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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 15
Paul Sandy
December 15, 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 and Alex Smith

1. Jason Campbell, Redskins
RockstarAgainst all odds, Campbell has managed to salvage a disappointing season. He burned the Raiders for 222 yards and two scores and has now thrown multiple touchdown passes in three straight games. The rival Giants are on tap next. New York has allowed 23 passing scores this season—tied for sixth most in the NFL. Since Sherm Lewis has taken over the play-calling duites, Campbell’s pass attempts per game have skyrocketed. Consider him a low-end #1 QB this week in leagues with 12 or more teams.

 Availability: Owned in ~45% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Campbell is worth a flier this week in deep leagues if your regular QB has been underperforming.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Jamaal Charles, Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw, Beanie Wells, Jason Snelling, Marshawn Lynch and Brian Westbrook

1. Chris Jennings, Browns
RockstarSchedule OutlookJennings rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown against a stout Steelers run defense in Week 14. If he’s available in your league and you need a RB to plug and play, he should top your list. The Browns will face a Chiefs defense that ranks 28th in the NFL in run defense. Jennings figures to get 18-20 touches and should have little difficulty topping his stat line from last Thursday night. Following the Chiefs, Jennings will benefit from another creampuff in the Raiders.

Availability: Owned in ~9% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jennings is an excellent pickup this week and can be started as a RB2.

2. Quinton Ganther, Redskins
RockstarThe Forecast has billed Ganther as a recommended pickup each of the previous two weeks. Fantasy owners savvy enough to snag him and start him on Sunday against the Raiders were promptly rewarded with a two-touchdown game and 93 all-purpose yards. If you need some help in your fantasy backfield or want to play some defense and prevent an opponent from finding a viable RB on the wire, Ganther is a smart pickup. He’ll be a useful low-end RB2 this week against the Giants on MNF.

Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Ganther is a worthwhile addition to any fantasy roster.

3. Arian Foster, Texans
Worth a LookWhen Steve Slaton was placed on IR last week, most figured Ryan Moats and Chris Brown would split the majority of Houston’s carries. Instead, head coach Gary Kubiak tapped Arian Foster to become a focal point of the offense. The rookie from Tennessee touched the ball 17 times, posted 89 total yards. Kubiak gave a strong indication in his post-game presser that Foster will be featured going forward. He will benefit from a tasty matchup this week against the Rams. St. Louis has ceded nine RB touchdowns in their last five games. Don’t hesitate to insert Foster into your lineup this week if you’re desperate for a warm body.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Foster could be this week’s Quinton Ganther; he’s worth a flier.

4. Willis McGahee, Ravens
Worth a LookMcGahee dropped a monster stat line on the Lions, 76 yards and two touchdowns. He got most of his work in the second half when the game was well in hand. Using him this week against the Bears is a risky play; however, if you’re in a TD-heavy league or need a deep league flier, McGahee could be worth a look. He’s scored a touchdown in three straight games as a change of pace to Ray Rice.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McGahee is playable in TD-heavy leagues against a weak Bears run defense.

5. Maurice Morris and Aaron Brown, Lions
InjuryLions starting RB Kevin Smith went down with a knee injury in Week 14. He will miss the remainder of the season. Backup Maurice Morris will likely step in and take the majority of the carries with rookie Aaron Brown getting some token looks. If you were counting on Smith, Morris can be picked up. Unfortunately, the reality is Detroit faces some capable defenses over the last few games (ARZ and SF). Don’t rely on either player unless you’ve exhausted all other viable options.

Availability: Owned in ~7% and ~1% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Take a look at Morris as a bench warmer or desperation play.
 
6. Mike Hart, Colts
Worth a LookThe Colts have clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. All healthy players will go full speed this week but don’t be surprised if the team opts to shut down Joseph Addai against the Jaguars. Addai took several hard shots on Sunday against the Broncos. Given the short week to prepare for this Thursday’s game against the Jaguars, the team may rest him. Monitor the news out of Indy. If that proves to be the case, Mike Hart would figure to get most of the work and could be a sneaky pickup-and-play option.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hart is worth a look if you currently count on Joseph Addai.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Robert Meachem and Michael Crabtree

1. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
RockstarNicks was given the starting nod this week over Mario Manningham. The results were mixed as Nicks dropped a couple highly-catchable balls but also hauled in a long touchdown. He ended the game with 110 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. Look for Nicks to continue to run with the first team offense for the duration of the season. If he’s available on your wire, don’t hesitate to acquire him and get him some playing time. Nicks’ big-play potential makes him a threat to record 90+ yards and a touchdown any week.

Availability: Owned in ~74% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Nicks should be owned in all leagues.

2. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Worth a LookBowe is slated to return from a four-game suspension this week against the Browns. Fantasy owners in desperate need of a spark at the WR position could roll the dice with him this week. Prior to his suspension, Bowe had posted serviceable or better stats in seven of eight games. Monitor the news out of KC this week to ensure Bowe will start. If he does, he’s worth a look as a third WR.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bowe is roster worthy in all leagues but is a risky play unless he is named the starter.

3. Josh Cribbs, Browns
RescueCribbs, who is easily the most explosive player on the Browns, had a breakout game in Week 14 against the Steelers. He posted 96 total yards—most of it on rushing attempts out of the wildcat formation. With the Chiefs up next, Cribbs could be worth a one-week spot start. Kansas City ranks near the bottom of the NFL in both pass and rush defense. Head coach Eric Mangini indicated he’s open to the possibility of using Cribbs in a traditional RB role. That could work to the benefit of fantasy owners as you’d essentially be getting another RB in your lineup. If Cribbs gets a hold of the ball 10+ times, he should turn in a useful fantasy stat line.

Availability: Owned in ~47% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Cribbs a homerun option if you need a flex player or third WR.

4. Austin Collie, Colts
RescueCollie has been a steady but unspectacular WR for fantasy purposes this season. On Sunday, he caught three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown, making it three straight games with either 70 yards or a touchdown. A favorable matchup this week against the Jags makes him worth a look as a spot starter. Jacksonville ranks 26th in the NFL against the pass. Look for Peyton Manning and company to put up over 300 yards through the air, which should lead to another useful stat line from Collie.  

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Collie is worth a matchup-based play this week against the Jags.

5. Kenny Britt, Titans
Worth a LookBritt only caught two passes on Sunday against the Rams but he managed to post a respectable 75 yards. It was his fourth straight game with either a touchdown or 70+ yards. Britt is worth a look this week when the Titans face the Dolphins. Miami has been burned by big plays all season, which happens to be Britt’s specialty. The only cause for concern would be if Vince Young isn’t healthy enough to play. He pulled up gimpy on a long run against the Rams. Be sure to check Young’s status before rolling with Britt.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Britt merits starting consideration in all leagues.

6. Devin Aromashodu, Bears
Worth a LookThe number of passes Aromashodu caught on Sunday exceeded the number of vowels he has in his surname, which is to say he had a productive afternoon. He posted eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. QB Jay Cutler targeted him 12 times. With Devin Hester ailing and the Bears looking ahead to 2010, it makes sense that they’d want to take a closer look at what they have in a third-year WR Aromashodu. Consider adding him in dynasty leagues or deep keeper leagues. However, keep him on your bench for this week’s game against the Ravens. If he backs up his Week 14 performance, he could be useful in Week 16 against the Vikings and certainly Week 17 against the Lions.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Aromashodu is a worthwhile grab-and-stash WR in PPR leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Brent Celek

1. Fred Davis, Redskins
RockstarDavis has been money in the bank for fantasy owners. He’s coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Raiders and has now scored in three straight games. A dream matchup this week against a Giants defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to TEs this season makes Davis a highly attractive pickup and play option for fantasy owners.  

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Davis should be owned and started in all TE-mandatory leagues this week.

2. Kevin Boss, Giants
RockstarAfter a couple down games, Boss got back on track last weekend when he posted 70 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. One of the more underrated fantasy TEs in 2009, Boss now has six touchdowns on the year. If you’ve been scraping by with your current TE and are looking for an alternative, Boss merits consideration. New York faces Washington this week; Boss recorded a respectable 62 yards against the ‘Skins in the season opener.

Availability: Owned in ~44% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Boss is a servicable fantasy TE in leagues with 12 or more teams.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Rob Bironas and Garrett Hartley

1. Jay Feely, Jets
RockstarFeely booted four field goals and two extra points against the Bucs. For the second week in a row, he was one of the most productive fantasy kickers. The Jets draw another favorable foe this week in the Falcons. Atlanta ranks 24th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 23.5 points per game. The only thing that could de-rail Feely is bad weather since the game will be played in the Meadowlands. If the weather forecast looks good, roll with Feely.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Feely is a viable kicker in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: Arizona Cardinals (vs. DET) and Denver Broncos (vs. OAK)

1. Houston Texans
RescueThe Texans draw the Rams this week and have the potential to rack up some quality DST points in the form of sacks and turnovers. St. Louis will trot out Kyle Boller or rookie Keith Null. Null got the start last week and threw five interceptions (one was returned for a touchdown). Boller would be an improvement, but he’s still prone to mistakes. He’s seen action in five games this year and has a putrid 3:6 TD-to-INT ratio with 14 sacks and two fumbles. Grab Houston’s defense and bank on some robust production. 

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Texans are recommended as a spot start this week against the error-prone Rams.

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