DeMarco Murray, Tim Tebow and Maurice Morris lead the list of must pick-ups in week 7
By CorbyYarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough
It is Week 7, the third week of bye weeks, and some big names go on vacation this weekend. You need someone to step in off the waiver wire and hold down the fort for a week, or maybe more in some cases.
WEEK 7 BYES: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco
At quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Mike Vick and Alex Smith are all on byes.
John Beck, Washington
Rex Grossman was pulled after throwing four interceptions against Philadelphia and in stepped beck. He threw for 177 yards and ran for a score. But are we going to see Grossman back in there? Will the QB be the new RB for Mike Shanahan? Will we see rotation everywhere? The matchups are favorable for the Redskins QB to get you through the bye weeks — at Carolina, at Buffalo, playing host to San Francisco, at Miami (in Week 10 where there are no byes) and playing host to Dallas. If none of the QBs below are available in your leagues, I would consider adding Beck, but I wouldn't waste my No. 1 waiver wire priority on it.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City
After a terrible start to the 2011 season, Cassel took advantage of a great match up against the Colts in Week 5, throwing for 257 yards and four touchdowns. He and the Chiefs passing game get another favorable match up this week in Oakland. The Raiders are allowing the fourth most fantasy points to QBs and just surrendered 21 points to Browns QB Colt McCoy on Sunday. The Chiefs are coming off their bye, and Cassel should have a full compliment of receivers, including rookie Jonathan Baldwin. If he's on your waiver wire, go get him.
Colt McCoy, Cleveland
McCoy has only dipped below 16 points once this season and is coming off his best fantasy game of the season — 21.2 points against Oakland. He is the epitome of a bye week replacement that could become a dependable starter come season's end. Two other factors making McCoy appealing — the Browns are 29th in the league in fantasy points by RBs (15.6) and the second-year QB is averaging 43 pass attempts per game. Sounds like opportunity to me. This week's Cleveland plays host to Seattle, which is middle of the road when it comes to defending fantasy QBs (18 PPG).
Tim Tebow, Denver
In case you didn't add him from last week's waiver wire with the Broncos on their bye, go get him now. Tebow is fantasy vs. reality. He doesn't have to be a good NFL QB, he only has to be a good fantasy QB. In leagues where QBs get only 4 for passing TDs, Tebow is a bonus with his seven career rushing TDs in 12 games. The loss of Brandon Lloyd may hurt a bit, but Tebow seems to freelance his way to fantasy points anyhow, no matter who's out there with him.
Oakland's next QB
These are the just-in-case QBs that could be your next starter for Oakland. Monitor if any of these players get added to the Raiders' roster to replace the injured Jason Campbell (collarbone). I'm avoiding Kyle Boller unless he has his wife with him.
Kyle Orton — The Broncos' former starting QB has been supplanted by Tebow and should get moved before today's deadline — at least fantasy players are hoping he is. He's obviously the most game-ready QB out there, and Oakland has plenty of weapons for him to play with.
Terrelle Pryor — The suspension is lifted, he is part of the active roster and with the success as fantasy players that Tebow, Cam Newton and Vince Young early in his career had, why couldn't Pryor be a productive fantasy player before there's too much tape out there of him?
Carson Palmer — Very risk as a pick up. His arm strength is meh and he hasn't played in nearly a year. However, if he could get the ball to the Raider weapons with short passes and let them do the work, you're still getting the fantasy points for the YAC they produce.
Fred Jackson, Cedric Benson, Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and the Patriots' flavor of the week are all on byes, so you need to find some bodies to stick in there for a week.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas
I dropped him in an IDP keeper league because I was impatient and should have known the Felix Jones injury was coming. At least I got Haloti Ngata as the reason I dropped him. But I digress. Jones has a high ankle sprain and is out indefinitely. The Cowboys' bye has already happened, so there's no time to rest and if they are smart, no reason to rush him back into action. Tashard Choice may be shipped out as the trade deadline is today, but even if he isn't I would grab Murray and expect him to be the lead back.
But don't expect the moon. Keep in mind the rookie RB was drafted in the third round to help bolster a Cowboys run game that was 16th in the NFL last year. Now Dallas is 30th in points per game from fantasy RBs. Murray has rushed 24 times for 71 yards (3.0 YPC) and has four catches for 23 yards. He has no TDs thus far. Favorable matchups the next few weeks make him enticing — St. Louis, Philadelphia and Seattle — but the stats and the Cowboys' offensive line speaks for itself. If Choice stays and Phillip Tanner gets some snaps, it could make for a complete mess in Dallas. So just temper your expectations.
Jackie Battle, Kansas City
He's got a great match up this week. The team comes off a bye week and now gets an Oakland defense that is third worst against fantasy RBs and just lost its QB on offense. Battle may have been the flavor of the week against a bad Indianapolis team when he ran for 119 yards two weeks ago, and Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones might steal some thunder. But with six teams on bye and a great match up, picking up Battle, could be a great one-week play.
Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay
Graham got it done on the ground in relief of LeGarrette Blount (MCL) with 109 yards on 22 carries. He only caught two passes for 22 yards. It was the passes that PPR players were excited about, so the 109-yard effort helped offset the lack of receptions. Graham should probably get the nod once again for the Bucs as they go against Chicago in London this week. The Bears have allowed at least 10 fantasy points to the No. 1 RB in the first six games this season, and Graham's PPR abilities should help him reach that and be a decent flex play in Week 7.
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland
This is nothing more than a bye week replacement suggestion. Peyton Hillis is dealing with a hamstring and may miss or at least be limited. But Hardesty has done little with the opportunities he has had. The Browns play host to a Seattle team that is top 10 against fantasy RBs and coming off a bye. However, every opposing No. 1 RB has scored at least 11 fantasy points against the Seahawks. If you need Hardesty as a flex play, go for it, but don't expect consistency.
Maurice Morris, Detroit
Jahvid Best suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday. If it knocks him out for any amount of time, Morris will probably get the call. According to Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus, Morris played 25 snaps in relief of Best on Sunday to just two snaps for Keiland Williams. The Lions play host to Atlanta this week, and the Falcons are allowing the eighth most points per game to fantasy RBs. Detroit has the 12th-best fantasy running game at 20.8 points per game. Again, these few weeks are about finding bodies to fill in bye week, injuries and good match ups. Morris won't light up the turf, but it is a good match up.
Thanks, byes. No Steve Johnson, David Nelson, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin or Michael Crabtree this week. Here are a few names to help you in these troubling times.
Danario Alexander, St. Louis
I really wanted to like him. His knees don't seem to be a hindrance this year. He is a good deep threat. Then the Rams go out and trade for Brandon Lloyd. The Rams have been so terrible this year, I think some combination of Lloyd and Alexander play with Greg Salas in the slot. St. Louis is not going to get any better on defense, and the receivers should have plenty of opportunities to see the field.
Nate Burleson, Detroit
He will never be consistent, but he does get targeted, and the Lions do get two of the worst defenses against fantasy WRs the next two weeks — Atlanta (9th at 32 PPG) and Denver (2nd at 35.7 PPG). After the bye, Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay and New Orleans are up. The schedule is just begging for a consistent fantasy receiver to emerge opposite Calvin Johnson.
James Jones, Green Bay
He is still available in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues. He has scored at least 10 fantasy points the last three weeks. He is a perfect bye week replacement player. On a week-to-week basis you can't count on him to be a consistent receiver, but when bye weeks leave you scrambling, a track record like Jones' is good to lean on. Also, the Packers travel to Minnesota this week. Minnesota was pushing hard for Jones' services in the offseason before he shunned them to return to Titletown, USA. Maybe he shows the Vikings they should have pushed a little harder.
Greg Little, Cleveland
He stepped into the starting role against Oakland and lead the Browns in targets, catches and yards en route to a 10.2-point fantasy effort. Both he and Colt McCoy are serviceable for the remainder of the year as Cleveland's bye has passed. Plus, their rapport should only get better and be more dependable as the season goes along.
Greg Salas, St. Louis
We're always looking for the next Wes Welker, particularly in PPR leagues. Danny Amendola was supposed to be it in St. Louis before his season-ending injury. Rookie Greg Salas had not stepped into that role until Sunday for the Rams. Yes, they were getting killed by the Packers, but Salas put up a very common slot-PPR line — eight catches, 77 yards, no scores. The Rams are going to stink all year on defense, giving the offense plenty of chances. With the addition of Brandon Lloyd on the outside, perhaps Salas can roam around now and pull down those cheap nine-yard catches that we all love from our PPR receivers.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore
Lee Evans is still bothered by his ankle injury, having not made it back to play in the Ravens' first game after their bye. If Evans is not back for the Monday night game at Jacksonville then Smith is assured significant playing time. He is obviously a solid deep threat, but the Jags have not been too shabby against the pass this season. They are seventh best against fantasy WRs. But if you are desperate for a replacement for Week 7, he's always good for a deep ball he could take to the end zone.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
The Broncos could complete the youth trifecta if they trade away Eddie Royal along with Brandon Lloyd already being shipped to St. Louis. If Royal's gone then Demaryius Thomas steps in to give Denver second-year players starting at WR (he and Eric Decker) and QB (Tim Tebow). A broken foot hindered his rookie season — both pre-draft and last season — and a finger injury has sidelined him this season. In limited action last year, the 6-3, 225-pound Thomas caught 22 balls for 283 yards and two scores. He also averaged 24.9 yards on 16 kickoffs.
Damian Williams, Tennessee
Something tells me Chris Johnson and the offensive line are not going to get it together this year and Matt Hasselbeck will continue to sling it around the yard. Williams will be the deep threat unless Donnie Avery surprises. With the way Hasselbeck was tossing it, getting his deep threat would be a solid stash-and-hope play.
Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
He's on a bye this week, and many of us thought he would be on an extended bye after the marijuana-at-the-house incident. Apparently the Bengals are impervious from suspension this season, and Simpson is garnering attention from QB Andy Dalton. He led the team in targets, catches and yards Sunday against Indianapolis, scoring 13.1 fantasy points. This is one of the "waiver a week ahead" type plays this week just in case injuries are killing you if the byes aren't first.
Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards, San Francisco
The 49ers are playing well, Alex Smith is playing well and so too is Crabtree. He had 15 targets on Sunday, catching nine for 77 yards. Maybe he's finally going to emerge as a dependable player. He's still available in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues. Edwards should come back healthy after the bye. Plus, Josh Morgan is out for the year. It's all about opportunity. Keep an eye on him.
What a frustrating position this has been. I guess that's what comes with this being the deepest fantasy tight end class perhaps ever. And this week, thanks to byes, we lose the Patriots' duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and San Francisco's Vernon Davis.
Aaron Hernandez, New England
He's on a bye this week and may get dropped again as a I saw in a number of leagues happened when he suffered his Week 2 injury. But since his return in Week 5, Hernandez has scored 8.1 and 15.8 fantasy points. Tom Brady loves targeting those tight ends. So this is more a public service announcement, that if you see someone drop Hernandez due to the Patriots' bye, go grab him, stash him and enjoy the rest of the year.
Jake Ballard, New York Giants
He's on a bye this week, but the Kevin Boss replacement is officially here for the G Men. Ballard posted his third straight double-digit fantasy week, and when he gets back he faces the worst team in the league against the TE — the Dolphins at over 16 fantasy points per game to the position. This might be one of those moves you make in advance of next week so you don't have to use a priority claim. Perhaps let the wire run through this week and then pick him up once all claims have been processed if you have the room.
Fred Davis, Washington
Available in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues, Davis got back into double digits on Sunday with a 13.5-point effort against Philadelphia. Chris Cooley broke his finger, and other injuries that have plagued him should open up the door for Davis to be the exclusive TE on the team.
Ed Dickson, Baltimore
He has had good match ups each week it seems like, but just doesn't produce on a consistent basis. He gets on this list this week for two reasons — you may need a TE for a bye week quick fix and he gets a Jaguars team that is fourth worst against fantasy TEs, having given up over at least 10 points to the primary TE in the last four games.
Daniel Fells, Denver
Brandon Lloyd is gone. Tim Tebow is a young QB. The Dolphins are the worst team in the league against tight ends. Sounds like a good day to play Fells, who has scored 5.2, 8.9 and 7.2 fantasy points in his last three games.
Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay
The Bucs travel to London to play a Bears team that is second worst against fantasy TEs at nearly 16 points per game to the position. Winslow has not had the effort from a year ago, byt he has scored 5.8, 7.9, 6.5 and 7.9 fantasy points the last four games. It always seems like it's a soggy field when the NFL goes to London, and that could be good news for the short passing game.