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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 17
Paul Sandy
December 23, 2008
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QUARTERBACKS

1. Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings
Rising ValueJackson has put together two quality fantasy performances. After a four-touchdown effort against the Cardinals in Week 15, he recorded two scores in Week 16 against the Falcons. He also added over 70 yards rushing. A matchup this week against the Giants doesn’t look particularly enticing, but Jackson’s ability to pick up yards on the ground should allow him to post a decent enough fantasy stat line.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson is worth a spot start this week and should be owned in all dynasty leagues.

2. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks
SleeperBlustery winter weather limited Wallace’s effectiveness in Week 16 against the Jets. He ended the game with just 175 yards and a touchdown. With a road game against the Cardinals on tap next, Wallace should bounce back. Arizona has allowed 34 passing touchdowns, easily the most in the NFL. With the team’s playoff position already locked into place, Arizona has little to gain by playing their starters. Look for Wallace and the Seattle offense to take advantage—rewarding outgoing head coach Mike Holmgren with a fond farewell gift of 30+ points

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace is an excellent sleeper play for Week 17.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Tashard Choice, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementChoice continues to impress as Dallas’ lead running back. He rushed 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown against a Ravens defense that’s among the best in the NFL at stopping the run. Choice also added seven receptions for 25 yards (he was targeted a whopping 10 times). If your waiver wire is still open and Choice is available, he’s a must-have. Give added consideration in dynasty and keeper leagues as the team could look to move Marion Barber in the offseason with rookie Felix Jones set to return in 2009.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Choice should be owned in all leagues.

2. LaMont Jordan, Patriots
Rising ValueFinally healthy, Jordan is making an impact as the regular season draws to a close. After carrying the ball 12 times for 97 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against the Raiders, Jordan was again an active participant versus the Cardinals. He amassed 78 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday and appears to be the back New England will use in goal line formations. With the team in another must-win situation this week, don’t hesitate to snag Jordan off the wire and play him this week against the Bills.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jordan is worth a look in all leagues.

3. Cedric Benson, Bengals
Rising ValueBenson was touted here last week and came through with a stunning 171-yard effort against the Browns. Since coming to Cincinnati, Benson has worked hard to be a better teammate and deliver positive results on the field. Coaches have praised him and now he’s finally beginning to produce. Benson should follow up his monster Week 16 game with another fine performance against the Chiefs. Kansas City ranks 30th in the NFL in run defense.

Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Benson is worth a roster spot in all leagues, especially dynasty leagues.

4. Maurice Morris, Seahawks
Rising ValueMorris churned out 116 yards on 29 carries against the Jets in Week 16. He’ll have an excellent chance to cross the century mark again with an upcoming game against the Cardinals. Arizona, who already has a playoff berth clinched, has been awful versus the run in recent weeks. The Cards have allowed over 180 yards rushing in both of their last two outings. Pick up Morris this week and give him a nod if you’re concerned about your regular starters resting.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is playable this week in all leagues that give points for yardage.

5. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
SleeperNew York has already iced the top playoff seed in the NFC so don’t be surprised if they rest their starters after halftime in their Week 17 matchup against the Vikings. Look for third stringer Ahmad Bradshaw to get about 15-20 touches against the Pat Williams-less Vikings. For owners with a championship game this week, Bradshaw could be a waiver wire steal. Monitor news out of New York for any indications about how the team plans to use its starters.  

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bradshaw is starter material this week against the Vikings.

6. Fred Jackson, Bills
Injury ReplacementBuffalo starter Marshawn Lynch re-injured his shoulder in Sunday’s upset win over the Broncos. His backup, Fred Jackson, stepped into the game and delivered in crunch time. He ended the day with 104 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. If you’re a Lynch owner who’s made it to a Week 17 championship game, Jackson is worth grabbing. He’s a versatile RB who should be able to chip in 100 yards if he gets the start this week against the Patriots.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson is a must grab for Marshawn Lynch owners.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars
Rising ValueNorthcutt proved the doubters wrong. After putting up 127 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago, he followed up with 101 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. He’s obviously having little difficulty stepping in for Matt Jones (suspension). It kind of makes you wonder if the team should’ve been using Northcutt more this year and forgetting about overpaid wideouts like Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams. Northcutt draws a difficult matchup this week against the Ravens. However, don’t dismiss him outright. The Colts have an above average pass defense and he tore them up.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Nothcutt is worth a look if your other options don’t look good this week.

2. Devery Henderson, Saints
SleeperNew Orleans QB Drew Brees is 317 yards away from 5,000 for the season. Look for him to air it out this week against the Panthers in the hopes of achieving that benchmark. If Brees looks deep, speedster Devery Henderson will likely get a couple targets. He’s the guy Brees throws deep to most frequently. The duo hooked up for 96 yards on Sunday against the Lions. If you need a boom-or-bust player this week to put your squad over the top, Henderson is worth a look. Henderson has posted 70 or more yards in three of his last four meetings against the Panthers.

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henderson is worth a roll of the dice in deep leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Rising ValueShiancoe was mentioned by the Forecast on a few occasions this season. He’s the kind of TE who gets added and dropped with some regularity because he has some big games but doesn’t perform consistently. In Week 16 against the Falcons, Shiancoe had a career performance with 136 yards and two touchdowns. He’s playable this week against the Giants although New York has allowed just one TE touchdown in 2008. Keep Shiancoe on your sleeper radar for 2009.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Shiancoe is worth a look but is a risky play against the Giants.

2. Martellus Bennett, Cowboys
Injury ReplacementCowboys starting TE Jason Witten aggrevated his ankle sprain in Saturday’s loss to the Ravens. Early reports suggest he might not be ready in time for the regular season finale against the Eagles. If he can’t go, rookie Martellus Bennett would get the start. Bennett had a streak of three straight games with a touchdown earlier this season and is a capable pass catcher. He could be sneaky good against a Philly unit that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to TEs.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bennett is an adequate replacement for Witten owners.

KICKER

1. Matt Stover, Ravens
SleeperThe Jaguars have allowed double digit points to kickers in four of their last five outings. Give Baltimore’s Matt Stover, who has made his last 12 field goal attempts, a shot this week. Stover is the 13th highest scoring kicker in the NFL yet he’s still available in over 80% of fantasy leagues. He should be good for 8-10 points as the Ravens go all out to secure a playoff berth.  

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stover is useful this week against the Jags.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Atlanta Falcons
SleeperIn their last two games, the Falcons have recorded seven sacks, four fumble recoveries, one interception, and a blocked kick returned for a touchdown. In Week 17, they’ll square off against a Rams team that has given up the fourth most interceptions and sixth most sacks among all NFL teams. Look for the Falcons to come up big in the box score as they use Week 17 as a playoff primer.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Atlanta is a decent spot start option this week against the Rams.

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