Free Agents to Target Key
Acquire: Players you should target to add to your team immediately.
Look to Acquire: Players you should consider adding if you have a need at the position, are looking to build depth or have the available roster space to block other owners from capitalizing on building the talent on their team.
One-Week Play: Players you should play .
Quarterbacks: Look to Acquire
Sage Rosenfels, Houston Texans - In his second game replacing injured quarterback Matt Schaub (shoulder), Rosenfels carried the Texans by going 27-for-36 for 209 yards with three touchdown passes. He distributed the ball with end zone feeds to wide receivers Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, along with tight end Owen Daniels. Rosenfels picked apart a stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense, and the Denver Broncos await the Texans in Week 15. They have allowed 206.8 passing yards and 1.50 touchdowns per game to the position over the last four games. If you need help during the fantasy playoffs, Rosenfels is available in nearly all casual leagues and 88 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Running Backs: Acquire
Samkon Gado, Miami Dolphins - Gado took advantage of his opportunity Sunday, hitting the end zone twice in the Dolphins' 38-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He also had 52 rushing yards and two receptions for 41 yards. Running back Jesse Chatman (ankle) will look to participate in limited practice this week, but Gado could still get the bulk of the work as Chatman continues to heal. The Dolphins figure to continue to be careful with the involvement of quarterback John Beck, though they pulled him in Week 14. Sure the Dolphins are - well, the Dolphins - but someone needs to give them offense. If you're desperate to fill your fantasy backfield, give Gado a whirl. He's available in nearly all casual leagues and 90 percent of competitive leagues.
Adrian Peterson, Chicago Bears - Fantasy owners were likely rushing to the waiver wire to dump Peterson after he put up just 35 yards on 17 carries in Week 14 against the Washington Redskins. Indeed, the presence of running back Garrett Wolfe (three carries for 13 yards, four receptions for 37 yards) screamed running back-by-committee. However, Wolfe was mainly brought in as a change-of-pace back, and Peterson remains the main back. He's combined for 72 utilizations over the last three weeks (24 per game) since taking over the starting job. Although he faces the vaunted Minnesota Vikings run defense this week, he shouldn't be floating on the waiver wire. Correct this mistake if you need another back, and he's available in 55 percent of casual leagues and only 13 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Selvin Young, Denver Broncos - Young exploded for a career-high 156 rushing yards on 17 carries during Week 14, his second triple-digit output in his last four games. The original plan was for running back Travis Henry to be the featured back, but he only mustered 24 yards on 10 carries despite hitting the end zone. Young has been a tease to fantasy owners this season; he posted 54 yards and 28 yards respectively in between those two 100-yard games, and he missed Week 12 with an elbow injury. The rookie faces a Houston Texans defense that has allowed 1.25 touchdowns per game to the position over the last month, so he could make for a valuable mid-range running back option. He's available in 61 percent of casual leagues and 17 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills - The return of starting running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle) didn't keep Jackson from rushing for 115 yards on 15 carries; good enough for a 7.7 yards-per-carry average. He is expected to be the backup to Lynch and should be acquired by fantasy owners who have Lynch, as insurance heading into the fantasy playoffs. Jackson has totaled 272 yards on 36 touches in his last two games while failing to reach the end zone this season. He is available in 95 percent of casual and 57 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Aaron Stecker, New Orleans Saints - He carried the majority of the load this past Monday night with running back Reggie Bush (knee) out of the lineup. It is expected that Bush will also miss their Week 15 matchup, with rumors circulating that he could miss the rest of the season. Stecker made his first start of the year, carrying the ball 20 times for 100 yards. He could be a boost to fantasy owners, who are in need of a starting back or if Bush is currently on their roster. Stecker is available in 97 percent of casual and 67 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Running Backs: Look to Acquire
Kolby Smith, Kansas City Chiefs - The Smith parade came crashing down this week against a much-improved Broncos run defense. Smith struggled for 12 yards on 13 carries as the Chiefs lost 41-7; it was a blow to the Chiefs and fantasy owners. He might be hampered a bit by an ankle injury he suffered, but he returned to the game and is expected to play during Week 15. Smith lines up to play the Tennessee Titans this week, who have allowed 132.8 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game to the position over the last month. The Chiefs still don't want to rely on second-yeard quarterback Brodie Croyle too much, so they should continue to go to Smith. He's still available in 37 percent of casual leagues and 12 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Darius Walker, Houston Texans - Consider the lightning grounded. Running back Ron Dayne (ankle) is expected to miss the Texans' Thursday night matchup with the Broncos, so the Texans appear set to turn to the undrafted rookie back from Notre Dame. In Walker's lone game this season, he carried the ball 16 times for 46 yards in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Texans will likely look to Rosenfels for the majority of the offense, but Walker should get his piece of the action. You should jump on this if you have the space, because Dayne might be bothered by this injury even if he returns. Walker is available in nearly all leagues.
NEW - Lorenzo Booker, Miami Dolphins - Booker saw an increased role in the offense last week, backing up running back Samkon Gado, who made the start in the absence of running back Jesse Chatman (ankle). Although it was a small role, carrying the ball just four times for 13 yards, he could continue to see additional carries if Chatman is unable to play. He was drafted in the third round this season, and the Dolphins may try to see what they have in Booker. He is available in 99 percent of casual and 95 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints - Thomas figured to see an increased role in the offense last week after Bush was inactive for the game, but Stecker received most of the workload, leaving Thomas with six carries for 31 yards. If Bush is to miss an extensive amount of time, Thomas should be the primary backup to Stecker, with the opportunity to see an increase in touches. Thomas is available in 99 percent of casual and 95 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Wide Receivers: To Acquire
Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts - The rookie, who has been filling in for wide receiver Marvin Harrison (knee), had six receptions for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns last week. The touchdown receptions were the first of his short career. Harrison's status remains uncertain, and it is possible that the team may not try to rush him back considering they have already locked up a playoff spot. Gonzo has turned into a reliable weapon with a gunslinger at quarterback. His matchup isn't favorable this week, but he has the ability to be a solid receiver for any fantasy team. He is available in 74 percent of casual and 67 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Arnaz Battle, San Francisco 49ers - While he hasn't been putting up scary reception totals in the last few weeks (seven), Battle has managed to haul in a touchdown in each one of his last three contests. Battle is the team's leading receiver with 45 receptions while also leading the team in touchdown catches. Battle can help fantasy teams heading down the stretch, especially if he is able to keep the touchdown streak going. He is available in 93 percent of casual and 68 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks - He has made the most of his opportunities with wide receiver D.J. Hackett (ankle) missing the last two games. Burleson made five receptions for 50 yards last week while adding a touchdown reception in his second consecutive game. He was targeted five times last week, including two times in the red zone and leads Seattle's group of receivers with 0.75 touchdowns per game in the last month. Burleson is available in 56 percent of casual and 61 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Shaun McDonald, Detroit Lions - McDonald replaced injured wide receiver Roy Williams (knee) as the team's starter last week and hauled in a season-high eight receptions for 96 yards. His value is expected to be taken to another level with the injury to Williams possibly sidelining him for the rest of the year. McDonald was already the team's leader in receptions prior to the injury and is averaging a team-high 5.75 receptions per game over the last four games. McDonald should be acquired and is available in 21 percent of casual and 18 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Reggie Williams, Jacksonville Jaguars - Williams has put up his highest back-to-back reception totals of the season in his last two games, totaling nine receptions for 159 yards. Over the last four weeks, he is being targeted an average of 5.25 times per game while catching a touchdown in three of those four games. Consistency had been his problem for most of the season and after putting up respectable numbers in his last four games, Williams could be a receiver that can contribute to a fantasy roster. He is available in 77 percent of casual and 62 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos - Stokley (knee) managed to make his one reception last week count, hauling in a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jay Cutler. He didn't practice Tuesday, Dec. 11, but he is expected to play this Thursday. Stokley has been a favorite target of Cutler's, averaging 6.50 looks in the passing game, good for second on the team in their last four games. His injury status should be monitored closely, but if he is able to go, he should be acquired. Stokley is available in 60 percent of casual and 51 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Wide Receivers: Look To Acquire
UPDATE - Jabar Gaffney, New England Patriots - Gaffney is coming off his best game in a Patriots uniform since being acquired by the team last season. He matched wide receiver Randy Moss with seven receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown. Gaffney is just the latest receiver to benefit from the high-flying offensive juggernaut that the team has become; catching touchdown passes in three consecutive games. Gaffney joins a crowded group of receivers, who at any time can become quarterback Tom Brady's favorite target. He is available in 99 percent of casual and 97 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Bryant Johnson, Arizona Cardinals - Fantasy owners should be a little disappointed by Johnson's performance last week, hauling in just one pass for five yards. The reception was for a touchdown, but considering he started in place of inactive wide receiver Anquan Boldin (toe), people who picked up Johnson off of waivers for that exact reason have to be shaking their heads a little. Boldin's status remains uncertain for this week's game, and Johnson could be used as a good insurance policy for Boldin and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (groin). Johnson is available in 87 percent of casual and 48 percent of competitive leagues polled.
NEW - Justin Gage, Tennessee Titans - Gage is coming off his second-worst game of the season, catching only one pass for 12 yards. He continues to be the team's leading receiver and is the most utilized, receiving 6.75 looks per game over the last four weeks. Last game should be considered a bump in the road, considering quarterback Vince Young was in and out of the game; completing only 13 passes for 121 yards. Gage is a viable option at receiver; available in 93 percent of casual and 73 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Wide Receivers: Do Not Acquire
NEW - Terry Glenn, Dallas Cowboys - Glenn may be seeing some playing time in the final weeks of the season after not playing in any games this year following two knee surgeries on his right knee. It's now looking more of a question of when he will come back and not if, but it's not expected that Glenn would return to his starting role after missing so much time. We don't see him being effective if he were to return; with the likelihood that he can't make a difference for fantasy teams. If fantasy owners have been stashing him on their bench this entire season, it is time to consider some of the receivers listed above, and if you were thinking about adding him now then think again.
Tight Ends: Acquire
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars - Lewis wasn't needed much as the Jaguars dispatched the Carolina Panthers 37-6 during Week 14. He still caught three passes for 25 yards and now has 13 receptions in the last three weeks. He only had four looks compared to a combined 15 in the prior two weeks, but he made the most of his targets. There is no true No. 1 receiving option in Jacksonville; that title seems to be vary with each week. Lewis is available in nearly all casual leagues and 87 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Tight Ends: One-Week Play
Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears - After hitting the end zone in Week 13, Clark was held to three receptions for 33 yards during Sunday's game. He had six looks this week but was left out of the red zone game plan. Fellow tight end Greg Olsen had eight looks with two red zone targets. Last week, Clark had five looks and Olsen had three. The Bears seem to be balancing both tight ends into their scheme, and with quarterback Brian Griese taking over for injured quarterback Rex Grossman (knee), the position's top target might not be set in stone. As the Bears face the Vikings and their weak pass defense, Clark could see some tosses. Minnesota has allowed 5.50 receptions, 50.8 yards and 0.50 touchdowns per game to the position over the last four weeks. Clark had three catches for 48 yards - including a 32-yard reception - against the Vikings in Week 6. Clark is available in 47 percent of casual leagues and 52 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Marcus Pollard, Seattle Seahawks - Pollard's two receptions didn't wow fantasy owners, but he reached the end zone on a three-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Pollard has compiled four looks in each of his last two games and has been boringly consistent with two catches in each of his last eight games. Sure, his stat lines make most owners yawn, but if your tight ends are making you cry, Pollard could wipe your tears in Week 15 in a great matchup with the Panthers. Carolina has averaged one touchdown allowed to the position per game over their last four games, so Pollard could serve as a good temporary play for the fantasy playoffs. He is available in 87 percent of casual leagues and 90 percent of competitive leagues.
Place Kickers: Look to Acquire
Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns - Dawson is one of the safest pickups a fantasy owners can make heading into the playoffs. He comes into this week's matchup after putting up six actual kicking points; his lowest total since Week 10. Looking at the big picture, Dawson is averaging 2.50 field goals and 9.2 kicking points per game, good enough to tie him for the fifth-highest in the league over the last month. The Browns offense has proven that they can score points and Dawson's stands to benefit from that success. He is available in 69 percent of casual and 30 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Place Kickers: One-Week Play
Lawrence Tynes, New York Giants - Tynes heads into this week's matchup having put up 10 actual kicking points in two of his last four games. He hasn't been getting anything more than just an average amount of attempts in the last month, but this week's matchup is too good to overlook. The Redskins are giving up the second-most kicking points (10.5) to the position in their last four games; averaging 3.50 field goal attempts allowed per game during that time. Tynes has a strong matchup and could be considered a low-tier fantasy option. He is available in 91 percent of casual and 76 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Defenses: One-Week Play
Miami Dolphins - The team has given up 78 points in their last two games and is quickly running out of chances to put up their first win. This week could bode well considering they face the Baltimore Ravens, a team that appears to be psychologically worn out. Over their last four games, the Ravens are allowing 3.5 sacks and turning the ball over 3.25 times per game. The Dolphins on the other hand, are creating close to three sacks and two turnovers per game during that same span. The Dolphins could stand to benefit from a great matchup and should be considered a top No. 1 option if played. They are available in 68 percent of casual and 80 percent of competitive leagues polled.
Cincinnati Bengals - The defense played a strong game, taking advantage of a quarterback making his first NFL start last week. The Bengals matchup against the San Francisco 49ers could bode well for a team that isn't creating much on defense, averaging just one sack and two turnovers per game in their last four. The 49ers have scored the fifth-lowest points per game (15.2) over the last month; giving up 3.5 sacks and 3.25 turnovers per game during that time. The Bengals defense should be played with confidence as a solid No. 1 option. They are available in 92 percent of casual and 80 percent of competitive leagues polled.