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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 5
Paul Sandy
October 6, 2009
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ICON LEGEND
Rockstar Rockstar Performer / Free Agent
Worth a Look Worth a Look
Injury Injury Replacement
Sleeper Sleeper
Rescue Roster Rescue / Temporary Fix
Outlook Favorable Schedule Outlook

QUARTERBACKS

No Brainers: Brett Favre

1. David Garrard, Jaguars
RockstarOutlookGarrard passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans. He was recommended here a couple weeks ago for his soft schedule. Tennessee was supposed to be his toughest test and he carved them up. Jacksonville now faces Seattle and St. Louis before a Week 7 bye and another meeting with the Titans. Garrard is a great backup QB with the potential to emerge as a contributor on most weeks. If you have a QB on bye, Garrard is your guy.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Garrard is worth a roster spot in all leagues.

2. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks
RescueWallace’s value obviously hinges on the availability of Matt Hasselbeck (ribs). If Hasselbeck sits again, Wallace should benefit from a favorable matchup against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is tied for last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 282.3 yards per game through the air. They’ve ceded six passing scores in their last three games. Wallace has attempted 40+ passes in each of Seattle’s last two contests. That’s led to some useful fantasy production (over 250 yards and a touchdown in both games). He should match or exceed those numbers this week if Hasselbeck is out. 

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace is worthy of a spot start if Matt Hasselbeck remains on the sidelines.

3. Derek Anderson, Browns
RescueThe Week 5 byes will be harsh on the QB front with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers and Jay Cutler off. Add in all of the injuries and benchings, the waiver wire situation for QBs is looking especially bleak. Take a look at Cleveland’s Derek Anderson if you’re desperate. Anderson got his first start of the 2009 season and he performed well enough to hang onto the job. He threw for 269 yards and a touchdown plus added a score on the ground. Cleveland will face Buffalo this week. The Bills rank 21st in the NFL against the pass. Anderson ought to get you a touchdown and 225+ yards.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Anderson is worth a matchup-based start this week in leagues with 12 or more teams.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: LeSean McCoy and Glen Coffee

1. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
RockstarIt’s amazing how much things can change in a week. After getting benched for not knowing the playbook, Rashard Mendenhall got his big break with Willie Parker nursing a turf toe. Mendenhall exploded for 191 total yards and two touchdowns. He will be the must-get free agent in the 33 percent of leagues in which he’s still available. Mendenhall will be gold this week against the Lions.

Availability: Owned in ~67% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Mendenhall should be owned in all leagues.

2. Jerome Harrison, Browns
RockstarWith starter Jamal Lewis (hamstring) sidelined, the Browns dialed up Jerome Harrison’s number for Sunday’s thriller against the Bengals. Harrison sizzled, racking up 152 total yards. Although he failed to get in the endzone, the effort may have cemented his status as the primary ballcarrier for the Browns going forward. Lewis could be reduced to a role player brought in for an occasional  series and goal line work. Harrison is startable this week against the 27th ranked Bills run defense.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Harrison should be owned in all league.

3. Ricky Williams, Dolphins
RockstarMentioning Williams again might be beating a dead horse, but he’s still available in 30 percent of leagues. Williams continues to deliver useful fantasy stats. He’s scored in three out of four games this season and just turned in his best performance to date Sunday against the Bills — 96 yards and a touchdown. On the downside, Williams won’t be much help over the next two games with a meeting next week against the Jets followed by a bye.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Williams is worth a roster spot in all leagues.  

4. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
SleeperWells’ ownership in fantasy leagues has dropped from 95 percent at the beginning of the season to less than 70 percent today. Although he hasn’t been given many carries this season, he has shown flashes of big-play ability. The deck would seem to be stacked in favor of a breakout for Wells over the next couple games. The Cardinals are coming off a bye week, which should have given Wells time to catch up after missing parts of the preseason with injuries. Starter Tim Hightower continues to struggle rushing the ball and is averaging just 3.4 ypc. Plus, the schedule looks favorable with a game this week against the Texans followed by the Seahawks.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If Wells was dumped in your league, make a waiver claim and stash him in advance of a potential breakout.  

5. Shonn Greene, Jets
SleeperThe Jets coaching staff has indicated they’d like to get Greene more work in the coming weeks. On Sunday against the Saints, he carried the ball four times for 23 yards. Despite his nifty moves and explosiveness, Greene would need either a demotion or an injury from Thomas Jones to earn the amount of playing time necessary to be relevant for fantasy owners. However, if you play in a deeper league and can afford a speculative pickup on a guy who could be a star during the second half of the season, Greene is worth exploring.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Greene is stash-worthy in deep leagues.

6. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas, Raiders
InjuryRaiders starting RB Darren McFadden will require surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and is likely to miss 2-4 weeks. This gives McFadden owners the reason the need to kick him to the curb. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas figure to share the workload going forward. Both players have posted impressive fantasy stats at times. Bush has youth on his side and likely has more ability to make something out of nothing, which is perhaps the most important quality for an Oakland RB to possess. The Raiders face the Giants this week, so starting Bush or Fargas is a risky move.

Availability: Owned in ~46 and ~8% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Bush and Fargas are worth looks in leagues with 12 or more teams.

7. Mewelde Moore, Steelers
RescueMoore is nothing if not opportunistic. He was involved in mere six plays Sunday night against the Chargers. His final stats? 33 all-purpose yards with two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 pass). If you play in a deeper league and need a RB replacement for the byes this week, there may not be many options. Moore could fill in nicely. The Steelers face a middling Lions defense that allows 121.3 yards rushing per game and over five yards per carry. Look for him to get enough touches to get you a modest amount of fantasy points.

Availability: Owned in ~28 of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moore could be worth a spot start but only in deep leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Steve Smith (NYG), Mike Sims-Walker, Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and Derrick Mason

1. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns
RockstarFantasy owners have witnessed breakout performers at the WR position each week of the 2009 season. In Week 4, Cleveland’s Mohamed Massoqui turned in the most surprising numbers. Massaquoi recorded 148 yards on eight catches. With Derek Anderson now under center, the pecking order in Cleveland’s WR ranks may have shifted. Anderson targeted Massaquoi 13 times, compared to five for Braylon Edwards. Incidentally, Edwards may be facing disciplinary action related to a night club incident following Sunday’s loss. Massoquoi, a rookie out of Georgia, is worth adding as a speculative pickup but you might want to wait for him to prove he’s not just a flash in the pan before starting him.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Massaquoi is worth adding in all leagues.

2. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, Titans
RockstarTitans wideout Nate Washington has scored in three straight games. His teammate, rookie Kenny Britt, has exceeded 80 yards receiving in two out of four games. Both players are part of the WR discussion and can be started as third receivers for fantasy purposes. Washington clearly has the attention of QB Kerry Collins when Tennessee enters the red zone. All three of Washington’s TDs have come from within 20 yards of the stripe. That’s somewhat surprising since Washington’s role with the Steelers was primarily as a deep threat. Britt on the other hand is gaining traction as an explosive wideout who can pull down the deep ball and churn out good yardage after the catch. Washington is worth rostering in all leagues. Britt in deeper leagues.  

Availability: Owned in ~51% and ~21 of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Britt and Washington are worth adding as roster depth.

3. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers
Worth a LookBryant reached paydirt for the first time in 2009 on Sunday. He has been hampered by a knee injury all season. QB Josh Johnson threw his way five times, completing four passes four 44 yards and the score. Bryant will be hard-pressed to approach the fine numbers he posted in 2008. Questionable play at the QB position figures to limit his production all season. However, Bryant can be used when his matchup is favorable. That won’t be the case this week when Tampa heads to Philly. However, a Week 6 meeting against the Panthers could be productive.

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Pick up Bryant but make him prove himself before starting him.

4. Sidney Rice, Vikings
Worth a LookRice was identified here last week as a sneaky plug and play for Monday night’s game against the Packers. He came through with 70 yards and a touchdown. Over the last two games, the Vikings have opened up the offense a bit. Brett Favre attempted fewer than 30 passes each of the first two weeks. In the last two games, he’s attempted over 35. While Favre spreads the ball around to his weapons, Rice seems to be one of his favorites, especially in the red zone. Consider riding him for this week’s game against the beleaguered Rams.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rice is worth a look this week and beyond.

5. Austin Collie, Colts
RescueWith Peyton Manning under center, if you’re on the field, you always have a chance to produce — even if you’re the fourth option in the passing game. That’s certainly the case for Collie, who caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Collie isn’t a guy I’d necessarily want to start every week, but when faced with a thin waiver wire pool and a bye week dilemma, you could do worse. This week, the Colts face a Titans pass defense that is tied for dead last in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~3% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Plug and play Collie this week against the 32nd-ranked pass defense of the Titans this week.

6. Mike Wallace, Steelers
RescuePittsburgh draws the Detroit Lions this week. The Lions have allowed a league-high 12 passing touchdowns this season. Rookie Mike Wallace is worth a spot start in deeper leagues based on his big-play potential. The Lions have already allowed three touchdowns longer than 35 yards this season. After going for 107 yards in Week 3, Wallace’s production regressed to 47 yards on two receptions Sunday night against the Chargers. Look for him to bounce-back against Detroit with at least 70 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace is worth a gamble in deep leagues this week.

7. Jason Avant, Eagles
RescueWe know DeSean Jackson is an excellent play this week against the Bucs. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if one of the other Philly wideouts also turned in a good performance. Number two and number three receivers have haunted Tampa this season. So far four of the nine touchdowns they’ve allowed have come at the hands of guys like Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Lee Evans and Sinorice Moss. With several elite fantasy wideouts on bye this week, owners need to leave no stone un-turned. Receiver Jason Avant is a sneaky one-week option. Avant’s best outing of the year (7-79-1) came three weeks ago against another NFC South opponent, the Saints.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Avant a deep sleeper for this week’s game against the Bucs.

8. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
SleeperOn Monday, Crabtree flew from Tampa to San Francisco to resume contract talks with the 49ers. San Francisco seems unlikely to up the offer they’ve had on the table for the last couple months — especially considering their 3-1 start. The fact that Crabtree is willing to renew discussions would seem to indicate he is waffling on his decision to hold out. The deadline for getting him signed is November 17, after which point he will be eligible to re-enter the 2010 draft. What kind of contribution should fantasy owners expect from Crabtree in Frisco? Probably not much. Then again, he’s an upgrade over the receivers they currently have. Best case scenario: The 49ers get him signed this week and use the Week 6 bye as a crash course to get him up and running by Week 7.

Availability: Owned in ~21% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Only worth a look in deep leagues and dynasty/keeper leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Vernon Davis

1. Heath Miller, Steelers
RockstarRescueMiller has had an excellent start to the 2009 season. He caught two touchdown passes Sunday night against the Chargers. San Diego had been poor at defending TEs for the last couple years. As luck would have it, Miller gets another team that has trouble with TEs: the Lions. Detroit has surrendered four touchdowns to TEs in four games this season. Miller generally plays better at home but odds are he’ll break that rule on the road in Detroit. 

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miller merits a starting spot this week against the Lions.

2. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
RockstarOutlookLost amidst the emergence of wideout Mike Sims-Walker is the improved play from TE Marcedes Lewis over the last couple games. Lewis has scored touchdowns and exceeded 60 yards in two of the last three games, including Sunday’s 72-yard one-touchdown performance against the Titans. He should continue to benefit from a relatively easy schedule featuring the Seahawks and Rams over the next two games. If you have a TE bye over the next two games, take a long hard look at Lewis.  

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Lewis a viable by week fill in for the next two weeks.

3. Jermichael Finley, Packers
RockstarThe preseason TE sleeper darling finally woke up on Monday night against the Vikings. Displaying the downfield speed and tackle-breaking ability that made him a popular target in fantasy drafts, Finley scored on a 62 yard touchdown. He finished the evening with six receptions for 128 yards. Finley won’t give you immediate aid at the TE position because Green Bay is on a bye this week. Consider adding him anyway as a prospect.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Finley merits consideration in leagues with 12 or more teams.

KICKERS

No Brainers: David Akers

1. Josh Scobee, Jaguars
RockstarScobee drilled three field goals and four extra points against the Titans. He ranks fifth among NFL kickers in scoring with 31 points in four games. If you’ll be without your regular kicker this week, Scobee should generate some points. The Jags will face a Seahawks defense that has yielded 27.3 points per game in their last three contests.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scobee is worth a look in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers

1. Dallas Cowboys
RescueThe Kansas City Chiefs will go up against their third straight team from the NFC East this week. After allowing a combined eight sacks to the Eagles and Giants, Kansas City will face more heat from the Cowboys. The Cowboys go off to a slow start, but they’ve recorded six sacks and a defensive touchdown in their last two outings. They’re good for a spot start this week.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Dallas should fare well this week against the Chiefs and is worth a spot start.

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