With a total of six teams on bye in Week 7, this figures to be a busy week on the waiver wire. Besides owners who may be looking for a fill-in quarterback with no Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick or Philip Rivers available, as well as other position players, there are also those who may be looking to replace an injured or nonproductive player.
Even though Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego all get this week off, your fantasy team doesn’t. Here are some names worth considering as you look to fill out your roster for this week and beyond.
Bye week teams: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego
Week 6 Recap: Robert Griffin III not only played, but he showed no ill effects from last week’s concussion and instead he gave Minnesota’s defense headaches on Sunday. Griffin’s production and ability to stay on the field rendered Kirk Cousins a mere spectator, albeit one with perhaps the best view of his teammate's spectacular performance. Josh Freeman also starred on Sunday, passing for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kansas City. Freeman remains a viable options in the weeks ahead thanks to a schedule that includes New Orleans, Oakland and Carolina in the next five weeks. The Jets got back on track with a convincing win over Indianapolis and although his statistics weren’t all that great, Mark Sanchez (more on him below) did more than enough to reassert his hold on the starting job over backup Tim Tebow. Brady Quinn may find himself holding the clipboard once more when the Chiefs return to the field in Week 8. Quinn (22-of-38, 180 yds., 0 TDs, 2 INTs) and the entire Chiefs’ offense struggled against the Buccaneers, and the team could go back to initial starter Matt Cassel, who missed the game because of a concussion, after the bye, provided he’s cleared to play.
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Palmer’s numbers (1,434 yds., 6 TDs, 3 INTs) may not jump out, but he’s 10th in the league in passing yards per game at 287. The Raiders have not been shy to throw the ball this season, as Palmer is averaging 39 attempts per game. The touchdowns are low, but the Raiders’ wide receiving corps has been banged up all season long. Still with match-ups against Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Kansas City on tap the next three weeks, Palmer is definitely worth a look if you’re in need of a temporary signal caller.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Look who’s back? OK, “back” may be a little too strong considering the Sanchize threw for a grand total of 82 yards against Indianapolis, but don’t lose sight of his two touchdown passes, and, more importantly, no turnovers. As bad as the Jets’ offense may have looked the past few weeks, it was certainly clicking on all cylinders, especially the running game, this past Sunday. Next up for Sanchez and the revived ground-and-pound rushing attack is New England, who just gave up 368 yards of offense (283 through the air) in a disappointing loss at Seattle.
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
Skelton beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job in the preseason, only to leave Arizona’s opening game with an ankle injury and watch Kolb lead the team to a come-from-behind victory. Kolb then proceeded to win the next three games as the starter before the Cardinals lost in Week 5 in St. Louis. On Sunday against Buffalo, it was Skelton’s turn, as he took over in the fourth quarter after Kolb suffered a rib and chest injury. Trailing the Bills by three late, Skelton first moved the team into position for the game-tying field goal (a franchise-record 61-yarder by Jay Feely with 1:09 left), and then did it again to set up a game-winning attempt. Unfortunately, Kolb and the Cardinals were unable to finish the deal, as the attempted game-winner was partially deflected and Skelton’s interception in overtime set up the Bills’ own game-winning field goal. X-rays on Kolb's ribs and sternum came back negative, but he underwent an MRI on Monday to make sure there are no fractures or serious damage. Kolb's health will undoubtedly play a huge role in determining who starts this Sunday at Minnesota, but remember Skelton was No. 1 before he got hurt.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was at his best on Sunday against New England, as his 293 yards passing and three touchdowns were both career highs. Wilson also is a threat to make plays with his legs, although he’s really yet to post huge rushing numbers. That said, Wilson is just a rookie who is six games into his NFL career. So while there will more than likely be other games this season that look like what he did against the Patriots, there also will be a number that will finish with a stat line of something along these lines: 17-of-25, 160 yards, no touchdowns, three inteceptions, which is what he did in a Week 4 loss to St. Louis. If you’re thinking about starting Wilson this week, keep in mind the Seahawks play San Francisco on the road. It’s probably best to place your expectations somewhere between how he fared against the Patriots at home and the Rams on the road.
Week 6 Recap: Both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman got hurt in Thursday’s loss to Tennessee, which brings a new name (see below) into the picture for the Steelers, while the Titans were content to let Chris Johnson handle the load, making Darius Reynaud a special teams player only. Alex Green and LaRod Stephens-Howling both got the starts for their respective teams, but Green was the only one who produced as Stephens-Howling was upstaged by his teammate (see below). Meanwhile, David Wilson put together a second straight solid performance, contributing to the Giants’ convincing win in San Francisco as both a returner and rusher.
Baron Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
With both Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) suffering injuries against Tennessee, the Steelers turned to Batch to carry the load. He finished with just 22 yards rushing against the Titans, but that led the team and he also had a one-yard touchdown run. Batch was the Steelers’ seventh-round pick in 2011, but missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in training camp. Mendenhall and Redman are clearly ahead of him on the depth chart, but if one or both can’t go this week in Cincinnati, Batch appears to be the most likely candidate to fill in.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Perhaps the rumors of Blount’s fantasy demise were greatly exaggerated, no? Doug Martin is the clear-cut starter in Tampa Bay, but Blount ‘s workload has increased in each of the past three games. Sunday against Kansas City, he had 58 yards on seven carries and scored his second touchdown in as many weeks. If Blount can continue to produce with the opportunities he’s given, the Buccaneers may have to find ways to give him even more touches.
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson left Sunday’s game against Cincinnati with a rib issue and Hardesty stepped in, helping to lead the Browns’ fourth-quarter charge and earn their first win of the season. Hardesty finished with 56 yards on 15 carries (3.7 ypc) and it was his touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter that put the Browns ahead of the Bengals to stay. Richardson said after the game he would definitely play against Indianapolis this Sunday, and on Monday head coach Pat Shurmur said the rookie is considered day-to-day. If Richardson is unable to play this Sunday, it appears Hardesty would get the start in his place. Don’t forget the Colts gave up 252 yards rushing to the Jets this past Sunday.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas ran wild on Sunday, gashing Baltimore for 227 yards rushing, the most ever given up by the Ravens franchise. DeMarco Murray got things started with 93 yards on 14 carries (6.6 ypc), but he suffered a foot injury before halftime, setting the stage for Jones. The former first-round pick made the most of his first significant playing time this season, scoring on a 22-yard run in the first quarter and finishing the game with 92 yards on 15 carries (5.1 ypc). Murray said he wanted to go back in and it was the coaching staff that held him out, but an MRI on Monday revealed he sustained some ligament damage and it appears that Murray will miss at least one week, if not more. Jones would more than likely get the start in Murray’s stead, beginning this week as Dallas travels to Carolina.
William Powell, Arizona Cardinals
LaRod Stephens-Howling got the start, but it was Powell who did the most damage for the Cardinals. The second-year pro, who was a pleasant surprise during the preseason, led the team in carries (13) and rushing yards (70) in the overtime loss to Buffalo. Powell out-gained Stephens-Howling, who has 22 yards on the ground, and also enjoyed more success (5.4 ypc) when he got the handoff. The Cardinals' offensive line still has its share of issues, but any starting running back in the NFL has some value when it comes to fantasy, even if it’s only as a flex option. When it comes to the Cardinals, it looks like Powell is the one to own/target moving forward and not Stephens-Howling.
Week 6 Recap: Mike Williams was the only one to score, courtesy of a 62-yard hookup with Josh Freeman, but Brandon Gibson, Kendall Wright and Mario Manningham each finished with more catches than the Buccaneer on Sunday. Gibson stepped up in Danny Amendola’s absence, leading the Rams in targets, receptions and yards in the loss to Miami. Gibson’s production also appears to be helping another teammate (see below) emerge. Manningham enjoyed a strong game (5 rec., 72 yds.) against his former Giant teammates, albeit in a loss, while Wright once again led the Titans in receiving.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
After leading Seattle in all receiving categories as a rookie last season, Baldwin has been virtually invisible this season. Whether he was dealing with injuries or trying to acclimate himself to rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the second-year pro from Stanford entered Sunday’s game with just seven catches for 70 yards. Against New England he doubled his season yardage total on just two catches, as he finished with 74 and his first touchdown of the campaign against the Patriots. The targets are still an issue, as he had a total of three against the Patriots, but perhaps this past Sunday is the first step to Baldwin and Wilson establishing better chemistry.
Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams
Second-round pick Brian Quick was expected to be the Rams’ rookie deep threat this season, but instead it’s fourth-rounder Givens who has made the impact on the field. Givens has averaged nearly 63 yards receiving over the past three games, and for the season is averaging 28.1 yards per catch. Consistency is still an issue for the first-year wideout (22 targets, but only seven receptions), but so is his big-play potential. His lone touchdown of the season came on a 51-yard catch and he has two other receptions longer than that.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Gordon also is another wide receiver who has recently shown a knack for making the big play. The Browns’ supplemental draft pick is averaging 22.8 yards per reception and has three touchdowns in his past two games. He has led the team in receiving these past two games and with a wide receiving corps that’s been hampered by injuries, inconsistency and drops, the opportunity is clearly there for Gordon to establish himself as quarterback Brandon Weeden’s favorite target.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
To be honest, I’m surprised Moore is owned in only 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He may not be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, but in my book he’s a bona fide No. 2 and at worst an indisputable WR3. Moore missed the first game because of injury, but has posted a total of nine receptions for 175 yards (19.4 ypc) and a score in the past two games alone. Carson Palmer is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts per game and despite mssing one game already, Moore is still leading the team in targets with 14 more than any other Raiders wideout. Run, don’t walk, to your waiver wire to grab this steal of a deal if he’s still available.
Week 6 Recap: Jermaine Gresham posted another solid game (7 rec., 68 yds., TD) for the Bengals, while Rob Housler managed a total of two catches for 12 yards. In Housler’s defense, no Cardinal not named Larry Fitzgerald did much offensively against Buffalo.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans
Even though he’s the No. 11 tight end in fantasy, Cook is owned in only half of Yahoo! leagues. I’m not sure what’s not to like, considering he’s ninth in receiving yards (291) at his position, second on the Titans in receptions and has already caught two touchdowns. The team also has said that it plans on getting the ball to him even more moving forward, which only increases his potential value. It’s not often you can acquire a top-10 fantasy producer at his position in Week 7.
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins
Very quietly, Fasano is putting together another solid season and becoming one of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s favorite targets in the process. Fasano is third on the Dolphins in targets and receptions, but leads in touchdown catches with two. Since missing the Dolphins’ opener, he has caught at least two passes in every game and is averaging better than four catches and 39 yards receiving over his past four contests.
Week 6 Recap: Miami picked up three sacks and recovered a fumble in its win over St. Louis, but the Dolphins also gave up a season-high 162 yards rushing. Minnesota was victimized by Robert Griffin III's arms and legs as Washington's rookie quarterback shook off any lingering effects from the concussion he suffered last week to put up 310 total yards of offense and three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 pass) in the Redskins' win over the Vikings. The Vikes gave up a season-worst 38 points and managed only a sack and an interception.
With the Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego DSTs all on bye this week, Cleveland could be a sneaky pick this week. The Browns have fared pretty well fantasy-wise, with 15 sacks and 14 turnovers (10 INTs, 4 fumbles) fueling their scoring. This week the Browns will face Indianapolis, a team that’s dealing with injuries in their backfield and asking rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to throw the ball a lot. Luck has more than held his own in his first season, but he’s also thrown seven interceptions and has been sacked 13 times, two areas where the Browns’ D has thrived so far.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 16, 2012