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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 3
Paul Sandy
September 20, 2011
 
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
Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
$ $0 - $5
$$ $6 - $15
$$$ $16 - $25
$$$$ $26 - $40
$$$$$ $41+
Based on $100 cap,
12-team league.

QUARTERBACKS

Commonly owned QBs worth adding: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton and Kevin Kolb

Rex Grossman, Redskins
Rock Star1 Week Plug & PlayGrossman lived up to the Forecast’s expectations last week, turning in a useful fantasy performance against the Cardinals. He passed for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Grossman made his share of mistakes but is proving to be a legitimate fantasy QB in 2011. Add him in advance of this week’s meeting with the Cowboys. When Grossman faced Dallas back in Week 15 last year, he passed for 322 yards and four touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Plug and play Grossman this week and look for another multi-TD effort.

Matt Hasselbeck, Titans
Rock Star1 Week Plug & PlayThe Forecast identified Hasselbeck as a QB of interest back in Week 1. After passing for 263 yards and two scores in the opener, he followed it up with 358 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Ravens. The change in scenery has served him well so far. It shouldn’t be a total shock that Hasselbeck is enjoying a rebirth in Tennessee. The weapons he has around him are perhaps the best he’s had at his disposal since the Seahawks made their Super Bowl run in 2005-2006. With a home meeting against the Broncos this week, Hasselbeck is a worth adding.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hasselbeck will be a decent fantasy QB this season and is worth a spot start.

Mike Kafka, Eagles
Injury ReplacementMichael Vick’s status for Week 3 is uncertain. He left Sunday night’s game against the Falcons with a slight concussion. Vick will need to pass a battery of tests and be examined by an independent neurologist before he will get clearnance to play. If he has any post-concussion symptoms, Vick will have to sit. With Vince Young dealing with a hamstring injury, Mike Kafka may be forced into action. Kafka didn’t look out of his element in Week 2; he completed seven of nine passes in very limited duty. With a matchup against a shaky Giants pass defense, Kafka could put up some servicable numbers.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If Vick sits and you need a replacement, Kafka will suffice.

Andy Dalton, Bengals
SleeperDalton opened some eyes in Week 2, exploding for 332 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 27 of his 41 pass attempts, including 10 to rookie WR A.J. Green. Expect some growing pains along the way but the kid has a live arm and some outstanding weapons around him. The Bengals also have a favorable schedule coming up with games against the 49ers, Bills, Jaguars and Colts. None of those teams have elite pass defenses so Dalton may be able to gain some confidence. 

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Dalton is worth adding as a backup in advance preparation for the bye weeks, which are quickly approaching.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: Daniel Thomas, Ben Tate, James Starks, Willis McGahee, Jonathan Stewart and Darren Sproles

Demarco Murray and Tashard Choice, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementFelix Jones suffered a separated shoulder in Sunday’s win over the 49ers. He saw some action after he sustained the injury but his status for Week 3 is in doubt. If Jones rests, look for the Cowboys to depoly a backfield-by-committee approach. Demarco Murray is No. 2 on the depth chart and should be in line for the majority of touches. Tashard Choice has experience on his side and will also have a significant role. Give the edge to Murray if you’re making a waiver decision. He’s a big-play threat and should get you points on the ground and throught he air. As far as the long-term outlook, Jones is averaging a disappointing 2.7 yards per carry. With a good showing this week, Murray (or Choice) could steal the feature role.

Availability: Owned in ~36% and ~25% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Murray and Choice should be added in all leagues until Jones’ status becomes clearer.

Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
Injury ReplacementChiefs starting RB Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. He will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. The loss is a huge blow to fantasy owners who spent a first-round pick on the explosive RB. The plan going forward for the Chiefs will be for Thomas Jones to get the bulk of the work with the diminutive Dexter McCluster providing a change of pace. At 33 years of age, Jones is playing on borrowed time. Add him, but don’t bank on using him for anything more than an occasional spot start. McCluster is worth adding in PPR leagues and could get 10-12 touches per week. Note: McCluster is listed as a WR by some commissioner services. Check your league rules for position eligibility.

Availability: Owned in ~48% and ~13% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Don’t overspend but Thomas Jones should be added in standard scoring systems and McCluster in PPR.

Roy Helu, Redskins
Worth a LookHelu received the bulk of Washington’s carries in the second half on Sunday. He was quick, explosive and showed tremendous vision. According to head coach Mike Shanahan, starter Tim Hightower was “tired,” which was the reason for the increase in carries for the rookie Helu. Prior to getting pulled from the game, Hightower was having a fine performance. He rushed 20 times for 96 yards. Hightower remains the feature RB in the Redskins offense. However, Shanahan is notorious for zigging when you expect him to zag. Don’t be stunned to see Helu get more carries as the weeks progress. Hightower owners need to grab him.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Helu will have increasing value in the coming weeks and should be added in all formats.

Isaac Redman, Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlayRedman saw extensive work in the second half of Sunday’s blowout win over the Seahawks. He carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards and a touchdown. Redman’s stats will be spotty going forward but you have to like his chances of chipping in some useful numbers this week against a woeful Colts run defense. Indianapolis has already ceded four rushing touchdowns. The Steelers should have little difficulty jumping out to an early lead, which should pave the way for Redman to hit double-digit touches again.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Redman is an intriguing pickup based on his favorable Week 3 matchup.

Keiland Williams, Lions
SleeperWith the game in hand, Keiland Williams got some work during the second half of Sunday’s win over the Chiefs. He carried the ball nine times for 25 yards and a touchdown. Williams has only been with the team for a couple weeks but he’s already serving as the No. 2 RB. Jahvid Best, who is averaging a pedestrian 3.5 ypc this season, doesn’t have the look of a RB who can carry the full load. The team acknowleged this when they drafted Mikel LeShoure in this year’s draft. LeShoure got hurt in the preseason but Williams is built from the same mold. As he becomes more accustomed to the offense, he could continue to steal carries from Best. By mideason, a 60-40 timeshare is not out of the question.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stash Williams on your bench in anticipation of him assuming a bigger role in Detroit’s offense.

Le’Ron McClain, Chiefs
SleeperWith Jamaal Charles out, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster are going to get a lot of attention on the waiver wire this week. However, in deep leagues, fantasy owners should consider taking a flier on Le’Ron McClain. McClain came over to the Chiefs from the Ravens. Keep in mind this is a guy who came off the bench four seasons ago under very similar circumstances and put up over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. Kansas City’s offense is a mess right now. Thomas Jones is unlikely to provide a spark. Call it a hunch, but McClain could emerge from this situation as a useful fantasy RB once the dust settles. As a bigger RB, he can move the pile and deliver the kind of blows to opposing defenses that will get his team fired up. He’s a sneaky, under-the-radar pickup. 

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Add McClain as a long-term speculative pickup and wait for him to get his opportunity.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: A.J. Green, Devery Henderson, Jordy Nelson, Mike Sims-Walker and Deion Branch

Eric Decker, Broncos
Rock StarInjury ReplacementThe Forecast couldn’t help but experience a little déjà vu on Sunday. Broncos wideout Eric Decker rekindled memories of Ed McCaffrey. The second-year wideout, who wear’s McCaffrey’s #87, made some tough catches against the Bengals and displayed good speed and physicality in the open field. He ended the game with five catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Decker seized the spotlight with Brandon Lloyd on the sideline. Eddie Royal also suffered a significant groin injury, which will keep Decker on the field for the majority of plays going forward. He clearly has some chemistry with QB Kyle Orton, so grab him if you need help at WR and look for more positive results.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Decker will be the top wideout pickup this week.

David Nelson, Bills
Rock StarAfter catching four passes for 66 yards in the opener, Nelson responded with a huge 10-catch effort in Week 2. He ended the afternoon with 83 yards and a game-winning touchdown in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. With Lee Evans no longer in town, Nelson has ascended the Bills depth chart and is proving to be a key cog in the team’s pass-oriented offense. He has a chance to become a PPR machine if Buffalo keeps rolling. This week, the Bills face a New England secondary that can be beaten, which makes Nelson a smart pickup for owners needing immediate WR help.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Nelson will be a useful WR3 going forward.

Danario Alexander, Rams
Rock StarMost fantasy owners watched Monday night’s game with a watchful eye on Sam Bradford’s distribution of passes. With Danny Amendola expected to miss a few more games, there’s an opportunity for the remaining receivers to step up. So what did we learn on Monday night? The early returns point to Danario Alexander and Mike Sims-Walker emerging as Bradford’s favorite targets. Alexander tallied 122 yards and a touchdown on just three receptions. Sims-Walker (too commonly owned to be listed) put up a healthy 92 yards on six catches. If either player is available in your league, make a play. Alexander has a history of knee injuries so he comes with high risk but there’s no doubting his talent.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Alexander has a high ceiling and should be added in all leagues.

Denarius Moore, Raiders
Rock StarWith Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey all out with injuries, rookie Denarius Moore thrived in Week 2. He hauled in five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown, looking like an absolute beast on a few catches. Moore has no doubt earned more playing time along with the trust of QB Jason Campbell. The Raiders still smack of a team that wants to run the ball first and pass second. However, Moore could be the team’s leading wideout the rest of the year. Add him but think twice before starting him against the Jets in Week 3.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Moore is worth adding in all leagues but he’s a risky option versus the Jets.

Nate Washington, Titans
Worth a LookThe Forecast pegged Washington as a solid pickup last week. He followed through with seven catches for 99 yards. QB Matt Hasselbeck threw his way 11 times. With Kenny Britt drawing most of the attention from opposing defenses, Hasselbeck is having little difficulty finding Washington open. He is the No. 2 receiver on an offense that is throwing the ball with great success right now. If you’re not happy with the play of your third WR or flex options, Washington is a nice pickup—particularly in PPR formats. Looking toward this week, he’s highly playable against a Denver outfit that was torched by the Bengals in Week 2.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Washington will remain a viable WR3 and should be picked up in most leagues.

Jerome Simpson, Bengals
Worth a LookSimpson exploded for 136 yards in Sunday’s game against the Broncos. He caught four passes and was targeted nine times. Rookie QB Andy Dalton made some smart throws and looked much more comfortable than he did in the opener. As Dalton continues to gain confidence, Simpson and his counterpart A.J. Green will cement themselves as consistent fantasy contributors. At this point, it’s safe to add Simpson for bench depth because he clearly has tremendous upside. However, he’s still only worth starting as a WR4 or flex option in the short term.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Simpson has a good chance to emerge as a viable fantasy WR once QB Andy Dalton gets a little more seasoning.

Brandon LaFell, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayJust two weeks into the season, Panthers wideout Steve Smith looks like a shoo-in for “Comeback Player of the Year.” But if you missed on Smith in your fantasy draft, you can still cash in on the emergence of QB Cam Newton. Smith’s running mate Brandon LaFell found the endzone early in Sunday’s game versus the Packers, making a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab. He ended his afternoon with four receptions for 49 yards plus the score. With a home matchup this week against the Jaguars, take your chances on LaFell in deeper leagues. Jacksonville has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in both of their games so far this year. 

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Take a flier on LaFell this week against a mediocre Jaguars pass defense.

Kevin Ogletree, Cowboys
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayCowboys wideout Miles Austin re-injured his hamstring in Sunday’s win over the 49ers. He is expected to be sidelined through Dallas’ bye in Week 5. Fellow wideout Dez Bryant is also dealing with a leg injury, so the Cowboys need their other receivers to step up. This situation is ripe for an unknown player to burst onto the scene as a fantasy supernova. No. 5 WR Jesse Holley certainly made a name for himself in Week 2, grabbing a 77-yard reception on a blown coverage in overtime to ice the victory. Holley is worth considering but the Forecast favors Kevin Ogletree, who is likely to fill Austin’s spot in the lineup once Bryant returns.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Ogletree is worth a look in deep leagues while Miles Austin rests his hamstring.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen

Fred Davis, Redskins
Rock StarAfter crossing the century mark in Week 1, Davis backed up the effort with six receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. There’s not much to add about Davis that the Forecast didn’t say last week. With favorable matchups the next two weeks (DAL and STL), Davis will continue to produce for fantasy owners. Get him and look for Top 10 TE numbers.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Davis will continue to be fantasy gold and should be owned in all TE mandatory leagues.

Dustin Keller, Jets
Worth a LookKeller has posted touchdowns in two straight games to start the season. QB Mark Sanchez looks completely in-synch with his TE. He’s thrown Keller’s way 14 times this season and connected on 11 throws. With Braylon Edwards out of the picture and Plaxico Burress still learning the ropes, Keller could be the Jets second option in the passing game this year. The only concern with Keller is he’s been a bit of a tease in recent years. As a point of fact, he scored five touchdowns in the first four weeks last season and didn’t score another TD the rest of the year. Add him in hopes that he finally becomes a consistent fantasy producer.

Availability: Owned in ~72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ride Keller’s hot streak but be prepared to jump ship if he cools off.

Scott Chandler, Bills
Worth a LookThe Forecast didn’t buy the Chandler hype last week but after scoring his third touchdown of the short season, this guy deserves some attention. Chandler looks like the Bills top redzone receiving threat at this point. Given the rate at which they’re scoring points, Chandler could get enough looks to have continued success. If you play in a TD-heavy league or if you have a deep roster and can afford to hold multiple TEs, Chandler is worth adding. However, use caution this week since New England completely took Antonio Gates out of the game last week.

Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Chandler looks like a useful TE, especially in TD-heavy scoring systems.

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: Neil Rackers and Stephen Gostkowski

John Kasay, Saints
Rock StarSecond verse same as the first. This week’s top two kicker recommendations mirror those of a week ago. Kasay has delivered double-digit points in two straight games. This includes three field goals against the Bears in Week 2 (one from 53 yards). With a home matchup against the Texans on tap next, Kasay is a must-grab if your kicker has been a disappointment. Houston versus New Orleans figures to be one of the higher scoring games of the weekend, so Kasay will give your team a built-in point advantage.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Kasay should be owned in all leagues.

Jason Hanson, Lions
Rock StarHanson drilled two field goals and six extra points in Sunday’s drubbing of the Chiefs. One of his three-pointers was a bomb from 53 yards away, proving the 20-year veteran still has life left in his leg. With Detroit’s offense clicking, grabbing Hanson and making him your regular kicker is a smart move. The Lions face the Vikings in Week 3. Minnesota’s defense is playing a little better than expected but Detroit won’t have any trouble scoring more than 24 points.  

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hanson should be owned in all leagues.

Nick Folk, Jets
Rock StarFolk has booted multiple field goal kicks in both games this year, including three in Week 2 against the Jaguars. He is now five-for-five on FGs this season and should be considered a frontline fantasy kicker in all leagues. Somehow Folk is only owned in about half of all fantasy leagues but that should change this week. The Jets face a Raiders team that is coming off a game in which they allowed 38 points to the Bills. Folk should have plenty of opportunity to put points on the board.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider Folk a legit No. 1, no-brainer kicker each week.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: Cowboys, Jets and Saints

Washington Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookThe Redskins defense has put an awful 2010 campaign behind them and they are playing with a fiery attitude so far in 2011. Through two games, they’ve recorded seven sacks, five turnovers and one touchdown. Make the move to pick up Washington’s defense in advance of Monday night’s meeting with the Cowboys. Dallas QB Tony Romo is dealing with a fractured rib and a punctured lung. If he plays, his mobility and accuracy may be impacted. The Redskins have an excellent chance to rack up some turnovers and interceptions—though there is a risk they will allow a good amount of points to be put on the board.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Washington should make some noise this week against a beat up Dallas team . . . and they could have some staying power for your team.

Carolina Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Panthers aren’t a defense you want to be trusting on most weeks but they have a home matchup this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville very well could be starting rookie QB Blaine Gabbert in this game. Whether it’s Gabbert or Luke McCown, expect mistakes. The Panthers defense showed enough last week against the Packers to be worth a flier. If your regular defense hasn’t shown much, roll the dice with the Panthers purely based on the matchup.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for Carolina to rack up a few turnovers and hold the Jaguars to fewer than 14 points.


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