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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 14
Paul Sandy
December 8, 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: Alex Smith

1. Vince Young, Titans
RockstarYoung, who is still lurking on the waiver wire in over 30% of leagues, continues to be a model of consistency for fantasy purposes. While he hasn’t been a home run hitter, he finds a way to get points each week. Young has put up 15 or more fantasy points in four consecutive games (under the most common scoring systems). If you’ve been platooning QBs this season and need a spot starter or if you just need a backup for the postseason, Young is someone you should pursue. The Titans face an average St. Louis pass defense this week.

Availability: Owned in ~68% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Young’s consistent play makes him a worthy grab in all leagues.

2. Chad Henne, Dolphins
RescueHenne had the best outing of his career on Sunday against the Patriots. He posted 335 yards and two scores. It was his fourth straight game with at least one touchdown. With Jacksonville up next, Henne should continue to see modest success. The Jaguars rank 23rd in the NFL against the pass. They are one of 11 NFL teams that have allowed 20 or more passing touchdowns in 2009.

 Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henne is a desperation play in deep leagues as well as a viable grab-and-stash QB in dynasty/keeper leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Jamaal Charles, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch (vs. KC), and Darren Sproles

1. Jerome Harrison, Browns
RockstarInjuryCleveland starter Jamal Lewis was placed on IR toward the middle of last week ending his season and probably his career. Backups Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings stepped into the limelight against the Chargers and Harrison turned in the better performance. He rushed the ball 10 times for 35 yards but added seven receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns. The Leon Washington-esque stat line should open the eyes of PPR-leaguers. Harrison probably isn’t ready for primetime this week against the Steelers, but could come in handy in Weeks 15-16 against the Chiefs and Raiders.

Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Harrison should be added in all leagues this week.

2. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
Worth a LookC-Buck was the top recommended “rescue” RB last week and came through with 128 total yards against the Chiefs. He’s good for about 15 touches per game and provides useful depth for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams. At the very least, teams entering the postseason with Knowshon Moreno in the stable should entertain handcuffing him with Buckhalter. A matchup this week against the Colts isn’t all that promising but in Week 15, Buckhalter should fare well against a Raiders defense he ripped for 100+ yards earlier in the season.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Buckhalter is worth a look if you need some RB depth.

3. Ryan Moats, Texans
InjurySince his three-touchdown effort back in Week 8, Moats has fallen back into fantasy irrelevance. He could re-emerge as a viable spot starter this week though. Starter Steve Slaton missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury and is scheduled to see a specialist this week. If Slaton misses Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Moats could see the bulk of the carries. Houston’s only other back, Chris Brown, did little last week. In fact, he threw an ugly interception on a half-back pass that may have cost his team any chance at a postseason bid.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moats will be a sneaky pickup and play this week if Slaton sits.
 
4. Sammy Morris, Patriots
Worth a LookIdentified as a player worth watching a couple weeks ago, Morris has returned from a midseason knee injury and is starting to get playing time. He posted 65 yards on 11 touches against the Dolphins on Sunday, cutting into Laurence Maroney’s playing time. Look for him to continue seeing about 10-12 touches per game for the duration of the season. With attractive matchups in the coming weeks against the Panthers and Bills, Morris is worth a bench spot or perhaps even a spot start in deep leagues. Carolina and Buffalo rank at or near the bottom of the NFL in rush defense.

Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a look at Morris as a bench warmer or desperation play.

5. Quinton Ganther, Redskins
Worth a LookGanther was billed as a sleeper pickup last week and the Forecast will give him another nod. He led all Washington RBs in rushing yardage, posting 46 yards on just eight carries. With Clinton Portis likely done for the season, Ganther should see increased touches down the stretch. Consider him an ultra sneaky starter or flex play in deep leagues this week against the Raiders.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ganther is worth a look in deep leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon and Roy Williams

1. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers
RockstarBryant surprisingly didn’t get much attention on the free agent market last week despite posting 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 12. He’ll surely open more eyes now since he followed through with 116 yards against the Panthers. If you need some help at the WR position, consider adding him. Bryant was a monster performer in December 2008. Now that he’s fully healthy and in synch with QB Josh Freeman, Bryant looks poised for another sizzling finish to the NFL season. Consider him a low-end #3 WR against the Jets this week but an excellent starter in Week 15 against the Seahawks.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bryant should be owned in all leagues.

2. Mike Wallace, Steelers
InjuryRescueSteelers top wideout Hines Ward suffered a hamstring injury during Sunday’s loss to the Raiders. Because Pittsburgh plays Thursday and has a short week, Ward appears to be in danger of missing the game. Mike Wallace becomes a highly attractive pickup considering the Steelers have a juicy matchup against the Browns. Wallace had some useful fantasy performances midway through the season but hasn’t done much in the last month. Look for a return to relevance this week.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace is playable in all leagues this week.

3. Kenny Britt, Titans
RescueBritt has scored a touchdown in three straight games yet he’s owned in less than 50% of fantasy leagues. The rookie’s future looks bright but instead of just filing him away in your memory bank as a player of interest for 2010, why not give him a look now? He’s without question the top fantasy WR on the Titans. In past years, that hasn’t meant much but Tennessee’s passing offense is starting to click and Britt is the primary beneficiary. With a matchup this week against the Rams, who lost their stating safety to injury on Sunday, Britt is a WR you can plug and play immediately.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt merits roster consideration in all leagues.

4. Davone Bess, Dolphins
RescueBess posted a career high 10 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Patriots. He has almost twice as many receptions as any other Miami WR. Unfortunately, Miami’s gameplan is to run the football and throw dink and dunk passes as needed. That makes Bess a risky option in standard scoring leagues. However, if your league gives out on a points-per-reception (PPR) basis, Bess is worth a closer look. The Dolphins face the Jaguars this week and Jacksonville has been generous to WRs all season long.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Take a look at Bess if you’re in a PPR league.

5. Mark Clayton, Ravens
RescueClayton, who is coming off a mediocre performance on MNF, is purely a matchup based pickup this week. Like so many number two and number three WRs before him, Clayton should benefit greatly from a matchup against the Lions. Detroit has allowed 28 passing scores this season, most in the NFL. They’ve also allowed 3,297 passing yards, also most in the NFL. Clayton has excellent upside this week but be sure to monitor his health status. He looked gimpy on a couple occasions last night. If he can’t go, elevate Kelly Washington.

Availability: Owned in ~30% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Roll the dice with Clayton and hope for a long score against Detroit.
 
6. Devin Thomas, Redskins
Worth a LookThomas posted 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints. It’d be easy to write him off as a one week wonder, and maybe he will fade back into irrelevance. But before you dismiss the second-year wideout, recall that he was the second receiver taken in last year’s draft. Thomas has the talent to succeed in the NFL. The main question has always been work ethic and attitude. Lots of young NFL wideouts have faced similar struggles and overcome them. If Thomas can grow up, he may finally start to live up to his potential.

Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Thomas is worth a bench spot in deep leagues, dynasty leagues and keeper leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Brent Celek

1. Jermichael Finley, Packers
RockstarFinley has flirted with fantasy relevance on and off all season. He’s struggled with some injuries and inconsistency. However, he had a breakout game on Monday Night Football, catching seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdown passes. Finley has all the tools to be an elite level fantasy tight end, including a great QB. If you love a TE who’s capable of turning in a monster performance and can stomach the occasional disappointment, Finley could be your guy.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Finley is a homerun threat at the TE position and merits consideration in all leagues.

2. Bo Scaife, Titans
RockstarLast week’s top recommended TE came through for fantasy owners with 56 yards and a touchdown. Scaife has now posted five receptions in back-to-back games and has earned starting consideration in all TE-mandatory leagues. If you’re entering the postseason without a reliable starting TE, Scaife should be a guy you consider adding. The Titans do not face an overly difficult defensive opponent from a TE perspective the rest of the way.    

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scaife is worth a look in all leagues.

2. Fred Davis, Redskins
RescueDavis has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games and can generally be counted on for at least four receptions per game. He looks like the real deal and could be a future stud at the TE position if he continues to develop. He’s worth considering if you need some backup depth at the TE position. The Redskins face the Raiders this week. Oakland has held up well against TEs this year. Of course, so had the Saints prior to last week. Davis is playable as a low-end number one TE on any given Sunday.  

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Davis merits roster consideration for any owner needing TE help.

KICKERS

No Brainers: David Akers

1. Garrett Hartley, Saints
RockstarIn a week that saw exceptional production from the kicker position, Garrett Hartley was the best of the best. Hartley, in his first start of the season, drilled four of his five field goal attempts and led all kickers in fantasy scoring. Playing on the highest scoring team in the NFL, Hartley should have plenty of opportunities to reward fantasy owners with useful stat lines. It’s true that the Saints kick a lot of extra points but those extra points add up. Despite getting benched last week, John Carney remains the eighth highest scoring kicker in the NFL. If Hartley stays accurate, he’ll be a top kicker for the rest of the year.

Availability: Owned in ~18% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hartley should be owned in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Tennessee Titans (vs. STL) and New York Jets (vs. TB)

1. Buffalo Bills
RescueKansas City has given up two defensive touchdowns and a safety in the last two weeks. Fantasy owners scouring the wire for some defensive help would be wise to consider adding the Bills. Buffalo ranks second in the NFL with 21 interceptions but the Bills are only owned in 40% of leagues. Although they’re average or slightly below in terms of registering sacks, Buffalo’s ball-hawking secondary combined with Matt Cassel’s propensity to turn the ball over, the Bills are worth a flier pickup. 

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Bills are worth a one-time start this week against the Chiefs.

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