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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 11
Paul Sandy
November 15, 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: Andy Dalton (67%), Matt Hasselbeck (75%) and Tim Tebow (83%)

Carson Palmer, Raiders
Rock StarA few weeks ago, it looked like the Bengals fleeced the Raiders in the trade that sent their former QB to Oakland. But Palmer has been a revelation, propelling Oakland back into the postseason hunt. Palmer has posted five touchdowns and over 600 passing yards in the last two games. If he’s still available in your league, he’s a no-brainer pickup. The Raiders have a fairly easy schedule to close out the year, including matchups against the Packers, Lions and Chiefs during the fantasy playoffs.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Palmer has quickly become a QB1 and should be owned in all leagues.

Vince Young, Eagles
Injury ReplacementIt was a tough week for starting QBs. Headlining a group of injured or benched QBs was Michael Vick broke two ribs on the second play of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. His status for Week 11 is unclear at this point. However, if you typically count on him for your fantasy team, scrambling to grab backup Vince Young makes sense. Although Young has some flaws in his game, he can make up for a lack of throwing production with good rushing yardage. Philadelphia faces the Giants this week. Young would be an acceptable though risky QB1 option if he gets the start.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Young is a must-add for owners who are counting on Michael Vick.

Matt Moore, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayAlthough Moore didn’t toss a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Redskins, he showed his three-touchdown effort in Week 9 might not have been a complete aberration. Moore completed 20 of 29 passes versus Washington, making the throws he needed to make and taking what the defense gave him. With a matchup this week against the Bills, Moore will be a decent pickup for owners facing a bye-week challenge. Buffalo ranks 27th in the NFL versus the pass. The Forecast likes Moore’s chances of putting up 220 yard and a couple scores.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: On a week with four byes and several injuries, Moore is suddenly relevant.

Alex Smith, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlaySmith isn’t the type of QB who can lead your fantasy team to a title. However, he has thrown at least one touchdown in six straight games. With three quality QBs on bye this week, Smith is a safe, smart plug-and-play option. San Francisco will host the Cardinals in Week 11. Arizona played a solid game against the Eagles but they’re still vulnerable against the pass. They’ve allowed 250+ yards passing in three out of their last five games. Smith should net fantasy owners at least 200 yards with a touchdown or two.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Smith is a decent plug-and-play option for Week 11.

Matt Leinart, Texans
Injury ReplacementTexans QB Matt Schaub suffered a Lisfranc foot injury. We’ll know Tuesday whether the injury ends his season. Even if he manages to get back on the field for the NFL playoffs, his year is likely over for fantasy purposes. Backup Matt Leinart will be under center from here on out. What can you expect? Look for Leinart to be put in a “game manager” role. The focal point of the offense will continue to be the running game, which will limit Leinart’s fantasy upside. Consider him a backup who you could press into duty in an emergency.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Leinart is worth adding in leagues with 12 or more teams.

John Skelton, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayIn one of the most stunning stat lines of the week, John Skelton passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on the road against the Eagles. Kevin Kolb (turf toe) still isn’t practicing so Skelton looks like a safe bet to get this third start of the season. Arizona plays San Francisco in Week 11. The 49ers are nearly impossible to run against but they rank 26th in the NFL against the pass. Skelton could post serviceable numbers if he gets the start. His upside is higher than the aforementioned Moore and Smith; however, so is his downside.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider rolling with Skelton as a boom-or-bust replacement option for Week 11.

Peyton Manning, Colts
Matt Flynn, Packers
SleeperThis week, the Forecast will identify some sleepers to target in keeper leagues. These are players worth stashing for 2012 in the hopes that their value skyrockets during the offseason. Manning is a no-brainer. He’s unlikely to play this season but as long as his neck heals as expected, he’ll be a top 10 fantasy QB next season—even if it’s not in Indianapolis. Flynn is a less obvious pickup. He’s in the last year of his contract in Green Bay. Based on what he’s shown in limited regular season and preseason action, Flynn will be given a chance to start somewhere in 2012 and could surprise as a top 15 fantasy QB if he lands in the right spot. Cleveland would make sense.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: Ben Tate (91%)

Kendall Hunter, 49ers
Injury ReplacementIdentified as a target last week, Hunter came on for the injured Frank Gore (knee) in Sunday’s win over the Giants. While San Francisco’s offense was surprisingly geared toward the passing game, Hunter still managed to contribute 44 total yards and a touchdown. On the TD run, he displayed nice vision and breakaway speed. Gore, who tweaked his ankle last week, left with a bruised knee. He says he could’ve returned to the game and expects to play this week. Nonetheless, with the 49ers close to icing the division, the Forecast thinks there’s a good chance we’ll see more of Hunter in the coming weeks as the team tries to keep Gore fresh for the playoffs.

Availability: Owned in ~45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Hunter should be a top RB pickup in most leagues this week.

Lance Ball, Broncos
Injury ReplacementDenver’s backfield was battered on Sunday. Willis McGahee left with a hamstring injury. Knowshon Moreno tore his ACL and is out for the year. The injuries opened the door for third-string RB Lance Ball to get some action. Ball carried the ball a whopping 30 times for 96 yards. The Denver coaching staff clearly doesn’t trust QB Tim Tebow, who only attempted eight passes. With such an emphasis on the running game, Ball could be an important fantasy player over the next couple games if McGahee misses time. At this point McGahee’s injury seems minor but Denver has a short week of preparation. Add Ball in case it looks like he’ll get a good chunk of the carries in Week 11 against the Jets. Deep league and PPR owners should also keep their eye on Jeremiah Johnson, who could assume third-down duties going forward.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ball is now the No.2 RB in Denver and might see 10-12 touches many weeks.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns
Worth a LookOgbonnaya posted 109 total yards in Sunday’s loss to the Rams. It was a step in the right direction for a guy who looked out of his league a week ago. Next week brings a tougher matchup against the Jaguars, who have a top 12 run defense. Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty are also a week closer to returning to action. Once either player is ready to go, Ogbonnaya’s value will be nullified. Keep your eye on the news out of Cleveland. If Ogbonnaya gets the start, he will likely see 20 touches and could be used in an emergency.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ogbonnaya’s workload will make him a passable RB2 in deep leagues.

Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlaySleeperDetroit’s rushing attack is reeling. They haven’t had a RB put up more than 58 yards rushing in the month since Jahvid Best went down with a concussion. The club has lost three of four during that stretch. The good news is the Lions face the Panthers in Week 11. Carolina ranks 28th in the NFL versus the run. Maurice Morris is the obvious play here. He led the team in carries last week and should get at least a dozen carries on Sunday. He’s not a bad spot start. Kevin Smith is more of a speculative pickup who could play a larger role as the season goes on—especially if Best remains out.

Availability: Owned in ~68% and ~3 of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Plug and play Morris if you’re in a bye-week pickle.

Tashard Choice, Redskins
SleeperRyan Torain got the start for Washington on Sunday. He didn’t seize the opportunity, carrying the ball ten times for just 20 yards. Roy Helu managed 41 yards on six carries but the Redskins offense continues to struggle. Considering how much head coach Mike Shanahan likes to tinker with his offense, don’t be surprised to see the recently acquired Tashard Choice to get a start at some point in the next couple weeks. Choice is worth stashing on your bench in ultra deep leagues as a speculative RB.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If you follow the Shanahan pattern, it’s obvious Choice will get his chance at some point this season.

Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Ryan Williams, Cardinals
Bernard Scott, Bengals
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
SleeperIf you’re in a keeper league and you’ve been eliminated from the postseason, now is a good time to start rebuilding for 2012. Adding a young RB who has the potential to secure a starting job is a smart move. Rookies Mikel Leshoure and Ryan Williams both suffered season-ending injuries during the preseason. If their respective rehabs go well, they could be ranked as top 20 fantasy RBs entering the 2012 season. Meanwhile, the respective starters for the Bengals and Patriots (Cedric Benson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis) will be free agents following the season, potentially opening the door for Scott and Ridley to compete for the starting gigs. Charles will reclaim his starting role in 2012.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: N/A

Laurent Robinson, Cowboys
Rock StarLast week’s top pickup recommendation notched two touchdowns and 73 yards receiving in Sunday’s blowout win. It was his fourth touchdown in the last three games. With the possible exception of Jason Witten, Robinson might be QB Tony Romo’s most trusted target at this point. As long as Miles Austin remains out, which he will for at least the next couple games, Robinson is an every-week starter regardless of the opponent.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Robinson is a must-own in all leagues.

Denarius Moore, Raiders
Rock StarMoore exploded for 123 yards and two touchdowns in Thursday night’s upset win over the Chargers. Don’t dismiss the performance as a fluke. QB Carson Palmer threw Moore’s way 13 times back in Week 9 so the Week 10 breakout isn’t a complete surprise. With fellow wideout Jacoby Ford going down with a foot sprain, Moore has a good chance to continue as Palmer’s top wideout. He’s WR2 or WR3 material this week against the Vikings and perhaps the rest of the way.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Moore looks like Carson Palmer’s top target and should be owned in all leagues.

Earl Bennett, Bears
Rock StarBennett backed up his breakout game in Week 9 with a solid 6-81-0 effort in Week 10. If he was left on your league’s wire, make a claim now. Bennett will be a useful option this week against San Diego. The Bolts have allowed 17 passing touchdowns, tied for third most in the NFL. As QB Jay Cutler’s top WR target, Bennett will be a solid WR3 for fantasy the rest of the way. Chicago has a soft schedule coming up with four straight games against the AFC West, followed by the Packers.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Add Bennett and don’t hesitate to start him on a weekly basis.

Vincent Brown, Chargers
Rock StarBrown caught the first touchdown of his career last Thursday against the Raiders, a 30-yard leaping catch. He also had another TD nullified by replay. Brown ended with 97 yards, which followed a 79-yard effort the week before. His uptick in production has come with Malcom Floyd on the sideline. Floyd has been battling injuries all season and may miss more time. A difficult matchup this week against the Bears limits Brown’s short-term value but things get easier once the Chargers get past Chicago. Add him as a fourth WR who has the potential to help your team make a playoff push.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Brown is emerging as a quality WR3 and merits consideration in all leagues.

David Nelson, Bills
Worth a LookOn Sunday, Nelson scored his fourth touchdown of the season. It was his second straight game with a TD. The 6’5” WR provides QB Ryan Fitzpatrick with a huge redzone target. All of Nelson’s touchdowns this year have come from inside the ten-yard line. Unfortunately, Nelson lives and dies on TDs. He hasn’t exceeded 65 yards receiving since Week 3. Still, WRs who consistently score are at a premium so Nelson merits roster consideration. He’s a low-end WR3 this week against the Dolphins.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Nelson is a useful matchup-based option in standard leagues or starter in TD-heavy systems.

Damian Williams, Titans
Worth a LookIn Week 10, Williams posted his first career 100-yard game. He also scored a touchdown, making it two straight games in which he’s cross the stripe. Although the second-year wide receiver isn’t making fantasy owners forget about Kenny Britt, he does provide nice value off the bench. Williams has scored a touchdown in four of his last six outings. Consider him a matchup-based starter in the weeks to come. With a game against Atlanta’s below-average pass defense up next, he’s worth a look as a WR3.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Williams’ has a favorable stretch of schedule coming up; add him and see if he stays hot.

Harry Douglas, Falcons
Injury ReplacementIn the first half of Sunday’s loss, rookie phenom Julio Jones aggravated the hamstring injury that caused him to miss a few weeks. He didn’t return to the game. No. 3 WR Harry Douglas was the next man up. At the end of the day, he punched out with eight receptions for 133 yards. QB Matt Ryan threw his way 14 times. The Falcons face a Titans defense that has struggled against opposing No. 2 and No. 3 WRs this season so Douglas would make a decent spot starter if Jones rests his hamstring.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Douglas is worth starting against the Titans if Julio Jones sits out.

Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayMcCluster quietly totaled 93 yards in Sunday’s ugly loss to the Broncos. He did his work both on the ground (8 carries) and through the air (6 receptions). With wide receiver eligibility in many commissioner services, McCluster can be used as a WR3 because he’s a good bet to get 10 touches most weeks. That’s the good news. The bad news is QB Matt Cassel is out for this week’s game against the Patriots. The level of play that Tyler Palko will provide is a complete unknown, adding risk to McCluster. Still, he’s worth a look as a deep-league replacement.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: McCluster should get enough touches to chip in at least 60 yards this week.

Santana Moss, Redskins
Worth a LookPlayoff bound fantasy owners who lack receiver depth may want to clear a spot for Santana Moss, who could return to the lineup in Week 12. Washington rookie Leonard Hankerson suffered a torn muscle in his hip so when Moss returns, he will be the undisputed No. 1 WR. The ‘Skins have a couple decent matchups remaining on the schedule and Moss could be a nice option to pull off the bench.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: If your playoff ticket is punched, add Moss for WR depth.

Kenny Britt, Titans and Austin Collie, Colts
SleeperBritt was a top five fantasy WR before he suffered a season-ending injury. If he was released in your keeper league, pick him up now and stash him for 2012. Also don’t forget about Austin Collie, who was a fantasy stud two seasons ago. No player has been hit harder by Peyton Manning’s absence than Collie. He was Manning’s security blanket and matched Reggie Wayne’s and Dallas Clark’s production during the first half of the 2010 season.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: N/A

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Rock StarGresham returned from a hamstring injury in Week 10. He tallied four receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. When healthy, Gresham has proven to be a top 12 fantasy TE. With stud wideout A.J. Green suffering a hyperextended knee, Gresham could become a focal point of the passing offense. Green will likely play this week but may be limited. The Bengals face a tough test against the Ravens but Gresham still merits consideration as a TE1.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Now that he’s healthy, Gresham is back to being useful as a starting fantasy TE.

Ed Dickson, Ravens
Worth a LookThe Forecast had a feeling one of the Ravens TEs would produce against Seattle. Unfortunately, we tabbed the wrong one. Ed Dickson grabbed ten receptions for 79 yards and two scores. Dennis Pitta, who was identified here last week, hauled in four passes for 49 yards. Baltimore is clearly leaning heavily on its TEs. If your regular TE is on bye this week, take a look at Dickson. The Ravens face the Bengals in what is a difficult matchup—but beggars can’t be choosers.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Dickson has been up-and-down this season but he’s worth a look in deep leagues.

Jacob Tamme, Colts
Worth a LookIn 2010, Dallas Clark injured his wrist in Week 6 and was placed on IR. Backup Jacob Tamme replaced him in the starting lineup and was a top five fantasy TE for the rest of the year. Can fantasy owners expect a repeat in 2011? Probably not but Clark suffered a significant leg injury in Week 10 and might be placed on IR. Tamme will become the team’s top TE. With a QB change to Dan Orlovsky, the Colts passing game may actually show some improvement when they return from bye. Tamme is worth a flier in deep leagues in case he can rekindle the 2010 magic.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Keep your eye on Tamme when he returns from bye or stash him on your bench.

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: Robbie Gould (82%)

Lawrence Tynes, Giants
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter a slow start to the year, Tynes has been steady for the last couple months. In his most recent four games, he has put up between 6-9 points not including bonuses. Up next, New York hosts a demoralized Eagles team that might be without QB Michael Vick. Look for the Giants to put up at least 30 points, which should lead to a nice stat line for Tynes.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tynes ought to put up at least eight points against the Eagles.

Steven Hauschka, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayHauschka drilled five field goals and an extra point in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. It was his third straight game with multiple field goals and the fourth in the last five games. With Seattle’s offense finally showing signs of life, adding Hauschka makes sense when the matchup feels right. In Week 11, Seattle will face the Rams. St. Louis ranks 25th in the league in scoring defense. Look for Hauschka to flirt with double-digits this week.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With a favorable Week 11 matchup, Hauschka is worth a spot start.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: Cowboys (87%) and Giants (90%)

New England Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayThe heavily-criticized Patriots defense came to play ball in Week 10, all but slamming the door shut on the Jets division title hopes. The team recorded three turnovers, five sacks and a defensive touchdown. Up next, New England faces a Kansas City team that will be without its starting QB. Chiefs backup QB Tyler Palko will get the start. He has attempted just 13 career passes in the NFL. Look for a solid DST effort from New England.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: New England is an excellent plug-and-play option against the Chiefs, who will start a rookie QB this week.


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