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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 16
Paul Sandy
December 22, 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: Vince Young, Eli Manning and Alex Smith (vs. DET)

1. Matt Moore, Panthers
RockstarMoore lit up the Vikings defense for 299 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. His confidence and his fantasy numbers have grown each week since taking over the starting job from Jake Delhomme three weeks ago. Moore is auditioning for a job for 2010 and should continue to start. He draws a favorable matchup this week in the Giants. He’s an option worth exploring in keeper leagues, dynasty leagues, deep leagues and leagues two-QB systems.  

 Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Moore is worth a look in keeper and dynasty leagues.

2. Chad Henne, Dolphins
RockstarRescueThe Wildcat offense is all but extinct in Miami. These days it’s all about the passing game and QB Chad Henne. Henne has averaged 42.3 pass attempts per game over his last three outings. In two of those games, he exceeded 300 yards passing. In short, he’s turning into a legit fantasy QB. Chances are you don’t want to trust him this week with your championship on the line. However, a matchup against the Texans is decent. Consider Henne if you don’t like your other options and keep your eye on this guy for 2010 if Miami finds him some WR help. 

 Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henne merits consideration as a spot starter and in keeper/dynasty leagues.

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, Laurence Maroney, Ahmad Bradshaw and LeSean McCoy

1. Jerome Harrison, Browns
RockstarCleveland’s puzzling use of RBs rolls on. A week after giving Chris Jennings the bulk of the carries, head coach Eric Mangini pounded Jerome Harrison all game against the Chiefs. Harrison turned in one of the best performances of the 2009 season, amassing an otherworldly 298 cumulative yards and three scores. Hopefully Mangini has seen the light and continues to run Harrison. Cleveland faces the Raiders this week so don’t hesitate to plug and play the versatile Browns RB.

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

2. Michael Bush, Raiders
RockstarInjuryBush led all Oakland RBs in fantasy production in Week 15, totaling 133 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The unexpected contribution came after starter Justin Fargas injured his knee. If Fargas were to miss time, Bush could be highly relevant for Week 16, which is championship week in most leagues. The Raiders face a Cleveland defense that ranks 29th in the NFL against the run. In deep leagues, Darren McFadden is also worth a look

Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bush is a viable plug-and-play for desperate fantasy owners this week.

3. Larry Johnson, Bengals
RescueThis is the moment Johnson’s been waiting for. In Week 16, LJ will square off against his former team, the Chiefs. Kansas City, which ranks 31st in the NFL against the run, was just throttled by Jerome Harrison for nearly 300 yards. Johnson will no doubt lobby head coach Marvin Lewis for playing time. Look for him to get at least 12-15 touches, which should give him an outside shot at 70 yards and a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Johnson is worth a one-week flier against his former team.

4. Maurice Morris, Lions
RockstarMorris stepped in for the injured Kevin Smith and tallied 161 total yards and a touchdown against a respectable Cardinals defense. He ended the day with 17 rush attempts—no other Lions RB had more than four. Going forward, look for more of the same. Morris should get at least 15 carries with a reception or two, making him a useful option in deep leagues. This week, Detroit faces a 49ers defense that generally holds up well versus the run.  

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is worth a look in all leagues but has minimal upside against San Francisco this week.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Braylon Edwards and Hakeem Nicks

1. Chris Chambers, Chiefs
RockstarKansas City QB Matt Cassel targeted Chris Chambers five times on Sunday, completing all five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Considering how many balls Chambers was dropping during his stint in San Diego this year, his production in Kansas City has been shocking. He’s turned in four useful fantasy performances in seven outings since joining the Chiefs. He’s worth using as a third wideout or flex player this week against the Bengals.

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Chambers should be owned in all leagues.

2. Austin Collie, Colts
Worth a LookCollie has scored in three straight games. While his yardage and reception totals have been modest, you can’t argue with the net results. The Colts draw the Jets this week. With shutdown corner Darrelle Revis expected to blanket top wideout Reggie Wayne, Collie should get plenty of looks from Peyton Manning. Consider activating him as a third receiver.

Availability: Owned in ~73% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Collie is playable this week against the Jets.

3. Josh Morgan, 49ers
RescueMorgan is finally starting to live up to some of the expectations fantasy owners had after he showed flashes of potential last season. He has quietly tallied two touchdowns in his last three games. He’s also posted three games with six or more receptions in his last four outings. That’s steady production in TD-heavy and PPR leagues. With a matchup this week against the Lions, Morgan is an intriging option. The Lions rank dead last in every major defensive category against the pass including touchdowns allowed and yardage allowed. Morgan should exceed his average over the past three games and post at least 6-7 receptions for 80+ yards.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morgan is a sneaky pickup and play option for Week 16.

4. Lance Moore and Devery Henderson, Saints
RescueThere are a few things to pay attention to in Week 16 when it comes to the Saints: 1) Drew Brees is miffed after losing last week to the Cowboys; 2) New Orleans still has something to play for; 3) They face the woeful Bucs. All three of these factors should add up to plenty of scoring opportunities for the New Orleans passing offense. If you’re looking at your championship matchup and you feel like your opponent has you outmanned, consider acquiring Moore, who returned from a hamstring injury last week and scored, or Henderson. Either player could provide the homerun potential you need to make up some ground.

Availability: Owned in ~19% and 68% of leagues respectively.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Moore or Henerson for “feast or famine” potential.

5. Bernard Berrian, Vikings
RescueThe 2009 season has been a disappointment for Berrian. Entering the year, he was projected to be the top receiving target for the Vikings. As it stands, he’s the third or fourth option. But if you like to ride historical trends, Berrian is worth a look this week. He has faced the Bears, his former team, three times since joining the Vikings. All three stat lines were useful for fantasy purposes (6-81-1, 4-122-1 and 6-74-0). Roll the dice with Berrian if you are in a pinch and need a player with some upside.

Availability: Owned in ~67% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Berrian a high-risk, high-reward option in Week 16.

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Heath Miller and Kellen Winslow

1. Jermichael Finley, Packers
RockstarFinley looks like the real deal—a full-fledged future stud fantasy TE in the making. His last three stat lines have been beefy (7-79-2, 5-70-0 and 9-74-1). Finley ought to be owned in all leagues at this point but many owners will still find him on the wire. The talented young Packers TE should feast on this week’s matchup against the Seahawks. In recent games, Seattle has been gutted by talented TEs including: Vernon Davis (6-111-1), Visanthe Shiancoe (8-78-1), Brandon Pettigrew (7-70-1), Dallas Clark (8-80-0), Greg Olsen (5-44-1) and Kellen Winslow (6-93-0).  

Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Finley should be owned in all leagues and has upside as a starter this week.

2. John Carlson, Seahawks
RockstarAfter slumping for much of the season, Carlson has scored in two straight games and he posted a season-high seven receptions on Sunday against the Bucs. If your TE position is in dire straits and you need a one-week option for your championship game, you could do worse than Carlson. Seattle faces the Packers this week. Green Bay just allowed Heath Miller to burn them for 118 yards on seven receptions. Carlson scored in last year’s meeting with Green Bay.

Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Carlson is a decent matchup-based start this week against the Packers.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Rob Bironas and Nate Kaeding

1. Shayne Graham, Bengals
RescueGraham, who has put up double-digit points in four of the last six games, scores a dream matchup this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City has ceded 40+ points in three of their last four games. If you’ve been riding a kicker who has fallen on hard times (i.e. Mason Crosby or Nick Folk), consider snagging Graham. He’s a virtual lock for at least seven points.

Availability: Owned in ~39% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Graham is a recommended plug-and-play this week against the toothless Chiefs defense.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: New Orleans Saints (vs. TB) and Arizona Cardinals (vs. STL)

1. San Francisco 49ers
RescueGet the 49ers defense some action this week against the Lions. Detroit will be without QB Matt Stafford and will start either Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton. Both passers have a tendency to throw more interceptions than touchdowns. San Francisco ranks inside the top 10 in sacks and they’re not too shabby in terms of forcing turnovers. They should get your fantasy team on the scoreboard with a decent point total on Sunday.

Availability: Owned in ~74% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The 49ers are a useful fantasy defense this week against the Lions.

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