The injury situation got worse this past Sunday, as the list of key fantasy football players who won’t play in Week 7 only got longer. Victor Cruz and Stevan Ridley are the latest to watch their seasons come to an early end, while A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham are among those expected to miss at least one more game. On top of that, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are both on bye this week. So what’s a beleaguered fantasy owner to do?
Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.
Teams on bye: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
Week 6 Recap: Ryan Tannehill threw for two touchdown passes, but he also had two interceptions, as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers ripped the Dolphins’ guts out with a last-second, game-winning touchdown on Sunday. Brian Hoyer wasn’t needed that much (217-1-0) as the Browns ran over (158 yards rushing, 3 TDs) the Steelers.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco certainly isn’t a “new” quarterback in that he’s a rookie or that he hasn’t been suggested in this space before. What is new, however, is the fact that the Ravens’ offense was clicking on all cylinders against Tampa Bay. Flacco tossed four touchdown passes in the first quarter, on his way to 42.2 fantasy points (Athlon scoring), the most any player has scored in a single week this season. What’s even more encouraging is that Flacco wasn’t sacked or picked off and his 21 completions went to eight different players. On top of all of this, Baltimore hosts Atlanta, a team that just gave up 478 total yards at home to Chicago, on Sunday.
Week 6 Recap: Branden Oliver followed up his breakthrough game (182 total yards, 2 TDs) against the Jets with another 101 yards rushing and a touchdown against the Raiders. As long as Ryan Mathews (sprained MCL) remains sidelined, Oliver should retain a prominent role in San Diego’s offense. Ronnie Hillman also rushed for 100 against the Jets, but he didn’t score and finished with just three receptions (for 16 yards). Andre Williams’ first career NFL start did not go well (16 att, 58 yds.), as Philadelphia’s defense shut down the Giants’ offense. Benny Cunningham scored the first touchdown of the Monday night game against San Francisco, but didn't do much else the rest of the way, finishing the game with 33 total yards (21 rushing) on nine touches.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
Stevan Ridley left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, which was later confirmed as a torn ACL and MCL. Ridley’s season is over and while Shane Vereen would seem the logical candidate to see an increase in carries, Bolden actually finished with more rushing attempts (6 to 5) against the Dolphins. It’s very hard to figure out exactly how the Patriots are going to use their running backs each week, but the mere fact that Bolden had the most carries after Ridley got hurt is a sign that he should have some sort of role moving forward. Don’t forget that Ridley was averaging about 16 carries per game. In his career, Bolden is averaging 4.5 yards per carry (126 att.).
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Ben Tate is back from injury and has reclaimed his role as the Browns’ No. 1 option since his return, but as Sunday showed, there’s enough room in this offense for two productive rushers. Crowell picked up 77 yards on 11 carries (7.0 ypc) and his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. The important thing to note, however, is the fact that fellow rookie Terrance West was a healthy scratch against the Steelers. Tate may be No. 1 on the depth chart, but he’s already missed significant time this season because of a sprained knee. At this point, it looks like Crowell has passed West on the depth chart, so all it takes is another Tate injury for Crowell to see even more touches.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Ingram broke his hand in Week 2, but it’s possible he could be back as soon as this Sunday. Ingram likely will be eased back into action, but with all of the other injuries, this could be a golden opportunity to fortify your RB depth. Prior to the injury, Ingram was off to a great start, averaging nearly six yards per carry and finding the end zone three times in less than two complete games. The Saints also have Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson in their backfield, but the former is more of a receiving threat, while the latter was behind Ingram in the pecking order before he got hurt. Once Ingram shows his hand is completely healed, there’s no reason to not expect him to reclaim his role as New Orleans’ top rusher.
Week 6 Recap:Louis Murphy Jr. saw the second-most targets (9) behind Vincent Jackson (13) on Sunday, turning those into seven receptions for 72 yards and another touchdown. Justin Hunter was targeted just five times, but he was the Titans’ most productive receiver for a second straight game (3 rec., 77 yds.). Odell Beckham Jr. finished with just two grabs for 28 yards, but the entire Giants offense struggled mightily against the Eagles. Beckham’s role also figures to increase moving forward with Victor Cruz now out for the season.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
Oakland lost yet again on Sunday, but for one game, this offense didn’t look like the same old Raiders. Interim head coach Tony Sparano wasted little time in attacking San Diego’s secondary, as rookie quarterback Derek Carr hooked up with Holmes for a 77-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Carr and Holmes also connected for a six-yard scoring strike that gave Oakland the lead early in the fourth quarter. Whether the Raiders can maintain this production remains to be seen, but it looks like Holmes may have emerged as one of Carr’s preferred targets.
Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots
After a slow start with his new team, LaFell has averaged seven targets per game over the past four. During this stretch he’s accounted for 282 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Two of those scores came on Sunday against Buffalo. Fellow wideout Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski are secure as two of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets, but the Patriots have needed someone to step up behind them. With a combination of size (6-3, 210), speed and athleticism, LaFell is starting to establish himself as the team’s most dangerous deep threat while also being productive in the red zone.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants
Even though he has just two touchdown catches, Randle has been the most targeted Giants receiver thus far (49). And that doesn’t figure to change now that that Victor Cruz is done for the season. Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in the Sunday night loss to the Eagles. With Cruz out, Randle should take over as the Giants’ No. 1 wideout with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. sliding over to Randle’s No. 2 spot. It’s entirely possible that Beckham ends up being more productive, but Randle’s fantasy potential has also increased and he should definitely be on your radar if he’s available in your league.
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals were without both A.J. Green (toe) and Marvin Jones (ankle) against the Panthers and Sanu filled in admirably. He led the team in all three receiving categories, as he was targeted 14 times and turned those into 10 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. The initial reports are that Green will miss at least another game, while Jones has yet to practice since injuring his ankle, so Sanu’s reign as Cincinnati’s No. 1 wide receiver should last at least one more week. You could do worse if you are looking for a bye week or injury fill-in option.
Week 6 Recap:Tim Wright got a grand total of one target Sunday against Buffalo, but it was good for a one-yard touchdown. So at least Wright’s got that going for him.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Out since injuring his hamstring in the season opener, Reed returned Sunday and was an immediate factor, if not force, in the Redskins’ passing game. He led the team in both targets (11) and receptions (8) while finishing second in yards with 92. Reed was considered a top-10 TE entering this season and he definitely has that potential, provided he stays healthy.
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
The Saints were on bye last week and it sounds like they will be without All-Pro Jimmy Graham for even longer. Graham could reportedly miss another three weeks because of a sprained shoulder he suffered against Tampa Bay. It’s virtually impossible to replace a guy like Graham, but as far as the Saints are concerned that role should fall to Watson. An 11-year veteran, Watson has been targeted just 12 times this season, catching nine of those for 64 yards. Josh Hill (7 rec., 2 TDs) and recently signed Tom Crabtree also could factor in, but Watson has the most experience. He may be someone worth keeping an eye on, especially for those looking for a bye week fill-in.
Related: 5 Tight Ends to Replace Jimmy Graham
Week 6 Recap: Philadelphia’s DST kept things rolling, pitching a shutout of the Giants on Sunday night. The Eagles posted eight sacks and recovered a fumble and are leading all fantasy DSTs in scoring by quite a bit. Philadelphia is on bye this week, but this could be a good time to pick this DST up, if it’s still available.
The Bills were torched (37 PA, 396 yards) by New England on Sunday, but a rebound could be in order for their DST this week. Buffalo hosts Minnesota and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is coming off a horrendous showing (188-0-3) against Detroit. The Bills are second only to the Lions in sacks with 19 and are leading the NFL in rushing defense (67.5 ypg). The Vikings meanwhile have allowed the second most sacks in the league (22) and struggled to get much of anything going against the Lions. This could be a recipe for fantasy success for Buffalo’s DST at home this Sunday.
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.