Free Agent Forecast: Week 4

Free Agent Forecast: Week 4

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Free Agent Forecast: Week 4

SYMBOL LEGEND
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.

Quarterbacks

Marcus Mariota, Titans
Rock StarMariota is still available in a good number of leagues, despite scoring over 20 fantasy points in two of his three starts. The Titans are on a bye in Week 4 but Mariota is a strong starting option for the rest of the season. He has weapons, the Titans don’t have much of a running game and their defense is going to give up points. It would be nice to see Mariota run a little more but other than that he’s delivered for fantasy owners in his first three starts.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast

: Mariota is a QB1 for the rest of the year.

Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Rock StarIt’s shocking that Taylor is available in this many leagues considering he’s a Top 5 fantasy quarterback after three games. Is it that people aren’t buying into him? Even if that’s the case, enjoy the ride. Taylor came into the season known as a runner but he’s thrown for three touchdowns in each of the last two games. Not only that, Taylor is throwing darts. Bigger name quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford would love to be throwing the ball as well as Taylor right now. Taylor should be owned in virtually all leagues at this point.
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast

: Taylor is a weekly QB1

Andy Dalton, Bengals
Rock StarIn most leagues Tom Brady is the highest-scoring quarterback after two weeks. Who ranks No. 2? Andy Dalton. Dalton has eight touchdowns and just one interception through three games. He has more than A.J. Green now with Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert back from injuries. Some will be weary to buy into Dalton because they have been burned in the past. That’s fair but with Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo all injured; Dalton can be stop-gap. Then again, Dalton faces the Chiefs, Seahawks and Bills in his next three games. Let’s tread lightly.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast

: Dalton is a low-end QB1/matchup play.

Mike Vick, Steelers
Injury ReplacementBen Roethlisberger is out for at least a month. Vick will take over a talented offense but he’s far from the player he was years ago. Can Vick make a fantasy impact? He’ll have two stud receivers once Martavis Bryant returns in two weeks from suspension and one of the NFL’s best running backs. Vick can also still rack up rushing yards. It would be surprising if Vick put up huge fantasy numbers but on the other hand the pieces are there in the Steelers’ offense. Take a wait and see approach with Vick if you add him this week. 
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Vick will be a QB2

Derek Carr, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashCarr has looked sensational over the last two games. He’s thrown for 665 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in wins over the Ravens and Browns. Carr has one of the NFL’s best receivers in Amari Cooper at his disposal. He now gets to feast on the Bears’ miserable pass defense. After that Carr gets Denver and a bye. If he puts up a big game against the Broncos’ elite pass defense, Carr can be counted on as an every-week fantasy starter. He’s on the cusp.
Availability: Owned in ~ 38% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast

: Carr is a starting option this week vs. Chicago and a matchup QB1 going forward.

On the Radar: Joe Flacco (68%), Luke McCown (2%), Brandon Weeden (11%)

Running Backs

Devonta Freeman, Falcons
Rock StarFreeman started for an injured Tevin Coleman on Sunday. He ripped Dallas’ defense for 141 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught five balls for 52 yards. Freeman looks like he fits offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme like a glove. It was only one game but if Freeman keeps playing like this Coleman obviously won’t be getting his starting job back. Freeman is still available in some leagues. If he’s on your waiver wire, he should be the No. 1 target this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast

: Freeman is a RB2 with an arrow pointing up.

Ryan Mathews, Eagles
Rock StarDeMarco Murray missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Mathews took advantage of the opportunity to get the Eagles’ running game going against a tough Jets’ defense. Mathews gained 108 yards on 25 carries. He also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. Murray isn’t going anywhere. He makes way too much money but Mathews looked great in the Eagles’ offense. He’s certainly earned a bigger role. Grab him if he’s still available on the waiver wire.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast

: Mathews is a Flex play option in the crowded Eagles’ backfield.

Karlos Williams, Bills
Rock StarWilliams has scored in each on the Bills’ first three games. LeSean McCoy is still slowed by his hamstring injury. Rex Ryan finally came out and admitted that Williams will be a bigger part of Buffalo’s offense going forward. If you didn’t know who was who, you would think Williams was the high-priced offseason acquisition after watching both these backs after three games. It’s time to start adding Williams to your roster if he’s still out there.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast

: Williams is a weekly Flex option while McCoy is less than 100 percent.

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
Injury ReplacementMarshawn Lynch suited up but left in the first quarter against the Bears this week, much to the dismay of fantasy owners who started him. Rawls filled in and rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries. Rawls will once again be the lead back against the Lions this week if Lynch’s hamstring is still bothering him. Lynch owners should pick up Rawls as insurance. He’s ahead of Fred Jackson right now as Seattle’s No. 2 back.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast

: Rawls will be a Flex play if Lynch is out again this week.

Alfred Blue, Texans
Injury ReplacementBlue is under injury replacement because Arian Foster is close to returning from groin surgery. Blue rushed 31 times for 139 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Keep in mind though, Foster is expected back in the next couple of weeks and Blue only ran the ball 14 times for 48 yards in Houston’s first two games. Blue will have a plus matchup versus the Falcons this week if he starts, just don’t spend a lot to get him.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Blue is a RB3/Flex play if Foster doesn’t play.

Lance Dunbar, Cowboys
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashDunbar caught 10 passes for 100 yards Sunday against the Falcons. He only had one carry but Dunbar continues to be a big part of the Cowboys’ passing game, especially with all the injuries. Dunbar led Dallas in both targets and receptions Sunday. The Cowboys were playing from behind in the second half but expect Dunbar to remain heavily involved in the passing game with Brandon Weeden under center.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast

: Dunbar is a RB3/Flex play in Week 4.

Bilal Powell, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashChris Ivory dressed but never played against the Eagles. Powell started but only rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries. Powell did catch seven passes for 44 yards. Ivory is expected to start against Miami this week but even if he plays Powell will contribute in the passing game. Keep an eye on Ivory’s status but Powell’s role looks like it will continue to grow as the season goes on.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Powell is a Flex option in PPR formats.

Darren Sproles, Eagles
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashWith Murray out, Sproles and Mathews took advantage to jump-start the Eagles’ rushing attack. Sproles is available in a few more leagues than Mathews. He scored twice against the Jets and caught four passes. Sproles remains a gameplan specific fantasy play but he’s a good bench player to have in case you need him in a pinch.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast

: Sproles will be on the PPR Flex radar if Murray is out again this week.

Chris Johnson, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashJohnson had a big game on Sunday against San Francisco. He ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Johnson also added a 40-yard reception. Be careful with Johnson. The 49ers are an absolute dumpster fire right now. This is the same running back that was averaging 3.6 yards per carry on Sunday morning. Plus, Andre Ellington is returning and David Johnson is around to steal some touches. Some will overreact and overpay to Johnson’s big game against arguably the NFL’s worst team. Johnson is a good player to add and he’ll likely still lead Arizona’s backfield in touches, just don’t burn through all of your free agent money to get him.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast

: Johnson is a RB2 in a crowded backfield.

On the Radar: Antonio Andrews (1%), Duke Johnson (50%)

Wide Receivers

Victor Cruz, Giants
Rock StarCruz is set to return in Week 4. It’s no guarantee that Cruz’s knee will hold up but given what’s left on most league’s waiver wire right now, he’s worth adding. Cruz plays a tough Bills defense in his first game back, so it’s wise to leave him on the bench at first but Cruz is certainly worth rostering if he’s still available in your league. Worst case scenario is Cruz gets hurt and you dump him for another player.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast

: Cruz will be a WR3/4

Rishard Matthews, Dolphins
Rock StarIt’s time to start believing in Matthews as a legitimate fantasy receiver. Matthews has seen 23 targets in Miami’s first three games. He’s put up back-to-back 100-yard games. Against Buffalo, Matthews caught six balls for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 16 receptions on the season. The Dolphins have two receivers at the moment. Jarvis Landry is owned in almost 100 percent of leagues. Matthews is owned in just over 20 percent. That needs to change…and it will this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast

: Matthews is a weekly WR3.

Michael Crabtree, Raiders
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashCrabtree only caught four balls for 36 yards on Sunday but he did see nine targets. Crabtree has seen a whopping 33 targets through three games. The Bears are a mess right now and while Crabtree is coming off a disappointing fantasy day, he’s seeing passes come his way. No defense can stop Amari Cooper but Crabtree will continue to see single coverage while they try. He should have a nice game versus the Bears.
Availability: Owned in ~ 65% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Crabtree is a WR3 versus the Bears.

Rueben Randle, Giants
Grab & StashRandle caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins. Randle had been quiet in the first two games with just seven total targets but he saw that many on Thursday night. Still, his big play was a 41-yard touchdown with 3:21 left to put the Redskins away. The Giants want to use Randle more but he’s always been inconsistent and Victor Cruz is expected back in Week 4. Randle will probably be what he’s been in the past; some good, more bad.
Availability: Owned in ~ 30% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Randle is a WR4/reserve starter.

Marvin Jones, Bengals
Grab & StashThe Bengals’ offense missed Jones last season when he was injured. He gives Dalton another option in the passing game and doesn’t allow defenses to focus solely on A.J. Green. Jones has scored in each of his last two games. He doesn’t catch a ton of passes but he’s a dangerous a deep threat. Jones is clearly the Bengals’ No. 2 receiver now, which means he should start to see more targets in the future.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Jones is a WR3/4 option.

Leonard Hankerson, Falcons
Grab & StashOne week is a fluke, two weeks is a trend. Hankerson continued to be the Falcons’ No. 2 receiver against the Cowboys. He only caught three passes for 45 yards but when you play with Julio Jones there usually isn’t a need for two receivers. Roddy White has completely fallen off the map. White hasn’t caught a ball in two weeks. Perhaps White is injured more than we know but for the time-being, Hankerson is the Falcons’ second receiver.
Availability: Owned in ~ 27% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Hankerson is a WR4 who is moving up.

Jamison Crowder, Redskins
Dumpster DiveCrowder caught 6-of-6 targets for 45 yards versus the Giants. He also had a 25-yard screen called back by holding. Crowder doesn’t have a ton of fantasy value right now because DeSean Jackson is returning. The Redskins’ passing game certainly can’t support three receivers. However, if Jackson or Pierre Garcon gets hurt, Crowder is a name to watch. Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant are just guys at the bottom of a depth chart. Crowder offers much more promise than them if one of Washington’s starting receivers goes down.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Crowder is a long-term stash in deeper leagues.

On the Radar: Dorial Green-Beckham (15%), Allen Hurns (12%), Jeremy Kerley (1%), Robert Wood

Tight Ends

Charles Clay, Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashClay has now scored in two consecutive games. Against Miami, he caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Clay isn’t a high-volume receiver but he should be able to do some damage versus a Giants’ defense that’s struggled to defend the tight end. Both Jacob Tamme and Jordan Reed had nice fantasy days against them. Expect the same from Clay.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Clay is lower-tier TE1 this week.

Crockett Gilmore, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashGillmore followed up his big game against the Raiders with three catches for 40 yards on Sunday. It was a bit of a disappointment but things are looking up for Gillmore owners. The Steelers’ secondary was struggling until it ran into a Rams’ offense that decided not to challenge them. Joe Flacco will put more pressure on the Pittsburgh’s defense, so expect Gillmore to bounce back with another strong performance.
Availability: Owned in ~ 40% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Gillmore is a Top 15 TE play against the Steelers.

On the Radar: Coby Fleener (42%)

Kickers

Dan Carpenter, Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayCarpenter has kicked two field goals in two of the Bills’ first three games. The Bills’ offense has also been much better than expected, allowing Carpenter to kick more extra points. Carpenter has two good fantasy outings and a poor one. Buffalo should be able to move the ball on the Giants’ defense, giving Carpenter scoring opportunities.
Availability: Owned in ~ 50% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: Carpenter is a starting kicking option this week.

On the Radar: Josh Brown (55%)

Defense/Specials Teams

Minnesota Vikings
Rock StarThe Vikings’ defense has been getting better every week and it’s now a viable starting fantasy option. Minnesota’s defense has six sacks, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions and a touchdown through three games. This is a good time to get the Vikings because they play the Broncos and then have a bye. Denver’s offense isn’t what it used to be and after the bye Minnesota’s defense gets the Lions, Bears and Rams. Expect this defense to continue to play well throughout the year.
Availability: Owned in ~ 27% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: The Vikings are a Top 12 fantasy defense most weeks.

Green Bay Packers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Packers’ defense gets to play the 49ers this week. Arizona’s defense almost outscored its offense playing against San Francisco on Sunday. Colin Kaepernick looks lost and the Cardinals’ defensive backs said the 49ers’ passing game has been so simplified they basically knew what plays were coming. However you want to break it down, the only time San Francisco’s offense has looked good in the last two games was in garbage time. Start the Packers’ defense this week if you can.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast

: The Packers are a Top 5 defense this week.

On the Radar: No one

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