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Free Agent Forecast: Week 4
Paul Sandy
September 27, 2011
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.


Commonly owned QBs worth adding: Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning

Matt Hasselbeck, Titans
Rock StarThe Matt Hasselbeck revival continues. The Titans QB threw for 311 yards and two scores in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. It was Hasselbeck’s third straight useful stat line in three games. What’s more impressive is that the veteran QB amassed most of his numbers with Kenny Britt on the sideline. Britt tore a knee ligament. His injury will diminish Hasselbeck’s value a bit in the long run.  However, Hasselbeck is playing with a ton of confidence and deserves to be on fantasy rosters at this point. After two straight home games, the Titans hit the road to face a respectable Browns pass defense this week.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hasselbeck has three quality fantasy performances in three games; he should be owned in most leagues.

Vince Young, Eagles
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayMichael Vick bruised his hand badly in Sunday’s loss to the Giants. He looks iffy at best for this week’s game against the 49ers. Eagles head coach Andy Reid hasn’t announced who would start for his club while Vick is out. However, he did say Vince Young is over his hamstring injury. Look for Young to get the nod if Vick sits. Mike Kafka didn’t show much in his brief appearance against the Giants on Sunday. He attempted seven passes and two of them were intercepted. Reid has confidence in Kafka but Young is a winner and the Eagles are a team that desperately needs a win against an opponent they should beat.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast: If he starts, Vince Young will post some useful numbers against San Francisco.

Jason Campbell, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayPurely a matchup-based pickup, Campbell faces a Patriots defense that has allowed each QB they’ve faced to throw multiple touchdown passes. The Raiders QB didn’t help fantasy owners much in Week 3, passing for just 156 yards with zero touchdowns. However, the Oakland running game was grinding out huge chunks of yardage so Campbell merely had to manage the game. That may not be the case against the Patriots since New England allows just 90.7 yards per game on the ground, compared with 377.0 per game through the air (most in the NFL).

Availability: Owned in ~27% of leagues.
Forecast: Campbell is a desperation play but should be useful this week against one of fantasy’s most generous pass defenses.


Commonly owned RBs worth adding: Ryan Grant, Daniel Thomas, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jonathan Stewart, Willis McGahee, Darren Sproles, and Joseph Addai

Bernard Scott, Bengals
Worth a LookBengals starting RB Cedric Benson is slated to begin serving a three-game suspension starting this week. Backup Bernard Scott will take over the starting role and is expected to be the workhorse for Cincinnati. Scott has impressed in limited action, averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 143 career rushes. He’s a homerun threat with the ability to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. With matchups against the Bills, Jaguars and Colts up next, Scott is certainly a worthwhile pickup. Monitor Benson’s appeal of his suspension, which will be heard Tuesday. If it’s upheld as expected, give Scott a shot in your starting lineup.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: If Scott wasn’t picked up last week in your league, he’s a must-grab now.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots
SleeperIf you’re looking for a RB prospect to stash on your bench in hope that he blows up sometime in the next few weeks, consider rookie Stevan Ridley. Ridley sits third on the New England depth chart behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is going to get his regardless of what happens. But Green-Ellis could start to lose carries if he has more showings like the one he just had against the Bills. BJGE carried nine times for just 16 yards. The Patriots are a one-dimensional club right now. If Bill Belichick thinks Ridley can give his team a spark, the rookie could become an instant fantasy starter.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ridley might be on the doorstep of becoming New England’s primary rusher; beat the rush and grab him this week.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers
Injury ReplacementFrank Gore sprained his ankle in Week 3, which led to preseason sensation Kendall Hunter getting some second-half carries. Hunter scored the game’s only touchdown in a win over the Bengals, posting 38 total yards on 11 touches (9 rush, 2 rec.). Head coach Jim Harbaugh has suggested Gore will be able to play this week. Nonetheless, Hunter is worth adding this week based on what he’s shown and, quite frankly, what Gore hasn’t. Look for Hunter to start getting more touches as the season progresses. This week’s opponent, the Eagles, have allowed the third most rushing yards this season.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: With Frank Gore struggling, Kendall Hunter is worth a speculative pickup in all leagues.

Montario Hardesty, Browns
Worth a LookPeyton Hillis sat out Sunday’s game because of strep throat. Second-year RB Montario Hardesty got his first NFL start. He represented himself well, racking up 86 total yards. Cleveland thought highly of Hardesty last season before he tore his ACL. In fact, they expected him to be their featured RB in 2010. We are starting to see why. Although Hillis is expected back this week, Hardesty has a place on fantasy rosters. Stash him on your bench in case Hillis starts to wear down or the coaches decide to give Hardesty more opportunities.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hardesty is a backup RB with plenty of upside; he’s worth squirreling away on your roster.
Earnest Graham, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayGraham, it seems, is not going away. The versatile RB has become QB Josh Freeman’s safety outlet. He caught a team high seven passes in Sunday’s win over the Falcons and now has 20 receptions on the year. Graham is getting most of the third-down work since starter LeGarrette Blount struggles with pass protection. This is a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2011. In PPR leagues, don’t hesitate to grab Graham for bench depth. He’s also playable in this week’s Monday night battle against a suspect Colts run defense.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast: Graham will be a useful contributor in PPR leagues and should have a serviceable stat line versus the Colts this week.

Alfonso Smith, Cardinals
Injury ReplacementWhen Cardinals starting RB Beanie Wells suffered a hamstring injury in practice last week, most fantasy owners assumed Chester Taylor would take on the bulk of the work. While Taylor got the start, he fizzled out carrying just eight times for 20 yards. Instead, second-year RB Alfonso Smith was the workhorse, rushing 17 times for 54 yards. He also added three catches for 21 yards. His positive showing probably pushes him up to No. 2 on the depth chart. If Wells can’t go next week or if he starts to disappoint, Smith’s value could skyrocket.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast: Consider adding Smith as a prospect in deep leagues.


Commonly owned WRs worth adding: Julio Jones, Robert Meachem, Plaxico Burress, Mike Thomas and David Nelson

Nate Washington, Titans
Rock StarInjury ReplacementWashington is a three-time Forecast recommendation. If he’s still available in your league, this will likely be your last chance to grab him. Unfortunately, he’s going to be in much higher demand. Washington’s running mate, Kenny Britt, suffered a season-ending injury in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. Washington is suddenly the No. 1 target in an offense that has shown surprising efficiency in the passing game. He has posted back-to-back 90+ yard performances and has at least six receptions in every game this year. If Matt Hasselbeck and Washington stay healthy, Washington has a shot to post 90 receptions and be this year’s surprise fantasy breakout player. Go get him. If you already did, pat yourself on the back.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Don’t be afraid to pay a premium price for Washington, who looks like a legit weekly fantasy starter.

Lance Moore, Saints
Rock StarAfter missing Week 1 and quietly putting up just six yards in Week 2, Moore finally lived up to his preseason sleeper status, recording nine receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. Moore’s ownership is hovering right around 75%. If he was dropped in your league, don’t hesitate to pick him up. With Marques Colston expected to be out for at least a few more games, Moore should continue to receive plenty of looks from QB Drew Brees. A matchup this week against Jacksonville looks like a perfect opportunity to get Moore some work.

Availability: Owned in ~76% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Moore should be owned in all leagues.

Sidney Rice, Seahawks
Rock StarRice made his Seahawks debut on Sunday and notched a 109-yard performance against the Cardinals. He caught eight passes and looks like Seattle’s top receiving threat. Arizona has a weak pass defense so don’t bank on Rice crossing the century mark with regularity. Still, the performance was encouraging and he faces another suspect pass defense this week when Seattle hosts Atlanta. If Rice was prematurely dropped in your league, snatch him up without hesitation.

Availability: Owned in ~77% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Rice should be owned in all leagues but treat him as a matchup-based starter until he shows us more.

Denarius Moore, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter piling up 146 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago, Moore backed up his breakout performance with another useful effort. He posted 43 yards receiving and added a 23-yard touchdown run. The fact that the performance came against a tough defense like the Jets bodes well for Moore’s ability to consistently chip in useful fantasy numbers. A home matchup this week against the Patriots figures to be a high-scoring affair. Given that Moore has already scored touchdowns in two straight games against the AFC East, it’s not a bad bet to think he’ll make it three in a row this week.

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Moore is worth starting as a WR3 or flex this week against the Patriots.

Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
Worth a LookMcCluster, who is listed as a WR by some commissioner services, is still available in about 40% of leagues. He figures to become more of a focal point of Kansas City’s offense as the team comes to the realization that Thomas Jones doesn’t have much left to offer. McCluster lead all Chiefs RBs in Week 3 with 45 yards rushing. He also added five receptions for 17 yards. Look for McCluster to get about 12-15 touches per game. That will make him a decent WR3 or flex option in PPR leagues as we approach the bye weeks. Check your position eligibility to determine whether McCluster is a RB or WR in your league.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: McCluster is borderline starter material in PPR leagues.

Torrey Smith, Ravens
Rock StarInjury ReplacementNot a bad debut. With Lee Evans out with an ankle injury, rookie Torrey Smith caught five passes for 152 yards—three of those catches went for touchdowns. It was a very Evans-esque performance and one that came as a complete surprise. Many NFL experts had labeled Smith a bust during the preseason, criticizing him as another in a long line of speeds WRs with stone hands. He silenced those critics, at least for a week. Don’t wait around to see if Smith can continue to produce. Ravens QB Joe Flacco has one of the NFL’s strongest arms. Combined Flacco’s cannon with Smith’s elite speed and this could be a profitable connection for fantasy owners.   

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Smith is a boom-or-bust WR who will likely have more busts than booms, but he’s still worth acquiring.

Victor Cruz, Giants
Worth a Look1 Week Plug & PlayCruz replaced the concussed Mario Manningham in Sunday’s game against the Eagles. He totaled a spectacular 110 yards and two touchdowns. Manningham is expected to return to practice this week and retake his spot opposite Hakeem Nicks. However, don’t automatically assume Cruz’s value becomes null and void. Domenik Hixon is out for the year with a knee injury so Cruz will be the Giants No. 3 WR going forward. It’s a spot in the lineup that could enable Cruz to make a fantasy impact. He’s definitely a player worth considering, especially if your league awards bonus points for long touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: A favorable home matchup this week against the Cardinals makes Cruz a classic high-risk / high-reward option.

Michael Jenkins, Vikings
Worth a LookA perennial bust in Atlanta, Michael Jenkins has found new life in Minnesota. Through three games, Jenkins leads all Vikings receivers in each of the important receiving categories (receptions, yardage and touchdowns). On Sunday against the Lions, he caught nine passes for 88 yards on 11 targets. Jenkins might be worth a sniff in PPR leagues to see if Donovan McNabb zeros in on him as his favorite target. Minnesota has favorable matchups this week against the Chiefs and next week against the Cardinals but Jenkins remains a risky play at this point.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast: Consider adding Jenkins as a PPR prospect.


Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Vernon Davis, Dustin Keller and Owen Daniels

Greg Olsen, Panthers
Rock Star1 Week Plug & PlayOlsen led all Carolina players with ten targets in Week 3. He ended the day with seven receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. He’s turned in pretty solid fantasy performances in two out of three games so far this season. Not shabby for a TE. Olsen is an excellent pickup and play option this week. He will go up against his former team, the Bears. In addition to the revenge factor, the matchup sets up well for Olsen because the Bears have allowed 70+ yards to all three starting TEs they’ve faced. Plus they had no answer for Jermichael Finley last week. Finley scored three times.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Olsen will post useful numbers this week against his former team.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Rock StarAfter a slow start to the season, a good chunk of Pettigrew’s owners cut bait on the Lions TE. After he put up 112 yards on 11 receptions against the Vikings, many of those same owners are likely kicking themselves. Pettigrew continuously found open spaces in Minnesota’s defenses and QB Matthew Stafford found him time and time again. With so many weapons on Detroit’s offense, Pettigrew will have some down weeks like he did in Week 2. However, he’s a legit fantasy starter who you should have no reservation about trusting week in and week out.

Availability: Owned in ~68% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Pettigrew is a second-tier fantasy TE and should be owned in all TE-mandatory leagues.

Jared Cook, Titans
SleeperAccording to Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak, the season-ending injury to Kenny Britt means Titans TE Jared Cook might be used as a receiver more frequently. Cook was on a lot of preseason sleeper lists, including mine, but has just seven targets in 2011. The athletic TE poses many of the same coverage challenges of guys like Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley. After a productive preseason, his lack of usage in the regular season has been puzzling. The Britt injury could be the nudge he needs to get his season on a roll. If you can afford a roster spot to stash a TE prospect, Cook is definitely worth a look

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast: Grab Cook in anticipation of him getting more targets in the coming weeks.

Randy McMichael, Chargers
Injury ReplacementChargers TE Antonio Gates has a tear in the scar tissue of his plantar fascia. His playing status is up in the air but early indications are that he will miss at least a couple weeks. Gates is scheduled to see a foot specialist Tuesday. Monitor the news but it looks like a week-to-week type injury. If you’re a Gates owner and the TE position is looking bleak, consider adding backup Randy McMichael. He caught four passes for 51 yards Sunday against the Chiefs despite a stagnant offense.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast: McMichael will be a passable TE option if Gates is out.


Commonly owned PKs worth adding: Jason Hason, Neil Rackers and Sebastian Janikowski

Rian Lindell, Bills
Rock StarCan we all agree Buffalo’s offense is for real? The Bills have scored 34 or more points in all three games this year. It’s no surprise kicker Rian Lindell has chipped in quality fantasy numbers, averaging 10 points per game to start the season. Unfortunately, not many owners have reaped the benefits of owning Lindell. He’s only on rosters in 14% of fantasy leagues. If your kicking game has been a disappointment, acquiring Lindell should be a no-brainer.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
Forecast: Lindell should be owned and started in all leagues.

Connor Barth, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayBarth drilled three field goals and an extra point in Sunday’s win over the Falcons. His longest kick was from 49 yards. Consider adding him in advance of Monday’s matchup against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed a minimum of nine points to each kicker they’ve faced. Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham put up 11 points against the Colts last week (and he missed a field goal). Add Barth for an easy ten points.  

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast: Barth is a solid Week 4 kicker option against the Colts.


Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: Ravens and Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayIf the Bucs defense is available in your league, pounce. It looks like Curtis Painter might get the start this week for the Colts. Tampa should get plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points against the QB that Indianapolis didn’t trust to run the offense to start the season. Painter completed just 51.4% of his preseason passes. On Sunday against the Falcons, a charged up Buccaneers defense recorded four sacks and three turnovers. Expect another fine performance on Monday night against the Colts.

Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Tampa is this week’s must-grab defense.

New Orleans Saints
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Saints defense doesn’t have the playmakers it had a couple seasons ago but they’re certainly a capable fantasy unit that can be trusted when the matchup is favorable. That’s the case this week when the team faces Jacksonville and rookie QB Blaine Gabbert. While Gabbert had a decent outing in his first start last week, the game was close and Gabbert didn’t have to throw as much as he will have to this week. Look for defensive coordinator Greg Williams to run plenty of blitzes at the young QB in an effort to induce mistakes.

Availability: Owned in ~76% of leagues.
Forecast: The Saints should be a top five fantasy DST in Week 4.

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