With six teams on bye in Week 8 and the latest rash of injuries to ravage NFL teams’ rosters, fantasy owners have their work on the waiver cut out for them. On Sunday, Reggie Wayne and Sam Bradford both suffered season-ending injuries, while Doug Martin, Jay Cutler, Nick Foles and Jermichael Finley were among those who weren’t able to finish their games. Roster depth was already going to be tested with Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego and Tennessee on bye, so now what? Have no fear, Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through possible replacement options.
The players listed in Athlon’s weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.
Teams on bye in Week 8: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee
Week 7 Recap: Mike Glennon threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s loss in Atlanta on Sunday. He did lose a fumble, but he now has produced at least 22 fantasy points in each of his first two starts. This week’s matchup on Thursday with Carolina won’t be easy, but with so many teams on teams on bye and Jay Cutler, Nick Foles and Sam Bradford all getting hurt on Sunday, Glennon starts to become a little more appealing.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
After throwing for no more than 280 yards in any of first five games and the same number of touchdown passes as interceptions (5 each) in that span, Dalton has been on fire the last two weeks. Against Buffalo and Detroit, Dalton averaged more than 350 yards passing and had six touchdown passes compared to just one interception. This week’s home date with the Jets figures to be tougher than his previous two opponents, but I would rather take my chances with Dalton than some of the other fill-in/injury options that are probably available.
Other possible bye-week replacement QBs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT at Oakland; Alex Smith, KC vs. Cleveland; Carson Palmer, ARI vs. Atlanta; Ryan Tannehill, MIA at New England; and Geno Smith at Cincinnati
Week 7 Recap: Joseph Randle led the Cowboys with 65 yards rushing on 19 carries and added three catches for 28 yards in his first career NFL start. Chris Ogbonnaya got just four carries (15 yards) had no catches (2 targets) in the Browns’ loss to the Packers. Brandon Jacobs did not play on Monday night for the Giants, which all but destroys any momentum he had following his 106-yard, two-TD effort against the Bears in Week 6. Michael Cox and recently signed Peyton Hillis got the carries for the Giants against the Vikings.
Roy Helu Jr., Washington Redskins
Alfred Morris is clearly the Redskins’ workhorse, but Helu has been getting enough touches to make things interesting. Sunday against Chicago, Helu finished with 11 carries for 41 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores were from three yards, so has Helu became Washington’s goal-line back? Helu also is more versatile than Morris, as he’s caught at least one pass in every game. Helu is averaging seven touches per contest, but that has risen to 12 over the last three games. If he maintains that pace, he would certainly merit discussion as a flex option.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
Ivory was a true workhorse for the Jets on Sunday, carrying the ball 34 times in the overtime win against the Patriots. Ivory finished with 104 yards on the ground, as leading rusher BIlal Powell only got three carries and was a non-factor after the first quarter. Powell did injure his shoulder last week against Pittsburgh, but there were no reports after the game that he had hurt it again. If anything, Ivory certainly needs to be on the radar this week, as he showed he’s capable of handling the load if that’s what is needed.
Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin reportedly tore the labrum in his shoulder in Sunday’s loss, an injury that could result in him missing the rest of the season. At minimum, Martin figures to miss a few games, which means the Buccaneers will turn to James, their sixth-round pick, to carry the load. The rookie picked up 45 yards rushing on 14 carries and three receptions for eight yards against Atlanta. The Bucs host Carolina on Thursday, meaning James’ first career start will be against one of the NFL’s top rushing defenses. But James also should see a starter’s load worth of touches, so while he may just be a flex candidate this week, the opportunity is clearly there for even better production in the weeks ahead.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
Steven Jackson is still sidelined because of a hamstring injury, which has meant more work for Rodgers. While he may not gain a lot of yards on the ground, Rodgers is definitely a key part of the Falcons’ passing game, especially with wide receiver Julio Jones out for the season and Roddy White dealing with his own injuries. Against Tampa Bay, Rodgers had just 16 yards rushing on eight carries, but he led the team with eight receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns. Even when Jackson does return, Rodgers will remain a big part of Atlanta’s offensive game plan.
Other possible bye-week replacement RBs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Andre Ellington, ARI vs. Atlanta; Zac Stacy, STL vs. Seattle; and Pierre Thomas, NO vs. Buffalo
Week 7 Recap: Harry Douglas made quite the first impression as the Falcons’ No. 1 wide receiver, catching seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Jarrett Boykin was equally impressive filling in for Randall Cobb and James Jones, leading the Packers with eight receptions for 103 yards and a score. Michael Floyd got a team-high 10 targets and led the way with 71 yards receiving (on six catches) in the Cardinals’ loss to Seattle. Kris Durham caught five passes for 41 yards, as Calvin Johnson reasserted himself (9-155-2) in a big way following two sub-par games.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis
Heyward-Bey has been maddeningly inconsistent dating back to his days in Oakland, but he’s also looking at increased opportunities with the news that Reggie Wayne is done for the season after tearing his ACL in Sunday night’s big win over Denver. The Colts are on bye this week, but when a player the caliber of Wayne suffers a season-ending injury, owners can’t wait a week to find his replacement. As far as Indianapolis is concerned, that player is Heyward-Bey. He will probably take a back seat to T.Y. Hilton in terms of targets, but Heyward-Bey’s own average of less than five per game should go up quite a bit. Now it’s just a matter of him catching them (18 of 34 this season) and becoming a consistent, reliable receiver.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
There is no question who is the top target on the Bengals, but if Andy Dalton (see above) continues on the tear he’s been on lately than there’s room for someone other than A.J. Green to produce. Jones has caught a touchdown in each of his last two games and is averaging 56 yards over the past three contests. His targets also have gone up during this span, which will be the real key to his fantasy potential moving forward.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
Kerley led the Jets with eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Patriots. He is establishing himself as Geno Smith’s favorite target with an average of nearly eight looks per game over the last three. While it’s hard to trust a rookie QB like Smith, who has had as many ups as downs in his first season, Kerley’s position atop the pecking order in the Jets’ passing game is something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks
Rice opened the season with two touchdowns against Jacksonville and then followed that up with a total of two catches in his next two games. He has averaged just four targets over his last three contests, but he did catch another TD pass from Russell Wilson in the Seahawks’ Thursday night win over Arizona. Golden Tate is probably the closest thing to a No. 1 wide receiver that Seattle has, but that doesn’t mean Rice should be completely ignored, especially with the rash of recent WR injuries. The Seahawks also have an appealing slate (at STL, TB, at ATL, MIN) leading up to their bye in Week 12, which could translate into more opportunities for Wilson to air it out.
Other possible bye-week replacement WRs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Brian Hartline, MIA at New England; Terrance Williams, DAL at Detroit; Rueben Randle, NYG at Philadelphia; Robert Woods, BUF at New Orleans; Emmanuel Sanders, PIT at Oakland; Brandon LaFell, CAR at Tampa Bay
Week 7 Recap: Joseph Fauria was targeted four times on Sunday, but caught just one of them for 15 yards. Timothy Wright was a little more sure-handed (2 receptions on 3 targets), but also finished with just 15 yards receiving, as Mike Glennon looked mostly for his wide receivers in Tampa Bay’s loss to Atlanta.
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley left Sunday’s game on a stretcher after getting a big hit and was hospitalized overnight as a result. While it’s early in the week, it’s likely that Finley will miss at least one game, if not more. Quarless, who has a total of four receptions on the season, will take over at tight end in Finley’s absence. While his production leaves something to be desired, this is still an important position, as the Packers are already without wide receiver Randall Cobb and James Jones missed Sunday’s game because of a shin/leg injury. Six teams are on bye this week (and next week for that matter), and at least you know that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t mind throwing to his tight end.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Reed was first mentioned in this space back in Week 3, but after Sunday’s effort, he earned the right for some more exposure. Reed was Robert Griffin III’s favorite target in the Redskins’ win over the Bears, catching nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Reed has replaced Fred Davis as the primary tight end and he has averaged six receptions and 81 yards receiving over his past three. Reed is now a top-15 fantasy TE on the season. Do I need to say any more?
Other possible bye-week replacement TEs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Heath Miller, PIT at Oakland; Jeff Cumberland, NYJ at Cincinnati; Jermaine Gresham, CIN vs. New York Jets; Tyler Eifert, CIN vs. New York Jets;
Week 7 Recap: St. Louis gave up 24 points to Carolina and sacked Cam Newton just twice in the 30-15 loss. The Rams did have a safety, which is the only highlight of their disappointing fantasy outing.
New York Jets
The Jets are fourth in the NFL in total defense and second only to Denver in rushing defense. Rex Ryan’s bunch beat the Patriots on Sunday, holding Tom Brady in check for the second game this season. The Jets are getting to the quarterback (24) and don’t lack for playmakers on defense. The only drawback to the Jets DST from a fantasy standpoint is the unit isn’t generating any turnovers. The unit has a total of four takeaways in seven games, which makes New York’s statistical performance even more impressive. Either way, I certainly think this is a DST that should be owned in more than just 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Other possible bye-week replacement DSTs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
New Orleans vs. Buffalo; Green Bay at Minnesota; Atlanta at Arizona;
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.