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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 8
Paul Sandy
October 25, 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 (89%), Mark Sanchez (80%) and Josh Freeman (91%)

Andy Dalton, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookDalton has been a solid fantasy contributor this season, chipping in useful fantasy numbers in four of his last five games. The rookie combo of Dalton and A.J. Green has been highly productive thus far, accounting for four of Dalton’s six touchdown passes. Cincinnati faces the Seahawks in Week 8. Seattle held their own against the Browns on Sunday. However, the Seahawks are better against the run than the pass and they have sustained numerous injuries in their secondary. Consider using Dalton to plug a bye week hole.

Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Dalton is worth adding for bench depth or for a spot start this week.

Christian Ponder, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookPonder energized the Vikings in Week 7, keeping the team competitive against the defending world champs. He passed for 219 yards and two scores. What may have been most impressive was Ponder’s athleticism. He was able to get out of pocket and complete passes while on the move. He also scrambled for 31 yards. Ponder’s performance wasn’t without its flaws; he did throw two interceptions. However, the rookie looks like he belongs in this league. If you need a bye week replacement or a backup, make sure Ponder is on your list of considerations.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ponder has keeper/dynasty value and merits starting consideration if you’re in a pinch.

Shaun Hill, Lions
Injury ReplacementLions QB Matthew Stafford sprained an ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons. He’s in a walking boot and will be getting a second opinion on both his right ankle and right knee in the next couple days. Head coach Jim Schwartz calls him day-to-day. Although this doesn’t look like an injury that will keep Stafford out for an extended period of time, the Lions do have a bye in Week 9. They may be compelled to sit him in Week 8, thereby enabling him to rest the ankle for three straight weeks before taking the field again. Just a hunch. Grab backup Shaun Hill in case it plays out that way. Hill would be worth a spot start against the Broncos. Last season he started 10 games and put up 16 touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Look for Hill to pass for at least 275 yards and two scores if he gets the start in place of Stafford.

John Beck, Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayIn his first start of the season, Beck put up 279 yards and a touchdown through the air. He added one rushing score. It was a solid 2011 debut for Beck, who will face the Bills in Week 8. Although he will be without his top wideout Santana Moss (broken hand), Beck still has value on a week that will see four starting-level QBs on bye. Buffalo has the 30th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Look for a useful stat line from Beck and don’t be afraid to use him as a stopgap.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Beck isn’t a terrible option this week against an iffy Bills pass defense.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: DeMarco Murray (82%), Brandon Jacobs (75%), Knowshon Moreno (81%) and Montario Hardesty (75%)

Pierre Thomas, Saints
Rock StarInjury ReplacementThomas, who is available in more than 30% of fantasy leagues, racked up 115 all-purpose yards against the Colts. He looked fluid and shifty. Starter Mark Ingram left the game in the second half with a bruised heel. Ingram’s status for Week 8 is unknown but if the injury costs him any time, Thomas becomes a viable starter for fantasy—and a must-grab this week. If you thought the Colts had trouble stopping the run, wait until you get a load of the Rams. St. Louis was gashed by rookie DeMarco Murray on Sunday for 253 yards rushing. Make Thomas your top waiver claim if he’s available and you need RB help this week.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Thomas should be the top waiver priorty for those leagues in which he’s available.

Lance Ball, Broncos
Injury ReplacementBroncos starter Willis McGahee suffered a broken hand in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. McGahee is expected to miss two weeks. Look for Knowshon Moreno to split carries with Lance Ball. The Forecast expects Moreno to get the majority of the work in passing situations with Ball handling most of the rest of the touches. Although Moreno is a sexier name, Ball might represent better value. Both are worth considering versus the Lions.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ball is worth a waiver pickup and could surprise over the next couple games.

Roy Helu, Redskins
Worth a LookRedskins starter Tim Hightower suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. He will miss the remainder of the season. Ryan Torain, who should be owned in all leagues, is the lead back . . . for now. Torain has a lengthy history of injuries. Mike Shanahan has also indicated his plan is to ride the hot hand with respect to his backfield. Torain rushed two times for negative five yards on Sunday. This follows a game against the Eagles in which he averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. Helu, who was recommended as a sleeper pickup last week, will get his shot sooner or later. He should be stashed on your bench in anticipation of his breakout, which could come as early as this week.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: With Hightower out for the year, Helu needs to be picked up in all leagues.

Delone Carter, Colts
Injury ReplacementCarter was the lone bright spot for the Colts on Sunday, showing good vision and toughness in their embarrassing loss to the Saints. He posted 89 yards and a touchdown, doing most of the damage on an impressive 42-yard sideline scamper. Starter Joseph Addai aggravated a previous hamstring injury. His status for Week 8 is unclear. If he can’t go Carter, is worth a spot start against the Titans. Tennessee was carved up by Arian Foster and Ben Tate last week.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Give Carter a spot start this week if Joseph Addai is out..

Ben Tate, Texans
Worth a LookHouston’s explosive performance in Week 8 should serve as a reminder just how potent the Texans running game is. Both Arian Foster and Ben Tate topped 100 yards rushing. Tate remains the most important backup RB in the NFL for fantasy. He should be owned in all leagues and can be used as a starter if the matchup is favorable. He figures to get ten touches on many weeks.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Tate should be owned in all leagues and is the most valuable backup RB in the NFL.

Bernard Scott, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayCedric Benson is expected to serve a one-game suspension this week when the Bengals face the Seahawks. Backup Bernard Scott will get the start. With six teams on a bye this week, Scott should be grabbed in the vast majority of leagues. Seattle plays tough run defense, allowing 105.5 yards per game on the ground—tenth best in the NFL. Even so, Scott still is worth an acquisition. He has shown good burst in limited action but for whatever reason hasn’t earned many touches. He’ll get his chance to show what he can do with 15-20 carries this week. Consider him a low-end RB2.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Scott figures to get at least 15 touches this week and is worth a spot start despite a difficult matchup.

Michael Bush, Raiders
Injury ReplacementOakland starting RB Darren McFadden injured his foot and was seen on crutches following Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. Backup Michael Bush took the bulk of the carries and ended the contest with 99 yards on 12 carries. The Raiders have a bye in Week 8, so McFadden has a couple weeks to rest up. However, if he can’t go in Week 9, Bush could up stud-RB numbers against the Broncos. McFadden has been a slow healer throughout his professional career so Bush is a must add.

Availability: Owned in ~74% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Bush should be grabbed by McFadden owners this week.

Alfonso Smith, Cardinals
Injury ReplacementAlfonso Smith figures to take over the feature RB role in Arizona. Starter Beanie Wells suffered a right knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers. Expect him to miss at least a couple games. The injury is to the same knee that Wells had surgery on prior to the 2010 season. Smith, a former practice squad player, should be picked up this week but can’t be trusted in Week 8 as a starter. Arizona travels to Baltimore to face a Ravens defense that ranks third in the NFL against the run.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Smith is worth adding but faces an incredibly difficult test against the Ravens this week.

Leon Washington, Seahawks
Injury ReplacementSeahawks starter Marshawn Lynch was a late scratch for Sunday’s game against the Browns. He had a back spasm and couldn’t get loosened up during pregame warm-ups. The injury is apparently something that has followed Lynch throughout his career and pops up every once in awhile. He isn’t expected to miss much time, if any. However, veteran Leon Washington is worth grabbing as insurance in deep leagues. Seattle faces a tough Bengals run defense in Week 8 so, generally speaking, the Seahawks backfield should be avoided.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If you’re desperate for a warm body at RB, Washington might be worth a look—but only if Marshawn Lynch sits out.

Kregg Lumpkin, Buccaneers
Injury ReplacementTampa’s Earnest Graham tore his Achilles tendon in Sunday’s loss to the Bears. Graham, who was a surprisingly effective all-around player this season, will miss the remainder of the year. The team will push to get LeGarrette Blount back after the Week 8 bye. However, the coaching staff hasn’t trusted him on third downs yet this season. Look for Kregg Lumpkin, who sounds like a character out of a fairy tale, to get much of the work in passing situations. He’s worth adding in PPR leagues. In ultra deep/competitive leagues, take a look at Chad Spann, who could be signed off the practice squad this week. Spann is a smaller RB, who may be able to complement Blount nicely. He was with Indianapolis but was cut after suffering a hamstring injury. His upside may be higher than Lumpkin if he can just get an opportunity.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Forecast doesn’t have high hopes for Lumpkin but he merits consideration as a bench option in PPR leagues.

Keiland Williams, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayWith starter Jahvid Best out with a concussion, Kieland Williams split carries with Maurice Morris. Both players had nine rushing attempts. Morris ended with 50 yards and Williams had 44. Best’s status for Week 8 is up in the air. If you’re desperate for RB help and your waiver wire has been picked over, Williams is worth a look as a flier. Detroit will face a Broncos defense that struggles against the run.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Roll the dice with Williams if you’re desperate this week and Jahvid Best sits out.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: Plaxico Burress (78%) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (83%)

Jabar Gaffney, Redskins
Injury ReplacementRedskins No. 1 receiver Santana Moss broke his hand against the Panthers. He is expected to miss over a month. Washington will need Jabar Gaffney to step up. With Moss out of the lineup, Gaffney is the favored wide receiver for QB John Beck, who targeted him eight times. The duo hooked up on four receptions for 68 yards. In Week 8, Washington faces the Bills in a game that should see plenty of points scored. Buffalo ranks 30th in the league against the pass. Gaffney will make a decent WR3 for fantasy. Take a look at Anthony Armstrong in deeper leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: With Santana Moss out, Gaffney can be used as a WR3 this week against the Bills.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Worth a LookDon’t sleep on Crabtree who was off in Week 7 for the bye. In his last game, he made nine grabs for 77 yards. Crabtree, who played through a painful foot injury earlier in the year, should be primed for a strong second half of the season. If he’s available in your league, make the claim. It’s rare to find an NFL team’s No. 1 WR on the waiver wire at this point in the season. The 49ers have a juicy stretch of games starting in Week 10: Giants, Cardinals, Ravens, Rams and Cardinals. Only the Ravens pose a significant challenge.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: With a favorable upcoming schedule, Crabtree is a nice bench WR option.

Antonio Brown, Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlaySteelers starter Hines Ward twisted his ankle in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals. During the second half, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders got all the snaps alongside Mike Wallace. Brown received the most targets from QB Ben Roethlisberger and ended the game with seven catches for 102 yards. In Week 8, Pittsburgh faces a New England pass defense that has allowed the third most fantasy points to WRs per game. Brown is worth a look as a WR3 or flex option, especially if Ward sits out. Sanders, who caught a TD pass on Sunday, is also worth considering as a flier.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Brown is a solid one-week plug-in against the Patriots in what should be a high-scoring game.

Jerome Simpson, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayPrior to the bye, Simpson posted six receptions for 101 yards against the Colts. It was the second time he crossed the century mark this season. He’s probably the only wideout who has two 100+ yard games this season but is on your waiver wire. Oh, and here’s another Simpson nugget: He’s started seven games in last two seasons and has gone over 100 yards four times. Gotta like those numbers. Now is a good time to grab him. Simpson had an off-the-field distraction earlier in the season but seems to have his head in the game now. With Cedric Benson slated to miss this week’s game, the Bengals may throw more than usual. Simpson is worth a spot start as a WR3.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Simpson is a sneaky pickup-and-play option against a banged up Seahawks secondary.

Michael Jenkins, Vikings
Worth a LookJenkins recorded his best game of the season in Week 7, racking up 111 yards and a touchdown. It was no coincidence that the stellar stat line came in Christian Ponder’s first NFL start. Ponder hooked up with Jenkins on the very first play from scrimmage for a 72-yard gain. Jenkins was tripped up at the one-yard line otherwise his numbers would’ve been even more impressive. With Bernard Berrian in the doghouse (he could be cut this week), Jenkins becomes Minnesota’s best deep threat. Consider adding him to your fantasy roster and giving him a start this week against the Panthers. Carolina is decent against the pass but Jenkins still should get plenty of looks.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Jenkins is opening some eyes and is a borderline WR3 option this week.

Steve Breaston, Chiefs
Worth a LookBreaston, who was identified by the Forecast last week, caught five passes for 64 yards against the Raiders on Sunday. Although the numbers weren’t huge, Breaston ranked inside the top 25 receivers in PPR scoring this week. Had the Raiders showed any punch in the second half, he likely would’ve seen more passes. As it was, the Chiefs had a 24-point lead and just ran out the clock. Kansas City faces the Chargers next week. It’s not a particularly favorable matchup, but consider Breaston to be a WR3 or WR4.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Breaston has put together a nice run and should be owned leagues with 12 or more teams.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Worth a LookThomas was rusty in his first game of 2011. He caught just three passes for 27 yards but one of them went for a touchdown. He also had a drop or two and may have run some poor routes. QB Tim Tebow threw his way 10 times—seven more than Eric Decker. Thomas could become a major fantasy factor over the second half of the season. If you have room on your bench for a WR with breakout potential, add him. Tebow could latch onto Thomas as a top target, especially in the redzone where his 6-3 frame and leaping ability make him a good option on fade routes.

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Thomas has a chance to be Denver’s top WR and is worth a speculative pickup.

Early Doucet, Cardinals
Worth a LookDoucet notched his second straight quality stat line, recording five receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. It followed an 8-92-0 line in the previous game versus the Vikings. Doucet has been getting much of his production out of the slot and is benefitting from playing alongside Larry Fitzgerald. He’s roster worthy at this point but might need another week of seasoning before you activate him. Arizona faces Baltimore in Week 8.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Give Doucet a look as WR depth but keep him on ice this week against the Ravens.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Fred Davis (83%) and Kellen Winslow (79%)

Jake Ballard, Giants
Rock StarStill only owned in 24% of leagues, Ballard’s ownership should be on the rise this week. The Giants are coming off a bye week and Ballard has contributed three straight useful stat lines. The big TE has been a revelation for the Giants, giving the team an across-the-middle-of-the-field target they were severely lacking when Steve Smith left for Philadelphia and Kevin Boss for Oakland. New York hosts a Miami team that is likely ready to wave the white flag. Starting TEs have put up at least 50 yards or a touchdown against the Dolphins in every game this season except one.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ballard should be a hot pickup this week with a favorable matchup and lots of TEs on bye.

Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayFor all intents and purposes, Shiancoe has been irrelevant for fantasy except during Brett Favre’s amazing 2010 campaign. With Christian Ponder under center, he may surge back to respectability. Ponder threw Shiancoe’s way eight times, completing four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. Up next, the Vikings face the Panthers, who have been burned by opposing TEs in two of the last three weeks. With three quality TEs on bye this week, Shiancoe is worth a look as a fill-in. 

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Shiancoe appears to have some chemistry with Christian Ponder; he’s worth a spot start this week if you need TE help. 

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: N/A

David Akers, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookAkers has put up double-digit points in two straight games. He’s coming off a Week 7 bye and is available in close to 40% of fantasy leagues. With a home matchup against the Browns this week, he’s an attractive pickup for owners requiring a one-week replacement. Plus, with the way the 49ers are playing right now, he has the potential to be relied upon as your every-week kicking option. San Francisco has a reasonable schedule for the rest of the year with just a couple really tough games (BAL and PIT).

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Akers deserves starting consideration this week against the Browns.

Lawrence Tynes, Giants
1 Week Plug & PlayTynes has been a mediocre fantasy kicker in 2011. However, there’s reason to be hopeful for a productive stat line in Week 8. He is coming off a bye and posted his best numbers of the season back in Week 6. The Giants will host an 0-6 Dolphins team that Eli Manning should have little difficulty picking apart. Look for New York to score 27+ points with at least nine coming off the foot of Tynes.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Exploit New York’s favorable matchup this week against the Dolphins by activating Tynes.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: New Orleans Saints (88%)

Cincinnati Bengals
Rock StarThe Bengals have a current streak of two straight games with a DST touchdown. Coming off the bye week, they’re surprisingly available in about half of all fantasy leagues. If your regular DST is on bye or you’ve been lacking at this position, do yourself a favor and pick up the Bengals. They do everything pretty well—including sacks, turnovers, touchdowns, scoring defense and yardage. A juicy matchup this week against the Seahawks is icing on the cake.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Consider the Bengals a set-it-and-forget-it defense for the rest of the year.

New York Giants
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookThe Giants are another solid DST that’s coming off a bye and thus under-owned. New York’s defense should be back to near full strength after missing a few key pieces over the first half of the season. They will host the Miami Dolphins in Week 8. QB Matt Moore won’t know what hit him. Expect the G-men to send heavy pressure and force Moore into several mistakes. In Moore’s two starts this season, Miami has allowed eight sacks, four turnovers and a defensive touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~73% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: New York’s pass rushers are finally healthy and should rack up 4-5 sacks this week.


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