Free Agent Forecast: Week 3

Free Agent Forecast: Week 3


Free Agent Forecast: Week 3


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.


Matt Schaub, Texans
Rock StarSchaub just missed his second straight 300-yard game to kick off the season by two yards on Sunday. He’s thrown six touchdowns in Houston’s first two games and his hot start could continue because the Texans finally have a legitimate No. 2 receiver in DeAndre Hopkins to go along with stud Andre Johnson. Houston’s schedule stiffens over the next few weeks with Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco but lightens during the bye weeks with St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Arizona, Oakland and Jacksonville if you need him as a replacement.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Schaub will remain one of the top spot starters, QB2s for the remainder of the season.

Philip Rivers, Chargers
Rock StarRivers really struggled over the last couple of seasons in Norv Turner’s downfield system but he’s taken to Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt’s short passing attack like a fish to water. After throwing for four touchdowns in the opener, Rivers ripped the Eagles’ defense for 419 yards and three scores. Rivers has a passer friendly schedule coming up with Tennessee, Dallas, Oakland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Washington on tap in his next six games. Rivers may not be the fantasy stud he once was but his resurgence under the new coaching staff should instill confidence with owners to start him when the matchup is favorable.
Availability: Owned in ~ 63% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Rivers is a perfect fit for the new offensive system in San Diego. He will continue to put up strong fantasy numbers against weaker pass defenses.

Alex Smith, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayAs a rule of thumb, The Forecast likes any quarterback that plays the Eagles’ defense. This week it’s Smith, who is coming off two solid games in a row. Smith has really taken to Andy Reid’s system and while he hasn’t been spectacular, Smith has been efficient by throwing for two touchdowns in each of the Chiefs first two games. The Eagles gave up 419 yards to Rivers and have allowed 748 yards passing overall in their first two games. If you need a quarterback this week, Smith looks like a great play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 48% of leagues.
Forecast: Smith will throw for at least 250 yards and two scores against the Eagles.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Grab & StashTannehill isn’t quite a fantasy starter yet but he’s getting there. After a nice game against a tough Cleveland defense in Week 1, Tannehill followed it up with a 319-yard, one-touchdown performance on Sunday. Again, not worthy of QB1 consideration but Tannehill continues to improve and as the season goes on, he has a chance to be a fantasy factor. With more weapons around him and a better understanding of the offense, Tannehill looks like a different player in his second season. He’s currently a QB2 with all kinds of upside.
Availability: Owned in ~ 34% of leagues.
Forecast: Tannehill will put up better fantasy numbers as the season goes on and he continues to improve.

On the Radar: E.J. Manuel (35%), Jake Locker (18%)

Running Backs

Joique Bell, Lions
Rock StarBell is still out there in some leagues and if he’s available in yours The Forecast advises you to use a high waiver priority or spend a good amount of money to get him. Bell is not only Reggie Bush’s handcuff, he’ll be a fantasy stud if Bush misses time, especially in PPR leagues. Bell caught 52 balls last year playing part-time and he already has 10 receptions in two games this season playing behind Bush. Bell won’t get 100 yards rushing a game but he’s good for 80 total yards, 6-7 catches and he’ll also get the goal line carries. Bell is so valuable right now that he’s worth a flex play most weeks in PPR leagues as a backup. Bell is worth paying for if he’s still on your waiver wire.
Availability: Owned in ~ 82% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Bell is a decent fantasy play now and with Bush already dealing with multiple injuries, his touches will only increase throughout the year.

James Starks. Packers
Rock StarStarks will be the hot pickup this week after Eddie Lacy got hurt and he came in and became the first Green Bay back in 45 games to rush for 100 yards. While Starks is certainly worthy of a waiver claim, just make sure you don’t overpay. Starks has gotten plenty of chances in the past to produce as the Packers’ main back and he hasn’t had much success. One good game against a struggling Redskins defense probably won’t change that. Plus, Green Bay’s next six games are against Cincinnati, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota and Chicago, so running lanes will be hard to find. The Forecast recommends adding Starks but only if the price is right.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Starks will be inconsistent from week-to-week so fantasy owners who overpay for his services will be disappointed.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
Rock StarIt’s almost like Moreno has put a hex on the young running backs in Denver. Just as it look liked Montee Ball was going to walk into the end zone and stake his claim to more playing time, he fumbled. Then Moreno gets the call and runs for 93 yards and two touchdowns. It feels like the Denver coaches want Ball to emerge but Moreno just won’t let him. It comes down to the young running backs have had chances and haven’t capitalized on them. Now as the season moves forward, it’s going to be Moreno who starts seeing more playing time. If he’s still on your waiver wire, go get him. The committee is already down to two and as the games get more meaningful, Moreno will see most of the touches.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Time is ticking away for Ball to make an impact. If he doesn’t do something soon, Moreno will start seeing a majority of the playing time in the Denver backfield.

Bernard Pierce, Ravens
Rock StarIt’s shocking that Pierce is only owned in 68% of leagues. There are two kinds of handcuffs; those who are simply backups and those who can be studs if the starter goes down. Pierce is in the latter category. He should be owned in over 90% of fantasy leagues considering Ray Rice is owned in that many leagues. Rice is dealing with a hip injury and won’t practice all week. John Harbaugh said Rice could play Sunday even if he doesn’t practice but there’s a good chance Pierce will get the nod. If Rice does play, he’ll be limited. The Texans have a good run defense but Pierce should be considered a RB2 in all formats if he gets the start.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Pierce should be owned in all leagues and started this week if Rice doesn’t practice. He’s a good bet to score and go for at least 80 total yards.

Jordan Todman, Jaguars
Injury ReplacementMaurice Jones-Drew suffered a left ankle injury against Oakland and as this column is being published his immediate status is uncertain. It’s probable Jones-Drew won’t play Sunday in Seattle. To be fair, even if Jones-Drew did play, he likely wouldn’t do much against the Seahawks’ stout defense anyway. MJD doesn’t have a clear-cut backup but Todman looked good in the preseason and is the best bet to see the most touches in his absence. Again, it’s a terrible matchup for any Jaguars’ running back. The only silver lining is Seattle just played a highly emotional game against San Francisco and may not be up for the lowly Jaguars.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Todman only has fantasy value if Jones-Drew is out for an extended period of time.

Bilal Powell, Jets
Grab & StashIn their first two games, Powell and Chris Ivory have seen basically an even split in carries with one exception; Powell has six receptions and a touchdown as well. So while the two backs are splitting the carries evenly, Powell is playing on passing downs and getting the goal line work right now. Things may eventually change but that currently gives Powell the slight fantasy edge over the more heralded Ivory. Neither back has been stellar so far but after throwing three interceptions last week, expect Geno Smith to start checking down more to his safety valve, which means more receptions for Powell. If he keeps getting goal line carries, Powell could turn into a weekly flex play in PPR formats.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
Forecast: Powell and Ivory will continue to split carries but Powell has more value in PPR leagues.

Danny Woodhead, Chargers
Grab & StashWoodhead owners got nervous when he barely saw the field in Week 1 but that changed on Sunday against Philadelphia. Using a more wide-open approach, Woodhead had a bigger role in San Diego’s offense. Woodhead was the running back of choice when the Chargers went to the hurry up offense and he also out-touched Ryan Mathews 11 to 5 in the second half after Mathews fumbled in the second quarter. Woodhead rushed for 27 yards on nine carries and caught eight passes for 37 yards. While those aren’t huge fantasy numbers, it does show Woodhead has value in PPR formats.
Availability: Owned in ~ 55% of leagues.
Forecast: Woodhead will be a bye-week flex play in PPR leagues as his role in the passing game continues to grow.

Andre Ellington, Cardinals
Dumpster DiveIt’s a weekly battle trying to find the second best fantasy option in the Cardinals’ backfield but Ellington offers the most upside because of his ability as a receiver. Bruce Arians loves to throw the football. The one thing Ellington does better than the other backs in Arizona is catch the ball and make plays in space. Rashard Mendenhall is still the primary ball carrier in the desert but after catching a touchdown on Sunday, the explosive Ellington should carve out a role as the Cardinals’ third-down back.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Keep an eye on Ellington in the coming weeks. His role in the passing game is likely to increase and so will his fantasy value.

On the Radar: Isaiah Pead (38%), Kendall Hunter (42%), Jason Snelling (1%), Donald Brown (3%), Felix Jones (2%), Brandon Jacobs (24%)

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Rock StarHopkins finally gives Houston a legitimate No. 2 receiver to go along with Andre Johnson. The rookie also showed that he could step up and take over when Johnson left with a concussion late in the game versus Tennessee on Sunday. After a solid performance in Week 1, Hopkins went off for seven catches, 117 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. Hopkins has all the physical skills to put up strong fantasy numbers, he just needs Schaub to feed him the ball on a consistent basis. The Forecast likes Hopkins as the top waiver pickup this week if he’s still available in your league.
Availability: Owned in ~ 78% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$-$$$$
Forecast: Hopkins will be a strong WR3 play for the remainder of the season at the very least.

Eddie Royal, Chargers
Rock StarTouchdowns are a funny thing. Last season Calvin Johnson caught 122 passes but only scored five times. By comparison, James Jones caught 64 balls and 14 of them went for touchdowns. This year the touchdown Gods appear to be smiling on Eddie Royal. Through two games Royal has 10 receptions and five of them have gone for scores. Obviously he won’t keep up that pace all season but with Malcom Floyd injured and Royal seeing targets out of the slot, he should continue to put up solid fantasy numbers.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Royal’s touchdown pace will slow down but he will continue to produce out of the slot in the Chargers’ offense.

Marlon Brown, Ravens
Rock StarBrown got his first career start against Cleveland and made the most of it by catching four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. It’s Brown’s second touchdown in as many weeks. Some guys just look like they belong in the NFL and Brown is one of them. The game doesn’t seem like it’s going too fast for him. Joe Flacco looks like he already trusts Brown, which is impressive considering he’s an undrafted rookie free agent. As defenses try and take away Torrey Smith, Brown will continue to have opportunities to make plays. He’s shaping up as one of 2013’s feel good fantasy stories.
Availability: Owned in ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Brown’s fantasy production will only continue to increase. He’s a WR3 whose arrow is pointing up.

Nate Burleson, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Lions get to feast on a Washington defense that has been lit up in its first two games. Burleson is coming off a 7-catch performance against Arizona. With Ryan Broyles still recovering from knee surgery and Brandon Pettigrew no longer a big part of the offense, Burleson has settled in as Matthew Stafford’s third option behind Calvin Johnson and Detroit’s running backs. Burleson won’t blow you away but he should put up a solid stat line Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 16% of leagues.
Forecast: Burleson will haul in his usual six passes and may find the end zone in what should be a high-scoring game.

Robert Woods, Bills
1 Week Plug & PlayWoods has seen 14 targets through two games, which ranks second on the team only to Stevie Johnson. After catching four balls for 68 yards on Sunday, Woods makes for a sneaky start against a stout Jets defense. New York has smothered running backs Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley in its first games. Meanwhile, Antonio Cromartie will be assigned to cover Johnson, which means Buffalo will need to find other ways to move the football besides C.J. Spiller and its No. 1 receiver. Don’t be surprised if Woods leads the Bills in targets this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 13% of leagues.
Forecast: With Cromartie shadowing Johnson, Woods will be Buffalo’s leading receiver this week putting up WR3 production.

Stephen Hill, Jets
Grab & StashHill is still an inconsistent receiver on an inconsistent offense but the upside is there. Hill has always been a logical third-year breakout receiver candidate since being drafted out of Georgia Tech’s wishbone offense in 2012, so he’s probably one more season away from realizing his full fantasy potential. However, Hill is the Jets’ deep threat and Geno Smith likes to let it fly. Hill is coming off a 4-catch 86-yard performance against the Patriots where he saw a team-high eight targets. He isn’t a starter but with bye weeks around the corner, Hill makes for a solid roster stash if you have the room.
Availability: Owned in ~ 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Fantasy owners can’t count on Hill as a starter but he’s a guy worth stashing on your roster for the upcoming bye weeks.

Leonard Hankerson, Redskins
Grab & StashThe Redskins have a lot of problems in the real world but luckily for fantasy owners their offense is still putting up pretty good meaningless numbers. Hankerson is off to a strong start to the season, catching eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns in two games. Hankerson had a much better game in Week 1 than he did Sunday against Green Bay but he’s shown flashes over the last couple of seasons. Pierre Garcon is a stud but Washington is still waiting for another receiver to step up. Hankerson could end up being that guy.
Availability: Owned in ~ 55% of leagues.
Forecast: Hankerson is still a year away from reaching his fantasy ceiling but he’ll have some big games this season. Hankerson will be a hit or miss fantasy play in 2013.

Kendall Wright, Titans
Grab & StashIt’s hard to trust a Titans’ receiver for fantasy purposes but the best option these days isn’t Kenny Britt, it’s Wright. Britt is more of a downfield receiver which doesn’t fit what Tennessee does on offense right now with Jake Locker. Wright runs more underneath routes out of the slot, so he’s more likely to put up those seven catches for 54 yards stat lines. Then if Wright finds the end zone like he did on Sunday, he has a pretty good fantasy day. If Wright played on a better offense he would have more fantasy value but for now, he’s a bench stash.
Availability: Owned in ~ 28% of leagues.
Forecast: Wright will lead the Titans in receptions this season but playing in Tennessee’s offense limits his fantasy value.

Austin Pettis, Rams
Grab & StashPettis and Chris Givens took advantage of the Falcons using bracket coverage on tight end Jared Cook all game long Sunday. Both receivers posted strong fantasy numbers but with Givens already being owned in most leagues, Pettis is the guy owners will be targeting this week. Keep in mind though Atlanta sold out to take away Cook. The Falcons have used this coverage to take away tight ends in the past. Cook won’t be held to only one catch most weeks and Givens is the second option in the passing game. Still, Pettis showed enough on Sunday to be given a look in deeper leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Pettis is still behind Cook and Givens for targets but he’s on the fantasy radar as a WR4/5 after Sunday’s performance.

Ace Sanders, Jaguars
Dumpster DiveSanders was a big-time playmaker in college but because he didn’t run fast enough in a straight line on a track at the Combine he slipped in the NFL Draft. If the Jaguars had better quarterback play Sanders would be much higher on the fantasy radar right now. Even in his current situation Sanders caught a respectable five passes for 64 yards against Oakland. Some might argue that was in garbage time when Jacksonville was behind. Well, how many games will Jacksonville not be behind this year? Sanders is a name to remember both for this season and beyond.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Sanders will be have a respectable rookie season as Jacksonville’s slot receiver.

Keenan Allen, Chargers
Dumpster DiveMalcom Floyd suffered a neck injury on Sunday and will be in brace for at least a week. That moves Allen into San Diego’s three-receiver sets with Royal and Vincent Brown. Allen only has two catches on the year and they came against the Eagles’ defense, which is kind of like practice. However, with Rivers playing well and the Chargers throwing the ball quite a bit, he could climb onto the fantasy radar with Floyd out.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
Forecast: Allen is still raw but he’s now an injury away from being one of the Chargers’ starting receivers.

On the Radar: Jerome Simpson (33%), Santonio Holmes (19%), Aaron Dobson (26%)

Tight Ends

Coby Fleener, Colts
Rock StarFleener took advantage of Dwayne Allen being sidelined by catching four passes for 69 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Fantasy owners have been waiting for this kind of performance from Fleener. It’s still too early to say if this is a sign of things to come because once Allen returns he’ll be a big part of the Colts’ offense as well. However, as defenses focus on stopping Reggie Wayne, it will continue to open up opportunities for players like T.Y. Hilton, Allen and Fleener to make plays.
Availability: Owned in ~ 35% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Fleener still isn’t in TE1 territory but he’s a strong TE2 playing with Andrew Luck.

Charles Clay, Dolphins
Rock StarA former college running back, Clay is a versatile player who just hasn’t been able to quite find a position in the NFL yet. He had the same problem in college. At Tulsa he was a running back but often played H-back too because he was such a good receiver. Clay has now put two good games together to start the season, including his 5-catch 109-yard performance on Sunday. He also infuriated Lamar Miller owners by taking his first career carry in for a 1-yard touchdown run. Clay has shown flashes before and then disappeared but if the Miami coaches have finally found a way to utilize his versatility, he should become a dependable fantasy player.
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: It’s not time to trust Clay yet but he’s an intriguing tight end who is certainly on the rise.

Garrett Graham, Texans
1 Week Plug & PlayIf you’re ever looking for a 1 Week Plug & Play at tight end, just pick someone on the Texans. It seems like Houston has 12 tight ends and they throw to all of them down at the goal line. Is there anything worse for Arian Foster owners when he comes up inches short of the goal line? The entire world knows the next play is going to be a bootleg pass to a tight end. Graham has a great match-up this week against a Baltimore defense that has been ripped by both Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron already this year. Expect to see a lot of receptions by Houston tight ends this Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 2% of leagues.
Forecast: Graham will catch 3-4 passes this week, including a short touchdown.

Zach Ertz, Eagles
Dumpster DiveThe Eagles have one of fantasy football’s most productive offenses through two games but it also looks like they have one of those offenses where the studs are going to put up most of the numbers. Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson have done the bulk of the damage so far. Still, Ertz is a talented, young tight end who could be a factor before the year is over. He showed some of that potential on Sunday by catching two passes for 58 yards. As defenses try to find ways to stop McCoy and Jackson, Ertz will make more big plays down the middle of the field.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
Forecast: Ertz isn’t a fantasy play at the moment but his role will in the offense will grow over time.

On the Radar: Rob Housler (8%), Delanie Walker (5%), Vance McDonald (1%)


Steven Hauschka, Seahawks 
Rock StarHauschka kicked two field goals on Sunday and added three extra points. He kicks for one of the top teams in the NFL, which means he’ll get plenty of chances throughout the year. The only downside with Hauschka is Seattle is such a good red zone team that they score a lot of touchdowns but the Seahawks look like one of the few dominant squads in the NFL this season, especially at home. They will have plenty of scoring opportunities in 2013, so Hauschka will get his chances.
Availability: Owned in ~ 33% of leagues.
Forecast: Fantasy owners should have no problem starting Hauschka every week.

Alex Henery, Eagles
Rock StarSpeaking of a kicker who is going to get plenty of scoring opportunities this year, Henery is at the top of the list. Henery kicked three field goals and three extra points on Sunday, with a long of 48 yards. He’s always had a big leg and double-digit scoring weeks should be the norm for Henery kicking in Philadelphia. The only downside is Chip Kelly may decide to just start going for it on fourth downs at some point and stop kicking field goals.
Availability: Owned in ~ 38% of leagues.
Forecast: Henery will be one of the top scoring fantasy kickers most weeks.

Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlaySturgis is off to a strong rookie season. He’s a perfect 4-of-4 on field goal attempts and Sturgis has scored 17 points in his first two games. He easily connected on a 54-yard attempt Sunday versus Indianapolis. Sturgis’ hot start should continue when Miami takes on Atlanta Sunday. Miami’s offense has played well through two games and it will have to move the ball again this week to keep up with the Falcons. Expect another solid fantasy day out of Sturgis.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
Forecast: Sturgis will connect on at least two field goals Sunday. A double-digit scoring week is a realistic expectation.

On the Radar: No one.

Defense/Special Teams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rock StarThe Bucs are off to a 0-2 start but you certainly can’t blame the defense. In two games Tampa Bay has allowed 33 points, recorded nine sacks, caused four takeaways and scored a touchdown. That’s a pretty impressive performance, especially for a winless team. Tampa Bay’s defense could wear down over the year if it doesn’t start getting help from its offense but right now they are one of the top units available on the waiver wire.
Availability: Owned in ~ 46% of leagues.
Forecast: The Bucs will continue to rack up sacks and turnovers as long as they don’t wear down from being on the field too long.

Buffalo Bills
Rock StarThe Bills’ defense has been fantasy gold over the first two weeks of the season, despite facing Tom Brady and Cam Newton. In Week 1 Buffalo sacked Brady twice, caused three turnovers and scored a touchdown. On Sunday the Bills recorded six more sacks and picked off Newton once. There’s a good chance the Bills’ success will continue because they face the Jets and Geno Smith on Sunday and then Cleveland in two weeks. If you’re in the market for a fantasy defense, the Bills should be at the top of your list.
Availability: Owned in ~ 11% of leagues.
Forecast: The Bills defense will continue to be one of fantasy’s best over the next month given their match-ups.

New York Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Jets are still available in a lot of leagues despite two strong performances to open the season. Gang Green did everything it could to stifle Tom Brady and the Pats but they didn’t get much help from their offense. The Jets have four sacks and two takeaways in two games. Those numbers could grow this week when New York faces E.J. Manuel and Buffalo. Rex Ryan has a reputation of causing headaches for rookie quarterbacks, so it could be a long afternoon for Manuel.
Availability: Owned in ~ 11% of leagues.
Forecast: The Jets will equal their season total of four sacks and two takeaways on Sunday.

Miami Dolphins
Grab & StashA big reason for the Dolphins’ 2-0 start is the play of their defense. On Sunday Miami sacked Andrew Luck three times and picked him off once. The Dolphins now have nine sacks and four takeaways in two games. Miami’s defense will be tested in its next three games before the bye when the Dolphins take on the Falcons, Saints and Ravens but this is a fantasy defense on the upswing.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
Forecast: The next couple of weeks are tough but the Dolphins’ defense has better match-ups after their bye week to exploit.

On the Radar: Indianapolis Colts (16%), Dallas Cowboys (72%), Cleveland Browns (33%)


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