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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 13
Paul Sandy
November 25, 2008
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QUARTERBACKS

1. Kerry Collins, Titans
Rising ValueFantasy owners who have lost faith in their regular starter (i.e. McNabb) would be wise to add Kerry Collins for their fantasy postseason. Collins has put up 230 passing yards or more in each of his last three games and notched six touchdowns over the same period. The Titans have a creampuff schedule coming up, beginning with a Thanksgiving Day tilt against the Lions followed by meetings with the Browns and Texans. Collins is usable in all three of those games. Look for him to average about 240 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game from here on out.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: With a favorable upcoming schedule, Collins is worth a look in all leagues.

2. Shaun Hill, 49ers
Rising ValueHill has received praise from the Forecast on a couple occasions he assumed the starting duties in San Francisco. He’s recorded three straight games with two or more touchdowns. Given the team’s tendency to fall behind early, Hill should continue to flourish—at least from a fantasy perspective. He posted 303 yards and two scores against the Cowboys. The competition will get stiffer in the coming weeks with a road game in Buffalo followed by games against the Jets and Dolphins. However, a dream match up against the Rams fantasy championship week (Week 16) is certainly noteworthy. If your squad has a postseason berth wrapped up, it would be wise to grab Hill, especially if your regular QB will draw a tough opponent for your league’s fantasy bowl.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hill is roster-worthy in all leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Pierre Thomas, Saints
Rising ValueReggie who? Pierre Thomas has put together two straight quality fantasy performances with Reggie Bush on the sidelines. After racking up 144 total yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs, Thomas stayed hot on Monday night against the Packers. He recorded over 100 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. It’s unclear when Bush will return, but it’s safe to assume that Thomas has carved out a role for himself regardless of Bush’s health status. He’s running more more speed and elusiveness than Deuce McAllister. Thomas has a touch matchup this week against the Bucs, but will be an important player during the fantasy playoffs when the Saints face the Falcons in Week 14 and Lions in Week 16.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Thomas should be owned in all leagues.

2. Maurice Morris, Seahawks
Rising ValueMorris played well against the Redskins in Week 12, ending the day with 113 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. The performance included a nice 44-yard scamper. It was Morris’ second straight game with a touchdown. Seattle’s backfield has been a muddled mess all season with Morris, Julius Jones (calf) and T.J. Duckett sharing carries. If the committee approach continues, it will greatly limit Morris’ value. However, the fact that Jones only had two carries against Washington suggests Morris could be featured going forward. I wouldn’t suggest using him this week against Dallas unless you’re really in a pickle. However, Morris will provide nice roster depth to any squad, particularly since he faces the Rams in Week 15.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris deserves a roster spot in all leagues.

3. Lorenzo Booker, Eagles
Injury ReplacementBrian Westbrook is still bothered by knee and ankle injuries. Backup Correll Buckhalter suffered a knee injury of his own on Sunday and his chances of playing on Thursday appear slim given the short week to recoup. The injuries may open a window of opportunity for third-stringer Lorenzo Booker to see significant playing time as the season winds down. Philly’s schedule is a mixed bag going forward with games against the Cardinals, Giants, Browns and Redskins. Snag Booker off your waiver wire this week with the hope of catching lightning in a bottle. 

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Booker is a smart add in all leagues.

4. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
Rising ValueFaulk, who has 12 or more touches in four of New England’s last five games, posted 105 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. The Forecast loves the Patriots schedule during the fantasy playoffs (typically Weeks 14-16). During that stretch, New England will face the Seahawks, Raiders and Cardinals. The Seahawks and Raiders have terrible run defenses. The Cardinals are decent but not impenetrable. If Faulk is available in your league, pounce now. He’ll make an excellent flex player or even second RB if you’re in a league with 12 or more teams.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Faulk should be owned in all leagues.

5. Le’Ron McClain, Ravens
Rising ValueYou can’t argue that the Ravens aren’t effective running the football. The team ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing. The problem is trying to figure out which ball carrier is going to be featured on a given week. Against the Eagles in Week 12, Le’Ron McClain did most of the damage. He carried the ball a team high 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown. If nothing else, the performance shows that the coaching staff still has faith in McClain. They may turn to him again before the season is out. He’s worth consideration in all leagues but don’t plan on activating him unless your other RBs are truly awful.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McClain is worth a look in all leagues but isn’t consistent enough to be trusted on most weeks.

6. Gary Russell, Steelers
Injury ReplacementWillie Parker aggravated his knee injury on Thursday against the Bengals. He’ll likely miss this week’s game against the Patriots. While Mewelde Moore is in line to receive the bulk of the carries, don’t be shocked if Gary Russell plays a role in the offense. The team lined him up in the goal-line package last week and he scored a touchdown. Consider Russell a decent speculative pickup, who could pay dividends going forward—particularly in touchdown-heavy leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Russell might be worth a look in deep leagues and touchdown-heavy formats.

7. Ryan Moats, Texans
Injury ReplacementAhman Green was injured in Sunday’s game. In other news, the sun rose on the Eastern horizon this morning. Green’s predictable injury will sideline him for a couple games. Third-stringer Ryan Moats will see an increase in carries behind Steve Slaton. Head coach Gary Kubiak hinted in his presser that Slaton may be wearing down. It wasn’t the first time, he’s made that observation. It’s somewhat hard to believe based on Slaton’s 165-yard performance against the Colts two weeks ago. Nonetheless, Slaton likely won’t carry a full load going forward. Look for Moats to get 10 carries with some possible goal-line touches.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moats is worth a look as a handcuff for Slaton owners or for owners in leagues with ultra-deep rosters.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Domenik Hixon, Giants
Injury ReplacementAfter Plaxico Burress (hamstring) pulled himself from Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Hixon took the field and caught six passes for 57 yards. He also had a huge day in the return game. Monitor the news around Burress. New York has a playoff spot all but sewn up so the team will likely take a cautious approach with Plax. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hixon start this week against the Redskins. He flashed impressive talent back in Week 5 against the Seahawks when he caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Consider him to be a viable second wideout if Burress is on the bench.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The mere possibility that Burress could miss time makes Hixon a must-add in all leagues.

2. Jabbar Gaffney, Patriots
Rising ValueGaffney may have been a relevant fantasy player all season if Tom Brady hadn’t gotten hurt. Now that Matt Cassell has emerged as a competent, confident quarterback, Gaffney is finally making waves. He’s posted 80+ yards in two straight games as New England’s third wideout. Although the Patriots face a tough test this week against the Steelers, by the time the fantasy postseason rolls around, the competition gets softer. New England faces Seattle, Oakland and Arizona from Weeks 14-16. Consider Gaffney a low-end WR3 for those outings.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gaffney provides good WR depth in leagues of all sizes.

3. Mark Bradley, Chiefs
Rising ValueBradley still has his share of doubters as evidenced by his availability in 62% of leagues. However, the guy continues to contribute each week for owners willing to give him a chance. He’s caught or thrown a touchdown pass in four of his last five games. With Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe drawing most of the attention from opposing defenses, Bradley gets a fair amount of looks. And with a favorable upcoming schedule that includes games against divisional opponents like the Raiders, Broncos and Chargers, Bradley should continue to produce.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bradley is a viable starter in all leagues.

4. Davone Bess, Dolphins
Injury ReplacementWith starter Greg Camarillo out for the season with a knee injury, rookie Davone Bess will see an increase in playing time going forward. Bess has surpassed 50 yards receiving in two consecutive games, including an 87-yard effort on Sunday against the rival Patriots. This has been the year of the rookie with first-year players at all the key fantasy positions (QB/RB/WR/TE) contributing, so it wouldn’t be mind blowing to see Bess knock out a couple solid performances before it’s all said and done. An easy schedule with games against the Rams, Bills, 49ers and Chiefs will help his cause.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bess could emerge as a viable fantasy WR over the last five games and is worth a shot in deep leagues.

5. Harry Douglas, Falcons
SleeperLike Bess, Douglas is a rookie who is coming off a career-best game. He posted 92 yards receiving and added a rushing touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown. It wasn’t the first time he’s shown up on the fantasy radar. He turned in a nice 96-yard effort five weeks ago against the Bears. The Falcons continue to impress with rookie Matt Ryan under center, so Douglas and Michael Jenkins have an opportunity to continue to produce. With upcoming games against the Chargers and Saints, teams that have two of the NFL’s worst pass defenses, Douglas or Jenkins might be worth a look.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Douglas merits the attention of owners in deep leagues and keeper leagues.

6. Nate Washington, Steelers
Injury ReplacementWashington has for all practical purposes been a non-factor since a three game stretch midway through the season. He’s gone four straight games without scoring a touchdown or exceeding 60 yards. But with Santonio Holmes recovering from a concussion, there’s a chance Washington could start this week’s game against the Patriots. Holmes was knocked out on a violent hit against the Bengals. With the way the NFL handles head injuries these days, Washington may get the starting nod. If that happens, he’d be a viable third WR for fantasy purposes in 12-team leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Washington is worth a spot start in deep leagues if Santonio Holmes sits out.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
SleeperShiancoe has had an up-and-down season. He’s coming off a respectable 60-yard effort in Week 12 against the Jaguars. The Forecast likes his chances for a spot start this week against the Bears. Shiancoe recorded his best performance of the 2008 season against Chicago in Week 7—four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. The Bears allow a fair amount of fantasy points to tight ends (seventh most prior to Week 11). If you’re in need of a tight end for Week 13, consider rolling the dice with Shiancoe.

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Heap if you play in a league with 12 or more teams.

KICKER

1. Nick Folk, Cowboys
Rising ValueThe Forecast predicted two weeks ago that Folk would return to fantasy prominence. Although it took a game for QB Tony Romo to shake off the rust, the offense finally clicked in Week 12 against the 49ers. Folk went four-for-four on field goals and added three extra points. Dallas has three of its next four games at home, which bodes will for their kicker. If Folk is available in your league, add him and play him on Thanksgiving against Seattle.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Folk is a viable starting kicker in all leagues.

2. Jay Feely, Jets
Rising ValueThe Jets are rolling and so is Feely. He’s scored double-digit points in four straight games—and he’s only missed one kick over that stretch. With upcoming matchups against the Broncos, 49ers, Bills and Seahawks, Feely is a kicker who can lead your team to the promised land. Acquire him this week with the intention of playing him against a Denver team that had allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to kickers prior to Week 11.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Feely is starter material in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Miami Dolphins
SleeperIn case you missed the memo, the Rams aren’t good. They have failed to score more than 16 points in their last five games.  In their last three games, the Rams quarterbacks have thrown eight interceptions and been sacked 11 times. The team also lost four fumbles in those three outings. Coming off a disappointing loss to the Patriots, Miami’s defense is peeved. Look for them to make a statement in St. Louis. Anything less than four turnovers and four sacks would be a disappointment.

Availability: Owned in ~66% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miami is worth a spot start against the pitiful Rams.

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