Free Agent Forecast: Week 2

Free Agent Forecast: Week 2


Free Agent Forecast: Week 2


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.

This weekly column is published every Tuesday morning and aims to identify free agents who will improve your chances of hoisting your league’s trophy at year end.

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.


Andy Dalton, Bengals
1 Week Plug & PlayDalton has a few huge games throughout the season and this Sunday against Atlanta could be one of them. Dalton is coming off a 301-yard performance in the opener. The Falcons did a pretty good job defending Drew Brees but their secondary can vulnerable to the big play. Look for Dalton and A.J. Green to have strong fantasy days at home.
Availability: Owned in ~ 82% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Dalton will top 300 yards for the second straight game and toss at least two scores.

Jake Locker, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashLocker had a strong Week 1 against the Chiefs, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He looked comfortable in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense distributing the ball to eight different receivers. Now Locker gets to feast on the dismal Dallas defense at home. It should be back-to-back strong performances for Locker to kick off the 2014 season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 24% of leagues.
Forecast: Locker will put up QB1 numbers against Dallas this week and be a solid reserve going forward.

On the Radar: Ryan Fitzpatrick (12%), Brian Hoyer (4%)

Running Backs

Rock Star Free Agent
Mark Ingram, Saints
Rock StarIngram usually gets fantasy owner’s hopes up in the summer, only to crush them once the regular season starts. This year could be different. The Saints always say they want to get Ingram the ball and in Week 1 it wasn’t just lip service. Ingram carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards and scored twice. If Ingram can get around 15 carries a game in the Saints offense, he’s going to make a big fantasy impact.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Ingram will finally make a fantasy splash in New Orleans as a RB3/flex.

Terrance West, Browns
Rock StarWest replaced the injured Ben Tate on Sunday and responded with 100 yards on 16 carries. West is a powerful one-cut runner who fits perfectly into offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. West was always going to have a role this season; it was just a matter of when. It appears West will make a fantasy impact sooner rather than later. He should be one of the top waiver wire targets this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: West is going to become a big part of the Browns offense this year, regardless of Tate’s health.

Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers
Injury ReplacementDoug Martin went down with a leg injury against Carolina and if he misses time, Rainey is the guy to target. Rainey didn’t do much against Carolina but neither did anyone else on Tampa Bay’s offense. Guard Logan Mankins also went down with an injury and the Buccaneers offensive line looks like a mess right now. Rainey is a good receiver out of the backfield but don’t expect him to be much more than a matchup flex play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
Forecast: Don’t overpay for Rainey. He won’t be an every-week starting option in Tampa Bay.

Justin Forsett, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashRay Rice has been cut because of his ugly offseason incident. Bernard Pierce got the start against Cincinnati but was benched after an early fumble. John Harbaugh could be losing patience with Pierce. After a promising rookie season, Pierce has been a major disappointment. Forsett played well off the bench, totaling 84 yards and scoring a touchdown. The Steelers just got ripped for 183 yards on the ground by Cleveland. Forsett makes for an interesting flex play this week in PPR formats and could get the nod over Pierce going forward.
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: None of the Baltimore backs are that appealing but Forsett leads the way because of his pass catching ability.  

Shonn Greene, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashBishop Sankey got all the love in the summer but it was Greene who did most of the damage for Tennessee in Week 1. Greene ran for 71 yards on 15 carries, while Sankey only saw six carries. Greene has a good matchup on Sunday when he takes on a Dallas defense that has trouble stopping both the run and pass. Greene’s role could decrease as the season goes on but he’s worth a look right now if you need help at running back.
Availability: Owned in ~ 48% of leagues.
Forecast: Sankey will eventually get more touches but Greene is good short-term help at RB.

Chris Ivory, Jets
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashIvory racked up 102 yards on 10 carries against Oakland thanks to a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind though that Ivory played on just 30 of 70 offensive snaps for the Jets. Ivory is worth picking up if you need running back depth and he has a nice matchup this week against a Packers defense with a depleted front. However, Ivory can also be a headache for owners. If he hadn’t broken off the long touchdown on Sunday, Ivory would have had a terrible fantasy day. He’s a high risk/ high reward flex play because Ivory doesn’t get many touches on a weekly basis.
Availability: Owned in ~ 52% of leagues.
Forecast: Ivory will continue to be an up-and-down fantasy player and one that is tough to predict when to start, although he has a good matchup this week.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts
Grab & StashBradshaw only gained 15 yards rushing on three carries against Denver but he looked healthy and explosive again. Bradshaw was also used as the primary pass-catching back. He finished with five receptions for 70 yards, which is a positive sign for owners in PPR leagues. How much longer can the coaching staff in Indianapolis watch Trent Richardson run into the backs of his offensive linemen? Bradshaw’s arrow is going up.
Availability: Owned in ~ 32% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Like Donald Brown last year, it could be only a matter of time before Bradshaw supplants Richardson.

Carlos Hyde, 49ers
Grab & StashFrank Gore has been a great player over the years but as he starts to slow down, the 49ers have a stud in waiting. Hyde has that rare combination of bullish power and long speed. Against Dallas, Hyde ran for 50 yards and a score on just seven carries. He’ll see some goal line work but his fantasy ceiling is limited while Gore is around. However, if Gore were to go down, Hyde is an instant RB1.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 74% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hyde can be used as a flex against poor defenses and would be a RB1 if something happens to Gore.

Jonathan Dwyer, Cardinals
Grab & StashAndre Ellington survived a scare when he escaped surgery on his injured foot. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of the woods. There’s no telling what is going to happen with Ellington’s injury long-term this season, so Dwyer is a must add right now. Dwyer isn’t an explosive player but he catches the ball and scores some touchdowns. Dwyer is a good fit for what head coach Bruce Arians likes out of his running backs. Expect him to put up solid fantasy production if Ellington’s foot injury causes him to miss time in the future.
Availability: Owned in ~ 25% of leagues.
Forecast: Dwyer will be a weekly flex option if Ellington is out.

On the Radar: Anthony Dixon (3%), Isaiah Crowell (1%), Benny Cunningham (22%)

Wide Receivers

Markus Wheaton, Steelers
Rock StarWheaton started opposite Antonio Brown Sunday and delivered in a big way. He caught six-of-seven targets for 97 yards. Somewhat surprisingly, Wheaton is still available in over 50% of fantasy leagues. That will change this week. If you need a receiver, Wheaton should be your top waiver wire target. He’s a starting receiver on a team with a declining defense that throws the ball a lot. That’s a good recipe for fantasy success.
Availability: Owned in ~ 48% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Wheaton is a weekly WR3/4.

Andrew Hawkins, Browns
Rock StarWe knew someone had to catch passes in Cleveland and we knew that person wasn’t going to be Miles Austin. On Sunday, the receiver that stepped up for the Browns was Hawkins. He caught 8-of-10 passes for 87 yards. Hawkins is a quick slot receiver that should continue to see plenty of targets in Cleveland’s offense, especially now that Jordan Cameron has re-injured his shoulder. Hawkins has more value in PPR formats. He’ll have more receptions than big plays or touchdowns.
Availability: Owned in ~ 28% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hawkins is on the radar as a WR3/flex play in PPR leagues due to the volume of targets he’s going to see.

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Rock StarHopkins showed flashes last season as a rookie despite playing with inconsistent quarterbacks. On Sunday, Hopkins showed some breakout potential in his second year by catching four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. Hopkins has a ton of physical ability. He just needs a quarterback that can get him the ball on a consistent basis. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can be that guy, look for Hopkins to finally be the receiver opposite Andre Johnson that rewards fantasy owners.
Availability: Owned in ~ 65% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hopkins will emerge and top 1,000 yards this season, along with Johnson.

Donnie Avery, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayAvery was working as the Chiefs No. 1 receiver with Dwayne Bowe suspended for the opener. Against the Titans Avery saw a team-high 13 targets, catching seven balls for 84 yards. Avery should see his share of targets again this week against Denver. Kanas City is going to need to score some point to keep up with the Broncos. Even with Bowe back, expect Avery to make a fantasy impact for the second week in a row.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5% of leagues.
Forecast: Avery will score double-digit fantasy points in PPR formats.

Hakeem Nicks, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayNicks had a terrible season in 2013 but looked good in the preseason and then made some plays in the opener against Denver as well. Nicks caught all five of his targets for 36 yards and a score. He’s still the third option at receiver behind Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton but against the Eagles, that may not matter. In what is expected to be a high-scoring game, Nicks has a chance to find the end zone for the second straight week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Nicks will eclipse 50 yards receiving and score for the second straight week.

Allen Hurns/Marqise Lee, Jaguars
Grab & StashHurns was a Dumpster Dive last week, so hopefully you took the plunge because now he’ll be a hot commodity. Hurns made plays all preseason and then in Week 1 went out and caught four passes for 110 yards and two scores against the Eagles. He still plays on an inconsistent passing offense but going back over a month now, Hurns looks like the real deal. Lee also had a good game, catching 6-of-10 targets for 62 yards. We still like the upside of Hurns if forced to choose but even with Cecil Shorts coming back at some point, both Jacksonville rookies are worth grabbing right now. Hurns and Lee will have even more fantasy value if the Jaguars turn to Blake Bortles.
Availability: Owned in ~ 5%/38% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Hurns and Lee have the upside to be weekly fantasy starters if Jacksonville gets consistent QB play.

Greg Jennings, Vikings
Grab & StashThe Vikings offense will be much improved this season with the addition of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator and subtraction of the unimaginative Bill Musgrave. Jennings led Minnesota in targets (7) and receptions (6) on Sunday. He also scored. Jennings and Matt Cassel have a good chemistry together going back to last season. He won’t be a receiver owners can depend on every week but Jennings should be a solid reserve/spot starter this season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
Forecast: Jennings is a WR4 who can improve his fantasy value if he starts scoring more.

Brian Quick, Rams
Grab & StashJust like in Cleveland, someone on the Rams had to catch passes and in Week 1, it was Quick. A former second-round draft pick, Quick was a raw physical specimen coming out of Appalachian State. After a strong training camp and opening week, this could be Quick’s breakout season. He certainly has the physical skills. Quick caught seven passes for 99 yards against the Vikings. The Rams are down to their third-string quarterback but Quick is worth grabbing if you need receiver help.
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
Forecast: Quick has the ability but poor QB play will lead to an up-and-down fantasy season.

Josh Gordon, Browns
Grab & StashGordon is probably the most discussed player in fantasy football right now. Because of the possible changes in the drug suspensions that could be coming, owners want to know if he’s worth a roster spot. That all depends on the size of your league and the makeup of your team. However, if you can afford to use up a roster spot and grab Gordon, he’s worth the risk. The possibility of having Gordon on a fantasy team for the final eight games is worth the gamble if an owner has the roster room.
Availability: Owned in ~ 55% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: It’s just a hunch but Gordon will end up playing at some point this season.

On the Radar: Robert Woods (10%), Devin Hester (1%), Rod Streater (28%), Niles Paul (1%)

Tight Ends

Delanie Walker, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashWalker was in this column probably more than any other player last year and he’s back after one week this season. Walker caught three passes for 37 yards and a score in Week 1. While those aren’t huge numbers, Walker continues to produce, especially in the red zone. You may see a familiar theme but Walker has a good matchup on Sunday against a Dallas defense that gave up two scores to Vernon Davis on Sunday. Walker is worth picking up and starting if you have Jordan Reed or Jordan Cameron is out as well.
Availability: Owned in ~ 50% of leagues.
Forecast: Walker will score against Dallas and continue to be one of the best spot-starting tight ends in fantasy football.

Dwayne Allen, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashAllen returned from a hip injury last season to catch four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown. Coby Fleener was projected by some to be the better receiver coming out of college but that simply isn’t the case. Allen is a big weapon for Andrew Luck who could sneak into TE1 production some weeks. This could be one of those weeks. The Eagles safeties and linebackers can be exploited, making Allen an intriguing start this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 38% of leagues.
Forecast: Allen will hover around TE1 production this week and all season long.

Logan Paulsen, Redskins
Injury ReplacementJordan Reed is injured again, thrusting Paulsen into a starting role. Paulsen isn’t much more than a low-end TE2 in PPR formats, especially with Washington’s offense struggling right now. Look elsewhere for a starting tight end.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
Forecast: Don’t bother putting in a claim for Paulsen unless you play in a deep league and are desperate for TE help.

On the Radar: Travis Kelce (28%), Larry Donnell (8%)


Mike Nugent, Bengals
Rock StarNugent connected on 5-of-6 field goals against Baltimore, including one from 49 yards. Nugent only had 22 field goal attempts last season but the Bengals offense could be improved under Hue Jackson, giving him more scoring opportunities. Nugent has games coming up against Atlanta, New England and Indianapolis, so he should continue to reward fantasy owners.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
Forecast: Nugent will score over 120 points this season and be a strong matchup play.

Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins
Rock StarSturgis hit all four of his field goal attempts on Sunday. He’s an intriguing option as a fantasy kicker because of the Dolphins new offense. It certainly looked good after one week. Sturgis got 34 field goal attempts in 2013, connecting on 26. If Sturgis is more accurate this season, he has a chance to be one of the better fantasy kickers from week-to-week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
Forecast: Sturgis will be a Top 15 fantasy kicker this season.

On the Radar: No one

Defense/Specials Teams

Houston Texans
Rock StarThe Texans suffered a blow when they lost first-round draft pick Jadeveon Clowney but even without him, this is still one of the most improved defenses in the NFL. Houston recorded three sacks, caused two fumbles and blocked a punt for a touchdown. In their next four games, the Texans face Oakland, Buffalo, the Giants and Dallas. It’s a good time to hop on board Houston’s defense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
Forecast: The Texans will be one of the better fantasy defenses all season long.

Minnesota Vikings
Dumpster DiveThe Vikings dominated St. Louis on Sunday, recording five sacks, two interceptions and scoring a touchdown. There was no doubt Minnesota was going to have an improved defense under Mike Zimmer. He’s still probably a year away from being where he wants to be but it’s obvious the Vikings can shut down poor offenses. Minnesota faces a tough stretch of New England, New Orleans, Atlanta, Green Bay and Detroit. However, expect Zimmer’s defense to be better than expected all season long.
Availability: Owned in ~ 15% of leagues.
Forecast: The Vikings will find a way to get sacks and create turnovers all season.

On the Radar: Buffalo Bills (42%)


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