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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 11
Paul Sandy
November 13, 2007

QUARTERBACKS

1. Matt Schaub, Texans
Schaub was a top 10 fantasy QB for the first few weeks of the season. Then Andre Johnson suffered a sprained knee and Schaub began struggling with his own injuries. Now both players are finally healthy and will take the field together for the first time since Week 3. Consider adding Schaub for some roster depth. Houston faces the Saints in Week 11, which makes Schaub worthy of a spot start. He’ll also be a decent option against the Browns in Week 12.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Acquire Schaub now in anticipation of him regaining his early-season form.

2. Jason Campbell, Redskins
The Redskins opened up the offense on Sunday against the Eagles, which led to the best fantasy performance of Jason Campbell’s young career. He put up his first three-touchdown game, completing 67.3% of his passes. Campbell has one of the best arms in the league but has struggled with his accuracy. On Sunday, he looked comfortable and poised. Although Campbell still isn’t at a point where I’d want to rely on him as a starter, he is beginning to live up to his potential. Make him your backup if you play in a deeper league and definitely make a point to acquire him if you play in a keeper or dynasty league.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Campell is a solid backup QB with tons of upside.

3. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders
Russell missed all of training camp and the preseason because of a holdout. Being away from the team was obviously a major setback, but now he has several weeks of practice under his belt and the time may be near for him to make his debut. The Raiders spent the #1 overall draft pick this season on Russell and obviously view him as the future of the franchise. With Josh McCown nicked up and Daunte Culpepper looking awful, Al Davis may be compelled to make the switch soon. Russell has already climbed above Culpepper on the depth chart. Don’t be surprised if he takes the field this week against the Vikings. 

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Russell should see plenty of action over the next seven weeks and is worth a look in deep leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Chester Taylor, Vikings
Adrian Peterson went down in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Packers. As he was writhing in pain and grasping his knee, the three most dreaded letters in fantasy football were on every fantasy football owner’s mind — ACL. Fortunately, Peterson didn’t tear the ACL; he suffered a partially torn LCL, which is a far less significant injury. While his knee might not keep him out for the rest of the season, don’t be surprised if he’s on the sideline for awhile as the Vikings try to protect their franchise RB. If Chester Taylor is on your waiver wire, he should be your top free agent priority. Taylor rushed for 1,200+ yards in 2006 and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry this year. Minnesota has a very favorable upcoming schedule (OAK, NYG, DET and SF). He will get a minimum of three starts.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Taylor is the top pickup this week and should be owned in leagues of all sizes.

2. Ron Dayne, Texans
Based on his 122-yard effort two weeks ago, Dayne may have overtaken Ahman Green for the starting spot in the Texans backfield. Although Houston hasn’t been a major source of fantasy points, particularly in the running game, the Texans are getting all of their key players back. The return of Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub could have a ripple effect on the offense. If Dayne continues to get 20+ touches per game, he could become a reliable RB2 for the duration of the season. He closed out the 2006 season with five touchdowns in his final three complete games.  

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dayne could be the starter in Houston for the remainder of 2007 and should be owned in all leagues.

3. Maurice Morris, Seahawks
Morris looked explosive and fresh last night filling in for the injured Shaun Alexander. He carried the ball 28 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. Alexander looks like a shadow of his former self and has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. He’s not running with the same authority and Mike Holmgren can see that as plainly and clearly as anyone. Don’t be surprised if Holmgren holds him out another game or two. With the Bears and Rams up next on the schedule, Morris would a serviceable starter in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems should Alexander rest again.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris should be owned in all leagues.

4. Aaron Stecker, Saints
Reggie Bush was slowed by a knee bruise last week. He played through the injury on Sunday but suffered a minor concussion. His status at this point is unclear. To be on the safe side, Bush owners should pickup Aaron Stecker, who has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. If Bush takes an extra week to shake off the cobwebs, Stecker would be a good play against the Texans. In deeper leagues, third-stringer Pierre Thomas might be worth a look, as he’d likely spit carries with Stecker.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bush owners should pickup Stecker as insurance at this point.  

5. Michael Bush, Raiders
The Raiders backfield is worth watching over the second half of the season. ESPN’s John Clayton said he thinks LaMont Jordan will be traded in the offseason and that’s why the team isn’t using him. Justin Fargas will be a free agent after the season. Rookie Michael Bush is expected to be activated in the next couple weeks. Look for Al Davis to use the final seven games of the season to evaluate his team’s talent. I expect Fargas to continue to get the bulk of the carries. Bush will likely begin spelling him at some point. Based on Fargas’ injury history, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bush become the primary runner at some point this year.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stick Bush on your bench before your league mates catch wind of his pending activation.

6. Mewelde Moore, Vikings
Chester Taylor will get all the attention this week, but if you play in a deeper league, you might consider adding Mewelde Moore. Moore’s primary role this season has been on special teams, but he now becomes the defacto #2 in Minnesota. An excellent receiver out of the backfield, Moore could see about 30% of the RB touches while Adrian Peterson is out. The best case scenario would have him averaging about 50-60 all-purpose yards per game. That’s enough to make him a viable player in some leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moore is worth a look in PPR leagues.

7. T.J. Duckett and Avieon Cason, Lions
Lions starting RB Kevin Jones twice came out of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals due to soreness in his surgically repaired right foot. Jones had a miserable afternoon and ended the day with negative yardage. There might be nothing more to the story than Jones needed a breather, but don’t be surprised if he shows up on the injury report this week. If he can’t go, T.J. Duckett and Avieon Cason would likely split carries. There’s an outside chance Tatum Bell would be activated, but he’s pretty securely entrenched in the doghouse after poor production and ill-advised comments to the media.

Availability: Owned in ~7% and ~0% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Monitor Jones’ health status to see if he’ll be available; if not, take a look at Duckett or Cason.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Chris Henry, Bengals
In Henry’s first game back from an eight-game suspension, he put up 99 yards on four receptions. He should’ve been snatched up in all leagues weeks ago. However, if he’s still available in your league, he’s worth a roster spot (if not a starting spot). The Bengals have one of the most favorable schedules for the remainder of the fantasy season.

Availability: Owned in ~65 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henry is worth a roster spot in all leagues.

2. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks
Hackett is surprisingly still available in over 50% of fantasy leagues. Considering the rate at which the Seahawks are throwing the football, Hackett is an outstanding acquisition. He should be a quality WR3 for the duration of the season — even when Deion Branch returns. Hackett was QB Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target on Monday night with a smattering of short and deep throws. He ended the night with eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~46 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hackett is a strong WR3 and should be owned in all leagues.

3. Mark Clayton, Ravens
Two weeks ago the Forecast advised owners to roll the dice with Clayton. The thinking was after an injury-marred first half of the season, Clayton’s production could skyrocket after the bye week. Clayton did just that, putting up his first 100-yard performance of the season on Sunday against the Bengals. He was targeted 12 times. If he’s still available in your league, snatch him up. Steve McNair will likely give way to Kyle Boller at some point in the next couple weeks, which would only help Clayton’s fantasy prospects. Clayton did most of his damage with Boller in the lineup.

Availability: Owned in ~27 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: He’s not ready for primetime yet, but Clayton could be primed for a big second half if Boller gets the starting nod.

4. Drew Bennett, Rams
Issac Bruce tweaked his hamstring in Sunday’s win against the Saints. The injury will likely sideline him for at least a week or two. Bruce had chronic hamstring issues early in his career and has already missed two games with injuries to the same hamstring this season. With the Rams offense on the rise, now is a great time to pickup Drew Bennett. He hauled in four passes for 37 yards and a score on Sunday. St. Louis has some good matchups coming up, including games against the 49ers, Falcons and Bengals. Consider Bennett a low-end third receiver this week if Bruce is out.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bennett could serve as a low-end third receiver this week if you’re desperate.

5. Kevin Walter and Andre Davis, Texans
Coming off the bye week and with the return of Andre Johnson, many owners dumped Walter and Davis. Both players posted some big games with Johnson was sidelined. Be careful not to assume that they’ll become irrelevant with Johnson’s return. After an eight week layoff, it may take a game or two to get up to full speed. Look for Walter and Davis to post solid stat lines in Week 11 against the Saints. New Orleans ranks 29th in the NFL against the pass and has given up the third most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Availability: Owned in ~43% and and ~49% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: If you’re in a pickle this week and need WR help, give Walter or Davis a look.

TIGHT ENDS

1. L.J. Smith, Eagles
The Forecast pegged Smith as a sneaky pickup last week. He put up 49 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins. A nonfactor for the first half of the season because of an abdominal injury, Smith is almost back to full strength. With the Philly offense not exactly loaded with great receiving targets, Smith should get his share of looks each week. If your regular TE is underacheiver, Smith is a guy you can pickup and play immediately.  

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith could emerge as a top 10 fantasy TE over the last half of the 2007 season.

2. Leonard Pope, Cardinals
Pope is a big man. At 6’8”, he makes for a massive target for Kurt Warner (or whoever is throwing the ball for the Cardinals). He posted two receiving touchdowns on Sunday against the Lions—one at the goal line and the other from 14 yards out. Although he has registered three total scores in the last three weeks, at this point, Pope is probably more of a “project”—a guy to keep on your bench to see if he develops. That said, I love his upcoming schedule, which features games against the Bengals, 49ers and Browns. Two of the three (CIN and CLE) rank among the worst in the league at giving up points to TEs.  

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Pope carries some risk but could be a good spot starter for the remainder of 2007.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Cleveland Browns
The Baltimore Ravens are just a bad, bad team right now. Losers of their last three games, the Ravens can’t seem to get anything going on offense. They turned the ball over five times on Sunday against the Bengals. Although Cleveland fields a below-average defense, I like their chances of stepping up against a Baltimore squad that is self destructing.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Browns should hold the Ravens under 20 points while recording a few turnovers and sacks.

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