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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 15
Paul Sandy
December 14, 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: None

Kerri Collins, Titans
Rock StarCollins is coming off a game against the Colts in which he threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns. With favorite wideout Kenny Britt back, Collins presents some real fantasy value to fantasy owners as a situational starter. If you lost Aaron Rodgers this week and are worried about his status for Week 15, Collins is a smart pickup. Tennessee will host the Texans on Sunday. Houston has allowed the most fantasy points to QBs this year. Collins should be good for 225 yards and two scores at a minimum with an upside of 275 and three scores.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Collins is an excellent matchup-based starter for Week 15.

Alex Smith, 49ers
Rock StarAfter spending the last six weeks on the bench, Smith busted out with a 255-yard, 3-TD performance. Be careful not to get too carried away by the numbers, which came against a porous Seahawks defense. However, Smith has the talent and the supporting cast to make some noise over the last few weeks of the season. If you’ve made it this far with a platoon approach at the QB position, Smith might be worth a look. San Diego is up next. While that’s not an ideal matchup, beggars can’t be choosers in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is worth a look in deeper leagues.

Donovan McNabb, Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayPlaying McNabb isn’t a move for the faint of heart. In fact, the only situation in which I might give him a look is if you’re playing in a toilet bowl or consolation bracket. McNabb has only thrown multiple touchdown passes twice this season. That said, he faces a choice matchup this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed the second most fantasy points to QBs this season. McNabb is a lock for one touchdown and has a decent chance of putting up two.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McNabb is worth a situational start if you don’t have much to lose.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Felix Jones, Ryan Mathews, Ryan Torain, Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart

Tim Hightower, Cardinals
Rock StarHightower fell out of favor with fantasy owners for a stretch this season when he began losing touches to Beanie Wells and was ineffective with the limited work he was getting. But he’s back from the dead now and is once again a relevant part of the RB discussion. Hightower lit up the Broncos on Sunday, amassing 148 yards rushing with two scores. Another savory matchup against the Panthers is on tap next. Hightower is a slick pickup and play option given that Carolina has allowed the last three starting running backs that faced them to put up three TDs each.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Hightower is available, grab him and start him.

Javarris James, Colts
Rock StarFor a guy who’s scored six touchdowns in his last six games, James isn’t getting anywhere near the respect he deserves. The Colts RB had been out-producing Donald Brown at the goal line and now he’s getting more looks all over the field. A juicy matchup this week against the Jaguars makes James a ripe candidate for plug-and-play duty. Jacksonville has allowed the eleventh most fantasy points to RBs this season and they ceded two RB scores to the Colts the last time the clubs met.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: James is starter material this week if Joseph Addai remains out.

Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
Rock StarDespite receiving a limited number of touches, Jennings continues to produce week in and week out. He has scored in three straight games and is coming off a career performance in which he tallied 109 yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders. With the sieve-like Colts defense up next, Jennings is a realistic option as a RB2 in deep leagues or a flex play. Indianapolis has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to RBs. If you’re really feeling frisky, it’s possible to play both Maurice Jones-Drew and Jennings in the same fantasy lineup.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jennings could come in handy against a weak Colts defense this week.

Maurice Morris, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayMorris hasn’t exactly been lighting it up since he took over the feature-back role from Jahvid Best (toe) a few games ago. However, a matchup this week against the Bucs may be too good to pass up. Tampa got absolutely carved up by Ryan Torain on Sunday. Torain ended the contest with 180+ yards. If you’ve made it this far, you probably don’t need a plug-in option at the RB position. But if for some reason you do, Morris could suffice.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris has a favorable matchup that’s worth exploiting in deep leagues.

Darren Sproles, Chargers
Worth a LookIf you’re not in a PPR league, you might as well skip ahead; Sproles probably isn’t a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you are in a PPR league, Sproles offers some value. He notched 104 all-purpose yards Sunday against the Chiefs. Much of that production came on five receptions. San Diego faces the 49ers on Sunday, which sets up nicely for Sproles. San Francisco is one of just four NFL teams that allow 6+ receptions to RBs per game. Consider rolling with him but only if you’re desperate for some PPR love.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Sproles is worth a gamble in PPR leagues.

Ricky Williams, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayWilliams has proven to be a useful fantasy option against inferior run defenses. In recent weeks, he produced against the Raiders and Bengals. You have to like his chances in Week 15 against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs. If someone in your league gave up on Williams, grab him. He figures to get 12-15 touches and should find some running room.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is a viable fantasy option against the Bills.

Michael Bush, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayWeek 14 was the Darren McFadden show. Run DMC posted a massive stat line that included over 200 total yards and three scores. Because McFadden was so effective, Bush didn’t get much work (only five carries). Despite the limited workload, Bush remains an option in deep leagues based on a favorable matchup this week against the punchless Broncos. He’s scored in two straight games versus Denver.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bush is a boom-or-bust option in TD-heavy leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Pierre Garcon, Deion Branch, Kenny Britt, Santana Moss and Lance Moore

Derrick Mason, Ravens
Rock StarIdentified as a plug-and-play opportunity last week, Mason came through in a big way with two scores on Monday Night Football. He now has five touchdowns in his last six games. The Forecast has no idea why he’s still available in over 30% of leagues. If he’s lurking on your waiver wire, please pick him up so I can stop recommending him.

Availability: Owned in ~67% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Mason really ought to be owned in all leagues.

Arrelious Benn, Buccaneers
Rock StarWhile teammate Mike Williams gets all the headlines, Arrelious Benn is a good-looking rookie in his own right. Benn first popped up on the radar in November when he scored in two straight games. On Sunday, he sliced up weak Redskins defense, posting 122 yards on just four receptions. Benn obviously has big-play potential. With a matchup against the Lions up next, Benn is certainly worth more than a cursory look.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Benn faces two favorable matchups to close the fantasy season and is worth adding in all leagues.

Brandon Gibson, Rams
Worth a LookGibson has been flirting with fantasy relevance over the last month and a half. He’s been consistently chipping in a handful of receptions each week. On Sunday, against a tough Saints defense, he put up 67 yards on four receptions and added 13 rushing yards. On a down week for fantasy wideouts, it was a Top 20 receiving performance. Gibson is worth adding in advance of Week 15 when he goes up against a KC secondary that started the season strong but has shown vulnerability of late.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gibson is a servicable WR3 in deep leagues.

Louis Murphy, Raiders
Worth a LookMurphy was a hot pickup at the beginning of the year but a midseason injury drained his value. He’s back now. He’s healthy. And he’s again looking like Jason Campbell’s favorite target. Campbell threw his way 11 times and the duo hooked up for six receptions, 59 yards and a touchdown. Murphy is worth adding and could serve as a WR3 if you’re in a pinch. Oakland faces a Denver defense that is reasonably tough against wideouts. Murphy would face a tough challenge if he draws coverage from Champ Bailey.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Murphy has proven to be useful before and is worth another look.

Earl Bennett, Bears
Worth a LookBennett, who was touted here last week, posted 53 yards in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Patriots. All things considered, that’s not too shabby considering the blizzard conditions and a terrible performance by Jay Cutler. The Forecast believes Bennett is a viable WR3 for fantasy. That won’t change this week against the Vikings. Minnesota is decent against the pass but they’re certainly not great. Don’t be afraid to deploy Bennett.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bennett is worth adding in all leagues.

David Nelson, Bills
Injury ReplacementBills starting wideout Lee Evans suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over the Browns. David Nelson stands to see an increase in targets as the season comes to a close. As it is, Nelson has scored in two straight games. Adding Nelson isn’t a bad idea considering Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown an affinity for looking his way in the redzone. Buffalo faces a Dolphins defense that has been good against opposing WRs. However, Nelson could be used if you’re in a pickle.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Nelson is worth a flier in deep leagues.

Ruvell Martin, Seahawks
Injury ReplacementSeattle’s WR corps is decimated. Deon Butler, Brandon Stokley, Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu are all hurt. As a result, Ruvell Martin saw significant action in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. He led the team with 73 yards and a touchdown. While Butler is done for the year with a broken leg, Williams and Obomanu will return. If either one of them plays this week, they’re both better free agent pickups than Martin. However, if they both sit, Martin is a sneaky good pickup. The team will face a Falcons defense that has an average-to-below-average pass defense.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Keep your eye on Martin, Obomanu and Williams if you’re desperate for WR help.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Vernon Davis and Marcedes Lewis

Owen Daniels, Texans
Rock StarAfter spending weeks on the sideline with a hamstring injury, Daniels returned in Week 15 and looked every bit like the elite fantasy TE he was in 2009. Matt Schaub looked to Daniels early and often on Monday night. While Daniels had too many drops, he ended the night with an excellent stat line, racking up 91 yards on five receptions. He’s an excellent pickup in advance of this week’s game against the Titans.

Availability: Owned in ~27% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: On an unimpressive week for fantasy free agents overall, Daniels might be the cream of the crop.

Zach Miller, Raiders
Rock StarMiller is finally healthy after dealing with a foot injury since midseason. He caught four passes for 68 yards Sunday against the Jaguars. If your TE position is watered down, consider upgrading to Miller. He should fare well this week against a Broncos defense that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to TEs this season. Miller had a solid performance when Oakland met Denver earlier this year, posting 65 yards and a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miller is a useful option in all TE madatory leagues.
 
Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers
Rock StarWinslow has scored in two of the last three games. In Sunday’s win over the Redskins, he caught a 41-yard touchdown on a seam route. The play rekindled memories of the Winslow from two or three years ago and proved that despite his chronic knee issues, Winslow still has it. Tampa has a matchup this week against the Lions. Detroit has been tough on opposing TEs but weak overall against the pass. Don’t gunshy about using Winslow if you need a boost.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Winslow is a passable starting TE for Week 15.

Bo Scaife, Titans
Rock StarScaife is a classic fantasy tease, flashing big-time potential one week then going AWOL for a month. He scored twice against the Colts in Week 14. Normally, the Forecast wouldn’t advise trusting Scaife, but there’s no disputing he’s worth a look this week against the Texans. Houston has allowed the most fantasy points to TEs this season. Consider exploiting the favorable matchup and rolling the dice with Scaife.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scaife is worth the risk this week in deep leagues.

KICKERS

No Brainers: David Akers, Adam Vinatieri and Nate Kaeding

Shayne Graham, Patriots
Rock StarThe weather outside was frightful but Graham’s performance was delightful for fantasy owners who trusted the New England kicker. He booted three field goals and three extra points in a blowout win over the Bears. If Graham can produce on the road against a tough defense in terrible weather, I’d say he’s matchup proof. Play him with confidence in Week 15 against Green Bay.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Graham should be owned in all leagues.

Jay Feely, Cardinals
Rock StarFeely had a fantasy performance for the ages in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. He booted five field goals, four extra points and scored a touchdown. Too bad he wasn’t used in hardly any fantasy leagues. Don’t automatically consider Feely’s performance to be a flash in the pan. Arizona’s offense showed some pluck and they draw another favorable matchup this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to kickers in 2010.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Feely is worth acquring and activating against the Panthers.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: New England Patriots

Oakland Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayRemember when Denver’s offense was good? That was then. This is now. In Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, Denver turned the ball over six times and allowed a defensive touchdown. If Denver’s late-season collapse continues, Oakland could benefit much in the same way that the Cardinals did. The Raiders have quietly been a solid DST. In fact, they’re tied for second in the NFL with 38 sacks.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Trust the Silver and Black this week against the reeling Broncos.

Other Features
Under the Numbers
Commentary from the Edge
Tuesday Injury Report
Fantasy Game Recaps
Tunnel Vision
a d v e r t i s e m e n t