Free Agent Forecast: Week 8

Free Agent Forecast: Week 8


Free Agent Forecast: Week 8

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.


Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashTannehill is getting into the new offense and thrown for two scores in three straight games. Over the last three weeks, he has averaged 266 yards in addition to adding around 30 rushing yards in each. This week he heads down to Jacksonville where they are still giddy from their first win of the year. Dolphins won’t take them for granted and Tannehill will do the damage.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
Forecast: Tannehill will throw for 250+ yards and at least two scores.

Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Grab & StashAfter missing two months, Griffin still resides on many waiver wires but the Redskins are already tired of Kirk Cousins. He was benched at halftime in the win over the Titans and then showed up by Colt McCoy. By now there is no question who is the starter in Washington the minute he is ready to play. Colt McCoy will now start but plays in Dallas which is not much fun anymore. Griffin has an outside chance of playing this week but more likely shows up in Minnesota the following week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Likely still out this week but would face Vikings the following week.

Brian Hoyer, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayHe almost always ends up with at least one score and north of 200 passing yards and for the next two weeks should really shine just when bye weeks have owners desperate. Hoyer squares off against the visiting Raiders and then Buccaneers the next two weeks for what should be fantasy gold. Adding on the Bengals, Texans and Falcons through week 12, Hoyer actually has the softest schedule leading up to fantasy playoffs of any quarterback.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
Forecast: Hoyer should end up with mid to high 200’s and a couple of scores in most of his next five games.

On the Radar: Austin Davis (28%), Kyle Orton (12%)

Running Backs

Tre Mason, Rams
Rock StarAfter gaining attention with his five runs for 40 yards versus the 49ers in week six, Mason became the full-time back in the win over the Seahawks when he gained 85 yards and one score on 18 carries. A healthy Zac Stacy looked on from the sideline. While the schedule is challenging, Mason is taking the exact same route as Stacy did last year when he appeared suddenly and took over the backfield around mid-season. This time Mason has far more pedigree and talent than Stacy had.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Mason was one of the more coveted rookie backs last summer and made the most of his playing time the last two weeks. He has the look of the starter for the remainder of the season.

Denard Robinson, Jaguars
Rock StarThe Jaguars search for a back now exceeds last week’s flavor of Storm Johnson when he was held to just 16 yards on six carries in the win over the Browns. Converted ex-quarterback Denard Robinson exploded for 127 yards and a score on 22 carries and HC Gus Bradley said he would consider Robinson for the starting job now though he also wanted to get Toby Gerhart back from foot injury. But Gerhart only averages 2.6 yards per carry as a Jaguar and has never gained more than 42 yards as a runner. Robinson has been the only real spark for the Jaguars and helped them notch that first win.
Availability: Owned in ~ 6% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Robinson is the best bet for any Jaguars back and has decent matchups these next two weeks against the Dolphins and Bengals.

Bryce Brown, Bills
Rock StarInjury ReplacementC.J. Spiller is out for the year and Fred Jackson will miss two to four weeks with a groin injury. That leaves Anthony Dixon, fullback Frank Summers and Bryce Brown as the only healthy backs left. The Bills traded away a conditional mid-round draft pick to acquire Brown who was described as a “starter in this league” by HC Doug Marrone. The early plan was to see how 2014 panned out since only Brown was under contract for 2015 but that’s been accelerated now because of the injuries. Brown will share with Dixon but all reports and indications say that the more talented Brown will be the primary back.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Marginal outlook for now since he plays in New York versus the Jets and then goes on a bye. But the Bills will need him to replace Spiller for the rest of the season.

Joseph Randle, Cowboys
Grab & StashThe Cowboys version of resting DeMarco Murray more is lowering his workload from 30 carries down to only 29. Randle has a history of injury and missing games back to high school and it was why he fell to the third round as a rookie. That Cowboy line could make any back look good right now and the 6-0/204 Randle is much more in the mold of 6-0/214 Murray than the 5-8/185 Lance Dunbar who would become more of a third down back should Murray become injured. While it is possible that Murray could be having a magic season where he remains healthy and doubles the workload he’s had in any other season, there is nothing wrong with sitting on his replacement that history says has a 100% chance of being called on.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
Forecast: Randle won’t mean much until/unless Murray is injury but could be a gold mine if that happens. 

Anthony Dixon, Bills
Dumpster DiveInjury ReplacementDixon has been active every week unlike Brown and he believes that he has a chance to be the lead back now. He will figure in, but the 6-1/233 bruiser is more of a short yardage player and works on special teams which is why he’s been active in games. Dixon is looking forward to getting a chance to show what he can do but he’s a fifth-year back with a career 3.4 YPC who never had more than 14 touches in any game. Brown already gained over 150 yards in two games back in 2012 when allowed to start for the Eagles. Dixon is one to grab and hold if you do not get Brown.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Worth owning now and should contribute every week. Within two games it will be apparent whether you should hold or released him.

On the Radar: Stepfan Taylor (7%), Juwan Thompson (5%), Jonas Gray (3%), Charles Sims (2%), Theo Riddick (2%)

Wide Receivers

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Rock StarJust because Percy Harvin is gone doesn’t mean the Seahawks are suddenly going to change their stripes and become a passing team. That said, Baldwin’s 11 targets in the first game of the post-Percy era suggest he’s the go-to guy when Russell Wilson does drop back to throw—and his 123 yards and a touchdown, more than double what any Seattle wideout has posted this season, indicate he’s a more than capable recipient of the attention.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: There will still be games where the Seahawks don’t throw enough for any receiver to be a fantasy factor, but when they do Baldwin is definitely the team’s WR1.

Allen Robinson, Jaguars
Rock StarWhen healthy, Cecil Shorts is clearly the Jaguars’ go-to guy. Robinson is consistently a strong second option for Blake Bortles, with at least six targets in each of the past six games and at least 50 yards in five of those six. He’s also the only Jaguars receiver to find the end zone since Week 3. The upcoming schedule looks tough, but all that means is the Jags will be playing a lot of catch-up—which should lead to a lot of catching for Robinson.
Availability: Owned in ~ 46% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: A high-volume second target on a team that will need to throw the ball on a weekly basis, with the distinct possibility of moving up to WR1 status due to the current WR1’s injury history.

Martavis Bryant, Steelers
Rock StarMarkus Wheaton simply hasn’t been doing enough with his targets as Pittburgh’s WR2, and Monday night the baton was passed to the rookie Bryant. A touchdown on his first NFL catch is certainly a nice way to launch a career, but Ben Roethlisberger continued to throw Bryant’s way throughout the evening. He’s a deep threat, he’s a big red zone target, and while he’s plenty raw he’s just the kind of guy Big Ben like to throw the ball up for them to make plays.
Availability: Owned in ~ 11% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Should move into the WR2 role opposite Antonio Brown. He’s raw, but the upside is undeniable.

Jarius Wright, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Vikings’ offense has plenty of problems, but their slot receiver definitely isn’t one. Wright is likely back in the free agent pool after doing little since his 8-132 blow-up in Week 4. His 4-60 in Buffalo last week indicate he hasn’t been forgotten, and this week’s matchup with the über-soft Tampa Bay secondary should provide plenty of opportunities.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
Forecast: No team gives up more fantasy points to opposing wideouts than the Bucs, so Wright should have an opportunity to help your fantasy bottom line this week. 

Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashDoug Baldwin will get all the attention, and in last week’s game he saw more targets, had more catches and produced more yards. But Kearse was the runner-up in most of those categories, turning seven targets into 3-50. He’s had at least 50 yards or a touchdown in three straight games, 14 targets the past two games, and is a frequent red-zone target for Russell Wilson. He’s a definite option when the matchup is favorable—like this week, against Carolina—and with Seattle looking at multiple fantasy-friendly receiver matchups the rest of the way might hang around your roster longer than expected.
Availability: Owned in ~ 12% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Low risk and potentially high reward as what passes for a WR2 in Seattle’s run-heavy offense.

Brice Butler, Raiders
Grab & StashAndre Holmes is still the dynasty receiver to stash in Oakland, but he has some hands issues to work through. Butler has emerged as a guy Derek Carr isn’t afraid to take deep shots with; by nature that makes him a hit-or-miss fantasy player. A couple weeks ago against San Diego it was a hit with five targets producing  3-64-1; last week’s one target for 1-55 wasn’t quite a miss, but you’d like to see more than just the one ball thrown his way. Going forward there should be plenty of chances for Carr to air it out, and Butler is almost as likely an option as Holmes to be the one chasing it down.
Availability: Owned in ~ 2% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Rare for multiple Raiders to have fantasy value, but Butler is a potential deep threat who could hit a few home runs when used in the right matchups.

Tight Ends

Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Rock Star Grab & StashEifert was forced to share looks with Jermaine Gresham last season, and a promising start to his sophomore campaign was thwarted prematurely by a dislocated elbow. But Eifert is close to returning, with the upside to be not just an every-week contributor at tight end but, in a Cincy passing game that lacks a reliable wingman to AJ Green, a pass catcher who sees Greg Olsen-type targets. The Bengals drafted Eifert in the first round for a reason, and it wasn’t to be a bit player.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Once he returns, Eifert should see enough targets to be at minimum an every-week fantasy contributor, with upside to consistently place in the upper half of TE1s.

Scott Chandler, Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashMr. September is branching out. In fact, he’s seen only two fewer targets than Julius Thomas, one less than Jason Witten, and more than up-and-comers Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. Over the past three weeks—well beyond the first month of the season in which Chandler usually shines—he ranks among the top 11 tight ends in targets, receptions, and yardage. Yes, he’s missing the touchdowns; maybe that’s what gets left behind when September ends. But Chandler’s volume makes him a viable fantasy option, both in this week’s favorable matchup with the Jets and long-term following his Week 9 bye.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: In performance-based TE-mandatory leagues, Chandler is a consistent fantasy helper.

On the Radar: Clay Harbor (25%), Andrew Quarles (12%), Gavin Escobar (7%)


Shayne Graham, Saints
Rock StarGraham remains just outside the fringe of every-week fantasy kickers, but none of the immediate kickers ahead of him play in an offense with the scoring potential New Orleans has. Moreover, none of them play in a climate-controlled environment, something that becomes a bit more important down the stretch. You wanna flip on the TV and see Dan Carpenter kicking in a snowstorm or Graham testing which way the air conditioning is blowing in the SuperDome?
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
Forecast: His hiccups behind him, Graham is the kind of kicker you can plug into your lineup and not worry about.

On the Radar: Mike Nugent (31%), Brandon McManus (32%)

Defense/Specials Teams

Indianapolis Colts
Rock StarMuch like the days of Peyton Manning, this Indy team is widely recognized for its offense; the other side of the ball, not so much. Last week’s shutout of Cincinnati is bound to change that, and anyone looking for a DST in their free agent pool is bound to notice the Colts rank fifth overall in fantasy points thanks to the second-most sacks and third-most fumble recoveries. They also have a favorable slate, facing such turnover-prone teams as the Giants, Jaguars, Redskins, and Cowboys before the season is over.
Availability: Owned in ~ 47% of leagues.
Forecast: Indy could be more than just a two week fix prior to their Week 10 bye; they might be the DST you ride throughout the playoffs.

On the Radar: St. Louis Rams (36%), Minnesota Vikings (20%)

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