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.


Kirk Cousins, Redskins
Rock StarInjury ReplacementCousins replaced an injured Robert Griffin Sunday going 22-of-33 for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Some reporters who follow the team believe that Cousins has a better grasp of Jay Gruden’s offense. Now with Griffin out 6-8 weeks with a dislocated ankle, he’ll get his chance. Cousins looked good against Jacksonville and in the past when he’s filled in for RG3. Cousins has a lot of weapons to work with, so he’s worth picking up if you need depth at quarterback. Cousins would also qualify as a 1 Week Plug & Play against a poor Eagles secondary.
Availability: Owned in ~ 8% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Cousins is a high-end QB2 who could elevate into an every-week starter.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars
Grab & StashBortles outplayed Chad Henne in the preseason and deserved to start. Instead, the Jaguars have had to watch their offense go nowhere over the last six quarters with a quarterback who isn’t an NFL-caliber starter. Bortles may not come in and be Dan Marino but he showed the physical skills and command of the offense this summer to get fantasy owners excited. Henne is living on borrowed time and it shouldn’t be long now before Bortles is under center.
Availability: Owned in ~ 12% of leagues.
Forecast: Bortles will be an instant QB2 with upside once he’s named the starter.

On the Radar: Ryan Fitzpatrick (14%), E.J. Manuel (15%)

Running Backs

Bernard Pierce, Ravens
Rock StarPierce is still available in some leagues and he was clearly the top option at running back Thursday night against Pittsburgh. Pierce ran the ball 22 times for 96 yards, compared to Justin Forsett’s eight carries for 56 yards. Pierce should be owned in all leagues but expectations must be kept in check. Baltimore’s offensive line is still weak. Pierce will get yards against weaker defenses (and yes, the Steelers are one of the worst defenses in the NFL) but against Carolina’s strong front seven in two weeks, his stat line will be ugly. Pierce is the top fantasy back in Baltimore right now but the Ravens offensive line and the presence of Forsett will limit his upside.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Pierce will be a RB2/flex play option most weeks but don’t be afraid to bench him against stronger rush defenses.

Donald Brown, Chargers
Rock StarInjury ReplacementRyan Mathews suffered a sprained MCL against Seattle and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Danny Woodhead’s role in San Diego’s offense won’t change much. Brown will get the biggest fantasy bump while Mathews is out. Look for Woodhead to still play on passing downs, while Brown gets most of the carries between the tackles. Like Mathews, Brown will get between 15-22 carries a game depending on the flow, including most of the goal line work. He’s one of the top waiver targets of the week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 15% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Brown will be a RB2/flex play option until Mathews returns.

Khiry Robinson, Saints
Rock StarMark Ingram had finally started rolling in the Saints offense when it was announced he’ll be sidelined at least a month with a broken hand. Ingram’s bad luck is Robinson’s good fortune. He’ll now assume Ingram’s role in the Saints offense. Robinson should start seeing 12-15 carries a game. While that may not seem like a lot, those are quality carries on a high-scoring team, including most of the goal line touches. Robinson is a must-add in all formats right now.
Availability: Owned in ~ 45% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Robinson becomes a weekly flex play option while Ingram is out.

Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers
Rock StarRainey ripped the St. Louis defense for 144 yards on 22 carries. It was reminiscent of Rainey’s first start last season when he ran for 127 yards and a touchdown against Buffalo. Remember however, after that game Rainey failed to reach 40 yards rushing again. The Bucs said Doug Martin could have played but they held him out. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward because Martin hasn’t been dominant since his rookie season of 2012. It’s quite possible Rainey has pushed himself into a committee situation with his performance Sunday. Rainey has a great matchup against the hapless Falcons rush defense this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Rainey and Martin will start to form more of a committee.

Knile Davis, Chiefs
Injury ReplacementDavis filled in for the injured Jamaal Charles Sunday. He finished with 105 total yards, six receptions and two touchdowns. Fumbling problems and injuries derailed Davis in college but early on at Arkansas he was considered a high draft pick. It’s not surprising when Davis replaces Charles that he puts up RB1 numbers. He’s always had talent. If Charles can’t play Sunday against Miami because of his high ankle sprain, there’s no reason to believe Davis won’t put up strong numbers once again. In three games receiving the bulk of the touches, Davis has averaged 97 total yards and five receptions, while scoring two touchdowns each time.
Availability: Owned in ~ 28% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Davis is a RB2 if Charles misses time with his ankle injury.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashThe Jaguars have had issues with running backs so far this season. In Week 1, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles each eclipsed 70 yards rushing, while combining for 10 receptions. In Week 2, Washington’s Alfred Morris and Silas Redd combined for 126 yards rushing and three scores. Fullback Darrell Young also caught a 20-yard touchdown out of the backfield. Bradshaw is red hot right now. He’s coming off a Monday night performance against Philadelphia where he totaled 96 yards, caught five passes and scored twice. Look for Bradshaw to stay hot versus Jacksonville.
Availability: Owned in ~ 58% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast:Bradshaw will rack up over 75 total yards, catch five passes and score.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashIt’s hard to remember when Stewart was a 1,000-yard rusher back in 2009. He’s been injured so often over the last few years, it’s surprising just to see Stewart on the field. In a bit of irony, Stewart was the only healthy Carolina running back Sunday. DeAngelo Williams was inactive with a calf injury and Mike Tolbert was hurt during the game. Stewart didn’t do much – 37 yards on 15 carries – but he did add a short touchdown run as well. Stewart gets the Steelers rush defense this week that has been run over by Cleveland and Baltimore in the first two weeks. If Williams is still out, Stewart could have a big fantasy day.
Availability: Owned in ~ 30% of leagues.
Forecast: Stewart will gain 80 yards and score if Williams doesn’t play.

Justin Forsett, Ravens
Grab & StashPierce is the better of the two fantasy options at the moment but it doesn’t mean Forsett is out of the picture entirely, especially in PPR leagues. Against Pittsburgh, Forsett totaled 72 yards, caught four passes and came within inches of scoring a touchdown late in the game. Forsett won’t get the volume of Pierce but he’s still going to get touches, especially in games where the Ravens struggle to run the ball between the tackles. In PPR leagues, Forsett still has value as a reserve and bye-week flex play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 74% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$
Forecast: Forsett will be a valuable reserve in PPR leagues.

Matt Asiata, Vikings
Grab & StashThe Adrian Peterson situation hit like a bombshell late last week, leaving fantasy owners scrambling. The Asiata entry has been re-written about five times since then. However, after Peterson was somewhat surprisingly activated Monday, let’s leave Asiata as a Grab & Stash in case the NFL intervenes, although that’s probably unlikely since Peterson’s case is pending. Asiata only ran for 36 yards on 13 carries against New England but he added five receptions for 48 yards and a score. Asiata won’t wow anyone but he’ll fill the stat sheet as long as he starts and that’s all fantasy owners care about.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
Forecast: Asiata is worth stashing until a final decision comes down from the league about Peterson.

Alfred Blue, Texans
Dumpster DiveBlue is clearly second on the running back pecking order in Houston and the handcuff to Arian Foster. On Sunday with the game out of hand against Oakland, Blue carried the ball 11 times for 40 yards, compared to Jonathan Grimes’ three carries. Blue was highly recruited at LSU but injuries slowed his career and he ended up being stuck behind Jeremy Hill. Blue looked good in the preseason and after two weeks Foster is on pace for 440 carries. Add that to all the carries Foster has received over the last four years and it’s not out of the realm of possibility Blue could start some games this season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
Forecast: Blue is Foster’s primary handcuff. He’ll put up RB2 numbers if something happens to Foster.

On the Radar: Isaiah Crowell (34%), Damien Williams (3%)

Wide Receivers

Markus Wheaton, Steelers
Rock StarWheaton only caught five balls for 38 yards against Baltimore but he saw eight targets. Wheaton has now seen 15 targets in two games and was three yards short of 100 yards in the opener. Wheaton is clearly the second option behind Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh’s passing game. He should be owned in most leagues by now. Wheaton is a top two 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 ~ 68% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Wheaton is an emerging WR3/4 who will get better throughout the season.

Brian Quick, Rams
Rock StarQuick doesn’t have the ideal situation at quarterback considering the Rams are down to their third-string option in Austin Davis. That’s probably why he’s only owned in 22 percent of leagues right now. However, it’s hard to overlook the production Quick has put up in his first two games of 14 receptions for 173 yards on 18 targets. Quick looks like a No. 1 receiver and now he’s playing like one too. The Rams inconsistent quarterback play will surely bite him some weeks but Quick deserves to be owned in a lot more leagues than Tavon Austin (42%). Quick is a receiver on the rise both this year and in the future.
Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Quick is a WR3 who is worth starting when the matchup is favorable.

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
Injury ReplacementA.J. Green has a toe injury and could miss this week’s game against Tennessee. Green’s absence would leave Sanu as the Bengals No. 1 receiver. On Sunday, Sanu only caught three passes but they went for 84 yards and a score. Tennessee is historically tough on receivers but Andy Dalton won’t have many options outside of Giovani Bernard. Sanu should be targeted heavily against the Titans if Green is out.
Availability: Owned in ~ 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Sanu has flex appeal if Green doesn’t play this week against Tennessee.

Ryan Grant, Redskins
Injury ReplacementDeSean Jackson injured his shoulder against Jacksonville. Grant played on the outside in three-receiver sets. The rookie caught five passes for 57 yards. Andre Roberts is the bigger name but Grant was impressive during training camp and he carried that over on Sunday. Jackson is questionable to take on a leaky Eagles defense. Grant and Cousins have some chemistry together, which could translate into an unexpected Allen Hurns-like performance for the young receiver against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
Forecast: Grant will go over 70 yards receiving this week if Jackson is out.

Greg Jennings, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayJennings followed up a strong opener with just one catch for four yards against New England. That’s probably not going to instill much confidence but Jennings had Darrelle Revis on him last week and Matt Cassel was in the middle of a real stinker. He never really had a chance. Things ease up for Jennings this week against a New Orleans secondary that’s been giving up catches and yards to every receiver its faced. Look for Jennings to get back on track with a strong fantasy day.
Availability: Owned in ~ 55% of leagues.
Forecast: Jennings will go back to posting his more typical five catches for 70 yards stat line with a score to top it off.

Jerricho Cotchery, Panthers
1 Week Plug & PlayThe middle of Pittsburgh’s defense has been terrible in the first two games, both against the run and pass. The Steelers have allowed over 400 yards passing in the middle of the field. Cotchery has had two decent games so far but this could be his breakout performance with the Panthers. Cotchery had a knack for finding the end zone when he played for the Steelers, so don’t be surprised if he turns the trick on his former team Sunday night. 
Availability: Owned in ~ 12% of leagues.
Forecast: Cotchery is a strong flex play option this week against a struggling Steelers defense.

Andrew Hawkins, Browns
Grab & StashHawkins put up his second solid performance in PPR leagues last week, catching six passes for 70 yards. He’s now caught 14 balls for 157 yards and seen a team-high 22 targets through two games. Hawkins is a quick slot receiver that should continue to see plenty of targets in Cleveland’s offense, especially with Jordan Cameron not being 100 percent. Hawkins has more value in PPR formats. He’s not going to score many touchdowns but Hawkins will rack up enough receptions most weeks to score double-digit fantasy points in PPR leagues.
Availability: Owned in ~ 48% 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.

James Jones, Raiders
Grab & StashIt’s hard to trust any part of the Raiders passing game right now but one player who has put up good numbers in the first two games is Jones. After scoring in Week 1, Jones caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets against Houston. Yes, a Raiders receiver has scored in back-to-back weeks. That’s an impressive accomplishment. No other Raiders receiver is standing out and rookie quarterback Derek Carr should improve as the year goes on. Expect Jones to be a target monster this season and hover around a WR3 with some rough weeks in the mix.
Availability: Owned in ~ 32% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Jones is hindered by the Raiders offense but the amount of targets alone makes him a WR3 option most weeks.

On the Radar: Davante Adams (3%), Miles Austin (14%), Jason Avant (1%), Andre Roberts (2%), Allen Robinson (2%), Eddie Royal (6%)

Tight Ends

Delanie Walker, Titans
Rock StarLast week we mentioned Walker as the player who has been in this column the most over the last two years. This could be his last time appearing. Walker should be owned in enough leagues after this week that he’ll finally no longer qualify. Walker has been a quality fantasy producer over the last year but on Sunday he exploded for 10 catches, 142 yards and a score. Walker was targeted a ridiculous 14 times against Dallas. He’s scored in both games in 2014 and six of his last 11 games played dating back to last season. Walker finds the end zone and now he’s starting to catch more passes. That puts him on the TE1 radar every week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Walker is now in the discussion to be an every-week starter.

Niles Paul, Redskins
Rock StarPaul started for the injured Jordan Reed on Sunday and exploded for eight catches, 99 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. The former college receiver showed athleticism and good chemistry with Cousins. Reed is expected back in a couple of weeks but he’s been plagued by injuries since entering the NFL. Even when Reed returns, it’s going to be hard for the Washington coaching staff to keep a weapon like Paul off the field. Remember, Gruden ran a lot of two tight end sets in Cincinnati, so expect to see both Reed and Paul on the field at the same time.
Availability: Owned in ~ 10% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Paul will be a TE2 even when Reed returns and post TE1 numbers without Reed in the lineup.

Larry Donnell, Giants
Rock StarDonnell has opened the season with 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown in the first two games. Donnell has also been the only pass catcher that Eli Manning has been in synch with early in the year. Donnell is a good fantasy play right now because he’ll continue to see targets in the passing game. However, as the year progresses one would figure the Giants receivers to becoming a bigger part of the offense at some point. Look for Donnell to settle in as a strong TE2 and bye-week starter.
Availability: Owned in ~ 32% of leagues.
Forecast: Donnell will be a valuable spot starter throughout the season.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashThe Chiefs have been searching for a tight end and Kelce looks like he’s going to be the guy. Against Denver, Kelce caught four passes for 81 yards. Kelce only has seven receptions in two games but he should continue to become a much bigger part of the offense as the season goes on. Kansas City doesn’t have much at receiver beyond Dwayne Bowe. Kelce could emerge as Alex Smith’s second option in the passing game. Smith will have to get the ball off quickly against Miami this week, which should benefit his tight ends.
Availability: Owned in ~ 38% of leagues.
Forecast: Kelce will get better as the year goes on. Right now, he’s a TE2 with upside.

On the Radar: Owen Daniels (18%), Derek Carrier (1%)


Dan Carpenter, Bills
Rock StarCarpenter hit 5-of-6 field goals against Miami. He’s now made eight field goals in two games. Buffalo is off to a 2-0 start and the Bills offense is better than expected, giving Carpenter more scoring opportunities. E.J. Manuel is still a young quarterback, so Buffalo has trouble converting in the red zone at times. On Sunday, four of Carpenter’s field goals were from within 35 yards. He should continue to get scoring chances kicking for an improved offense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 18% of leagues.
Forecast: Carpenter is a good matchup play.

Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals
Rock StarCatanzaro went 4-of-4 on field goals Sunday against the Giants and he’s hit all six of his attempts this season season, including both from beyond 40 yards. An undrafted free agent out of Clemson, Catanzaro has shown both accuracy and a strong leg so far in his young career. The Cardinals were without Carson Palmer last week but Drew Stanton was still able to move the offense well enough to give Catanzaro scoring opportunities. He should be a strong fantasy option most weeks considering the weapons Arizona has on offense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Catanzaro will be a Top 15 fantasy kicker most weeks.  

On the Radar: Greg Zuerlein (28%)

Defense/Specials Teams

Buffalo Bills
Rock StarThe Bills defense was dominant against Miami on Sunday. Buffalo recorded four sacks, caused two turnovers and C.J. Spiller returned a kickoff for a touchdown. It’s the second week in a row Buffalo has rewarded fantasy owners after picking off Jay Cutler twice, recovering a fumble and getting two sacks. The Bills had a good front seven last year but their defense looks even stronger overall this season. The unit is being underrated right now by fantasy owners.
Availability: Owned in ~ 42% of leagues.
Forecast: The Bills front seven and special teams make them one of the better fantasy defenses still available on the waiver wire.

Indianapolis Colts
1 Week Plug & PlayIt’s hard not to put a defense that recorded 10 sacks on the list but that may say more about the team that was sacked 10 times. Washington sacked Chad Henne 10 times on Sunday and while their defense should be monitored, the fact that Jacksonville’s offense is in shambles right now is the real story. The Jaguars can’t run the ball, pass protect or score points. Other than that, their offense is doing fine. If you’re going to start the Colts defense once all year, this is the week. Although, this play will be downgraded a bit if Henne is benched for Bortles.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 10% of leagues.
Forecast: The Colts will record five sacks and cause two turnovers.

On the Radar: Washington Redskins (10%)


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