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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 7
Paul Sandy
October 20, 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: Kyle Orton, Brett Favre and Carson Palmer

1. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
RescueCassel didn’t throw a touchdown in Week 6 but managed to lead his team to an upset win over the Redskins. It’s a relatively light week in terms of quality fantasy QBs being on bye. However, if you need some help at the position, Cassel is a solid pickup. He’ll go against an average Chargers pass defense. Prior to Sunday, Cassel had thrown two touchdowns in three straight games. Look for a minimum of 220 yards and a touchdown versus the Bolts.

Availability: Owned in ~72% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Cassel is a viable fill-in for fantasy owners with a QB on bye.

2. Shaun Hill, 49ers
RescueHill has been erratic for fantasy purposes this year. He threw for two touchdowns against the Vikings and Rams but was shut out against the Falcons and Seahawks. Despite his up-and-down season, he’s worth a flier this week against the Texans. Houston has yielded useful fantasy performances to every QB they’ve faced this year except JaMarcus Russell. Rookie wideout Michael Crabtree reportedly looked impressive during the bye week and could help boost Hill’s stats. While I doubt Hill will carry your team to victory, he probably won’t completely sink your chances either.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hill is a useful matchup-based play this week against the Texans

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Jonathan Stewart and Cadillac Williams

1. Laurence Maroney, Patriots
RockstarInjuryI consider myself to be Maroney skeptic but I can’t argue with the 133 all-purpose yards and a touchdown he put up against the Titans. Nor can I stop myself from thinking he’ll be helpful for fantasy owners this week against the woeful Tampa run defense. The Bucs rank 31st in the NFL at stopping the run. They’re coming off an embarassing performance against the Panthers in which they allowed both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to tally over 100 yards. With Sammy Morris expected to miss time due to a knee injury, Maroney should re-emerge as a relevant fantasy RB.

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Maroney will be the hot RB pickup this week and is starter material against the Bucs.

2. Felix Jones, Cowboys
Worth a LookJones has missed the last three weeks because of a knee injury and a bye. He’s available in just under 20 percent of fantasy leagues. After practicing on Monday, he looks like he’ll be ready to see some action this week. Starter Marion Barber is reportedly still not 100 percent recovered from his quad injury. Look for Jones to re-establish his previous role as a change of pace back for Barber and Tashard Choice. He’ll get around 10 carries per game, which will often be enough to post relevant fantasy stats.

Availability: Owned in ~83% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jones should be owned in all leagues.

3. Mike Bell, Saints
Worth a LookOutlookAfter Pierre Thomas posted two impressive performances in a row with Mike Bell out of the lineup, most fantasy owners expected Thomas to become the featured back. Apparently that’s not going to be the case. Thomas and Bell split carries right down the middle, 15 apiece. Bell got the all-important goal line carries. That trend is expected to continue and at the rate New Orleans is scoring touchdowns, Bell could be a viable every-week fantasy contributor going forward. After this week’s tilt against the Dolphins, the Saints have a creampuff schedule.

Availability: Owned in ~52% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bell should be owned in all leagues and could be a top player in TD-heavy leagues.

4. Justin Fargas, Raiders
Worth a LookFargas churned out 98 total yards against the Eagles on Sunday. I know, just when you thought it was safe to dump all your Raiders, right? What was most impressive about the win was Oakland finally started making some blocks and controlling the line of scrimmage. The team showed heart and Fargas looked healthy. He ran more aggressively than Darren McFadden or Bush have at any point this season (with the possible exception of the opener against San Diego). If the team can build on their success against Philly, Fargas could become a regular contributor. Remember, this is the same team that ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing offense last season. He’s not a terrible start this week against the Jets with nose tackle Kris Jenkins out for the year.

Availability: Owned in ~12% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Fargas is worth acquiring and playing this week against the Jets.

5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, Patriots
RescueYep, I’m going three-deep in the New England backfield this week. The Patriots offense is riding high after its drubbing of the Titans. Up next, New England gets another malleable defense in the Buccaneers. Tampa has allowed RBs to cross the stripe four times in their last two games. Look for Green-Ellis to get about 10 touches and a try or two at the goal line. Faulk will work his magic again as a receiver out of the backfield and is a viable option in PPR leagues. With six quality fantasy RBs on bye this week, look to the New England RBs if you need help.

Availability: Owned in ~1% and 14% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Look for the Patriots RBs to make an impact this week in London.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Steve Breaston, Hakeem Nicks and Miles Austin

1. Austin Collie, Colts
RockstarCollie’s ownership jumped from 16 percent to 62 percent following his two touchdown effort two weeks ago against the Titans. However, now that the Colts bye week is behind us, he should be owned in all leagues. Collie has racked up 14 receptions for 162 yards and three touchdowns in his last two outings. With Peyton Manning averaging nearly 330 yards per game, there’s plenty of production to go around. Collie is worthy of being in any starting lineup for this week’s game against the Rams.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Collie is a quality starter versus St. Louis and should be owned in all leagues.

2. Sidney Rice, Vikings
RockstarThis is the third week in a row Rice has been pegged by the Free Agent Forecast as a wide receiver worth acquiring. Coming off a career-high 176 yards receiving, he is proving to be Brett Favre’s favorite downfield target. Rice has turned in three quality fantasy performances in the last four games. He has established himself as a reliable third wide receiver who you can start on most weeks. I wouldn’t dismiss him as an option this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense is excellent against the run but can be beaten by quality passing offenses.

Availability: Owned in ~78% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rice should be owned in all leagues.

3. Lance Moore, Saints
RockstarLast season, Moore was one of the biggest surprises in fantasy football at the WR position. He battled through injuries for the first few weeks of this season and his numbers were practically nonexistent. Most owners who drafted him cut the cord a few weeks ago. The Week 5 bye must’ve went a long way toward helping him get healthy. Moore caught six passes for 78 yards against the Giants. Drew Brees spreads the ball around, which will lead to some inconsistency. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Moore ended up being the second-most productive receiver in the Saints offense after Marques Colston.

Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moore is roster worthy in all leagues.

4. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
RockstarNicks has found the endzone in three straight games. Along with Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, Nicks is part of one of the most productive WR corps in fantasy football—certainly the most surprising. Nicks looks like the team’s best vertical threat. Two of his three touchdowns this season have come from 37 yards or greater in distance. Consider him a legitimate third receiver going forward. He’s worth a start this week against Arizona.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Nicks figures to be an active part of the Giants offense and should be owned in 12-team leagues.

5. Mohamad Massoqui, Browns
Worth a LookMassoqui was a free agent darling after his Week 4 breakout performance in which he recorded eight receptions for 148 yards. He followed it up with a miserable game in Buffalo and owners quickly lost patience. Well, now he’s back. QB Derek Anderson targeted Massoqui 10 times against the Steelers, completing five passes for 83 yards. Considering the entire Cleveland offense only gained 106 yards through the air, it’s seems likely that Massoqui will be the Browns leading receiver now that Braylon Edwards has left town.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Massoqui merits roster consideration in all leagues, especially those with PPR formats.

6. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Worth a LookIn the days leading up to Crabtree’s signing the Forecast predicted the rookie would study up over the bye and be ready to make an impact in Week 7. It’s looking like that could prove to be the case, as Crabtree has already leapfrogged Josh Morgan on the depth chart. If you can afford to dedicate one of your roster spots for a speculative wide receiver, Crabtree is worth a pickup. If he won the starting job, he must have kept himself in good shape.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Crabtree is worth stashing on your bench if you play in a league with a deep enough roster.

7. Mike Wallace, Steelers
RescueWallace is a boom or bust play but I like his chances this week against the Vikings. Minnesota may be without their best cover corner in Antoine Winfield who sprained his foot against the Ravens. Winfield missed the second half of Sunday’s game. It’s no coincidence that the Ravens racked up much of their 367 passing yards with him on the sideline. Although Wallace doesn’t get a ton of looks in the Steelers offense, he has an excellent chance of making an impact on a couple deep routes this week.  

Availability: Owned in ~24% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Roll the dice with Wallace this week and hope for a deep touchdown.

8. Malcom Floyd and Chris Chambers, Chargers
RescueWith six teams on bye this week, many owners will be scraping the bottom of the barrel for WR help. The Chargers are one team worth tapping. San Diego will face the rival Chiefs, a team that has been abused for 10 touchdowns and nearly 250 yards through the air each game. There are several options for the Chargers worth entertaining, including Malcom Floyd, Chris Chambers and Legadu Nanee. I happen to prefer Floyd. In 2008, he scored a touchdown in both meetings against the Chiefs.

Availability: Owned in ~1% and 25% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Floyd and Chambers are worth considering if you need a bye week plug and play.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Heath Miller, Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen, Brent Celek, Jeremy Shockey and Visanthe Shiancoe

1. Zach Miller, Raiders
RockstarAfter opening the season with six receptions for 96 yards, Miller staggered along with the rest of the Raiders offense. But the last two weeks, he has bounced back to fantasy relevance. He caught four passes for 69 yards two weeks ago against the Giants and followed it up with 139 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. There aren’t a lot of good TEs on bye this week, but if you need help at the position, Miller should get plenty of looks.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miller is worth picking up regardless of your leauge size if you need a TE.

KICKERS

No Brainers: David Akers, Ryan Longwell and Mason Crosby

1. Matt Stover, Colts
InjuryBeen struggling to field a decent kicker this season? Here’s your chance to pick up a guy who should be relatively consistent for the majority of the rest of the season. Adam Vinatieri underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and could miss up to eight weeks. Prior to the surgery, Vinatieri had been putting up a minimum of seven points per game. The kicking game shouldn’t miss a beat with Stover, a 19-year veteran who has booted over 30 field goals for seven consecutive seasons.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Stover is this week’s must-grab kicker (if there is such a thing).

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots

1. Buffalo Bills
RescueThe Carolina Panthers have allowed four defensive and special teams touchdowns in five games this season. QB Jake Delhomme has been intercepted 10 times, sacked 11 times and has lost two fumbles. His erratic play is reason enough to plug and play the Bills. But if you need some more reasons, consider that the Bills defense has been lights out over the last two games, holding opponents to 13 points or fewer. Over that two-game stretch, the team has recorded seven interceptions and three sacks.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Bills are worth a spot start against the error-prone Panthers.

2. Indianapolis Colts
RescueIn the battle of undefeated versus winless, the Colts defense figures to have its way with the Rams. Plug and play Indianapolis this week. Although the Colts haven’t delivered monster defensive stats in terms of touchdowns and turnovers, they have a solid defensive squad—as evidenced by the fact they allow the second fewest points per game. I like their chances of racking up some interceptions and sacks this week coming off a bye week against a St. Louis team that will likely be forced to throw the ball 40 times.

Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Look for an above average performance from the Colts in Week 7.

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