Way back in week seven, we talked about guys like Joique Bell, LaGarrette Blount, Felix Jones, and Josh Gordon, to name a few. While none of them have been game-changers, we hope that you took advantage of 10 points from Jones or a touchdown from Gordon week 7. Bell looks like he will be getting more carries moving forward, so if you need help and he's available, we'd suggest picking him up for some bench depth. This week, we will look to strike gold with some players who may be able to get you some points in the weeks ahead (and more importantly during the playoffs.) There are a handful of guys who may be getting more touches, a starting job, or coming off of injury to help your team out. Check and see if these players are available.
1. Beanie Wells RB ARZ - Wells went down with turf toe during week three, and was placed on the "designated for return IR", and looks good to come back when eligible week 12. That's just in time for your playoff run, and while the Cardinals offensive line is nothing special, the Cards play solid D and should play ball-control offense as they make a run for the playoffs. Don't listen to the trade talks - Deangelo Williams is too pricy for the crowded Arizona backfield, and LaGarette Blount doesn't seem to be a good fit. Bank on Wells contributing for your team weeks 12-16, and you probably have a roster spot as you drop your bye-week fill-ins. Grab him now and stash him for the next three weeks.
2. Cedric Benson RB GB - While Benson is ineligible to return until week 14, he could serve as a fantastic flex back for your three playoff matchups. The Green Bay offense has come to life the past couple of weeks, and that's no thanks to Alex Green and James Starks - Bensons temporary substitutes. The Packers could very well add another back to help out, but we think that Benson should be good to go week 14 and beyond. And as the Packers love to run the score up, he could get plenty of carries against the Lions and Titans weeks 14 and 16. Stash him if you have the room.
3. Daryl Richardson RB StL - Richardson is certainly not a game changer, and might not even get as many carries as most other rostered backs in your league - but he has several things going for him and might be able to help your squad out the rest of the way. Daryl has been slowly working his way into a tandem RB role with incumbent S-Jax, and has received at least 11 touches in his past 3 games. Richardson is built like a younger CJ Spiller, and with regular touches can probably put up similar numbers. D-Rich is averaging 6.4 yards per carry over the last three games, with 3 catches for 21 yards per game. Spiller is averaging 5.9 and 3 for 16 during the same span. D-Rich could haul in some major points should S-Jax go down, or should he start receiving more touches. Grab him now and hope for the best. This guy is for real.
4. Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ - Kerley has stepped into the starting WR role in New York nicely, after Santonio Holmes is out for the season with the dreaded Lisfranc injury. Kerley is certainly more talented than the likes of Chaz Schilens and Clyde Gates, and rookie Stephen Hill has been struggling to get comfortable in NFL games. Kerley is owned in just 53% of Y! leagues, and could make for a nice WR3 the rest of the way. The second year WR out of TCu has 12 catches for 163 yards in his last two games, and that's including a game played in the midst of Hurricane Sandy (this will be the only time we mention Sandy.) You can pick Kerley up and start him should you need help at the WR position right away.
5. Pierre Garcon WR WAS - Garcon has been out several weeks now while dealing with a tear of his "plantar plate" in his foot. He is not scheduled to come back until at least week 11, after the 'Skins week 10 bye, but Garcon is coming off of three straight seasons with at least 765 yards and should be a contributor on a team that has been struggling in the passing game of late. If Garcon comes back strong, he should be a good bet for six weeks averaging 5 catches and 65 yards per game as a solid WR3. Garcon is a great player to buy low on, or, as he is owned in just 54% of Y! leagues, a good player to pick up and stash for no cost.
6. Danny Amendola WR StL - Amendola was putting up All-Pro numbers with a team that struggles on offense before his week 5 clavicle/shoulder injury that put him out until week 10. Amendola was averaging just about 8 catches for 80 yards per game before he went down, and with Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson stepping up, he could continue to put up WR2/3 numbers for your team the rest of the way. DA is owned in just 59% of leagues, and could be had for very cheap off of a frustrated owner, or a manager looking to win this week or next. Grab/trade for this guy if you can, and don't be afraid to plug the gritty receiver into your lineup during the second half.
Bye-week blues leave nothing to be desired when your team is hit with an added injury or multiple byes in one week. Scrambling on a Saturday night or Sunday morning to find a guy who won't put up a big, fat, zero is no fun. Here, we aim to give you a few guys who might be available in your league last minute, and who can also post more than a couple points to give your team the best chance at winning.
1. Jonathon Dwyer RB PIT - This guy probably comes at no surprise this week, but he's owned in just 37% of Y! leagues, and teams are running out guys like Daryl Richardson, La'Rod Stevens-Howling, and Michael Bush to name a few. The week 8 game vs. the Redskins figures to feature lots of yardage, and Dwyer is getting another start with Mendenhall out and Redman questionable. Start him at your empty RB slot with confidence this week.
2. Chris Givens WR StL. - The good news is that Danny Amendola looks like hes defying the odds and recovering quickly. He should be back next week, but even so, Givens is owned in just 11% of Y! leagues, and is a lock to put up at least 3 catches and 50+ yards. In PPR leagues, those kinds of stats can be very sneaky at your FLEX spot during a bye-week. The Rams will need to pass against an injury riddled Patriots secondary. Givens has posted more than 50 yards in four straight weeks now, and almost returned a kickoff for a score vs. Green Bay. We think Givens can put up a line to the tune of 4-75-1 this week.
3. Brandon Stokley WR DEN - Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are the main men in Denver, but Peyton Manning is throwing the ball like hes a 25 year old again. There is plenty of love for the 36 year old Stokley, as he has caught a TD in 3 of his last 4 games, and has 14 catches for 163 yards in that span. The Sunday Night game vs. New Orleans will most certainly be a shootout. We think he can deliver more than 10 fantasy points even in non PPR leagues this week. Grab him and start him.
4. Jonathon Stewart RB CAR - If J-Stew has been dropped in your league, you need to calmly walk to the nearest computer and pick him up and plug him into your lineup. Rumors are that the organization is looking to dump DeAngelo Williams and use Stewart exclusively and Tolbert as the change of pace. The Panthers want to grind it out more, and the combo of Stewart/Tolbert figures to be just the tandem to do so. While he doesn't have the best stats at the moment, Stewart has posted more than 45 total yards in 3 of his 4 games this season while receiving less than 15 touches per game. If the Panthers commit to the run and hand J-Stew the rock 20+ times, he could be a great bet for 70 yards, plus 3-4 receptions and a score. Chicago will be a tough setting to prove himself, but we think Stewart could be up for the challenge. Pick up the 67% owned back and watch to see what he can do this week as a bye-week fill in.
Each Tuesday, we look back at the guys on the waiver wire, thinking "I wish I had added him before his Sunday performance." We can think back to a Felix Jones, who, after a DeMarco Murray injury, stepped in and carried the load for Dallas. Or we can look back a bit further to a Mike Williams, a receiver who certainly should have been owned in more leagues before his back to back 100+ yard performances. This column is aiming the fantasy crosshairs toward some players who, after week 7, we may look back upon and be glad we added them before next week's waivers.
Daryl Richardson RB STL - Timeshares are not always a bad thing for fantasy running backs, and should the Rams keep games close, this could be one of a handful of rewarding backfields. Steven Jackson is underwhelming at times, but seems to be running hard when given the chance. With the ability to catch the ball and create yards after the catch, Richardson should continue to see more snaps in St. Louis. The Rams don't often find the end zone much, but the yards are there to be had. Richardson has twice gone over the 90 yard mark in five plus games, and could be a fantasy contributor down the stretch. Think Pierre Thomas type points at the end of your fantasy bench.
Daniel Thomas RB MIA - The Dolphins are on a bye this week, and Thomas is coming off of a mild concussion, but he could be a guy you can turn to for the remainder of the bye-weeks. Thomas gets limited carries in Miami, but Reggie Bush isn't the most sturdy back, and the 'Fins don't like him at the goal line. Thomas has found the red zone in half of the games he's played in, and been right around 40 yards in 3 of 4 games played. If he gets 10-12 touches a game, he could post 7-10 points each week moving forward.
Dexter McCluster RB/WR KC - McCluster is fully healthy and led the Chiefs in receptions last week against the Bucs. KC is on a bye this week, like Thomas, but if the Chiefs continue to downsize and check-down more, Dexter could benefit. Especially in PPR leagues, you have to like a guy who can pull in 6-7 catches for 40-50 yards a week with the ability to break a big play on every touch. We think McCluster should be owned in more than 9% of Y! leagues with his dual eligibility and tough bye weeks.
Andrew Hawkins WR CIN - Hawkins has clearly become the second fiddle to elite WR AJ Green in Cincy. Andy Dalton is gaining confidence in the pint-sized (5'7"!), receiver over the middle of the field. With Green drawing double-coverage plus, the middle of the field is wide open for Hawkins to run free. Consider that Hawkins has hauled in more than 4 passes a game and seems to be improving on that number, paired with his two touchdowns and serious big play ability. Hawkins is the anti Josh Gordon, with similar point potential. Grab Hawkins while he is still owned in less than 49% of leagues.
Joel Dreessen TE DEN - While Jacob Tamme is still a part of Denver's pass-first offense, Dreessen has helped the 13% of fantasy owners to at least 60 yards or a score in each of his past four games. Peyton Manning has been on fire of late as well, so leagues that can start two TE's, 12 and 14 team leagues, and owners looking for a bye-week fill in should be looking at Dreessen.
Joique Bell RB DET - We've been watching this McCluster/Sproles hybrid back for a couple of weeks now, after his 67 yard performance on just 9 touches against Tennessee. Bell has a few things going for him - the ability to make plays, his pass catching ability, and Jahvid Best being out the remainder of the season. Kevin Smith has been bumped to third string RB duties, and the Lions figure to keep Bell very involved in an effort to keep LeShoure fresh. The 12% Y! owned back has averages 4 yards per carry, and 14 yards per catch. Bell is at the very least a 4th or 5th RB for your squad.
Felix Jones RB DAL - Jones will be a very hot pickup this week, as DeMarco Murray went down with a sprained foot. The injury will cost Murray at least week 7, possibly more time. Jones filled in admirably for the 'Boys Sunday, amassing 92 yards and a score on 18 carries. Felix has been able to shoulder the load when healthy in his career, averaging 5.1 yards per carry in a little over 5 seasons. He is just two years removed from a 1250 yard season. Plug and play Jones
LaGarrette Blount RB TB - Blount has always been a hard-nosed grinder down in Tampa, and even has a 1000 yard rushing season under his belt. The Bucs want to let Doug Martin continue to grow, but also keep him fresh for early downs. Blount is the perfect compliment, and as coach Schiano has vowed to keep handing him the ball - especially at the goal line. Blount had 7 carries for 58 yards last week, and a score in two straight games, and could be a very serviceable bye week fill in for deeper leaguers. Blount should be good for 500 yards and a handful or scores the rest of the way.
Josh Gordon WR CLE - The 6'3" former team-mate of RGIII and Kendall Wright has speed for days and a pair of soft hands down the field. Fellow Browns rookie Brandon Weeden has been taking more deep shots, and Gordon is the primary recipient of such throws. Greg Little is working more as an across-the-field type of receiver, leaving the seam wide open for Gordon to exhibit his speed downfield. He's only been averaging 2 catches per game thus far, but has made the best of it with 2 60 yard+ TD scores and an average of 23 yards per reception. The 16% owned receiver should keep improving as the passes come his way more often, and should produce out of a bye week flex option moving forward. Think Torrey Smith lite.
Brandon Gibson WR StL - In the last week plus, with Amendola out, Gibson has caught 10 passes for 124 yards. That's good enough to warrant being rostered in many more than 22% of Y! leagues, especially those in PPR leagues. He is averaging a little over 3 catches and 40 yards per game this season, and those numbers should continue to increase. The St. Louis deep threat has now become the Rams #1 passing option, and 7-10 points a week at your flex spot during the bye weeks will certainly help.
Carson Palmer QB OAK - Palmer has been a moderate backup QB in deeper leagues this year, able to lend a hand with injuries and even a spot start here or there when the matchup warrants. Now is time to grab Palmer if you are a reluctant Vick owner or got stuck with Kolb or Cassel somehow. Palmer takes his 1400 yards and 6:3 TD:INT ratio into some very, very nice matchups - Jax, KC, TB, Bal, NO, Cincy - with all of his weapons in tact. Myers has been very reliable, Moore has been quietly having a nice season, and Heyward-Bey is back. Look for Palmer to be right up there with the top 12 fantasy QB's in the league over the next handful of weeks.
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Oak - If you are scouring the wire for a candidate to fill in during bye weeks, or need a 3/4 WR, then take a peek and see if DHB is available - he is on the wire in 50% of leagues currently. We just picked him up in one of our leagues over the likes of Mario Manningham, Devery Henderson, Domenick Hixon, Brandon Gibson, Greg Little, and Santana Moss. If you have been bitten by the injury bug (Holmes, Jeffery, Amendola, Benson, Williams), or have a FLEX spot to fill in the coming weeks Bey could be your man. Coming off of a mild concussion in week 3, DHB has been cleared for contact this week. While it may be a week or two before he really gets going, the Raiders have already had a bye week, and play in some tasty matchups down the stretch. Bey is a starting WR (unlike some of the aforementioned), can catch the ball (unlike some of the above listed), and his team will certainly be throwing a lot. Grab Heyward-Bey in your 10 team+ leagues, as he continues to improve each season. 800 yards and a few scores the rest of the way is not unreasonable here.
Scott Chandler TE Buf - If you have a TE bye week coming up or your league allows a TE in the FLEX spot, Chandler is a great option available in 51% of Y! leagues. He has put up at least 6 points in 4/5 weeks, and at least 10 points in 3/5 weeks thus far. The Bills play some defenses in the coming weeks that struggle to cover the TE, and they also play some games where they will be throwing a lot. Grab the 6'7" Fitzpatrick target while you can, so you aren't forced into using M. Lewis, D. Clark, or A. Fasano during your bye weeks.
Alex Green/James Starks RB GB - Call me crazy, but I think the Benson injury forces the Packers into getting back into running the ball more. Jordy Nelson has been whiffing on passes a lot, Greg Jennings is continuously injured, and I just don't see James Jones carrying this offense on his back. Both Green and Starks are not full time lead backs, but they have both shown great vision upfield and the ability to take a hit and turn positive yardage in their brief live-game action. Both players should be available in your league. Grab either and stash them until we see who does what in Green Bay. Green looked really good on the handful of carries he received in Indy, and if both backs get 12-15 touches a game on this offense, you could be in for a treat.
Matt Hasslebeck QB Ten - If you were hoping that guys like Bradford, Freeman, Locker, Cassel, Kolb, Wilson or Gabbert, would be your bye week savior for cheap at this point, well, I'm sorry. Injuries and generally poor play have bogged down the values of several QB's to this point. Arizona has no running game left, Amendola is out, Locker and Cassel are injured, and Russel Wilson is simply not playing up to par in Seattle. Old man Hasselbeck plays a Thursday Night game vs. a Pit D that gives up 200 yards and 2 scores a game to opposing QB's. With Kenny Britt back, look for the senior to put up a stat line similar to that. I'll go out on a limb and say 225 yards, 2 scores, and a pick. You could do much worst than 19 points from your backup QB.
Week four provided most owners with some ridiculously high scoring games that included a 52 point showing for the Patriots, 34 points for the Bears on MNF, and 37 points for the Chargers. Green Bay and New Orleans posted seven touchdowns, and there were some high point totals even for several defenses including SD, Cincy, and Miami. We hope that you had the right guys playing, as in my two personal leagues, there were some very high scoring, but very close outcomes. Some of my mentions as last minute add's and hot pickups really helped out teams that took note as to what I was writing about. 7% owned Andre Roberts posted a monster 6-118-2 line after I said a 5-70-1 line could help your team as a last minute pick-up. Jackie Battle put up 81 total yards and two scores and has been named the Chargers starting back after we mentioned him last week as a hot pickup for week 4. And James Jones went off for 5-56-2 the week that PFS put him on blast. We don't always get it right, and in fact, we don't always follow through with our own advice (we missed out on Roberts and Jones in our leagues), but we aim to make a calculated guess that can help you win games each week. If you are on the edge about a breakout player, or need help deciding who to grab off of the wire in your league, then keep reading. Post feedback. And let us know about your championship team come January.
Brandon Bolden RB NE - If you know Bill Belichick at all, you know that each offensive player on the Patriots is just a piece to a weekly puzzle. He micromanages matchups, game plans, and schemes to help give New England the advantage on the field. While this can mean good things for Patriots fans, it may not mean the same to fantasy owners. Bolden is an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi just like old friend Ben Jarvis Green Ellis, and seems to share very similar qualities - which fits perfectly into the Patriots schemes. Bolden broke out last week against the Bills with over 100 yards rushing and a score, even though he was technically the 4th back on the depth chart. I don't think that BB likes Vereen all that much, and Woodhead is merely a third-down-and-long type of back. Grab Bolden while you still can - and hope for the best, which could mean a starting gig at some point in the Pats high powered offense. You could be laughing all the way to the bank by week 8 with Bolden.
Jerome Simpson WR Min - Simpson came back in week 4 after a three game suspension for substance abuse to the tune of 4-50-0 for Minnesota. Remember this is a guy who is one season removed from a 50-725-4 campaign playing second fiddle to AJ Green in Cincy. I like what Christian Ponder is capable of, and with AP healthy and Harvin and Rudolph both stepping up, Simpson could be free to match his numbers from a season ago in three fewer games. Owned in just 26% of Y! leagues, Simpson is a great pick up for those let down by Ramses Barden and Kevin Ogletree, or as a fill in for Megatron, Burleson, or Vincent Jackson. Strike before this iron heats up.
Steven Hill WR NYJ - Hill is more of a speculative add in my book, as the 6'4" rookie out of Georgia Tech will most certainly be called upon to fill in for the injured Santonio Holmes in New York. We will see how he handles double coverages in the red zone in the coming weeks, and the quarterback situation in NY is murky at best, but Hill will most certainly get some looks with the first team offense. Probably best utilized as a bench receiver at the moment, Hill is a candidate to break out at any moment with the way things have shaped up for the Jets. At least put this guy on your watch list for now.
David Wilson RB NYG - While we all know that Wilson has been in coach Coughlins dog house after a week one fumble, we also know that Andre Brown and Ahmad Bradshaw are not the most durable backs in the NFL. Wilson has shown crazy explosiveness on return duty, and there is certainly a reason the Giants spent a first round pick on the rookie back out of Virginia Tech. Grab the 18% owned running back if you have the room on your roster and avoid using a waiver claim when he finally does break out.
Vincent Brown WR SD - Brown is on track to join the Chargers from his broken ankle when scheduled in week 7, so this is a player to watch in deeper leagues. Brown was on track to take over the starting receiver gig vacated by Vincent Jackson, so the team clearly has big plans for him. I see him as being an upgrade over Robert Meachem when healthy as the teams third receiving option behind Gates and Floyd. Rivers is a good enough quarterback to get him the ball regularly, so Brown could be a valuable option down the stretch. Put Brown on your watch list and be ready to pounce when he joins the team. This is a guy who recorded 17 first downs on his 19 catches as a rookie last season as the Chargers fourth option in the passing game.
Ryan Tannehill QB Mia - Tannehill is owned in just 8% of Y! leagues as a rookie this year, but I like him more than several QB's who are owned in more leagues than him - Locker, Tebow, Sanchez, Cassel, and possibly even Carson Palmer. If you are in a two QB league, or are dealing with the bye week blues and injuries, take a peek at the rookie QB out of Texas A&M, as the 'Fins didn't use the 8th overall pick on him for no reason. The Dolphins will certainly struggle to put up points this year, but they also play some pretty bad pass D's the rest of the way. Add to that the fact that guys like Brian Hartline and Devone Bess have really stepped it up, and Reggie Bush is a great checkdown option out of the backfield for the rookie. Tannehill is most definitely not a weekly starting option, but won't necessarily hurt you with 200 yards and a couple of scores each game. He will only get better with this offense as he learns the ins and outs of the NFL. He has already made Hartline a star with his arm.