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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 13
Paul Sandy
December 1, 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: none

1. Vince Young, Titans
RockstarYoung has been touted here for three weeks in a row and continues to deliver useful fantasy performances each week. Sunday was his best effort yet as he posted a career high 387 yards with one touchdown. If you’re entering the postseason fray with a lack of punch at the QB position, Young is a player who can help. Because of his consistency and ability to churn out rushing yardage, he’s a QB I’d strongly consider starting most weeks over guys like Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler and perhaps even Donovan McNabb for the remainder of the season.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young should be owned in most leagues at this point.

2. Alex Smith, 49ers
InjuryRescueSmith held true to the Forecast’s prediction last week of a multi-TD game against the Jaguars. He passed for a respectable 232 yards with two scores. Smith and the 49ers offense will continue to benefit from a favorable schedule. This week, they have a tasty matchup versus a Seahawks defense that ranks 25th in the NFL against the pass. Seattle is also one of just six teams that have allowed 20 or more passing touchdowns. Following the Seahawks, San Francisco’s schedule features the likes of the Cardinals, Eagles and Lions. Arizona and Detroit field two of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. 

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Continue to ride Smith this week against the Seahawks.

3. Matt Leinart, Cardinals
InjuryCarndinals starting QB Kurt Warner continues to suffer from post-concussion symptoms. His status for Week 13 is in question. If he can’t go, backup Matt Leinart would get the start against Minnesota. Leinart passed for 220 yards an no touchdowns last week against the Titans. He’s usable in deep leagues and two-QB leagues; otherwise you can probably find a better option.  

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Starting Leinart this week is a reach unless you’re in a deep league or a league that starts two QBs each week.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Jamaal Charles, Justin Forsett, Larry Johnson and Felix Jones

1. Fred Jackson, Bills
RockstarJackson, who is still available in over 25% of fantasy leagues, was among the highest scoring RBs in fantasy football this week. Despite Marshawn Lynch being healthy, the team opted to start Jackson instead. The move paid off as the Bills handily defeated the Dolphins. Look for the versatile Jackson to remain the starter for the duration of the season. Buffalo’s schedule stacks up favorably with games against the Jets, Chiefs, Patriots and Falcons remaining. If Jackson is available in your league, acquiring him should be a top priority.

Availability: Owned in ~73% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson should be owned in all leagues.

2. Jerious Norwood, Falcons
InjuryThe Falcons rushed Michael Turner back from a high ankle sprain this week and paid the price when Turner re-injured the ankle. He will likely miss this week’s game against the Eagles. Backup Jerious Norwood led all Atlanta RBs in fantasy production, racking up 50 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. He figures to split carries with Jason Snelling. Fantasy owners have been waiting years for Norwood to be featured in the Falcons offense. Consider him a high-risk, high-reward option in Week 13.  

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Norwood should be picked up in all leagues this week.

3. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
RescueBuckhalter carried the ball 20 times Thanksgiving night against the Giants. It was his heaviest workload of the season. Although his final stats (51 yards rushing) didn’t exactly scream “pick me up”, Buckhalter could be a useful option this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City ranks 27th in the NFL against the run. They’ve allowed six RB scores in the last four weeks. Denver appears to be committed to giving Buckhalter a fair amount of work each week. If he gets, 12 or more touches against the Chiefs, he should net fantasy owners close to 70 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Buckhalter is a viable plug-and-play option versus the Chiefs.

4. Chad Simpson, Colts
Worth a LookHere we are in Week 13 and the Colts are 11-0. They figure to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the next couple weeks. When that happens, expect a heavy dose of the backups during the second half of most games. Now is the time to make a play for Donald Brown (owned in 72% of leagues) and Chad Simpson. Both players figure to see an up-tick in touches throughout the fantasy playoffs. If your postseason ticket is punched, consider adding Simpson and/or Brown—especially if you currently count on Joseph Addai.  

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Simpson is a sneaky pickup in deep leagues.

5. Chris Brown, Texans
Worth a LookMuch to the chagrin of Steve Slaton owners, Brown turned in his best statistical performance of the season on Sunday, netting 76 total yards and a touchdown against the Colts. It’s difficult to figure out why, but Brown continues to get carries in the Texans offense. At this point, the Forecast is willing to accept Brown as another plodding Jamal Lewis type veteran who continues to defy logic by receiving significant carries. Despite a reasonably difficult matchup this week against the 10th ranked Jacksonville run defense, Brown could come in handy in deeper leagues and TD-heavy scoring systems. He’ll likely get a couple cracks at the goal line.

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is worth a look in deep leagues and TD-heavy formats.

6. Darren McFadden, Raiders
Worth a LookMcFadden has been a McBust with a side order of injuries since he was drafted by the Raiders two seasons ago. After missing four games during the middle of the season with a knee injury, McFadden has slowly been working his way back into the offense. On Sunday, he turned in his best stat line since Week 2, posting 66 all-purpose yards on 10 touches. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his workload increase in December as Oakland uses the final month as an audition for 2010. The problem is the schedule doesn’t look especially favorable with matchups against the Steelers, Broncos and Redskins over the next three weeks. On the bright side, the Raiders will face the Browns in Week 16.   

Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Worth owning in dynasty leagues and keeper leagues otherwise he only merits a speculative roster spot at this point.

7. Quinton Ganther, Redskins
Worth a LookWashington RB Rock Cartwright was the top free agent RB profiled here last week. He remains a roster-worthy RB. If you play in a deeper league, you might also want to take a look at Quinton Ganther. Ganther carried the ball five times for 32 yards on Sunday. With no timetable set for the return of starter Clinton Portis, Ganther is a player worth monitoring or stashing depending on the size of your league.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Ganther a deep sleeper if you play in a league with 14 or more teams.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Chris Chambers, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, Terrell Owens and Pierre Garcon

1. Jason Avant, Eagles
RockstarInjuryAvant, the #3 WR on Philadelphia’s depth chart, has seen his production surge over the last three games including the following stat lines: 8-156-0, 4-26-1 and 5-94-0. While Avant’s emergence initially looked like a fluke, he’s beginning to establish himself as a real deal WR. It will help his fantasy value that Philly’s top wideout DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion Sunday against the Redskins. With the league’s increased concern about head injuries, Jackson will likely miss at least one game. It’s also worth noting that TE Brent Celek suffered ligament damage to one of his thumbs. If Avant gets the start against the Falcons, he would be extremely playable given the Eagles sudden shortage of pass catchers.

Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Avant should be owned in all leagues and is playable this week against a below-average Falcons defense.

2. Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson, Saints
RockstarThe Forecast will continue to profile Meachem and Henderson until they’re both owned in more than 70% of fantasy leagues. The dynamic Saints wideouts may disappoint every once in awhile but they’re more consistent than you think. Meachem has scored in four straight games. Henderson has exceeded 70 yards or scored a touchdown in four of his last six games. Give Meachem waiver priority over Henderson but both players are worth owning . . . and worth starting.

Availability: Owned in ~67% and ~61% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Meachem and Henderson should be owned in all leagues.

3. Bernard Berrian, Vikings
RescueBerrian is no longer the #1 option in the Vikings offense (in reality, he may not even be the #2 option) but that doesn’t mean fantasy owners can’t squeeze some value out of the speedy wideout. Berrian caught six passes for 74 yards on Sunday and draws a juicy matchup this week against the Cardinals. Arizona ranks 29th in the NFL in pass defense. It’s a good week to dust off Berrian, who should be running at full speed after nursing a hamstring injury for much of the season

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Berrian is worth a spot start this week against the Cards.

4. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers
Worth a LookBryant has had an up-and-down season. He’s put up some useful fantasy performances but too often has disappeared the following week or ended up on the bench with an injury. He’s coming off easily his best outing of the year (91 yards and a touchdown). If he can stay healthy, he could become a reliable third WR of flex player for the rest of the year. QB Josh Freeman is playing well and Bryant is the team’s best WR. Acquire Bryant this week with the hope that he will re-emerge as regular fantasy contributor. 

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bryant is worth a look in all leagues.

5. Kenny Britt, Titans
RockstarWelcome to fantasy relevance, Mr. Britt. The rookie has hooked up with QB Vince Young for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. In Week 12, he recorded seven receptions for 128 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Britt is picking up steam just in time for the post season. He’s worth a start as a low-end third receiver in this week’s matchup this week against the Colts. In Week 14, the Titans draw the Rams, a game in which Britt is very playable.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt is worth a look in all leagues and should be owned in dynasty and deep keeper leagues.

6. Laveranues Coles, Bengals
RescueAfter putting up four consecutive games with decent numbers, Coles has seen a dip in his fantasy production. He has just four receptions in his last two games, but continues to get plenty of looks in the offense. He was targeted nine times by QB Carson Palmer on Sunday against the Browns. The Forecast likes Coles as a one-week sleeper play versus the lowly Lions. In the last two games, Detroit has allowed touchdowns to the likes of Chansi Stuckey and James Jones. There’s no reason Coles shouldn’t get in on the action this week.

Availability: Owned in ~51% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Coles is worth a look as a one week fill-in.

7. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, Texans
InjuryRescueLife without TE Owen Daniels hasn’t gone well for the Texans as the team has dropped three games in a row. But before you write off the Texans, recognize they have faced three quality opponents, including the Colts twice and the upstart Titans. Houston finally catches a break this week when they face the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass. As of last week, they had allowed the second most fantasy points to WRs. The Texans should pass for at least three touchdowns against the Jaguars. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, who both posted useful fantasy stats last week, are worth deploying for active duty in Week 13.

Availability: Owned in ~64%  and 12% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Walter is worth a start in 12-team leagues this week whiel Jones is worth a flier in deep leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Visanthe Shiancoe and Kellen Winslow

1. Bo Scaife, Titans
Worth a LookTennessee QB Vince Young has targeted Scaife 17 times in the last two weeks. Although Scaife has yet to cross the stripe in 2009, a touchdown won’t be too far away if he continues to get this many looks. Scaife had his best performance of the season last week against the Cardinals, recording five receptions for 68 yards. Starting Scaife this week against the Colts might not be a great idea since Indianapolis ranks among the NFL’s best at containing TEs. However, with favorable games against the Rams, Dolphins and Chargers still left to play, Scaife is definitely work a closer look  

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scaife is worth a look in deeper leagues.

2. Tony Scheffler, Broncos
RescueBy any measure, Scheffler has been a fantasy bust in 2009. He’s scored just one touchdown and posted just one game with over 60 yards. However, he’s worth a look as a spot starter this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City has ceded three TE touchdowns in their last two games. Consider acquiring and starting Scheffler if you were counting on Brent Celek and can’t find anything better on the wire.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scheffler is a desperation play this week with high upside because of a favorable matchup.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Rob Bironas and David Akers

1. Shayne Graham, Bengals
RockstarRescueGraham has been red hot lately, connecting on eight field goals in his last three games. He’s coming off a double-digit performance against the Browns and should make it two in a row this week against the Lions. Detroit ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing over 30 points per game. If you need a kicker this week, you should start your search with Graham.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Graham is worth a start this week in all leagues.

2. Joe Nedney, 49ers
RockstarRescueThe 49ers offense has come to life over the last couple games because of the team’s willingness to deploy the spread offense. A matchup this week against the Seahawks bodes well for continued success. If your team is in dire need of a kicker, this is a good week to tap Joe Nedney. In his meeting against the Seahawks earlier this year, Nedney connected on three field goals and scored 11 total points.

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Nedney is worth a spot start against the Seahawks.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos (vs. KC) and Cincinnati Bengals (vs. DET)

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RescueIn the right situation, any defense can step up and produce fantasy points. This week, there’s a good chance the Bucs will reward fantasy owners who give them a shot. The Panthers will likely be forced to start backup QB Matt Moore this week since Jake Delhomme has a broken finger. Look for the Bucs to harass the inexperienced QB and rack up points by way of sacks and turnovers. Your initial thought might be that starting the Bucs is suicide. Upon closer inspection, Tampa hasn’t been too shabby for fantasy purposes this year. They’re tied for seventh in interceptions with 12. They’ve also recorded 23 sacks and scored two defensive touchdowns. 

Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Bucs are a sneaky pickup and play option this week against the Panthers.

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