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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast - Week 17
Paul Sandy
December 29, 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: Kyle Orton (vs. KC) and Jay Cutler (vs. DET)

1. Chad Henne, Dolphins
RockstarHenne was touted as a potential spot starter for the Week 16 matchup against the Texans. He posted 322 yards and a touchdown—his third 300 yard performance in his last four outings. Over that same four-game stretch, Henne averaged 45.5 pass attempts per outing. That’s a testament to Miami’s shift away from an offense built entirely around the running game. Henne looks like a potential top 15 fantasy QB for 2010. Add him in keeper and dynasty formats if he’s still lingering on the wire. If you have something to play for in Week 17, he’s a decent option against a Steelers defense that has been vulnerable to the pass.  

 Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Henne is worth a look in all leagues and is a must-grab in dynasty formats.

2. Matt Moore, Panthers
RockstarLast week’s top recommended QB led the Panthers to an upset win over the Giants, tallying 171 yards and three touchdowns. Moore closes out the season with a matchup against the Saints. Carolina’s top target, Steve Smith, is likely to miss the game with a broken arm. The injury makes Moore a risky play. However, if you’re in a dynasty league or a deep keeper league, Moore is worth adding at this point. He’s shown enough to compete for the starting job in 2010.  

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

RUNNING BACKS

No Brainers: Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, Jerome Harrison and Darren Sproles

1. Donald Brown, Colts
RescueFantasy owners playing in a Week 17 championship game should take a long hard look at Colts rookie Donald Brown if he’s lurking on the wire. Brown figures to get the bulk of the carries this week against an awful Bills run defense. Indianapolis opted to rest starter Joseph Addai for most of last week’s game against the Jets. He’ll likely rest even more this week. Brown could be good for 100+ yards and a touchdown against a Buffalo club that is worst in the NFL against the run.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is an excellent plug-and-play option against the Bills.

2. Arian Foster, Texans
RockstarWeek 15 was supposed to be Foster’s breakout but he fumbled on his third carry and was promptly benched. Head coach Gary Kubiak decided to give the rookie a second chance in Week 16 against the Dolphins. He fared much better, carrying the ball 19 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Look for him to continue to get the bulk of the carries this week against the Patriots. Houston still has an outside shot to make the playoffs so count on an inspired performance.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Foster is worth a look as a low-end RB2 in Week 17.

3. Lex Hilliard, Dolphins
RockstarInjuryHilliard took over for the injured Ricky Williams (shoulder) in Sunday’s loss to the Texans. He finished the day with 86 total yards and two touchdowns. Much of the production came on nine receptions. Hilliard is worth adding in all leagues. Williams’ shoulder injury may not keep him out of this week’s game against the Steelers but Hilliard has probably earned more reps anyway. If you’re in a pinch and can’t find another option, he would make a decent flex player especially in PPR leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hilliard is a solid pickup in all formats and PPR formats in particular.

4. Sammy Morris, Patriots
RockstarMorris was a Forecast sleeper recommendation a few weeks ago. He didn’t pan out initially but got his shot Sunday against the Jaguars. His final stat line was 98 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Morris carried the ball 12 times, compared to just five for Laurence Maroney, who was benched after fumbling at the goal line. New England’s backfield is always difficult to predict—even more so now that Fred Taylor is back. Starting Morris is not without risk. However, if you’re desperate for a warm body to plug into your lineup, Morris will suffice. He scored against the Jags on a one-yard touchdown run. Look for 10-12 touches from Morris and hope for a goal-line attempt or two.   

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Morris is a viable starter but carries some risk.

5. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
RescueBuckhalter returned to the Denver lineup on Sunday after missing Week 15 with an ankle injury. The Broncos didn’t run the ball much but Buckhalter still managed to turn his five rushing attempts into 42 yards. He added two receptions for 12 yards. With the Chiefs on tap next, look for Denver to return to their bread and butter, running the football. In his last meeting against Kansas City, Buckhalter posted 113 yards rushing. Consider him a sneaky plug-and-play option this week.

Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Buckhalter is a solid matchup-based play against the woeful Chiefs defense.

6. Brandon Jackson, Packers
RockstarWorth a LookJackson scored three touchdowns in Green Bay’s rout of the hapless Seahawks. With little to gain next week, the Packers may be tempted to rest their key starters against Arizona, especially since their first round opponent could be those very same Cardinals. If Ryan Grant rests for most of the game, Jackson and Ahman Green will likely split the carries. Jackson’s versatility and the likelihood that he would get the goal line carries, makes him a worthwhile add. Play him if Mike McCarthy gives any indication that he will rest his starters.

Availability: Owned in ~4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Jackson is only worth a look if the Packers decide to rest Ryan Grant.

7. Darren McFadden, Raiders
Worth a LookMcFadden has been a bust this season but predictably he’s making a late season surge that will likely cause owners to value him too highly next season. With Justin Fargas banged up, McFadden has seen 11-12 touches in each of the last three games. His production over that stretch is borderline useful depending on your scoring system. With several key RBs potentially resting up for the playoffs this week, McFadden could be fantasy relevant in Week 17. That said, use him only if your RB situation is dire. The Raiders face the Ravens.

Availability: Owned in ~53% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: McFadden is worth a look in deep leagues.

WIDE RECEIVERS

No Brainers: Robert Meachem and Austin Collie

1. Jabbar Gaffney, Broncos
RockstarIn Week 16, Gaffney turned in the type of stat line fantasy owners were anticipating from Eddie Royal all year. With Royal (neck) sidelined, Gaffney stepped in and racked up seven receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Monitor Royal’s status for this week. If he can’t go, Gaffney will be a nice plug-and-play choice against the Chiefs. Kansas City offers little resistance in the passing game having allowed 24 passing scores this year.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gaffney is worth adding in advance of a favorable matchup this week.

2. Devin Aromashodu, Bears
Worth a LookAromashodu tallied seven receptions for 150 yards and a TD on MNF and has now posted useful fantasy stat lines in two of the last three weeks. Fellow Bears WR Johnny Knox was carted off the field likely ending his season. The injury to Knox could make Aromashodu even more valuable as his targets may increase. Chicago faces the Lions next week, which gives Aromashodu plenty of upside. Consider him a sneaky option for your Week 17 championship round.

Availability: Owned in 4% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Aromashodu is worthy of a spot start against the Lions.

3. Mike Wallace, Steelers
InjuryHines Ward aggravated his hamstring injury in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. Wallace, the dangerous, deep-thread WR, could see an increase in targets this week against the Dolphins. Even with Ward in the lineup, Wallace has been fantasy relevant over the last couple games, racking up 79 or more yards in two straight outings and scoring two touchdowns in Week 14. Deploy Wallace as your third receiver if you need a guy with big play potential.

Availability: Owned in 59% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Wallace is worth a look this week, especially if Ward sits.

4. Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers
InjuryPanthers starting wideout Steve Smith broke his arm and will miss the final game of the year. Veteran Muhsin Muhammad becomes the de facto number one receiver. He posted 56 yards and a touchdown in Week 15. With Matt Moore doing a good job slinging the ball around, Muhammad could find success in back to back games. Carolina will face the Saints. New Orleans ranks 25th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 241.3 yards through the air per game.

Availability: Owned in ~14% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Muhammad is a decent spot start option in deep leagues.

5. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Worth a LookMaclin missed Week 15 and most of Week 14 with a foot injury. He returned to action on Sunday and made an immediate impact, catching six passes for 92 yards. The rookie has showed promise this year but his numbers have been up and down. Recently though, he’s been good for at least 60 yards per game when healthy but touchdowns have been sparse. Consider him a low-end third receiver for this week’s tilt against the rival Cowboys.

Availability: Owned in ~71% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Maclin is worth a look as a spot starter in deep leagues

TIGHT ENDS

No Brainers: Jermichael Finley

1. John Carlson, Seahawks
RockstarAs bad as Matt Hasselbeck is playing right now, he’s managed to make Carlson fantasy relevant. The Seahawks TE has now scored in three straight games, yet he’s available in over 35% of all fantasy leagues. Grab Carlson for this week’s game against the Titans. Tennessee is not great at containing opposing TEs. In fact, they’ve allowed a TE touchdown in three straight games.

Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Carlson is worth a look in all leagues.

2. Zach Miller, Raiders
RockstarMiller, who is one of the most underrated TEs in the NFL, caught nine passes for 110 yards on Sunday against the Browns. He was likely in very few fantasy lineups since Charlie Frye was under center and Miller was coming off a concussion. If you play in a deep league and you normally start a TE who may rest, Dallas Clark for example, Miller is not a bad choice. Frye clearly had eyes for Miller and figures to look his way early and often this week.

Availability: Owned in ~58% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider adding Miller if you’re desperate for TE help this week.

KICKERS

No Brainers: Matt Prater (vs. KC)

1. Kris Brown, Texans
RescueAfter a midseason slump, Brown has caught fire. He’s scored nine or more points in three straight games and four of his last five. If your regular kicker hasn’t been cutting it lately, Brown is worth a look. The Texans are still in playoff contention and have everything to play for this week against the Patriots. The game will be played in Houston so weather won’t be a factor.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Brown is playable in all leagues.

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS

No Brainers: none

1. Tennessee Titans
RescueThe Titans defense has been stale over the last two games from a fantasy perspective—just two sacks and two interceptions. Look for a bump in production this week though with the Seahawks on tap next. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck has thrown eight interceptions in the last two games. Hasselbeck’s mistakes should generate plenty of opportunities for Tennessee’s defensive playmakers to rack up some sacks and turnovers.  

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Remember the Titans this week when you’re setting your lineup.

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