowns. Much of the production came in the second half when the Chiefs were playing catch-up after falling behind by a wide margin. It’d be easy to dismiss his performance as just a product of a “garbage time” situation but Cassel has now thrown multiple touchdown passes in four of his last five games. With upcoming meetings against the Cardinals and Seahawks, he’s a prime pickup for fantasy owners who could use a boost in their passing game.

Availability: Owned in ~75% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Cassel should be owned in all leagues.

Jon Kitna, Cowboys
Rock StarKitna tossed three touchdowns and tallied 327 yards in Sunday’s upset win over the Giants. It appears interim head coach Jason Garrett has lit a fire under the team. With the weapons Kitna has around him, he could put up top 5 fantasy numbers for the rest of the season. Don’t hesitate to pick him up and play him this week against Detroit in what is a quasi-revenge game for the journeyman QB.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Kitna could emerge as a viable QB1 for the remainder of 2010.

Shaun Hill, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayHill, a recommended plug-and-play pickup last week, chipped in a respectable 323 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. It took awhile for Hill to knock off the rust; most of his production came in the second half. But if you look at Hill’s body of work this season, you see a QB who delivers useful fantasy stats almost every week he plays. The Lions have good matchups the next two weeks with games against the Cowboys and Patriots.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Hill as a spot starter.
 
Troy Smith, 49ers
Rock StarSmith started and won his second straight game for the 49ers. The former Heisman Trophy winner looked poised, throwing for 356 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. He hasn’t formally been named the starter for the rest of the year but that seems likely at this point. Couple what we’ve seen so far with a decent upcoming schedule (Bucs, Cardinals, Packers and Seahawks), and you can start to see why Smith could be a useful fantasy QB.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is worth rostering in most leagues.

Tyler Thigpen, Dolphins
Injury ReplacementChad Pennington and Chad Henne both suffered serious injuries in Sunday’s win over the Titans. Pennington’s season and career are over. Henne may return later in the year but this is likely Tyler Thigpen’s show for the rest of the year. Keep in mind this is a QB who threw 18 touchdowns in 11 games just two seasons ago. He’s a playmaker and I think his presence could be a significant boost to the players around him.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Add Thigpen as a speculative pickup in deep leagues and dynasty leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Knowshon Moreno, Felix Jones, LeGarrette Blount, Reggie Bush and Tim Hightower

Keiland Williams, Redskins
Rock StarRyan Torain was supposed to start Monday night but he apparently wasn’t able to get his hamstring loose. Personally, I chalk it up to more Shanahanigans. Whatever the case, Williams played well. Through the middle of the fourth quarter he had racked up 100+ yards and three scores in a blowout contest. Clinton Portis is due back soon but I would expect him to fill the third-down role rather than return as the featured back. Based on his solid play, Williams could supplant Torain. Be sure to grab him on the wire if you’re thin at RB.

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is worth a grab in case he gets another start this week.

Jason Snelling, Falcons
Rock StarSnelling totaled 67 yards and a touchdown last Thursday against the Ravens. He’s not getting quite enough work to merit starting consideration. However, he’s a savvy pickup for owners in the playoff hunt and a must-grab handcuff for Turner owners. Atlanta has a creampuff schedule beginning in Week 13 when they’ll face the Bucs, Panthers, Seahawks and Saints. Tampa, Carolina and New Orleans rank in the bottom half of the NFL in run defense. If Turner were to get hurt, Snelling would be a playoff beast. And even if “the Burner” stays healthy, Snelling could be productive as a change of pace.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Snelling is worth adding for your playoff run.

Mike Goodson, Panthers
Rock StarGoodson filled in capably for the injury-riddled Panthers. In his first NFL start, he put up 113 all-purpose yards. He’s definitely worth adding. Just don’t over-reach for him on your waiver wire. The performance came against a poor Tampa run defense and Goodson will certainly return to a backup role when DeAngelo Williams comes back from injury. Even if Williams rests another week, Goodson will be hard-pressed to repeat his performance with a Week 11 matchup against Baltimore.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Goodson is worth adding in all leagues, but don’t overpay for him.

Justin Forsett, Seahawks
Rock StarForsett leveraged a favorable matchup against the Cardinals and posted 95 total yards and a touchdown. It won’t be like this every week for Forsett but if you’re in a deeper league with PPR scoring you could do worse. The Seahawks have a reasonable schedule to close out the year with games against the Saints, Chiefs, Panthers, 49ers, Falcons and Bucs. Forsett could be a useful flex option in at least a couple of those matchups. He may offer something more if he starts taking carries from Marshawn Lynch, who he’s been out-performing.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a look at Forsett in deep PPR leagues.

Javarris James, Colts
Worth a LookJames was last week’s top recommendation. He wasn’t spectacular but did manage to cross the stripe on another goal line run. It was his third touchdown in the last two games. The short yardage role is obviously lucrative in Indy’s offense. As long as James continues to play that part for the Colts, he will be fantasy relevant. Starter Joseph Addai will likely return to action this week or next week. But don’t be surprised if the team limits his workload to keep him healthy for the playoffs.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: James is a solid addition in TD heavy leagues.

Marion Barber, Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayWith Dallas’ offense regaining some of its prowess last week, Barber’s fantasy value is worth reconsidering. Felix Jones is still the featured back but Barber has maintained his status as the closer and short yardage specialist. If you’re desperate for a RB to play this week, exploit Barber’s cushy matchup against the Lions. Detroit has ceded goal-line touchdown runs (inside 5-yard line) in four straight games. You gotta link Barber will get a crack at the endzone at some point in this contest.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Barber is a viable spot starter this week.

Mewelde Moore, Steelers
Worth a LookMoore made waves in the late game Sunday night, racking up 93 total yards. Most of the production came on dump-off passes from Ben Roethlisberger when New England was way ahead and they were glad to give up short passes. Don’t completely write off Moore though. If the game proves anything, it’s that Rashard Mendenhall is no longer an every down back. Moore is clearly the best option for third downs. Consider adding him for roster depth or grabbing him as a handcuff to Mendenhall.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Think about stashing Moore in PPR leagues or as a handcuff.

Cadillac Williams, Bucs
Worth a LookCadillac’s muffler has been dragging for much of the 2010 season but he cruised to the endzone on a 45-yard scamper to ice Sunday’s win over the Panthers. Williams’ best days are behind him. Rookie LeGarrette Blount is the primary RB now. But Cadillac continues to serve as a change of pace and is in on most passing downs. That gives him some semblance of value in PPR leagues, I suppose.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Add Williams for RB depth in PPR leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Santonio Holmes, Mike Williams (SEA), Mario Manningham, Dez Bryant and Braylon Edwards

James Jones, Packers
Rock StarIn Week 9, James Jones stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Donald Driver (quad) and amassed 123 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Driver didn’t practice Monday and his status for this week is unknown. If he returns, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was in a reduced role. Jones, who is still available in a surprising number of leagues, is a smart pickup who you should be able to comfortably activate right away — especially if Driver is out or limited. Green Bay faces Minnesota this week. Jones put up 104 yards the last time the rivals met.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jones is a must add in all leagues if Driver is still gimpy.

Mike Thomas, Jaguars
Rock StarThomas lived up to the high expectations the Forecast had for him last week, pouring on a healthy 149-yard, 1-TD performance. Although he benefited from a dream matchup against the Texans . . . not to mention a miracle Hail Mary reception . . . Thomas is a legit talent. He has scored a touchdown in two straight games and has another favorable matchup this week against the Browns. Add him as a spot starter.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Think of Thomas as a high upside WR you can use when the matchup looks ripe.

Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, Rams
Rock StarAmendola isn’t flashy but the dude has scored in three straight games. If he’s available in your league, add him and don’t hesitate to deploy him against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to WRs. It’s also worth noting that the Dirty Birds have been particularly generous to possession wideouts like Amendola. In recent weeks, they’ve been burned for touchdowns by Derrick Mason, Jordan Shipley, Jeremy Maclin and Lance Moore. Also take a look at Brandon Gibson, who leads the team in receptions over the last two games with 14. Both players have a good chance to put up 70+ yards this week.

Availability: Owned in ~54% and ~2% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Acquire Amendola or Gibson and don’t be shy about using them.

Robert Meachem, Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayMeachem was on bye last week so he won’t get much attention on the wire. Sneak in a waiver bid for him and don’t be afraid to plug him in against the Seahawks. Yes, playing Saints WR roulette is risky. But Seattle’s pass defense is atrocious. They’ve allowed the sixth most fantasy points to WRs this season. Coming off a bye week with an extra week to dissect Seattle’s vulnerabilities, I like Drew Brees’ chances of throwing a few touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Meachem worth the risk as a spot starter this week.

Nate Washington, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayWashington makes the list for the second straight week. He didn’t have quite the performance we were looking for on Sunday but at least he managed to score a touchdown. Washington has now scored in two straight games. If Tennessee’s QBs can get healthy, Washington should be able to take advantage of single coverage for the rest of the year. The Titans have arguably the easiest remaining schedule from a passing perspective with games against the Redskins, Texans, Jaguars, Colts and Texans over the next five weeks.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Washington is a viable starter this week against the Redskins off a short week.

Nate Burleson, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayOne week after he crossed the century mark against the Jets, Burleson’s value came crashing back. He posted just 47 yards against the Bills. Despite the disappointing effort, Burleson is worth a look versus Dallas. The Cowboys played better football Sunday against the Giants but Eli Manning still managed to put up 373 yards and two scores. A weak secondary continues to torment the Cowboys. In 2010, they’ve allowed the second most fantasy points to WRs. Take advantage of the matchup by giving Burleson a start as a WR3 or flex.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Exploit Burleson’s favorable matchup this week against the Cowboys if you need WR help.

Louis Murphy, Raiders
Worth a LookMurphy has missed the last two games with a bruised lung. Prior to getting hurt, he had established himself as Oakland’s top wide receiver. While he was out, QB Jason Campbell has gained some confidence in the Raiders offense. If Campbell continues to produce, Murphy could regain his status as a viable WR3. Stash him on your bench in case he gets in synch with Campbell and starts racking up useful fantasy stats.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Murphy is worth a grab-and-stash pickup.

Brad Smith, Jets
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayJets wideout Jerricho Cotchery suffered a groin tear in Sunday’s win over the Browns. He will likely miss an extended period of time and can be dropped in most leagues. Cotchery’s injury opens the door for wildcat specialist Brad Smith to get more playing time at receiver. On most weeks, he wouldn’t be recommended for fantasy use. However, since the Jets are hosting the Texans in Week 11, Smith is worth a flier. Houston has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to WRs this season. Smith has the potential to put up 80+ all-purpose yards base on his rushing and receiving skills.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Smith as a sneaky play this week against the Texans.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Kellen Winslow

Todd Heap, Ravens
Rock StarHeap has posted four touchdowns in his last four games. Ride the hot streak this week when the Ravens face the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the third most fantasy points to TEs this season. In the last four games alone, they’ve ceded five TDs to TEs. With Derrick Mason dealing with a broken finger, QB Joe Flacco could target Heap more often on Sunday. He should net you 60 yards with a good chance for a TD.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Heap is a terrific spot starter this week and is playing good enough to be a regular fantasy starter.

Kevin Boss, Giants
Rock StarBoss has scored in consecutive games. He’s coming off an outing in which he posted a season high five receptions. It’s no coincidence Boss’ breakout game came with Steve Smith out of the lineup with a pectoral injury. When he’s healthy, Smith is Eli Manning’s go-to possession target. Boss filled that role and filled it well. Look for that trend to continue this week against an Eagles defense that has struggled against TEs this season.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Boss is worth adding and starting this week.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Rock StarGronkowski led all TEs in fantasy scoring in Week 10 with 72 yards and three touchdowns. QB Tom Brady is a take-what-they-give-you QB and the Steelers were giving him the TE all night. Gronkowski is no doubt worth adding in all leagues. Just be sure you realize that Brady spreads the ball around and Gronkowski will have games where he’s an afterthought in the offense. He’ll face a tough test this week against the Colts, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs this year.

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gronkowski is worth adding in any league but he’s a risky start in Week 11.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Dan Carpenter and Matt Bryant

Shayne Graham, Patriots
Injury ReplacementWith Stephen Gostkowski on IR, Shayne Graham inherits the potentially lucrative New England kicking job. In his first game with the Patriots, he went 2-for-2 on field goals and added three extra points in a difficult venue (Heinz Field). Graham did miss an extra point but he looks like a legitimate fantasy option. Give him a start this week against the Colts in a game that could be high scoring.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Graham is worth adding in all leagues.

Garrett Hartley, Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayHartley has corrected the accuracy issues that plagued him earlier in the year. Prior to the Saints bye week, he recorded his first double digit stat line since Week 2. With Reggie Bush due back, it shouldn’t be long before New Orleans get its offense back into shape. A favorable matchup this week against the Seahawks will help. Seattle allows 22.1 points per game. They’ve allowed the eighth most fantasy points to kickers.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Give Hartley a look this week at home versus Seattle.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: New Orleans Saints (vs. SEA), Baltimore Ravens (vs. CAR) and Green Bay Packers (vs. MIN)

Kansas City Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayWhen a team gives up 49 points and over 450 yards of offense like KC did last week, that’s generally not a team you want to pick up. But with the Cardinals coming to town, go against the grain. Kansas City plays well at home. Arizona plays poorly on the road. It’s an equation that should pay dividends for fantasy owners this week. Roll with the Chiefs.

Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Start the Chiefs against a Cardinals team that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing DSTs.

Dallas Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Cowboys showed a little swagger in Sunday’s huge upset over the Giants. They recorded three turnovers and a touchdown. Take advantage of their momentum and give them a spot start at home against the Lions this week. Detroit is playing better football of late but I’d take my chances with Dallas at home.

Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dallas is worth a rare spot start in Week 11.

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