Free Agent Forecast: Week 5

Free Agent Forecast: Week 5

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Free Agent Forecast: Week 5

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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

Eli Manning, Giants
Rock StarAfter a slow start to the season, Manning and the Giants offense is coming alive. Manning has thrown for 534 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in his last two games. Eli should stay hot this week against an Atlanta pass defense that gave up 317 yards to rookie Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday. Manning is a great addition right now if he’s still available in your league.
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Manning will be a valuable spot starter/bye-week replacement.



Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
Grab & StashBridgewater was brilliant in his first NFL start. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 317 yards. Bridgewater also added 27 yards and a touchdown on the ground. More importantly, the rookie was extremely accurate with his intermediate throws over the middle of the field and looked like he had been playing quarterback in the NFL for years. Granted, Bridgewater won’t have the luxury of playing against the Falcons defense every week. He’ll have his ups and downs but Bridgewater showed on Sunday that he’s already talented enough to reward fantasy owners when the matchup is favorable. Bridgewater injured his ankle late in the Atlanta game but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Bridgewater is a QB2 with intriguing upside. 



Michael Vick, Jets
Dumpster DiveGeno Smith struggled once again on Sunday and the Jets are now 1-3 on the season. New York has been in all of its games this year but turnovers and missed opportunities have killed the offense. Vick may not help much with the turnovers but it could be only a matter of time before he’s under center for the Jets. While Vick isn’t the quarterback he once was, his rushing numbers always make him fantasy friendly. Geno is still the starter but there’s a distinct possibility Vick starts at some point in the next few weeks. If that’s the case, he’ll be on the fantasy radar.
Availability: Owned in ~ 6% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Vick will be the Jets starter by the end of October.
On the Radar: Mike Glennon (10%), Kyle Orton (2%), Ryan Tannehill (42%)




Running Backs

Jerick McKinnon, Vikings
Rock StarMcKinnon goes from Grab & Stash to Rock Star Free Agent after racking up 135 yards on 18 carries against Atlanta. Matt Asiata saw 20 carries and scored three times but the future is bright for McKinnon after his breakout performance. Asiata and McKinnon will continue to share the workload going forward but McKinnon is far more gifted athletically. He has more big-play ability and upside for the rest of the season. It may take a little time but McKinnon is on the verge of being a weekly fantasy factor.
Availability: Owned in ~ 20% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: McKinnon will emerge as a weekly fantasy starter in the near future.



Justin Forsett, Ravens
Rock StarForsett is quietly putting up a nice season for fantasy owners. On Sunday he caught three passes, recorded 97 total yards and scored. Forsett has now registered double-digit scoring weeks in all four games in PPR formats. The Ravens are using a committee of runners right now but Forsett is producing because of his combined rushing and receiving output. Forsett has at least 56 rushing yards and three receptions in each game this season. He’ll continue to be a big part of the Ravens offense all season.
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Forsett is a weekly RB2/flex play depending on scoring system.



Darrin Reaves, Panthers
Injury ReplacementDeAngelo Williams injured his ankle against Baltimore and the only two healthy running backs remaining on Carolina’s roster are Reaves and Fozzy Whittaker. The Panthers also signed former Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya. None are a great fantasy option but the Bears rush defense isn’t a brick wall, so if you’re desperate for a flex play this week, give Reaves a look on the waiver wire.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Reaves is the best option out of an unappealing bunch.



Isaiah Crowell, Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashThe Browns backfield might appear muddled with Ben Tate returning from injury and Crowell and Terrance West each fighting for carries. In reality, if you’re thinking long-term, Crowell should be a top priority if he’s still available on the waiver wire. The one-time top recruit at Georgia has looked like a future star in his limited opportunities this season and with Tate’s injury history, there’s a good chance Crowell will be a big-time fantasy contributor later in the year. Crowell is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has scored three touchdowns in his first three games. If you can pick up Crowell and hold onto him, he could payoff big down the line. Crowell also has a chance to put up strong numbers against an overmatched Titans squad this week.
Availability: Owned in ~ 40% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Crowell will score against Tennessee on Sunday and become Cleveland’s starting RB by the end of the year.



Branden Oliver, Chargers
Grab & StashThe Chargers simply haven’t been able to run the football since Ryan Mathews went down with an ankle injury. Donald Brown got an opportunity to carry the load but has been ineffective. In the last two games, Brown has just 81 yards on 41 carries. Oliver, an undrafted free agent out of Buffalo, got a chance on Sunday and provided a little spark. He ran for 23 yards on nine carries and caught four passes for 33 yards. With Brown struggling, Oliver could take over the Danny Woodhead-role in San Diego’s offense once Mathews returns. He’s worth stashing if you have the room.
Availability: Owned in ~ 4% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Oliver will see an increased role if Brown doesn’t start producing soon.



Bishop Sankey, Titans
Grab & StashSankey makes the list for the second straight week. He should continue to see more touches on a bad Titans football team. Of course, after gaining 61 yards on 10 carries two weeks ago, Tennessee Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sankey wouldn’t get more touches until he improved his footwork. The delusional Whisenhunt was true to his word. Sankey only got six carries on Sunday, although he gained 34 yards and scored. Sankey may need to improve his footwork but he’s the best running back on the Titans roster. If Whisenhunt doesn’t start putting his best players on the field soon, he’ll need to improve his resume. 
Availability: Owned in ~ 60% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Sankey will gradually become a viable flex play option.



On the Radar:  Denard Robinson (6%), Antone Smith (4%), Lorenzo Taliaferro (60%)

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle, Giants
Rock StarOne of the biggest beneficiaries of Manning’s improved play is Randle and that will continue to be the case in the future. Against Washington Randle had his best game of the season; catching eight balls for 89 yards. An even better sign is Randle has seen 20 targets over the Giants last two games. Manning and Randle are still working on chemistry (Randle caught just 13 of those 20 targets). It’s encouraging going forward that the Giants are making it a priority to get the ball to Randle. His best fantasy days are yet to come.
Availability: Owned in ~ 62% of leagues.
FAAB: $$
Forecast: Randle is a WR4 on the rise.



Eddie Royal, Chargers
Rock StarRoyal tends to run hot and cold but right now he’s red hot. Royal has caught two touchdowns in each of his last two games. He has nine receptions for 149 yards and four touchdowns on 13 targets over that span. Speaking of red hot, Philip Rivers is playing at an MVP-level. Royal will be inconsistent over the long haul but if you’re in need of receiver help right now, he’s worth picking up with the way both he and Rivers are playing.
Availability: Owned in ~ 24% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Royal will have a couple more big games but his inconsistency makes him more of a bye-week filler.



Louis Murphy, Buccaneers
Injury ReplacementMike Evans is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a groin injury. Murphy was signed off the street last week but filled in for Evans when he went down against Pittsburgh; catching six passes for 99 yards on 10 targets. Murphy is now likely to start opposite Vincent Jackson until Evans returns. While it shows the terrible lack of depth Tampa Bay has at receiver, it also gives Murphy an opportunity to make a fantasy splash in games against New Orleans and Baltimore.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Murphy is a flex option in deeper leagues.



Greg Jennings, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayJennings has a good matchup Thursday night against Green Bay but his value will be tied to whether or not Bridgewater can play. While Jarius Wright was Bridgewater’s primary target on Sunday, Jennings did catch three passes for 72 yards as well. As Bridgewater continues to develop, Jennings should benefit and that will start this week against a Packers secondary that can be exploited.
Availability: Owned in ~ 52% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Jennings will top 75 receiving yards and score.



Devin Hester, Falcons
Grab & StashHester filled in for the injured Harry Douglas on Sunday as Atlanta’s No. 3 receiver. He finished with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. It’s the second straight week Hester has scored an offensive touchdown. Hester’s role could decrease once Douglas returns but he finally looks comfortable playing receiver after years of disappointment in Chicago. Plus, the Atlanta coaching staff wants to get the ball to Hester more in open space. He still has to battle for targets in Atlanta but Hester is worth stashing in larger leagues, especially ones that reward extra points for return yards.
Availability: Owned in ~ 10% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Hester is a WR4/5 whose value goes up greatly if Julio jones or Roddy White goes down.



Jarius Wright, Vikings
Grab & StashWhen a player has a career game it’s tough to know which way to go on him. With Wright we’re advising “holding” and seeing what the future brings because his big game coincided with Bridgewater’s first career start. Wright caught eight passes for 132 yards on 10 targets. He’ll now be the Vikings primary slot receiver with Jerome Simpson no longer on the team. It was obvious Bridgewater and Wright had chemistry together. The rookie quarterback looked his way often, so for that reason alone, Wright is worth picking up and holding if you have the room.
Availability: Owned in ~ 1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Wright will have a larger role in the Vikings offense but not be an every-week fantasy starter.



Andre Holmes, Raiders
Dumpster DiveHolmes has always teased fantasy owners with his raw physical skills. Now with Rod Streater out for a few weeks with a foot injury, he’ll get a chance to do it again. On Sunday, Holmes caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. He’s flashed ability at times but Holmes has never been able to put it all together during his three years in the NFL. In fairness to Holmes, he hasn’t played with the best quarterbacks and that’s the case again this season with the Raiders. Right now we don’t even know who’ll start for Oakland after the Raiders bye. However, Holmes has some talent and is worth a look if you’re searching for a flier in deeper leagues.  
Availability: Owned in ~ 3% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Holmes is a WR4 in deeper formats.  



On the Radar: Jerricho Cotchery (10%), Brian Hartline (32%), Steve Johnson (22%), Mike Williams (3%)

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell, Giants
Rock StarThis will be the last week to get Donnell if he’s available in your league after his 7-catch, 54-yard, 3-touchdown performance against Washington. Donnell has come out of nowhere but it’s obvious after four games that he’s no fluke. Donnell is a matchup nightmare for defenses, especially in the red zone. Donnell is averaging 60 yards per game and has established himself as a weekly TE1 fantasy play.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $$$
Forecast: Donnell is entrenched as a TE1 in the Giants offense.



Heath Miller, Steelers
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashMiller caught 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets against Tampa Bay. He now goes up against a Jacksonville defense that struggles to defend opposing tight ends. Miller is always a good option to plug in during bye weeks. He’s never going to be an upper echelon fantasy tight end but he’s usually good for a few receptions. Miller has caught at least four passes in three of four games this season. Miller should reward fantasy owners this week against Jacksonville with a strong performance.
Availability: Owned in ~ 72% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Miller will catch at least five passes and eclipse 60 yards receiving.



Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Grab & StashIf you’re looking for a tight end to take a shot on later in the year, give Seferian-Jenkins a look. Tampa Bay’s offense was doormat through three games but showed signs of life under Glennon on Sunday. Seferian-Jenkins caught three passes for 44 yards on seven targets. A huge red zone target at 6-5, Seferian-Jenkins’s role is only going to increase as the year progresses, especially with Evans out for a while. Seferian-Jenkins will be a real hot commodity in 2015 but he’ll show his potential with a couple of big games this year as well.
Availability: Owned in ~ 6% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Seferian-Jenkins is a TE2 who could emerge as a TE1 later in the season.



On the Radar: Jace Amaro (10%), Eric Ebron (30%), Owen Daniels (55%), Coby Fleener (32%)

Kickers

Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals
1 Week Plug & PlayGrab & StashOwners still aren’t buying into Catanzaro. That’s despite the fact he’s a perfect 9-for-9 on field goal attempts this year and has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of his last two games. Catanzaro also has a good matchup this week against the Broncos. While Arizona has a strong defense, the Cardinals will need to move the ball this week and put points on the board to keep up with Denver. Expect another strong outing from the underrated rookie.
Availability: Owned in ~ 10% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Catanzaro will top double-digit fantasy points for the third straight game.   



On the Radar: Randy Bullock (10%)

Defense/Specials Teams

Cleveland Browns
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Browns have been surprisingly bad on defense this year. The cure for that should come this week when Cleveland travels to Tennessee to take on the struggling Titans. Whether Jake Locker or Charlie Whitehurst start at quarterback shouldn’t matter much. Neither is playing well. The Titans offense is a mess and the Browns had a bye week to straighten things out on the defensive side of the ball. Cleveland has the perfect opponent at the perfect time. Owners who need a defense this week should take a long look at the Browns even though they’ve struggled early in the year.
Availability: Owned in ~ 22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Browns will record 3-4 sacks and cause multiple turnovers on Sunday.



Detroit Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Lions have been a strong fantasy defense through the first four games of the year. Detroit has recorded 10 sacks, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, scored a touchdown and is allowing just 15.5 points per game. The Lions should improve on those numbers this week at home against Buffalo. The Bills aren’t a slam dunk offense for defenses but this matchup favors Detroit. The Lions defense plays better at home and Bills are playing their first game with 32-year old Kyle Orton at quarterback. Even if Orton is an upgrade over E.J. Manuel, it’s a good week to start the Lions defense.
Availability: Owned in ~ 70% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: The Lions will harass Orton all day long, making his first start in Buffalo a painful one.



On the Radar: Minnesota Vikings (15%)

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