Fantasy Football Week 1: 5 Free Agents to Watch This Weekend

Marco PatitucciContributor IISeptember 8, 2012

Fantasy Football Week 1: 5 Free Agents to Watch This Weekend

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    Most owners spend a significant amount of time on Sunday and Monday tracking their players’ performances, but it’s never a bad idea to gain insights on which players may be the hot pickups for the following week. And the period after NFL's Week 1 will be one of the most active windows of roster shuffling.

    Looking at players generally available (less than 50 percent owned as of Saturday, September 8), here are five individuals to watch this weekend with the potential to be solid fantasy contributors in 2012.

Jake Locker

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    Locker will get the first start of his career against the New England Patriots on Sunday, and it’s a matchup that could prove favorable to the second-year QB. Locker can move the chains with his arm and his legs, and New England’s defense allowed the second-most yards last season.

    Locker was the second QB taken in the 2011 and eighth pick overall. He appeared in five games last season with a QB rating of 99.4 on 66 pass attempts. Locker threw two TD passes with one INT this preseason.

Danny Amendola

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    Amendola is likely to be a top target for Sam Bradford in St. Louis, but whether that will translate into solid fantasy production is a question. A broken elbow in Week 1 of 2011 sidelined Amendola for the rest of the season and he was unable to build on a promising 85-reception 2010.

    Amendola is not a big yardage receiver, so a thing to watch for on Sunday will be targets in the red zone. Amendola will need to be more of a TD threat to become a viable fantasy play.

Russell Wilson

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    The rookie QB from Wisconsin outperformed the favorite for the Seahawks starting job (Matt Flynn) and was one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 preseason. Now, he will be starting for Seattle Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

    Wilson scored six touchdowns in the preseason (five passing, one rushing) and threw only one interception. Three of his TDs were 30-plus yards.

    Certainly, if Wilson can find the end zone as frequently as he did in the preseason, he could be one of this year's breakout fantasy stars.

Randall Cobb

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    Cobb is buried on the Packers' WR depth chart behind Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Tight end Jermichael Finley also commands targets from Aaron Rodgers while Donald Driver could still see regular snaps as well.

    Of course, Cobb offers value in the return game; so, if he can get some regular targets in the passing game he could be a valuable fantasy commodity in leagues that count return yards.

    The Packers face a tough defense in Week 1 with San Francisco coming to town; it will be a test for the offense and will hopefully provide some insight on how targets will break down for the receiving corps this season and reveal who will appear in which formations.

Jacoby Ford

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    Ford is questionable for Monday night’s contest against the Chargers with a foot injury, but he is an exciting player to keep an eye on early this season.

    Unfortunately, injuries were an issue for Ford last year as well, as he played in just eight games.  

    Ford, like Cobb, adds value in the return game, making him a better option in leagues that reward return yards and TDs.

    Last year’s injuries spoiled what could have been a coming-out season for Ford as a receiver. Ford had just two TDs in 2011 (one receiving, one returning) after racking up seven in 2010 (two rushing, two receiving, three returning).