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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 14
Paul Sandy
December 7, 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: Matt Schaub

Drew Stanton, Lions
Rock StarLike Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill before him, Drew Stanton is shaping up to be a solid fantasy contributor as the Lions starting QB. In Sunday’s start against the Bears, he put up 178 yards passing with a touchdown and added a rushing score. Not too shabby against a stiff Chicago defense. There’s no reason to expect a drop off this week against the Packers. Green Bay is another tough defense but Detroit’s offense is good enough to put up 20 points on anybody.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stanton is a viable low-end QB1 in deep leagues.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayHasselbeck is coming off a sub-par effort in Week 13 against the Panthers. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for just the third time this year. Despite the dip in production, give him a look this week against the 49ers. San Francisco has allowed decent fantasy numbers to five of the last six QBs they’ve faced. In Week 1 against the Niners, Hasselbeck threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a third. He’s a passable option in deep leagues. That said, there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to find a better option like Ryan Fitzpatrick (83% owned) or Josh Freeman (78% owned) on your waiver wire.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hasselbeck merits starting consideration in Week 14 if you are in trouble at the position.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Marshawn Lynch, LeGarrette Blount, Jonathan Stewart and Jahvid Best

Tashard Choice, Cowboys
Rock StarIt was a long time coming but Choice finally got his chance on Sunday. With Marion Barber sidelined, Choice split carries with Felix Jones. Choice was the more effective runner, posting exactly 100 yards and a touchdown. His performance was strong enough to secure a continued role in the offense. Look for him to get another 15+ touches in Sunday’s meeting with the Eagles. Philadelphia has been good but not great when it comes to stopping opposing rushers so Choice is worth using as a RB2 or flex option.  

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Choice should be the top free agent target is most leagues.

Chris Ivory, Saints
Rock StarLast call on Ivory, who is still available in 33% of leagues. The rookie has been one of the top fantasy RBs over the last three games. If you’re afraid Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are going to deflate Ivory’s value, it’s time to wake up. Thomas and Bush are role players. Neither one is healthy enough to carry the full load. Ivory will remain the primary option as long as he’s producing.

Availability: Owned in ~67% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ivory should be owned in all leagues and is playable in Week 14.
  
James Starks, Packers
Rock StarThe Forecast’s favorite midseason sleeper finally has awoken. Starks, who spent the first half of the year on the PUP list, saw his first game action on Sunday against the 49ers. He chipped in 73 yards on 18 carries. Meanwhile, starter Brandon Jackson had just four carries. Green Bay’s backfield will likely be a timeshare going forward but Starks is the player to own. Green Bay is desperate for a closer who can pound the rock after the passing game gives them a lead. Starks can be that guy. Grab him in any league but realize he won’t be as valuable in PPR systems.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Starks will be a popular acquisition this week and rightfully so.

Ryan Torain, Redskins
Worth a LookReports out of Washington suggest Ryan Torain is slated to practice in full this week in preparation for Sunday’s matchup with the Bucs. He figures to regain his starting role based on the limited success of Keiland Williams and James Davis. Tampa has a weak run defense so Torain is worth grabbing. The Bucs have allowed the eleventh most fantasy points to RBs in 2010.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Torain starter material for fantasy if he practices in full this week. 

Michael Bush, Raiders
Worth a LookBush returned to fantasy relevance in Week 13 with 95 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. Oakland has the easiest remaining schedule from a rushing perspective with upcoming games against the Jaguars, Broncos and Colts. Consider adding Bush as RB depth for your championship run. He’ll post another strong stat line or two before it’s all said and done.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bush is worth a look in all leagues. 

Javarris James, Colts
Injury ReplacementThis is getting silly. Indianapolis has been ravaged by injuries this season and Week 13 was no exceptions. RBs Donald Brown and Mike Hart didn’t make it through Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. Both players suffered ankle injuries and will likely be questionable for Week 14. If Joseph Addai remains out, Javarris James will get the majority of the carries. He scored twice in Week 13 and had been a threat for TDs for awhile now. If he can add decent yardage to the mix, James could have some value even though the Colts have struggled to run.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: James could start for the Colts this week and can be added in any league.

Anthony Dixon, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlayDixon and Brian Westbrook split carries evenly in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Neither player delivered much in the way of fantasy value. That’s not surprising considering the opponent. But brighter day’s are on the horizon. San Francisco will host a Seahawks defense that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to RBs this season. Seattle has allowed at least one RB touchdown in nine straight games. As San Francisco’s probable goal-line option, Dixon has a high likelihood of scoring in this week’s game.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dixon merits starting consideration in Week 14, especially in TD heavy leagues. 
 
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
Worth a LookJennings has scored and posted 50+ yards in two consecutive games. Although he’s not a guy you want to trust as a No. 2 RB, a RB friendly schedule to close out the season could make him a viable flex option in deep leagues. The Jaguars face the Raiders, Colts and Redskins over the next three games. At the very least, consider Jennings insurance for Maurice Jones-Drew if you own him.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jennings is worth considering in leagues with 12+ teams.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Sidney Rice, Anquan Boldin, Deion Branch, Chad Ochocinco and Steve Smith (NYG)

Donald Driver, Packers
Rock StarAfter eight weeks as a nonfactor, Driver resurfaced in Week 13. He posted 73 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. His touchdown came on a gutty run after the catch in which he ran over, around and through several defenders. If anything, the catch proved that Driver can still be effective when healthy. With Detroit and New England on tap next, Driver is a player fantasy owners should be able to use confidently as a No. 3 WR. And based on that WR friendly schedule, James Jones can be added and played, as well.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Driver should be added in all leagues.

Earl Bennett, Bears
Rock StarA plug-and-play pick here last week, Bennett racked up seven receptions for 104 yards against the Lions. It was his second straight game in which Bennett helped fantasy owners. He tallied two touchdowns a week ago. All of the sudden, Bennett appears to be the go-to guy for QB Jay Cutler. With a matchup in Week 14 against a below average Patriots pass defense, Bennett is a WR who can contribute to your postseason run.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bennett is a savvy pickup in all leagues, especially PPR formats.

Roy Williams, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementThe Cowboys suffered a couple significant injuries in their receiving game in Week 13. Rookie wideout Dez Bryant broke his leg and will miss the rest of the season. TE Jason Witten suffered a high ankle sprain. His status for this week is unclear. As a result of the injuries, Roy Williams is going to have to step up and take on a larger role in the offense. Look for him to get more targets in the coming weeks. Acquire him now but you might want to hold off until Weeks 15-16 to use him. Dallas faces Philly this week and Washington and Arizona thereafter.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams deserves serious consideration in all leagues.
 
Kenny Britt, Titans
Worth a LookBritt will return to action this week after missing several weeks with a severe hamstring injury. Prior to getting hurt Britt was one of the hottest WRs in fantasy. If he was dumped in your league, go ahead and pick him up for the playoffs. If Britt shows anything this week against the Colts, he could be a highly attractive fantasy option in Week 15 against the feeble Texans secondary.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt should be acquired in any league in which he’s available.

Robert Meachem, Saints
Worth a LookThe Forecast has profiled Meachem on a few occasions. The book on him is he’s a boom-or-bust option. Meachem has delivered useful fantasy numbers in three of the last five weeks. In the other two games, he was practically non-existent. A matchup this week against the Rams gives him some upside. St. Louis has had some difficulty against WRs who possess downfield speed in, including Michael Crabtree, Roddy White and Brandon Lloyd. 

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Meachem is worth acquiring and using in all leagues if you can stomach the risk.

Derrick Mason, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter scoring a touchdown in three of four games, Mason was contained by the Steelers. He ended the game with just 22 yards on two receptions. Following the game, Mason called out the entire Ravens offense following the loss to Pittsburgh, essentially labeling the lot of them as “underachievers.” Don’t be surprised if the squeaky wheel gets a little extra grease this week. The Ravens face the Texans on Monday night. Houston has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to WRs this season. Mason figures to bounce back nicely.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding and activating Mason for Week 14 vs. the Texans.

Jacoby Ford, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayFord has contributed solid fantasy stats in three of the last four games. With a matchup this week against the Jaguars, fantasy owners can plug and play Ford and have a realistic chance of netting 80+ yards with a potential score. Jacksonville has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to WRs this season. Exploit the matchup if you’re desperate for WR help.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ford is a risky play but his upside this week might be worth the gamble.

Anthony Armstrong, Redskins
Worth a LookArmstrong, who leads the NFC in yards per reception with 21.8, is a threat to go the distance every time Donovan McNabb throws his way. Washington’s offense is a rollercoaster, which means starting Armstrong is dicey. However, a favorable slate of games makes him a sneaky playoff pickup. The Redskins face the Buccaneers followed by the Cowboys and Jaguars. Add Armstrong in case Washington’s offense catches fire.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Armstrong is worth stashing for Week 15-16.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Chris Cooley

Ben Watson, Browns
Rock StarWatson had a monster game in Week 13, amassing a tidy 100 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. Up next, Watson faces a Bills defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to TEs in 2010. With a couple TEs getting nicked up on Sunday, many fantasy owners could be seeking a plug-in option. Watson should top the list.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Watson is a viable starter in all leagues this week.

Martellus Bennett, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementCowboys starting TE Jason Witten reportedly suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Colts. If he can’t play or is limited, look for Bennett to step up and contribute useful fantasy numbers. Bennett is a talented pass-catching TE. With Dez Bryant out for the season and Witten gimpy, Bennett could come up big. Consider him a sneaky under-the-radar pickup or a must-grab if you were counting on Witten. This week’s opponent, the Eagles, have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to TEs this season.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bennett is an excellent Week 14 sleeper if Witten is out.

Owen Daniels, Texans
Worth a LookDaniels is due back in Week 14 after a lengthy layoff due to a hamstring injury. Prior to tearing a knee ligament last year, Daniels was a top 10 fantasy TE. If you’re in the playoffs and need a backup TE, he isn’t a bad choice. Houston faces a tough Ravens defense this week but things get easier in Weeks 15-16 when the team faces the Titans and Broncos.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Daniels is worth adding as a backup in all leagues.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Matt Bryant and Mason Crosby

Josh Brown, Rams
Rock StarLast week’s plug-and-play recommendation led all fantasy kickers in scoring in Week 13. He has now connected on multiple field goals in four of his last five games. If you haven’t been happy with your kicking production or if weather will be a factor for your regular kicker, Brown is worth acquiring. His next three games will be played in domes.

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is a viable fantasy kicker in all leagues.

Shaun Suisham, Steelers
Rock StarSuisham has been money in the bank since the Steelers signed him a few weeks ago. Over the last two games he’s 6-for-6 on field goal attempts. With the Bengals on tap next, Suisham will continue to be a useful option. Cincinnati has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to kickers this season. The only downside to Suisham is you’ll have to check the weather forecast each week. All of Pittsburgh’s remaining games could be impacted by inclimate weather.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Suisham is worth adding in any league.

Matt Prater, Broncos
1 Week Plug & PlayPrater will benefit from facing the Cardinals, the team that Josh Brown just whacked for four field goals. Arizona’s defense has given up so look for Denver to move the ball with ease. I doubt the firing of head coach Josh McDaniels is anything to worry about. Interim coach Eric Studeville was the running backs coach and figures to keep the offense the same. The Cards have the worst scoring defense in the league and they’ve allowed the most fantasy points to kickers this season.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Prater is a lock for multiple field goals this week.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: None

Atlanta Falcons
1 Week Plug & PlayAtlanta’s DST has been a middling fantasy unit this season but they could come in handy in Week 14 against the Panthers. No team has allowed more fantasy points to DSTs this season than Carolina. They’ve allowed multiple sacks in all but two games this season. All told, Panthers QBs have been sacked 36 times — tied for third most in the league. Carolina has also allowed three DST touchdowns in their last three games.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Atlanta is worth adding in all leagues in advance of this week’s prime matchup.

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