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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 12
Paul Sandy
November 22, 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 (71%), Carson Palmer (92%) and Tim Tebow (84%)

Matt Moore, Dolphins
Rock StarLast week’s plug-and-play recommendation delivered a three-touchdown performance against the reeling Bills. It was Moore’s second 3-TD stat line in his last three games. He’s on a roll and has completed over 70% of his passes during that stretch. Up next, the Dolphins will face Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are average against the pass and allowed Rex Grossman to post big numbers in Week 11. Moore is a better bench QB than an every-week starter but don’t be afraid to use him if your team has been crippled by the recent QB carnage.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Few QBs are playing as well as Moore right now; use him if you’re shorthanded.

Vince Young, Eagles
Rock StarYoung’s first start as an Eagle netted fantasy owners 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns. On the downside, he threw three interceptions and didn’t do much of anything on the ground. If Michael Vick rests his broken ribs again this week, consider Young an attractive start against the Patriots. New England’s defense has played well the last two games but Young should be able to put up some useful numbers in what has the makings of a high-scoring game.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: If he starts this week, consider Young a viable fantasy starter.

Christian Ponder, Vikings
Rock StarOne week after being shut down by the Packers, Ponder bounced back, passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled for 71 yards. The rookie throws the ball well while moving outside the pocket and the rushing yards he posts will continue to cushion his fantasy value. With Adrian Peterson (ankle) potentially out, Minnesota’s offense could be forced to pass more. Ponder is a decent option this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has the 26th-ranked pass defense in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ponder is worth a look as a spot starter this week..

Matt Leinart, Texans
Injury ReplacementIn Week 12, Leinart will take over for the injured Matt Schaub (foot). Leinart’s NFL career has gotten off to a shaky start. He has 14 career touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions. In his defense, he hasn’t truly been given a chance to gain the on-the-field experience required to develop into an NFL quarterback. The Forecast was surprised that Leinart has only started six games since his rookie season. Stash him on your bench in case he builds confidence in Houston’s high-powered offense.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Leinart is worth adding in leagues with 12 or more teams.

Caleb Hanie, Bears
Injury ReplacementBears starting QB Jay Cutler will reportedly miss the next 6-8 weeks. He can be dropped in all non-keeper leagues. Backup Caleb Hanie will take over. Hanie is best remembered for his performance in last year’s NFC championship game, in which replaced Cutler and gave the Bears some brief hope. He passed for 153 yards and a touchdown in that game. In Week 12, Hanie couldn’t have handpicked a better matchup. The Bears will face a Raiders defense that has ceded multiple passing touchdowns in eight of their last nine games. Still, it would be a gutty move to start him this week. After Oakland, the Bears will face the Chiefs, Broncos and Seahawks.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hanie is worth grabbing and holding in deep leagues but he’s a risky start in Week 12.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: DeAngelo Williams (80%)

Kevin Smith, Lions
Rock StarProfiled here last week, Smith busted loose for 201 total yards and three touchdowns. With Jahvid Best still dealing with concussion symptoms and the other Lions RBs failing to capitalize, Smith will likely be the starter for the rest of the year. Because of his run-catch versatility, Smith is a trustworthy RB2 for fantasy. He’s easily the best fantasy RB prospect that’s emerged over the last few weeks and probably the last great one we’ll see in 2011. Acquiring him should be a priority. Smith is a good bet for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Packers on Thanksgiving.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Smith might be the last high-profile pickup in 2011; get him if you can.

Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Injury ReplacementVikings RB Adrian Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. He will likely miss Sunday’s game against the Falcons but he’s played hurt before so keep an eye on his status. If Peterson sits, backup Toby Gerhart will become the workhorse with Lorenzo Booker providing a change of pace. Gerhart didn’t show much on Sunday (averaging just 2.6 YPC) but the Vikings were playing from behind so he didn’t have many opportunities to touch the ball. Look for a better contribution against the Falcons even though Atlanta stacks up well versus the run.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Expect modest, low-end RB2 numbers from Gerhart while Adrian Peterson is out.

Ryan Grant, Packers
Injury ReplacementPackers RB James Starks left late in the game on Sunday against the Bucs with knee and ankle sprains. There was no ligament damage and there have been varying reports on the timetable for his return. Expect veteran Ryan Grant will reclaim his old job for a week or two. Grant has struggled this year but he’ll get nearly all of the RB touches now so don’t be surprised if he posts serviceable numbers. Add him for bench depth but consider him a risky option against Detroit this week.

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Grant will likely get the start for Green Bay this week but shouldn’t be trusted for fantasy unless you’re desperate.

Donald Brown and Joseph Addai, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayNo team is more generous to opposing RBs than the Panthers. So it makes sense to look to their opponent for RB help . . . even if that opponent is the Colts. Donald Brown has been getting most of the work for Indy the last few weeks while Joseph Addai has been rehabbing his injured hamstring. Coming off a Week 11 bye, Addai might be ready to roll. Watch for updates out of Indy. Carolina has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns (most in the league) and 140.7 rushing yards per game. Although Indianapolis is playing poorly, fantasy owners might be able to squeeze a useful stat line out of Addai or Brown against Carolina.

Availability: Owned in ~26% and ~60% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Plug and play the Colts starting RB this week for some sneaky points.

Marion Barber, Bears
1 Week Plug & PlayOn Sunday, Barber tallied his fourth touchdown in the last five games. His scoring consistency makes him a viable RB2 or flex option in deep leagues. The Bears have a favorable stretch of games coming up. After dispatching the Chargers on Sunday, they’ll face the remainder of the AFC West (Oakland, Kansas City and Denver). None of the teams in that division should scare you. Plus, with Jay Cutler out for several weeks, the Bears will increase their emphasis on the running game. Add Barber if you need RB help.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Expect a modest bump in Barber’s production with Jay Cutler out.

Joe McKnight, Jets
Injury ReplacementJets RB Shonn Greene suffered bruised ribs in last Thursday’s loss to the Broncos. He says he’ll be ready for this week’s game against the Bills. However, he didn’t practice Monday. If you’re counting on Greene, McKnight is must-have insurance. LaDainian Tomlinson is dealing with a sprained knee and his status is unclear. If McKnight starts or splits carries with Greene, he’ll have an opportunity to chip in useful numbers against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed 12 rushing scores, tied for third most in the NFL. McKnight posted 121 total yards against the Broncos last week.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: McKnight would be a viable RB2 if Shonn Greene can’t go this week or a decent flex option if Greene does play.

Montario Hardesty, Browns
Worth a LookHardesty, who has missed a month with a calf injury, could return to the field this week. He would likely get the start and the lion’s share of the carries. At times this season, the Browns force-fed him the ball. While the results were mixed, Hardesty still merits attention in fantasy leagues. Consider acquiring him as a backup. The Browns have the most difficult remaining schedule but if Hardesty is getting 20 touches a game, he’ll have value.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hardesty could be given an extensive look over the next several weeks; add him for bench depth.

C.J. Spiller, Bills
Injury ReplacementSpiller came in for the injured Fred Jackson (calf) during Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Dolphins. He barely showed up on the stat sheet, registering 20 yards on three touches. He was also stuffed at the goal line on consecutive carries. At this point, Spiller looks like a complete bust. He hasn’t shown the game-breaking ability that led the Bills to draft him in the first round. A failed experiment to move him to WR further proved his lack of value. All that said, he could get the start this week against the Jets. Maybe he finds a way to post 50 yards on dump-off passes. If that’s attractive to you, Spiller is worth a look.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Spiller deserves consideration in PPR leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: Nate Washington (79%), Torrey Smith (80%) and Percy Harvin (89%)

Santana Moss and Jabbar Gaffney, Redskins
Rock StarGaffney turned in an outstanding 7-115-1 stat line in Week 11 against the Cowboys. With Rex Grossman under center, he’s a useful fantasy WR when the matchup isn’t too difficult. Start him as a WR3 or flex option in Week 12 against the Seahawks. Seattle is just okay against the pass. Also monitor the health status of Santana Moss (hand). He’s getting close to returning and has WR3 potential for the rest of the season. He averaged over five receptions per game during the first month of the year with Grossman under center. If it looks like Moss will be back, he should be a popular free agent target in Week 12.

Availability: Owned in ~40% and ~48% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Moss and Gaffney could be top 35 fantasy WRs for the rest of the year.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Rock StarThe Forecast is stunned Crabtree is still available in nearly 34% of fantasy leagues. The third-year WR is San Francisco’s top pass catching wideout. He’s posted five or more receptions in four of the last five games. Coming off a 7-120-0 line against the Cardinals, perhaps Crabtree will finally start to get some attention. The 49ers face Baltimore this week. Although he’s not a recommended start immediately, Crabtree will definitely be useful in Weeks 13-14 when the Niners play St. Louis and Arizona.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Crabtree should be owned in the majority of leagues at this point but hasn’t quite earned “every-week” status.

Jerome Simpson, Bengals
Rock StarSimpson has appeared frequently on the Forecast this season. With WR A.J. Green out of the lineup with a knee sprain, Simpson was QB Andy Dalton’s favorite target. He ended the game with eight receptions for 152 yards (both season highs). Simpson has now posted useful fantasy numbers in four of his last five games. The only problem is in that fifth game, he didn’t catch a single ball. The ceiling is high but the floor is low. If Green is out again, Simpson is a decent option this week even against a stingy Browns secondary. In deeper leagues, consider Andre Caldwell.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Don’t be afraid to use Simpson as a WR3 or flex option.

Riley Cooper, Eagles
Injury ReplacementWhenever a QB change happens, it’s interesting to see which WR or TE the new QB latches onto. For Vince Young that player was Riley Cooper, who he targeted a team-high 12 times. Cooper ended the game with five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. With Jeremy Maclin ailing with hamstring and shoulder injuries, Cooper could once again be a fantasy factor. Grab him in advance of this week’s game against the Patriots. New England has been vulnerable to the pass this season, allowing about 300 yards per game.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Give Cooper a start this week against the Pats and see if his chemistry with Young continues.

Nate Burleson and Titus Young, Lions
Donald Driver and James Jones, Packers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Packers versus Lions game on Thanksgiving isn’t a bad place to go shopping for WR points. The game should see 50-60 points scored. Fantasy owners would be wise to get a piece of that action. Detroit’s side of the ball provides the most upside in terms of available free agents. Look to Nate Burleson and Titus Young. Burleson returned to relevance over the last two games—posting 15 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown. Young has posted 70+ yards or a touchdown in two straight games. For the Packers, Donald Driver (72 yards in Week 11) or James Jones (three career TDs vs. Detroit) make sense—especially if Greg Jennings (leg) misses the game. Out of all these WRs, Burleson seems to have the most long-term potential in 2011.

Availability: Owned in ~14-40% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Tap into the Packers/Lions game for WR points.

Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlayWith Emmanuel Sanders (knee) likely out and Hines Ward at the bottom of the WR depth chart, Jerricho Cotchery is Pittsburgh’s No. 3 WR. Prior to a Week 11 bye, Cotchery had his best performance as a Steeler. He caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. To boxscore skimmers, the performance may not seem like much. However, Cotchery had another TD called back by a penalty and was targeted in the endzone one other time. QB Ben Roethlisberger clearly has an affinity for throwing his way in the redzone. With a favorable matchup this week against the Chiefs, Cotchery is worth a look in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Cotchery is worth a spot start in deep leagues and TD-heavy leagues this week.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Kellen Winslow (70%) and Brandon Pettigrew (88%)

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Worth a LookLast week’s TE recommendation was robbed by instant replay of what looked like a no-brainer touchdown. Without the score, he ended the game with three receptions for 48 yards. Fantasy owners should still continue to look at Gresham as a legitimate starting TE option. QB Andy Dalton is finding a way to put up solid fantasy numbers even against the toughest defenses the NFL can throw at him. The Dalton-to-Gresham connection is only going to get better. 

Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Gresham is a viable TE1 in leagues with 12 or more teams.

Tony Scheffler, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayDespite being the No. 2 TE on his team, Scheffler has managed to creep into the fantasy discussion. He has scored touchdowns in three straight games. With an upcoming Thanksgiving Day tilt against the Packers, Scheffler is worthy of a spot start. Green Bay has been victimized by opposing TEs lately. TEs have posted useful numbers against them in three of the last four games. Take a flier on Scheffler if you’re desperate for TE help.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Ride the red hot Scheffler this week against the Packers.

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: Matt Bryant (89%)

Olindo Mare, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayPanthers kicker Olindo Mare should get plenty of kicking opportunities in Sunday’s matchup with Indianapolis. The Colts have allowed 27+ points in five of their last six games. They struggle to stop the run. Look for DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton to advance the ball with ease on Sunday. That will open the door for Mare to end this game with 9-11 fantasy points. He’s a solid plug-and-play option.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Exploit Carolina’s favorable matchup by deploying Mare for a spot start.

Nick Folk, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayFolk has contributed three useful fantasy stat lines in his last four games. With the Bills on tap next, he merits starting consideration. Buffalo has allowed a mind-blowing 79 points in their last two games. With the amount of offense the Bills are allowing, Folk is a safe, smart kicking option for fantasy owners. Look for Mark Sanchez and company to break out with a 28+ point effort with Folk chipping in multiple field goals.

Availability: Owned in ~45% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Stick Folk in your lineup and bank on a near double-digit effort.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: Bengals (85%)

Seattle Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlaySeattle’s surprisingly stingy defense will play host to the Redskins in Week 12. The Seahawks have recorded six turnovers and six sacks in the last two weeks. Acquire them this week if you’re in need of a DST with upside. Rex Grossman adds spark to Washington’s offense but he’s also more prone to mistakes than John Beck. The Redskins have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Seattle’s defense should fare well at home against the Redskins.


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