Free Agent Forecast: Week 6
Paul Sandy
October 9, 2012
Rockstar Rock Star Free Agent
Injury Injury Replacement
Grab & Stash Grab & Stash
1 Week Plug & Play 1 Week Plug & Play
Dumpster Dive Dumpster Dive
Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
$ $0 - $5
$$ $6 - $15
$$$ $16 - $25
$$$$ $26 - $40
$$$$$ $41+
Based on $100 cap,
12-team league.

Given the diverse scoring systems and sizes of fantasy leagues, producing a weekly list of free agents that satisfies the masses can be challenging. For the most part, the column will hone in on players who are available in at least 35% of all fantasy leagues. If you play in a small league (8 teams), chances are there may be better players to pick up than you see listed here. If you play in a large league (16 teams), the majority of the players highlighted may already be on a squad; however, expect to find hidden gems, as well.

In addition to scouting “rock star” free agents who had breakout performances in the previous week, the Forecast will dig deep to identify players who may be worth a spot start or a roster stash.


Christian Ponder, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayPonder was efficient in Sunday’s win over the Titans. He passed for 258 yards and two scores, adding 31 yards rushing. The plug-and-play recommendation from last week has a good chance to carry momentum forward into Week 6. The Vikings face a Redskins defense that has been among the most generous in the NFL to opposing passers. In fact, every QB who has faced them this season except Josh Freeman has passed for over 300 yards with multiple touchdowns. If you’re facing a week without Drew Brees, Cam Newton or Jay Cutler, take a look at Ponder.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Play Ponder with confidence in Week 6 and don’t underestimate his long-term value.

Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter throwing multiple touchdowns in two straight games, the Kevin Kolb comeback cruise struck an iceberg in Week 5 when he failed to throw a touchdown pass against the Rams. Despite the TD bagel, Kolb still managed to put up a respectable 289 yards. Look for him to bounce back in Week 6 when he faces a Bills defense that continues to get whipped week after week. Buffalo has allowed 97 points in the last two games. The last two QBs to face them have tallied 300+ yards and three touchdowns.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
Forecast: Kolb should go for at least two scores against a bad Bills defense.

Carson Palmer, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayComing off a bye, Palmer was a roster cut in many leagues last week. If you’re in need of a stopgap for Week 6, he’s worth considering. Oakland travels to Atlanta, where the Falcons figure to jump out to an early lead and force Palmer to pump 40+ throws. Although the Raiders offense has been a disappointment, Palmer has been serviceable from a fantasy perspective. Up until an ugly road loss to the Broncos in Week 4, Palmer’s worst stat line was 297-1. Look for numbers at or around that level on Sunday.  

Availability: Owned in ~70% of leagues.
Forecast: Consider Palmer a fair plug-and-play option for Week 6.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Jay Cutler (87%) and Alex Smith (75%)

On the Radar: Brandon Weeden (12%), Josh Freeman (59%), Sam Bradford (41%) and Ryan Tannehill (10%)


Alex Green, Packers
Injury ReplacementPackers starting RB Cedric Benson suffered an Lis Franc sprain in Sunday’s upset loss to the Colts. Benson was just starting to hit his stride and early indications are the injury will likely keep him sidelined eight weeks or more. Backup Alex Green came on and rushed for 55 yards on nine carries. Green, a second-year RB who missed the 2011 season with an ACL tear, is quicker and shiftier than Benson. Whereas Benson will run you over, Green’s specialty is making you miss. The Forecast likes Green’s big-play potential but his upside is limited because Green Bay’s offense is so tilted to the pass and they like to use fullback John Kuhn at the goal line. Get him. Just don’t overspend if you’re in a league that bids for free agents. James Starks is also worth a look, though he’ll need to work his way out of the doghouse to have a major impact.

Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Green should be one of the hottest pickups on the wire this week but is a risky start versus the Texans.

Brandon Bolden, Patriots
Grab & StashWas the fantasy world asleep at the wheel least week or did they just not believe in Bolden? He’s still available in 41% of fantasy leagues. Bolden rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago. Although his Week 5 performance wasn’t as helpful, he still carried the ball 14 times and was a major part of the Patriots high-powered offense. With Stevan Ridley coughing up another fumble, Bolden is a must-own in all leagues. A road matchup against the Seahawks makes him a little risky so consider him more of a buy-and-hold pickup.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Bolden isn’t going away; he should be owned in all leagues.

William Powell, Cardinals
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayRyan Williams suffered a shoulder injury last Thursday against the Rams and will miss the remainder of the season. With the “counterfeit” Bills defense coming to town, it’s not a bad time to stock up on what’s left of the Arizona running backs. William Powell figures to be the frontrunner for the starting job but he suffered a concussion and will need to be cleared to play. Monitor the situation closely. Powell should be grabbed in most leagues at this point and is startable if he gets the green light to play. Buffalo is allowing 171.8 rushing yards per game and they’ve already allowed nine TDs on the ground—most in the NFL. LaRod Stephens Howling and Alfonso Smith could also see an increase in work and are worth stashing in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Take a flier on Powell and get him on the field for an advantageous matchup against the Bills.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers
Grab & StashFantasy owners who were wise enough to plug and play Hunter last week against the leaky Bills run defense were rewarded with a useful 11-81-0 stat line. Hunter is one of the better backup RBs in the NFL. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per carry. And since he plays behind an aging veteran, Hunter is a guy worth stashing on your bench. As the season progresses and Frank Gore’s carries continue to pile up, the team will no doubt want to keep their lead back healthy and fresh for the postseason. Bet on a dandy second half of the year for Hunter.

Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast: Hunter is capable of posting useful stats against any opponent and is worth owning in any league.

Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Injury Replacement1 Week Plug & PlayMiami backup RB Daniel Thomas suffered his second concussion of the season during Sunday’s upset win over the Bengals. Any time a player is concussed twice in such a condensed timeframe, it’s cause for concern. With the Dolphins on bye in Week 7, don’t be surprised if the team shuts Thomas down for this week’s game against the Rams. Add Lamar Miller, who has flashed nifty moves and speed a few times this season. The rookie is averaging 5.5 ypc. Look for him to get close to ten touches and deliver decent stats as a bye-week replacement if Thomas rests.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast: Spot start Miller in deep leagues if Daniel Thomas is out and you need a replacement.

Danny Woodhead, Patriots
1 Week Plug & PlayWoodhead is the classic bye-week filler. A versatile RB, he typically receives around 8-10 touches per game with at least a few of them coming in the redzone. In the last three games, Woodhead has posted at least 72 yards or a touchdown. If your regular RB is on bye in Week 6, Woodhead is a guy you can insert into your lineup and have some confidence he won’t let you down. It’s worth noting that starter Stevan Ridley has fumbled twice in the last two games and may no longer be used to kill the clock—a role Woodhead could fill. The Patriots are on the road this week in Seattle, which is a tough matchup. Nonetheless, the Forecast still likes Woodhead’s chances of recording at least 50 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~33% of leagues.
Forecast: With the Patriots committed to the run, Woodhead is a legitimate starting option for bye-week challenged owners.

Joique Bell and Jahvid Best, Lions
Dumpster DiveThe Lions attempt the second-most passes per game so fantasy owners—especially those in PPR leagues—would be wise to pay attention to any Detroit RB who has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Bell is a second-year RB who is trending in the right direction when it comes to fantasy production. He caught two passes in Week 2, four in Week 3, and six in Week 4. During that Week 4 game against the Vikings, he led the entire team with 72 yards receiving. Head coach Jim Schwartz has indicated Bell has earned increased playing time. Add him and don’t be afraid to use him as a PPR plug and play. Jahvid Best (concussion) is eligible to come off the PUP list in Week 8. He’s only worth stashing in deep PPR leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~20% and ~19% of leagues, respectively.
Forecast: Bell will continue to produce in PPR formats and startable against the Eagles.

Shaun Draughn, Chiefs
Dumpster DiveWith Peyton Hillis still dealing with an ankle injury, Draughn continues to pop up on Kansas City’s boxscore with 40-50 all-purpose yards per week. It may not seem like much but beginning in Week 7, we’ll see six teams on bye. It will become exponetially more difficult to put together a starting backfield fof fantasy. Add Draughn to your roster now and use him when the situation dictates. The Chiefs face Tampa in Week 6. The Bucs are above average against the run, allowing just 73.8 rushing yards per game but Draughn seems to produce at a steady level regardless of the competition.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
Forecast: It’s not pretty but Draughn is lineup ready if you’re in a pinch.

Isaac Redman, Steelers
Dumpster DiveThe Forecast was skeptical of Redman’s ability to carry the full load while Rashard Mendenhall was recovering from offseason knee surgery. Those concerns proved to be well founded. Mendenhall returned to the lineup on Sunday with Redman serving as a change-of-pace RB. Mendenhall carried the ball 14 times and scored a touchdown. Redman rushed 13 times for 41 yards. Redman isn’t going to be the guy you can pin your playoff hopes to. However, if you need a bye-week replacement or flex option off the scrap heap, you could do worse. The Steelers get a favorable matchup in Week 6 when they face the Titans. Tennessee owns the NFL’s 28th-ranked run defense.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
Forecast: Redman is a matchup-based play against a porous Titans run defense.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Rashard Mendenhall (94%) and Jacquizz Rodgers (70%)

On the Radar: David Wilson (35%), James Starks (16%), LeGarrette Blount (44%), Ronnie Brown (17%), Shane Vereen (13%), Bilal Powell (46%), and Jamie Harper (1%)


Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayIn a season that has to this point been very hit or miss on the fantasy waiver wire, the best strategy might be to pickup other owners’ scraps. Case in point: Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is available in roughly 40% of fantasy leagues after he suffered a concussion two weeks ago. This is a WR who ended the 2011 season with 975 yards. Although he’s had a limited impact so far this year, his schedule is about to get much easier with favorable matchups against teams like the Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Saints on the horizon. Add him now in anticipation of a major spike in production.

Availability: Owned in ~62% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: With the bye week behind him and a favorable schedule ahead, DHB is roster worthy in any league.

Mike Williams, Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayWith three quality fantasy performances in four games this season, it’s surprising that Mike Williams is available in over 30% of all fantasy leagues. If that’s the case in your league, add him this week in advance of Sunday’s favorable matchup against the Chiefs. Prior to Tampa’s bye in Week 5, Williams turned in his best performance of the season—posting 115 yards on four receptions. Although Kansas City allows just 205 passing yards per game, they’ve ceded ten touchdowns through the air. The Forecast likes Williams’ chances of hitting paydirt on Sunday.

Availability: Owned in ~69% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: You can’t argue with Mike Williams’ production to this point; he’s a trustworthy WR3.

Kendall Wright, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayWith Kenny “Brittle” still bothered by an ankle injury, rookie Kendall Wright is making some noise. Wright is coming off a performance in which he notched a career-high nine receptions for 66 yards. QB Matt Hasselbeck threw his way 11 times. He’s now been targeted at least eight times in Tennessee’s last four games. Even if Wright isn’t popping off 40-yard receptions, the amount of looks he’s getting points to big production in the weeks to come. Up next, the Titans face a Pittsburgh secondary on Thursday night that will be without Troy Polamalu. Wright should be added in all PPR leagues and he’s worth a look in other formats, as well.   

Availability: Owned in ~48% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Wright could be PPR gold over the second half of the season.

Golden Tate, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter posting three touchdowns in his last three games, Golden Tate should begin creeping into the fantasy conversation. The Forecast would be more comfortable recommending him without reservation if the Seahawks took the training wheels off the offense. QB Russell Wilson is averaging just 22.8 passes per game in his last four outings. The limited pass attempts mean Tate needs to make every catch count, which is something he’s actually been doing so far. With the nose he’s shown for the endzone, Tate is worth starting against New England if you’re shorthanded this week.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast: Take a chance on Tate this week if you’re desperate.

Jordan Norwood, Browns
Grab & StashTargeted 19 times in the last two weeks, Jordan Norwood is a viable roster addition for bench depth. The second-year WR caught all nine passes thrown his way on Sunday. He ended the game with 81 yards receiving. Rookie QB Brandon Weeden has been better than expected. He may not win many games this season but he’s moving the ball and making the players around him a relevant part of the fantasy equation. Norwood has become his safety blanket and needs to be on your PPR radar. Also consider the boom-or-bust potential of Norwood’s teammate Josh Gordon, who exploded for two long touchdowns against the Giants.

Availability: Owned in ~0% of leagues.
Forecast: Stash Norwood or Gordon away in deep leagues to see if they can continue to perform at a high level.

Rueben Randle, Giants
Injury ReplacementFirst it was Ramses Barden. Then it was Domenik Hixon. Now it’s Reuben Randle. Chasing points in New York’s receiving corps has become maddening. The one thing that could crystallize the situation is injuries. Hakeem Nicks appears to be at least a couple weeks away from returning to action. Ramses Barden suffered a concussion in Week 5. If both Barden and Nicks are unable to take the field against the 49ers on Sunday, Randle has some sleeper appeal. San Francisco is deadly against the run so the Giants figure to go pass heavy. 

Availability: Owned in ~6% of leagues.
Forecast: Randle has a home on fantasy teams if Nicks and Barden are out this week.

Mario Manningham, 49ers
1 Week Plug & PlayManningham squares off against his former team, the Giants, in Week 6. That alone isn’t reason enough to add him for a spot start. So why the recommendation? New York has allowed eight passing scores this season and all of them have gone to WRs—most to No. 2 or No. 3 WRs. Five of the eight have come on huge plays from 20+ yards out. Manningham scored his first touchdown of the season last week. Take a flier on him if you’re in a deep league and need immediate WR help. Look for him to build on his performance against the Bills and put up 60-70 yards and a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
Forecast: Roll the dice with Manningham against a Giants defense that has been badly burned by WRs this season.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: James Jones (86%) Randall Cobb (63%), Domenik Hixon (63%) and Andrew Hawkins (83%)

On the Radar: Robert Meachem (55%), Devery Henderson (9%), Devin Hester (6%), Santana Moss (31%), Brandon Gibson (11%), Chris Givens (1%), Austin Pettis (0%) and Brandon Stokley (10%)


Jared Cook, Titans
Rock StarCook, who was one of the hotter TEs in fantasy at the end of 2011, made an impact in Week 5 with five catches for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. It was his second touchdown of the year. Whether you need a starter this week or are just looking for some bench depth, Cook can fit the bill. He’s an ultra-talented pass catcher who brings a lot of the same skills to the table as other elite TEs in the league. The only questions with Cook are whether he can stay healthy and whether his QB can get him the ball.

Availability: Owned in ~59% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Cook is a TE2 who has potential to climb into a TE1 role.

Joel Dreessen, Broncos
Rock StarThe Forecast pegged Dreessen for spot duty last week and he scored a touchdown. It was his third straight game with a score. At times it appears QB Peyton Manning has tunnel vision for Dreessen in the redzone, which is an exciting proposition for fantasy owners. The Forecast likes his chances again this week with a matchup against the Chargers. In recent years, San Diego’s defense has been notoriously bad against TEs. Although they’ve been holding their own against the position this season, give Dreessen a shot based on his TD streak.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast: With TDs in three straight games, Dreessen is worth rostering.

Zach Miller, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayMiller has been a marginal fantasy TE since he came over from the Raiders but is coming off a 59-yard performance against the Panthers. On Sunday, he’ll face a Patriots defense that has fared poorly against TEs this season, having given up useful numbers to Joel Dreessen (4-21-1), Scott Chandler (4-62-2), Dennis Pitta (5-50-1), Todd Heap (5-62-0) and Jared Cook (4-64-0). If you’re in a deep league and the TE options are bleak, roll the dice with Miller based on his favorable matchup.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
Forecast: Grab Miller and set your sights on 40 yards and a touchdown this week.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Kyle Rudolph (85%), Jermaine Gresham (74%), Heath Miller (84%) and Fred Davis (81%)

On the Radar: Dwayne Allen (2%), Lance Kendricks (5%) and D.J. Williams (1%)


Blair Walsh, Vikings
Rock StarWalsh is the fourth-highest scoring kicker in fantasy yet he’s still available in over 30% of fantasy leagues. Go figure. With a couple decent kickers on bye this week, Walsh should be a top free agent target in any league in which he’s available. The Vikings offense is clicking, which should lead to continued scoring. Add in a favorable matchup against the Redskins on Sunday and you have a recipe for double-digit points.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Walsh is money; own him.

Jay Feely,  Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayFeely managed just three points in last Thursday’s snooze-fest against the Rams. Despite the lack of production, Feely is a strong play in Week 6 at home against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed 97 points in their last two games. If you’re scoring at home that included 19 points from kickers, which is actually farily low, all things considered. Those matchups were against the 49ers and Patriots, who had little difficulty in the redzone. Down to their third-string RB, the Cardinals might see more drives stall out, giving Feely more scoring opportunities.

Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast: Start Feely for Sunday’s sexy matchup against the woeful Bills.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Lawrence Tynes (88%) and Matt Prater (68%)

On the Radar: Nick Novak (10%)


St. Louis Rams
Rock StarIn 2011, the Rams were the defense you wanted your fantasy players to face. They were awful in nearly every aspect of the game. Fast forward to 2012, where St. Louis ranks inside the top ten in sacks, interceptions and scoring defense. They’re coming off a performance in which they recorded nine sacks and a turnover. The Forecast is ready to declare them for real. St. Louis’ defense is primed for a big game this week facing the Dolphins and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Followed by that they get the Packers, who can’t seem to keep QB Aaron Rodgers upright. Add them in any league and scoring system.

Availability: Owned in ~16% of leagues.
Forecast: The Rams are for real and will produce in Week 6 versus the Dolphins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Bucs play host to the Chiefs in Week 6. Kansas City will be without starting QB Matt Cassel, which means Brady Quinn will get the starting nod. In their two road games this year, the Chiefs have allowed eight sacks, six turnovers and one DST touchdown. Although Tampa isn’t considered an elite fantasy defense . . . or NFL defense for that matter . . . the Bucs have managed to put up average or above average numbers in the key defensive categories. Look for them to post useful numbers with a few sacks and turnovers.

Availability: Owned in ~19% of leagues.
Forecast: Take advantage of a favorable matchup against the Brady Quinn-led Chiefs by starting Tampa’s DST.

Other Notables and No-Brainers: Patriots (76%)

On the Radar: Colts (3%), Panthers (12%), Dolphins (16%) and Redskins (18%)

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