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Fantasy Football Forecast: Living on the Edge

Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor

In the NFL as in fantasy football, there's usually one winner and a bunch of losers by the end of the year. But what makes a season truly enjoyable is the thrill of the hunt, and staying relevant as long as possible. It ain't no fun if your team gets stuck in also-ran status early on, and in this topsy-tervy 2013 season, we're already at the point where a passel of teams in the real world are already out of it, for all intents and purposes. If you've escaped this fate in fantasy (or you're on the edge of relevance), the time to make your move is now, especially with the fantasy season just about half over. The question is, which players should you scoop up? This week we take a look at some intriguing prospects that are likely still available in your league, especially at WR.

Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor: He won't give you consistent production week to week, but he's slowly gathering some impressive stats, and his dual-threat capabilities as a passer and runner should give you decent stats to work with. His list of opponents over the next few weeks varies from tough to pushovers, but if you can use him strategically, he'll make for solid depth on your roster.

Jacksonville QB Chad Henne: While he may not pay long-term dividends, Henne plays two below-average pass defenses these next two weeks (Denver and San Diego), and with WR Justin Blackmon back to provide big plays, he's a good bye week fill-in.

St. Louis RB Zac Stacy: Stacy flashed potential with 82 yards rushing last week, albeit against a weak Jaguar D. He's been confirmed as the starting RB for the Rams this week, and with two rugged defenses up next (Houston and Carolina), we should find out if he's a keeper relatively quickly.

Cleveland RB Willis McGahee: Look up the word "ugly" in the dictionary and you might find McGahee's mug. Since being appointed the starting RB for the Browns he's averaged 2.9 yards a carry. Still, with no other option, he's going to continue getting the load, especially as beleaguered QB Brandon Weeden takes over for injured QB Bryan Hoyer, and the schedule isn't too onerous the next few weeks with Detroit and a Clay Matthews-less Packers. He'll make an okay fill-in if you need one.

New York Giants WR Reuben Randle: Big things were expected from Randle this year, but it was only last week (96 yards, 2 TDs) that he broke through with a monster game. Will he continue to be phased into the Giants' offense moving forward (especially as the Giants' season continues to go south and the coaching staff focuses more on developing young talent), or will he recede to the background once again as WR Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz get the bulk of targets? Thursday night's game against the Bears should provide a decent indication.

San Diego WR Keenan Allen: On San Diego's new-look offense, Allen has burned the brightest of the Chargers' new-look players, with close to 200 yards receiving these past two weeks.He's quickly established himself as a go-to man for QB Philip Rivers, and the prognosis is good for continued success with matchups versus the Colts, Jags and Skins over the next month.

Dallas WR Terrance Williams: Is it too soon to jump on the Williams bandwagon after his 151-yard, 1-TD performance last Sunday? There's a chance he'll lose time and touches once WR Miles Austin comes back from injury; on the other hand, the list of opponents these next few weeks (Washington, Philly, Detroit) looks very appetizing from a production standpoint. He's a decent gamble.

Tennessee WR Kendall Wright: Consistency can be the hobgoblin of little minds -- it also isn't a good thing if you're consistently bad (just ask Jacksonville). Still, Wright can be counted on for 60+ receiving yards every week, which doesn't set the world on fire but is what you might need if you're looking for reliable contributions. Over the next few weeks the Titans play some heavyweight defenses who will take away prime receiving threats Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, and with throw-it-short QB Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, slot receiver Wright could be an underrated play, especially in PPR leagues.

Atlanta WR Harry Douglas: Interest in Douglas is more a result of "Who else do we have left?" than proven performance. With WR Roddy White still gimpy and WR Julio Jones likely done for the year (a moment of silence, please, for this writer's fantasy team), Douglas steps to the fore as Atlanta's only experienced WR. He's flashed in the past, so in the best-case scenario, he puts up decent if not spectacular numbers.

Chicago WR Alshon Jeffery: In the event Jeffery is available in your league, now is the time to nab him. With QB Jay Cutler getting the green light to throw, and the Bears playing from behind a ton this year, he'll continue to see targets, especially with WR Brandon Marshall on the other side to take most of the heat. It doesn't hurt that he gets to go against a reeling Giants secondary Thursday night.

Houston TE Garrett Graham: Speaking of "Who else do we have left?", Graham might need to take over for injured starting TE Owen Daniel the rest of the season. He's put up sporadic numbers so far but Houston's offense depends heavily on intermediate throws to the TE, so he will have his chances to make an impact.

 

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