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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 12
Paul Sandy
November 24, 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: Eli Manning

1. Vince Young, Titans
RescueRecommended here as a sneaky spot starter last week, Young came through in his hometown with a useful fantasy stat line against Houston. He posted 116 passing yards and a touchdown but really earned his keep with 74 yards rushing. Young has looked under control and poised since assuming the starting gig. His confidence is growing each week. I like his chances again versus the Cardinals in Week 12. Arizona ranks 27th in the NFL against the pass. In addition to being a viable spot starter, Young is worth consideration as a backup if you’re planning for the playoffs. Tennessee’s schedule during Weeks 14-16 isn’t too shabby. If you’ve been trusting Jay Culter or another struggling QB as your starter, you owe it to yourself to give Young a look.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young is an excellent spot starter or a backup QB for fantasy teams with playoff aspirations.

2. Alex Smith, 49ers
RockstarInjurySmith has thrown multiple touchdown passes in three of the five games in which he’s seen action this season. With a matchup at home next week against the Jaguars, Smith is an enticing plug-and-play option for fantasy owners. Jacksonville ranks 25th in the NFL in pass defense—this despite facing some exceedingly mediocre QBs over the last five weeks (Bulger, Young, Cassel, Sanchez and Fitzpatrick). Another multi-TD game for Smith seems likely. Looking further ahead, Smith has an excellent schedule to close out the year so consider adding him as a backup.

Availability: Owned in ~40% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Smith is a useful option for fantasy owners this week against the Jaguars.

3. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
RescueFreeman has started three NFL games and thrown at least one touchdown in every contest. He’s also been good for a few scambles each week. Give him a look this week if your regular QB got hurt last week or faces an awful matchup. Freeman should turn in an above average stat line against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed multiple QB touchdowns in five of their last six games. They rank 29th in the NFL against the pass.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Freeman is a viable spot starter this week against the Falcons.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Jason Snelling, Jamaal Charles, Bernard Scott and Justin Forsett

1. Rock Cartwright, Redskins
InjuryThe injury bug has bitten the Washington backfield hard in recent weeks. After losing Clinton Portis to a concussion a couple games ago, backup Ladell Betts tore his ACL and MCL Sunday against the Cowboys. Third stringer Rock Cartwright will assume the starting role as long as Portis remains on the sideline. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team bring in a veteran free agent like Edgerrin James to replace Betts. Consider Cartwright a low-end RB2 for fantasy purposes this week against the Eagles. His ability to catch passes makes him even more valuable in PPR leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Cartwright should be the top RB pickup in most leagues this week.

2. Fred Jackson, Bills
InjuryBills starting RB Marshawn Lynch suffered a shoulder injury Sunday against the Jaguars. Although the injury does not appear to be significant, Lynch’s status for this week’s game is unknown. Backup Fred Jackson entered the game and chipped in 35 yards on the ground and 20 through the air. If Jackson gets the start this week against Miami, he’d be a useful fantasy option. Starting RBs have posted 100 yards or a touchdown in four straight games against the Dolphins.

Availability: Owned in ~60% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson should be added in all leagues until Lynch’s status becomes clearer.

3. Mike Bell, Saints
Worth a LookBell poached another two touchdowns from Pierre Thomas on Sunday. It’s worth noting that both scores came during garbage time. Bell cannot be relied upon as a starter for fantasy purposes unless you’re in an ultra deep league. However, the Forecast lists him as an important free agent option because as the playoff picture stabalizes, the Saints may be inclined to give Bell more touches in an effort to keep Reggie Bush and Thomas healthy for the postseason. Bell remains a vital handcuff for Thomas owners.   

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bell worth owning as a handcuff to Thomas.

4. Sammy Morris, Patriots
Worth a LookInjuryMorris is lurking on the waiver wire in close to 70% of fantasy leagues. Starter Laurence Maroney has been holding down the fort since Morris got injured but he lost a fumble for the second time in as many games. Maroney is also averaging less than four yards per carry. When Morris returns, he’ll likely split carries and may get the goal line work. Maroney has scored a touchdown in five consecutive games, which tells you how valuable the Patriots backfield can be. Now is the time to lock up Morris because New England’s schedule couldn’t get any better to close out the season—at least from a rushing perspective.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is an excellent grab-and-stash acquisition in all leagues.
 
5. Chris Jennings, Browns
Worth a LookJennings has taken over the backup RB duties in Cleveland. While starter Jamal Lewis continues to handle the lions share of the carries, Jennings has been chipping in 8-12 touches per week. With Lewis set to retire following the season, don’t be surprised if the team gives Jennings larger slice of the pie in the coming weeks. The Browns face KC and OAK in Weeks 15-16 so Jennings has a chance to post a useful fantasy stat line before the 2009 season wraps up.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jennings is worth adding in dynasty and deep keeper formats.

6. Lex Hilliard, Dolphins and Kahil Bell, Bears
Worth a LookIn Week 11, Hilliard and Bell emerged as the primary backups and change of pace backs on their respective teams. If you’re in the playoff hunt and wish to invest in a little insurance prior to the postseason for Ricky Williams or Matt Forte, Hilliard and Bell are worth a look. Otherwise leave them on your waiver wire.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Hilliard and Bell merit consideration as handcuffs to Ricky Williams and Matt Forte.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Terrell Owens, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Jeremy Maclin

1. Robert Meachem, Saints
RockstarMeachem has just three total receptions in the last two games but guess how many went for touchdowns? All three. With a game this week against the Patriots, this is an excellent opportunity to see what Meachem can do for your fantasy squad. The Monday night tilt against New England promises to be a high-scoring affair, which should give Meachem a chance to get in some more red-zone work.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Meachem is roster-worthy in all leagues.

2. Chris Chambers, Chiefs
RockstarWelcome to Extreme Makeover: Wide Receiver Edition. The change in venue from San Diego to Kansas City had resulted in a complete turnaround for Chris Chambers. Chambers has posted two quality fantasy performances in his three starts with the Chiefs. His 61-yard overtime catch and run was the difference maker in Sunday’s upset of the Steelers—and proves Chambers still has explosiveness. Top wideout Dwayne Bowe will miss three more games due to suspension, which makes Chambers the top wideout in KC. Consider him a decent third WR or flex play going forward.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Chambers merits roster consideration in all leagues.
 
3. Brandon Gibson, Rams
Worth a LookInjuryGibson was targeted by QB Marc Bulger 17 times on Sunday—tied with Wes Welker for the most of any wideout in Week 11. St. Louis has been seeking a replacement for Laurent Robinson since Robinson tore up his knee back in Week 3. They may have found it in Gibson, who has 12 receptions for 164 yards in his last two games combined. QB Marc Bulger suffered a leg injury and will miss at least a few games. It remains to be seen how the QB change to Kyle Boller will shake out, but St. Louis has a favorable upcoming schedule with games against the Seahawks, Bears, Titans, Texans and Cardinals. Gibson has the potential to close out the season as an impact player.

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gibson is worth a look in all leagues, especially PPR leagues.
 
4. Mohammad Massaquoi, Browns
RockstarInjuryMassaquoi is the top receiver on the Browns. Most weeks that doesn’t mean much. When Cleveland faced the Lions on Sunday, however, Massaquoi came up big. He recorded five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Can he continue to post useful fantasy numbers? Given what we know about QB Brady Quinn and the Browns offense, it seems unlikely but Massoquoi can still be stashed in deep leagues and certainly keeper and dynasty leagues. He also has a good matchup in Week 15 against the Chiefs in which he could come in handy.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Massaquoi is worth a roster spot in deep leagues.

5. Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Packers
RescueThe Packers have gotten contributions from Nelson and Jones throughout the season but neither player has been consistent enough for fantasy purposes. With a Thanksgiving Day game against the lowly Lions defense up next, this is a good time to deploy Nelson or Jones in your fantasy lineup. Both players should contribute on Thursday in a game in which the Packers should score at least 35 points.

Availability: Owned in ~3% and 14% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Take a flier on Nelson or Jones this week if you’re desperate for WR help.

6. Malcom Floyd, Chargers
RescueSo far Floyd hasn’t lived up to the hype created when Chris Chambers was traded. He has just nine combined receptions in the last three games. But fantasy owners who have nothing to lose this week or who just like to live dangerously should consider rolling the dice with Floyd. The Chargers face the Chiefs this week. Floyd has scored each of his last three games against Kansas City. 

Availability: Owned in ~32% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Floyd is worth considering as a one week plug-and-play option.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Heath Miller and Visanthe Shiancoe

1. Jermichael Finley, Packers
RescueFinley returned from a knee injury last week and promptly made an impact, recording a career high seven receptions for 54 yards. With Detroit on tap this week, he’s the must-grab TE if you need help at the position. QB Aaron Rodgers threw his way 10 times on Sunday. Detroit has been vulnerable to opposing TEs all season. With any luck, Finley will have scored his first touchdown by the time the button has popped on your Thanksgiving turkey.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Finley is highly startable this week against the Lions.

2. Kevin Boss, Giants
RockstarIdentified here last week, Boss came through with not one but two touchdowns Sunday against the Falcons. He also posted five receptions and 76 yards—both season highs. Boss now has four touchdowns in his last three games. If your TE position hasn’t lived up to expectations, Boss is a guy you can rely on for a contribution each week. New York’s rushing game is struggling, which means more looks for Boss—particularly in the red zone.

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Boss has been tearing it up of late and is worth a look in all leagues.

3. Zach Miller, Raiders
RockstarMiller’s fantasy value has been languishing all season because of the poor play of QB JaMarcus Russell. With Russell now on the bench, Miller has a chance to shine. He caught five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Bengals in Bruce Gradkowski’s first start of the season. Expect continued contributions from Miller in the weeks ahead.

Availability: Owned in ~50% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Miller is a servicable TE option in all leagues.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Nate Kaeding, Robbie Gould and Lawrence Tynes

1. Jay Feely, Jets
RescueThe Patriots defense snuffed out New York’s offense this week, picking off QB Mark Sanchez four times. As a result, Feely didn’t have many scoring opportunities. That should change this week when the Jets face Carolina. The Panthers rank 25th in the NFL in scoring defense. Prior to Sunday’s loss to New England, Feely had scored eight or more points in five straight games. Look for him to turn in a useful fantasy stat line in Week 12. In fact, Feely’s schedule lines up nicely for consistent production throughout the remainder of the year (CAR, BUF, TB, ATL and IND).

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Feely is a worthy starting kicker in leagues with 12 or more teams.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: San Diego Chargers (vs. KC) and New England Patriots

1. Tennessee Titans
Worth a LookThe Titans defense was sluggish to start the year but since the bye week, they’ve been a fantasy force. Prior to Monday night’s game against the Texans, Tennessee had recorded eight turnovers, nine sacks and three defensive touchdowns in their previous three games. They added four on MNF. Next week the Titans will face a Cardinals offense that is not immune to mistakes and QB sacks. They’re currently available in over half of all fantasy leagues, which is far too many. 

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Titans should be owned in all leagues.

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