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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 7
Paul Sandy
October 18, 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: Tim Tebow (74%), Josh Freeman (88%), and Jay Cutler (82%)

Matt Cassel, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookPrior to his Week 6 bye, Cassel threw four touchdown passes in a come-from-behind win over the Colts. Cassel seems to have found his rhythm after a slow start to the season. He’s turned in three useful stat lines in a row. If he’s available in your league, add him as an excellent plug-and-play option. Kansas City will face an Oakland Raiders defense that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five straight games.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Cassel is a savvy Week 6 stopgap.

Colt McCoy, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookMcCoy has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game this season. Through five starts, he’s averaging 43.4 pass attempts per game—that’s more than Brady, Rodgers and Stafford. Only Drew Brees averages more attempts per game. McCoy is an excellent QB to put on your bench as a spot starter and can even be used as a weekly QB1 if you play in a deep league. In Week 7, the Browns face a Seattle defense that is much better against the run than the pass. Look for another useful stat line from McCoy.

Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: McCoy’s steady-but-unspectacular style makes him a solid bye week replacement.

Carson Palmer, Raiders
Worth a LookThe Raiders paid a hefty ransom to secure the rights to Palmer. He will replace Jason Campbell as the starter. Once considered a top-tier QB, Palmer hasn’t been the same ever since he suffered an elbow injury. In recent years, he’s lacked arm strength and accuracy. Still, he has the skill-set to be relevant for fantasy. With an excellent running game and a few up-and-coming wideouts, Palmer could surprise. Don’t bank on him becoming an every-week fantasy starter because in reality he’ll probably be a game manager much like Jason Campbell was. However, he’s definitely worthy of being part of a QB platoon—and is startable when the matchup is right.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Don’t break the bank for Palmer but if you’re shorthanded at QB, he’s worth adding.

Curtis Painter, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayWhile the Forecast advised owners to stay away from Painter last week against the Bengals, this week’s matchup versus the Saints looks much more appealing. New Orleans has allowed 12 passing touchdowns, tied for most in the NFL this season. Painter should get plenty of opportunity to throw in this game if the Saints grab an early lead. Look for 200+ yards with a couple of scores.

Availability: Owned in ~27% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Painter should have more luck in Week 7 than he did in Week 6.

John Beck, Redskins
SleeperBeck took over for Rex Grossman in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Eagles after Grossman threw four interceptions. The Washington coaching staff won’t make the call on who will start until later in the week. With 4-5 quality fantasy QBs on bye this week, many fantasy owners will be scouring the waiver wire for a passer. If he gets the start, Beck is a decent option. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 115 yards and added a rushing touchdown against the Eagles. The Redskins will face the Panthers on the road.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Give Beck a look as a bench option in deep leagues if Rex Grossman gets benched.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: Jackie Battle (64%), Earnest Graham (79%) and Jonathan Stewart (87%)

DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementRock StarCowboys starting RB Felix Jones suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. Combine the ankle injury with a bum shoulder that’s been bothering Jones since early in the season and the injuries are piling up. Jones is expected to miss at least a game or two, so look for rookie DeMarco Murray and veteran Tashard Choice to split the carries. The rookie Murray has more upside and gets the Forecast’s endorsement as this week’s top waiver pickup. However, on a week with six teams on bye, both players could be useful—especially with a favorable matchup against the Rams.

Availability: Owned in ~20% and ~20 of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: Murray - $$$, Choice - $-$$
Forecast: Murray should be this week’s top pickup while Choice is worth adding as a bye week filler.

Montario Hardesty, Browns
Injury ReplacementPeyton Hillis tweaked his hamstring Sunday against the Raiders. He sat out most of the second half but came back in for a couple token carries near the end of the game. His status for Week 7 is unclear. The fact that he came back in the game suggests the injury is minor. However, hamstrings can be tricky. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get the questionable tag this week and miss the game. Backup Montario Hardesty rushed 11 times for 35 yards against Oakland. On a week in which we saw very few breakout RB performances, Hardesty is a top pickup candidate.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Hardesty should be added in the majority of leagues this week.

Maurice Morris, Lions
Injury ReplacementLions starter Jahvid Best suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. Considering that Best also suffered a concussion during the preseason and had concussion issues in college, this is a major cause for concern. Look for the Lions to be cautious with Best. If he misses time, Maurice Morris would likely get the start and split carries with Keiland Williams and Jerome Harrison. Based on his experience in the offense, Morris probably deserves top consideration but Williams may offer more TD potential and Harrison more explosiveness.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: If Jahvid Best sits, give Maurice Morris a spot start against the Falcons.

Donald Brown, Colts
Injury ReplacementWith Joseph Addai sidelined with a hamstring injury, Donald Brown split carries with rookie Delone Carter. Carter was the lead rusher but Brown chipped in 51 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. He’s not the flashiest pickup but if you’re desperate for RB help this week, Brown might be serviceable. The Colts face a New Orleans defense that is weak against the run.

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Brown is a low-end bye week replacement for deep league owners.

Roy Helu, Redskins
SleeperMike Shanahan protégé Ryan Torain got the start in Week 6 and failed to live up to expectations. Torain carried the ball 10 times but managed just 22 yards. This came against the Eagles, who entered the game with one of the NFL’s worst run defenses. Shanahan has promised to ride the hot hand when it comes to his backfield. Torain is clearly not hot at the moment. It wouldn’t be surprising to see rookie Roy Helu get more touches in the coming weeks if Torain and Tim Hightower don’t get things going.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Helu will get his chance at some point this season and when that day comes he’ll be a major factor.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: Darius Heyward-Bey (74%) and Percy Harvin (92%)

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Rock StarIn many leagues, fantasy owners didn’t give Baldwin the attention he deserved last week because the Seahawks were on bye. In Week 5, he hauled in eight catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin has three useful fantasy performances in five games this season. He’s shaping up to be a quality WR3 for fantasy and has added value in PPR leagues. Don’t be shy about grabbing him and using him right away this week against the Browns.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Based on his recent output, Baldwin should be owned in the majority of leagues.

Torrey Smith, Ravens
Worth a LookSmith, who broke out with 152 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3, popped back on the radar on Sunday. He amassed 84 yards on three catches and nearly had a touchdown but couldn’t get his second foot down in the back of the endzone. If the rookie was dumped in your league, he should be picked back up this week. He’s playable Monday night against the Jaguars.

Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Smith is a boom-or-bust WR; a good option to have in your arsenal.

Greg Little, Browns
Worth a LookLittle was elevated into the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. The move was a success as the rookie led the Browns in receptions and yards (6-72). It was Little’s second straight game with six receptions. A former RB, Little possesses excellent run-after-the-catch skills. He will very likely be Cleveland’s top WR for the remainder of the year and should be added in the majority of leagues this week. He’s playable against a banged up Seattle secondary.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Little is a nice WR prospect who could emerge as a reliable WR3.

Steve Breaston, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayIn Week 5, Breaston caught four passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns. It was his second solid fantasy contribution in a row. Since he was heading into the bye week, many fantasy owners didn’t touch Breaston. Give him a look now. The Chiefs square off against a Raiders defense that has allowed 12 receiving touchdowns this season. Much of that production came from No. 2 receivers such as Plaxico Burress, Kevin Walter and David Nelson.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Breaston has a favorable matchup in Week 7 and can be used as a spot starter.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
SleeperThe Broncos dealt top wideout Brandon Lloyd to the Rams on Monday. The move opens the door for second-year WR Demaryius Thomas to step into the starting lineup. Thomas injured his Achilles during the offseason but is fully recovered now and will make his 2011 debut this week. In his rookie season last year, Thomas showed flashes of potential but injuries have always been his problem. He’s worth a speculative grab based on his explosive style of play. Thomas will likely be Denver’s second option in the passing game behind Eric Decker.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With the departure of Brandon Lloyd, Thomas is worth a speculative pickup.

Malcom Floyd, Chargers
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter dealing with nagging injuries over the first month of the season, Floyd broke out in Week 5 with 100 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers were on bye in Week 6 and should be well rested for a Week 7 battle against the Jets. No. 1 WR Vincent Jackson figures to draw coverage from shutdown CB Darrelle Revis. And with Antonio Gates (foot) still limited, Floyd is primed for a busy afternoon. Give him a look as a spot starter.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Floyd merits consideration for a spot start this week.

Danario Alexander and Mark Clayton, Rams
Worth a LookIt’s difficult to remember an offense that has undergone as much of a sudden overhaul during the heart of a season as the Rams have. In the last three days, St. Louis has cut Mike Sims-Walker, traded for Brandon Lloyd and they will likely soon activate Mark Clayton from the PUP list. Given the changes it’s not easy to predict what value can be gleaned from the Rams passing attack. Alexander caught six passes for a team high 91 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Packers. Clayton has a proven and established rapport with QB Sam Bradford. Lloyd knows the offense better than any of the other receivers. The Forecast advises owners grab Clayton and Alexander as speculative pickups. Give a slight edge to Clayton based on Alexander’s checkered injury history.

Availability: Owned in ~18% and ~4% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Invest in a piece of the Rams passing offense and hope for a turnaround.

Damian Williams, Titans
SleeperWilliams currently has a streak of two straight games with a touchdown reception. Coming off a bye week, he’s a ripe pickup for fantasy owners seeking a WR prospect with upside to stash on the bench. The Titans are asking Williams to fill in for Kenny Britt, who is out for the season. So far Williams has looked solid, showing soft hands and good ball skills. On the downside, he has failed to finish routes on a couple of occasions. With Matt Hasselbeck giving credibility to Tennessee’s passing attack, Williams should continue to be a fantasy factor.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Grab Williams and see if he can make it three scores in a row this week.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Brandon Pettigrew (90%) and Greg Olsen (90%)

Fred Davis, Redskins
Rock StarDavis led all Washington receivers in Week 6 with six receptions for 95 yards. Although he didn’t score, Davis once again proved he’s relevant for fantasy. Davis’ counterpart Chris Cooley suffered a broken finger in the game, which will sideline him for a month. The injury probably buys Davis at least a couple more targets per game. If your TE position has been a weakness this year, Davis should definitely be on your punch list this week.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Davis should be owned in all TE mandatory leagues.

Jake Ballard, Giants
Worth a LookBallard might be the biggest surprise in fantasy football at the tight end position. After scoring in two straight games, he followed it up with five catches for 81 yards. Each week QB Eli Manning continues to gain more confidence in his TE. Fantasy owners should start to look at Ballard as a legitimate starting TE for fantasy. Although the Giants are heading into a bye, Ballard still merits an immediate pickup in leagues with deep rosters.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Ballard is making a name for himself and is worth adding in deep leagues.

Ed Dickson, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayDickson scored in the season opener but hasn’t found his way back into the endzone since. Although he’s not ready to be an every-week contributor for fantasy, he deserves a look as a matchup-based play. In Week 7, Baltimore faces Jacksonville. Prior to last week, the Jaguars had allowed TE touchdowns in four straight games. With several quality TEs on bye this week, Dickson is an sneaky stopgap.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider activating Dickson if your regular starter is on bye.

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: Robbie Gould (73%) and Dan Bailey (71%)

Billy Cundiff, Ravens
Rock StarRecommended last week, Cundiff led all fantasy kickers in scoring in Week 6. He’s connected on multiple field goals in every game this season and posted double-digit points three games in a row. This is an elite kicker and now that he’s had his bye, Cundiff can make your kicker spot a set-it-and-forget-it position for the remainder of the year. Bank on big numbers this week against Jacksonville.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Cundiff should be owned and started in all leagues.

Nick Novak, Chargers
Rock StarStill available in close to 70% of leagues, Novak has paid off three games in a row. He’s connected on 11 field goals over that stretch, and made all three kicks he’s attempted beyond 40 yards. Novak is a guy you should have no reservation about trusting on a weekly basis.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Don’t forget about Novak, who is coming off his bye week.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: Bears (95%)

Dallas Cowboys
Rock StarThe Cowboys have intercepted at least one pass in every game this season. They’ve also recorded three or more sacks in all but one game. An upcoming matchup this week against the woeful Rams bodes well for Rob Ryan’s aggressive defense. QB Sam Bradford is dealing with a high ankle sprain that will limit his mobility (assuming he even plays). If Dallas’ DST is available in your league, don’t hesitate to make the grab. Since the Cowboys already had their bye, you can pick them up and ride them for the rest of the year.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: It’s time to start thinking of the Cowboys defense as an every-week starter.

Oakland Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Silver and Black turned in their best fantasy performance of the season in Week 6, recording two sacks and a touchdown. It was their third quality stat line in the last four weeks. Oakland plays host the Chiefs on Sunday, a team they scored two DST touchdowns against last season. The Raiders are worth a spot start this week.

Availability: Owned in ~45% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Start the Raiders versus a Chiefs team they’ve played well against recently.


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