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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 8
Paul Sandy
October 27, 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: David Garrard (vs. TEN)

1. Marc Bulger, Rams
RescueOwners forced to pick through the scraps to find a QB this week should consider Rams QB Marc Bulger. Detroit allows opposing passers to complete 74.2 percent of their throws. As bad as Bulger has been over the last two seasons, he should manage to put up a minimum of 200 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. Prior to their bye, the Lions had allowed the second most fantasy points to QBs.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bulger is a decent plug and play option this week against the Lions.

2. Alex Smith, 49ers
Worth a LookSmith took over for starter Shaun Hill midway through Sunday’s loss to the Texans. He threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns and nearly led the team to a comeback win. Head coach Mike Singletary named him the starter for this week’s game against the Colts. Don’t automatically dismiss Smith based on what we saw through his first few years in the league. Smith entered the NFL as a 20 year old kid. He’s still young and now he has some quality weapons in the passing game. Stash him on your bench as a prospect but don’t use him this week against the Colts, who have one of the better pass defenses in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is worth a look in deep leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Ricky Williams, Mike Bell, Darren Sproles, LeSean McCoy and Laurence Maroney

1. Shonn Greene, Jets
RockstarInjuryWith the versatile Leon Washington out for the season with a broken leg, rookie tailback Shonn Greene will split carries with Thomas Jones for the rest of the year. Greene belted the Raiders for 144 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, showcasing speed and tackle-breaking ability. Greene likely won’t pay immediate dividends; he faces the Dolphins and a bye over the next two games. However, longer term he could be a monster with games against the Jaguars, Panthers, Bills and Bucs. Be aggressive in your bid to land Greene this week.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Greene is a must-grab RB this week.

2. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
RockstarWells has been on the Forecast’s radar for awhile but it took until Week 7 for him to finally get enough touches to make him roster-worthy in all leagues. After Tim Hightower fumbled Sunday night against the Giants, Wells got the opportunity he needed. He carried the ball 14 times for 67 yards and a touchdown and added two catches for 11 yards. Wells deployed a vicious stiff arm a few times and ran with intensity Arizona has never had in a RB. On a few plays, he reminded me of Marion Barber—a closer who can punish defenses in the late goings. Look for the carries to be split evenly between Wells and Hightower from now on. Add Wells and don’t be afraid to start him this week against a Panthers defense that has allowed a RB touchdown every game this season.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wells should be owned in all leagues.

3. Justin Fargas, Raiders
Worth a LookA holdover from last week, Fargas has been a steady fantasy contributor for the last two games, posting 90 or more yards in both contests. Although Michael Bush continues to get touches, Fargas is clearly the top RB on the Raiders right now. He runs with reckless abandon and contributes as a receiver out of the backfield. I like his chances of producing this week against a Chargers defense that ranks 28th in the NFL in rush defense.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Fargas should turn in a useful fantasy stat line this week against the Bolts.
 
4. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Worth a LookFollowing Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, Larry Johnson called out head coach Todd Haley on Twitter. It’s unclear what, if any, consequences will come of Johnson’s insubordination. However, don’t be surprised if backup Jamaal Charles benefits from the outburst. With the Chiefs quickly falling out of the playoff picture, the coaching staff may be more inclined to bench, suspend or even cut Johnson. There’s also a chance the NFL could take disciplinary action because Johnson dropped some homophobic slurs in his Tweets. After this week’s bye, Kansas City’s schedule looks juicy with games against the Jags and Raiders. If you have a RB with a bye in Weeks 9-10, Charles would make for a sneaky preemptive pickup.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Charles is a smart grab-and-stash pickup this week because of the volatile Larry Johnson situation.

5. Jason Snelling, Falcons
Worth a LookWith Jerrious Norwood out, Jason Snelling was the RB who gave starter Michael Turner a breather on Sunday against the Cowboys. Snelling represented himself well and may have earned more touches going forward. He rushed seven times for 68 yards and added 10 yards through the air. Norwood is expected to miss more time, but Snelling is only worth a look in deeper leagues at this point.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Give Snelling a look if you play in a league with more than 12 teams.

6. Chris Brown, Texans
RescueWeek 8 could be challenging from a bye week perspective with as many as six contributing RBs off. Owners in need of a RB who will chip in some points can find some help in the form of Texans second stringer Chris Brown. Houston faces a Bills defense that allows the most fantasy points to RBs. With Steve Slaton continuing to struggle with fumbles and running the ball between the tackles, Brown could get close to 10 carries this week and has the potential for a goal-line plunge.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Brown a desperation play if your hands are tied because of a bye week.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Sidney Rice, Miles Austin, Austin Collie, Hakeem Nicks and Lee Evans

1. Torry Holt, Jaguars
Worth a LookDespite posting 90+ yards in two straight games, veteran wideout Torry Holt is still available in 30% of fantasy leagues. With the woeful Titans on tap next, Holt is a crafty pickup. Tennessee ranks dead last in all the important fantasy categories for pass defense (yards per game, touchdowns, etc.). Holt doesn’t have a touchdown this season but should have a good chance of crossing the stripe this week. Consider him the top pickup following a week that didn’t see any true “rockstar” free agent WR performances.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Holt is a viable starter this week against the Titans.

2. Mike Wallace, Steelers
Worth a LookWallace was pegged here last week as a quality bye week fill in. He answered the call, recording 91 total yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. With quality fantasy performances in three of his last five outings, Wallace has the look of a player who should be on rosters in most leagues right now. The Steelers are a pass-first team and Wallace is the top deep threat. The only knock on Wallace is a relatively unfavorable schedule that includes bye this week followed by games against the Broncos and Bengals.  

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace should be a quality boom-or-bust player for the rest of the season.

3. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
Worth a LookGonzalez is getting closer to returning to the field. He’s been rehabbing a knee injury he suffered way back in Week 1. With the emergence of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, it’s far from a given that Gonzalez will step in and post quality fantasy stats right away. At this point, consider him a speculative pickup to stash deep on your roster. 

Availability: Owned in ~74% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gonzalez is probably a couple weeks away from contributing but is worth a roster spot in leagues with deeper rosters.

4. David Clowney, Jets
InjuryRescueJets starting WR Jerricho Cotchery has missed the last few games with a hamstring injury. Backup David Clowney has proven to be a serviceable replacement, posting two useful fantasy performances in New York’s last three contests. He recorded 79 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Raiders. If Cotchery sits again this week, consider Clowney a viable spot starter. He should be good for a deep target or two against an average Dolphins pass defense that lost cornerback Will Allen to a torn ACL on Sunday.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Clowney is worth a spot start if Cotchery sits again.

5. Danny Amendola, Rams
RescueNow we’re digging deep. Amendola has only been with St. Louis for about five weeks but because of injuries and his standout play, he’s starting to make a fantasy impact. He’s recorded 13 receptions in last thee games. With a cushy matchup this week against the Lions, Amendola is a sneaky plug and play option especially for owners in PPR leagues. Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL against the pass and they’ve allowed the second-most passing scores this season. With Donnie Avery ailing, look for Amendola to post 5-7 receptions on Sunday.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Amendola a one week stopgap with longer-term potential in PPR leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Jeremy Shockey

1. Tony Scheffler, Broncos
Worth a LookDon’t forget about Scheffler. Last time we saw him was Monday night two weeks ago when he caught six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers. Because of Denver’s bye last week, he was met with a lukewarm response on the waiver wire. If your fantasy squad is TE challenged, Scheffler could provide the spark you’re looking for. He’s beginning to show some chemistry with QB Kyle Orton. The duo has hooked up for 10 receptions in their last two outings.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scheffler could be a top 10 TE going forward and is worth a roster spot in all TE-mandatory leagues.

2. Donald Lee, Packers
InjuryRescueGreen Bay’s Jermichael Finley is expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Vikings with a sprained knee. Finley’s injury opens the door for Donald Lee to regain some fantasy relevance. Lee will likely receive most of the TE looks with Finley out. He’s a viable bye week fill in against a Minnesota defense that has been victimized by TEs all year. Lee has a minimum of two receptions in every game this season. Don’t be surprised if he hauls in five or more against Minnesota. In their last meeting against the Vikes, Finley and Lee combined for 10 receptions.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Lee is a sneaky pickup and play this week against the Vikings.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Nick Folk and John Carney

1. Robbie Gould, Bears
RescueWhile the Bears offense struggled to move the ball last week against the Bengals, they should have more luck against Cleveland. The Browns allow the sixth most points per game in the NFL. If you’ll be without Stephen Gostkowski or one of the other kickers on bye, Gould is an excellent replacement option. He has not missed a kick this season.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gould is worth a shot this week when the Bears square off against the Browns.

2. Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
RescueCarpenter may not have the name recognition of other kickers in the league but his fantasy points are piling up. Carpenter is currently the 12th highest scoring kicker in the NFL. He’s scored seven or more point in five consecutive games. Give him a tryout this week against the Jets. With Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and the wildcat offense clicking, Miami should be able to advance the ball and set up a few opportunities for Carpenter kicks.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Carpenter is on the rise and is worth a look in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Chicago Bears (vs. CLE)

1. Arizona Cardinals
RockstarThe Arizona defense has been red-hot over the last two games, racking up eight sacks and six turnovers. With the Panthers coming to town, this is a great time to snatch up the Cardinals. It remains to be seen which QB Carolina will start but Arizona’s pass rushers and secondary will likely have a field day regardless of who John Fox trots out. The Cardinals rank #1 in the NFL against the rush, which will likely lead to minimal offensive production for the run-oriented Panthers.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Cardinals are an attractive starting option this week against the Panthers.

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