This will be one of the more interesting weeks in many leagues. Six more teams are on bye this week including Peyton Manning and the Broncos passing game as well as top wide receivers Calvin Johnson, Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald. Throw in another week of injuries, some season-ending, and this should be a busy week on the waiver wire and potentially the trading front. With the second half of the fantasy season officially here, playoff races are starting to take shape. If your team is leading the pack, it’s time to take stock of your playoff matchups and see if you like what you see. If you have concerns, don’t be afraid to make some moves that might not pay off until crunch time arrives. Making trades in fantasy is often all about timing, and there are more than a few very enticing sell-high options this week. Take a look around and see who needs help this week to cover a bye or injury and see if you have any depth that they can use. I like to open the lines of communication with as many owners as I can this time of year, just to make sure they at least think of me if they are looking to trade or receive offers from other owners and want to gauge the rest of the market. Often the best deals I end up making are initiated by an e-mail or text from someone asking what I think of an offer someone else sent them. So do yourself a favor this week and fire off a few e-mails to your league-mates. You never know what the response will be.
Bye Weeks: Broncos, Lions, Giants, 49ers, Cardinals, Jaguars
Jake Locker, TEN – We recommended deep-leaguers take a look at Locker last week since he was on bye and would be a cheap pickup to stash at the end of your bench. This week, he’s my top pickup, assuming Terrelle Pryor isn’t available in your league, to get you through the bye week and bolster your backup spot the rest of the way. Locker has played very well this year and gets one of the best schedules of any quarterback in the league going forward.
Jason Campbell, CLE – We gave the veteran Campbell an obligatory mention last week, but kind of dismissed him due to what looked like a lousy matchup against the Chiefs. He was quicker in his decision making and much more mobile than Brandon Weeden, and should have the job as long as he stays healthy. He should be a solid option for two-quarterback leagues with Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon to throw to.
Case Keenum, HOU – Gary Kubiak is going to stick with the rookie Keenum for at least another week. While the aggressive Colts defense will provide a test, the Texans are at home, and Keenum has the weapons to make some plays. He remains a reasonable play this week in two-quarterback leagues.
Josh McCown, CHI – McCown’s presence on the list speaks more to the talent around him than it does to the player himself. Hopefully, the bye week will allow Marc Trestman to open things up a bit this week against the Packers at Lambeau. I’d rather take a chance on the Bears QB than some other veteran names out there this week.
Week 8 Updates
Andy Dalton, CIN – I offered my mea culpa on Dalton last week after back-to-back strong games and then he went out and flat out dominated the Jets, tossing a career-high five touchdowns for another monster performance. He will try to keep it going this week against the Dolphins on the road.
Terrelle Pryor, OAK – If the multi-dimensional Pryor is available, he would be my top target as he has been many times this season. A meeting with the Eagles defense sets him up for another nice fantasy weekend.
Nick Foles, PHI – Michael Vick didn’t make it through his first game back and has already been ruled out for Week 9. If Foles gets cleared from his concussion, he’ll get the start and will look to put his nightmare game against the Cowboys behind him. I don’t blame anyone for not biting this apple twice, but it should be a lot cheaper to take a chance this time around.
Andre Brown, NYG /Shane Vereen, NE – We talked about both of these injured running backs last week, and that will likely continue until they finally make their way back onto the field and into fantasy lineups. Brown should return first, after the Giants bye in Week 10, with Vereen slated for Week 11. Brown has a little more immediate value, as he will return to a backfield with only Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jacobs standing in the way. He will immediately be given the chance to be the workhorse back the offense has been starved for. Vereen will slide back into his third down/hurry-up role in the Patriots offense and showed in his one start this year what that can translate to. Both backs need to be owned heading into the second half and while they were likely stashed in deeper leagues, the window for locking them up in shallow leagues is just about closed.
Daryl Richardson, STL – We are still waiting for definitive news on Zac Stacy’s ankle injury, which came near the end of a breakout performance against a normally stout Seahawks defense. Former starter Richardson would benefit for as long as Stacy is out and can be picked back up this week in any leagues where he was cut as a potential one-week fill-in and/or Stacy insurance going forward.
Montee Ball, DEN – It took eight games, but the heralded rookie finally found the end-zone for the first time last week. With Ronnie Hillman in the doghouse for now and the Broncos easing back on Knowshon Moreno’s workload a bit, Ball could have some flex value in deeper leagues as long as he is getting consistent goal-line and late-game work.
Ray Graham, HOU – We mentioned Graham last week, and the very real chance that he gets the start this week for the Texans makes him worthy of a flier in really deep leagues, especially as insurance for any Foster or Tate owners out there.
C.J. Anderson, DEN – I have been waiting for the right time to write about Anderson this year, and after he made his first appearance of the year last week, now is that chance. The Broncos obviously liked something about this kid, since they elected to keep him on the roster despite a knee injury suffered in pre-season. Anyone who gets touches in the Broncos offense is on the fantasy radar, so monitor the situation. Dynasty leaguers might want to take a stab.
Week 8 Updates
Andre Ellington, ARI – Bruce Arians finally put the ball in Ellington’s hands more than a handful of times, and thanks in part to an 80-yard touchdown run, he finally had a day to remember with 162 total yards. He is an obvious sell-high candidate after his performance as you want to try and cash in, but he should reward anyone who stuck with him. If he somehow got cut after his lousy Week 8, he’s the top option regardless of position this week.
Mike James, TAM – We weren’t that high on James last week mainly due to the price it was going to cost to roster him in most leagues. He was workmanlike a week ago and faces another tough test this week against the Seahawks.
Fozzy Whittaker, CLE – The “Waka-Waka” references were flying last week after Whittaker scored on a nifty little pass from Campbell. He only saw two targets in the passing game, so don’t go grabbing him just yet.
Marvin Jones, CIN – It goes without saying that Jones’ 4 touchdown, 122-yard day will make him one of the hottest pickups in all leagues this week. He was already on the radar after scoring the previous two weeks, but now everyone will be looking to get a share of him, and he may not be worth the inflated price tag this week. While he has emerged as a rock solid red-zone target, he only plays in three-wide sets at the moment, limiting his upside in PPR leagues. He’s definitely worth owning everywhere, but if I had speculated prior to this week, I would be looking to sell off of the ridiculous Week 8.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, IND – Heyward-Bey was the number two name on the list last week, and he’s there again this week coming off the bye. He’s going to see an increase in targets going forward and that alone will make him a volume play for desperate owners thin at the position. He’s more suited to PPR leagues, but worth owning in hopes that Andrew Luck looks his way more often.
Kendall Wright and Nate Washington, TEN – It’s time to get on board with the Titans offense because some nice results are coming in the second half. Wright has more value in PPR leagues and Washington could get hot again now that Jake Locker is back under center. I grabbed Washington last week in a league where he was dropped with an eye to this week’s plus matchup against the Rams secondary.
Lance Moore, NO – Moore made it back onto the field last week and promptly found his way back into the end zone. His usage should continue to increase and with Marques Colston struggling and Jimmy Graham hobbled, Drew Brees will likely start looking his way “moore” often. He is potential starting material in deeper formats and worth grabbing to see if he can rekindle some of last year’s magic with Brees.
Drew Davis, ATL – I didn’t list Davis last week even though he was clearly playing nearly every down for the injury-ravaged Falcons. Last week he saw seven targets and delivered 77 yards and a touchdown. He should fade back into the background whenever Roddy White returns to action, but until that happens, Davis has some value in deep leagues.
Mike Brown, JCK – I have resisted listing the Jaguars number three man, but he is taking advantage of the nagging injuries to Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon to carve out his own role in the offense. He is making the most of the opportunity and the Jags are running more three-wide sets than just about anyone, since they are in comeback mode by the second quarter almost every week.
Tiquan Underwood, TAM – Underwood is the new number two receiver for the Bucs with Mike Williams done for the year. With Vincent Jackson guaranteeing double coverage, Underwood has some upside in really deep leagues, but take a wait-and-see approach before considering inserting him into your lineup.
Rishard Matthews, MIA – The season-ending injury to Brandon Gibson moves Matthews up the ladder and into the number three spot in the lineup which at least gets him into the conversation in deeper leagues. Gibson was getting a lot of goal-line looks lately, so it will be interesting to see if the second-year receiver can take advantage of the opportunity.
Week 8 Updates
Kenny Stills, NO – We highlighted Stills as a stash candidate back in Week 7, and the boom/bust deep-threat for the Saints hit pay-dirt twice last weekend, hauling in two long passes for touchdowns against the Bills and demonstrating his upside. With so many teams on bye this week, it may be worth giving the rookie another run, but just realize the risk involved if no deep balls come his way.
Nate Burleson – Burleson is slated to return in Week 10 and will slide back into his role opposite Calvin Johnson. He was putting up decent PPR numbers prior to his injury.
Coby Fleener, IND – It is possible that Fleener, who was on bye last week, is floating around on more than a few waiver wires this week. We had him on the list last week as a speculative add in hopes that he could emerge as more of a focal point in the wake of Reggie Wayne’s injury. The upside here is big enough that he needs to be owned in hopes that a second half surge starts this week.
Timothy Wright, TAM – Wright has been locked on the list the last three weeks, since he emerged as the Bucs primary option at TE. He bounced back from a down week with a 5/48/1 line against the Panthers and is poised to see even more targets going forward now that Mike Williams is done for the year. He’s a sneaky pickup this week for anyone looking to cover a bye or play for some upside.
Scott Chandler, BUF – Chandler had his most productive day of the season, from a PPR standpoint, catching seven passes on eleven targets for 72 yards. He actually could be busy enough against a tough Chiefs defense to merit a bye-week play.
Joel Dreessen, DEN – The veteran Dreessen is on the radar with the ankle injury sustained by Julius Thomas. It looks like Thomas avoided a high-ankle sprain and could be back after the bye, but Dreessen is more than capable of picking up the slack if he is pressed into action.
Week 8 Updates
Jordan Reed, WAS – Last week’s waiver poster boy followed up his breakout Week 7 with another solid game, catching eight passes for 90 yards. The targets are going to keep on coming, and the schedule going forward should keep him firmly locked in as a TE1 the rest of the way.
Ben Watson, NO – Watson did his best to fill in for Graham between the 20’s, catching three passes for 45 yards. He’s not going to get much red-zone love and Lance Moore caps his upside as a spot starter.
Colts – The Colts defense has shown the ability to get to the quarterback and create turnovers and gets to take their shots at a rookie quarterback making his second start, potentially with a crippled running game.
Raiders – The Raiders have been a solid plug-n-play defense all year, and they get a reeling Eagles team that will have either Nick Foles, coming back from a disastrous start and a concussion, or turnover-prone Matt Barkley under center. If Barkley gets the start, then this unit is a must-start.
Titans – The Titans have had some nice weeks against lousy teams, and the Rams will be without their best weapon in Zac Stacy. Kellen Clemens is not a good NFL quarterback. Expect a solid outing for the Titans this week.
Adam Vinatieri, IND – Vinatieri has been on a roll of late, and coming off a bye he’s the guy to target this week for a Colts offense that could have some red-zone hiccups without Reggie Wayne in the lineup.
Last week was an absolutely brutal one for injuries, headlined by the potential season-ending injuries to significant players at all four skills positions. Doug Martin, Reggie Wayne, Sam Bradford and Jermichael Finley could all be done for the season, and those injuries coupled with six teams on bye this week will make for one of the more interesting and action-packed weeks of bidding we have seen all year. It will definitely not be a week to be shy with your bids if you want to land a difference-maker or try to fill a newly created void in your lineup.
Bye Weeks: Ravens, Bears, Colts, Chargers, Titans, Texans
Andy Dalton, CIN – I kind of buried Dalton in Week 5 coming off his dismal performance against the Browns. After two straight weeks putting up big numbers, he’s worked his way back up the QB2 ladder and can once again be trusted to put up numbers when the matchup is right. After this week’s game against the Jets, he has plenty of nice games on the schedule, including a juicy matchup against the Vikings in Week 16.
Jake Locker, TEN - Locker wasn’t expected to be back on the field prior to the team’s Week 8 bye, and it speaks to his toughness that he made it back from his hip injury in three weeks. It is a godsend for the fantasy prospects of the entire offense, as the Titans have a dream schedule the rest of the way, culminating in a Week 16 matchup against the Jaguars. He is a good target for those in deeper leagues who want to bolster their QB depth heading into the second half.
Josh McCown, CHI – Jay Cutler tore his groin and will miss at least four weeks, which means McCown has the gig for at least a month. The Bears have a bye, and then go to Lambeau to face the Packers before returning home to face the Lions and Ravens. McCown should put up some numbers thanks to his supporting cast, but those in shallow leagues don’t need to take the chance.
Case Keenum, HOU – I mentioned T.J. Yates last week and then the Texans surprise by handing the keys of the offense to the undrafted Keenum, who stepped in and gave the team a spark against a very tough Kansas City defense. He will get another start after the bye, and has a better than 50% chance to relegate Matt Schaub to the bench for the rest of the season. That’s enough to pick him up in all two-quarterback leagues.
Jason Campbell, CLE – Brandon Weeden’s weekly play is dragging down the entire Browns team, and amplifying the magnitude of the Brian Hoyer injury on the season. The team may opt to turn to the veteran Campbell this week. It doesn’t really matter, since you aren’t starting either of these guys this week against Kansas City.
Kellen Clemens, STL – Sam Bradford’s knee injury makes Clemens the starter, so two-quarterback leaguers can stake a claim. It’s a big downgrade for the Rams' entire offense.
Week 7 Update
Nick Foles, PHI – I will admit, I gambled on Foles in three leagues last week, and luckily it only cost me more than some FAAB in one of them. There is no way to sugarcoat things, he stunk up the joint before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Opportunity can be fleeting, and Michael Vick won’t be losing this job just yet. We likely haven’t heard the last of Foles this year, so those in really deep leagues can carry him if they like, primarily as Vick insurance.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill came through for anyone who plugged him in last week as the Bills defense provided the impetus needed for him to post the first three TD game of his young career. The funny thing is, overall, it was one of his more shaky performances of the year. The schedule gets tougher, so if he was a one-week fling, don’t feel bad for not calling him back this week. That said, with six teams on bye, he has value this week for anyone looking to cover for Andrew Luck or Philip Rivers.
Mike Glennon, TB –Glennon fared pretty well against the Falcons but gets the Panthers and the Seahawks the next two weeks. We’ll check back in Week 10.
Josh Freeman, MIN – We weren’t expecting much out of Freeman in his first game back, but we didn’t expect him to be as bad as he looked on Monday night. It was so bad that Vikings fans actually would have been happy to see Christian Ponder take over at halftime. It will get better, but Freeman can’t be trusted until he gets up to speed again.
Mike James, TAM – Doug Martin’s shoulder injury is potentially season-ending, although the team is still holding out hope that isn’t the case. Mike James becomes the feature back for as long as Martin is sidelined, and that will make him a highly sought player on waivers this week. James was a sixth round choice out of Miami in this year’s draft, and has a nice combination of size (5’10”, 225) and speed, and can catch passes if asked to. He’s worth a pickup for sure, but it’s hard to see him faring any better than Martin was previously. Not sure he’s worth spending big on unless you really need the help.
Chris Ivory, NYJ – I had Ivory buried a little too low on last week’s list, and admit that I was as shocked as everyone else that Rex Ryan decided to hand him the ball 34 times last week against the Patriots. It was obvious he was going to get more work in the wake of Mike Goodson’s season-ending injury, and his style of running fit the game plan. While it is nice to know that he is back in the backfield mix, Bilal Powell should normally get more work. But Ivory is going to likely get the goal-line touches going forward and should have a weekly floor to make him a comfortable flex play.
Roy Helu, WAS – We have been talking about Helu often here as one of the few must-have handcuffs who was carving out some stand-alone PPR value. Last week he scored three touchdowns, so his ownership is due for an appropriate spike. Alfred Morris owners shouldn’t panic, but Helu has now entered flex territory as long as he remains a key part of the team’s no-huddle package.
Andre Brown, NYG – Brown is on track to rejoin the team as soon as he is eligible in Week 10. David Wilson is on the shelf indefinitely and Brandon Jacobs isn’t the answer. Brown should be the feature back and showed a real nose for the end-zone last year. He’s likely stashed in deeper leagues, but he should be scooped up anywhere he is still available.
Shane Vereen, NE – Vereen’s situation is very similar to Brown’s, as he should be back from his wrist injury when he is eligible in Week 11. With the bye weeks hitting us in force, Vereen and Brown may get dropped by an owner who needs the roster spot. I landed Vereen last week in a league for nothing. I like Brown a little more in standard formats, as Vereen will definitely share duties with Stevan Ridley. I will give Vereen the edge in PPR, since his prowess as a receiver gives him tremendous upside there.
Peyton Hillis, NYG - Hillis didn’t look very good on Monday night, but he did grind out some tough yards and found the endzone, so if Brandon Jacobs doesn’t make it back from his hamstring injury, Hillis could get one more week of carries against the Eagles.
Donald Brown, IND – The fact that Donald Brown got as many touches as Trent Richardson last week really shows how badly the latter has been since the Colts traded for him. The team doesn’t want to use Brown this much, but they have no choice with T-Rich struggling so much.
Daniel Thomas, MIA – The continued struggles of Lamar Miller finally opened the door for Thomas to claim a split of the workload, and since Thomas actually technically drew the start, it looks like the team will continue to split carries for the time being. Thomas now has some flex appeal in standard formats, since he could hog any goal-line looks that materialize.
Ray Graham, HOU – Graham is a name for really deep leagues to monitor at this point in the wake of the Texans releasing rookie Cierre Wood for allegedly smoking marijuana in the team hotel. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are both banged up, so Graham could find himself active at some point in the near future.
Fozzy Whittaker, CLE – I had to include the newest addition to the Browns backfield on his entertaining handle alone, but the fact is he stole much of Chris Ogbonnaya’s workload in his first game, and could usurp the third-down duties for the Browns.
Week 7 Update
Joseph Randle, DAL – Randle’s day would have looked a lot better if Phillip Tanner hadn’t vultured a touchdown, and with DeMarco Murray likely sidelined for at least another week, last week’s waiver darling should continue to hold down the fort.
Andre Ellington, ARI – Only Bruce Arians knows why Ellington only got three touches last week. It of course came in a week where owners might have finally gotten the courage to start him and clouds the picture heading into this week. I was hoping to deal him in a league I own him in, and now those plans are predictably on hold.
Shonn Greene, TEN – Greene finally made it back to the field last week, but saw little action in his first week back. He should start to see some goal-line work again after a bye this week.
Jarrett Boykin, GB – Boykin was third on the list last week behind Keenan Allen and Harry Douglas, but with the other two already owned in many leagues, he was the top option for many last week. Those who speculated on him had to be pleased with his 8/103/1 line, and he will continue to see significant targets with Jermichael Finley joining Cobb on the sidelines. He should be grabbed in even shallower formats now, as he’ll still see plenty of action even after James Jones returns to the lineup.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, IND – Heyward-Bey had his best game of the season by far, thanks to the loss of Reggie Wayne. The enigmatic Bey is not suddenly going to get new hands, but his snaps and targets are due for a major bump, unless the Colts swing another trade this week. The extra volume alone should be enough to make him start-worthy again.
Kendall Wright, TEN – I haven’t given Wright too much ink this year, but he has been a very steady PPR option and is coming off his best game of the year. His nine catches were a season-high and he was clearly Locker’s favorite target all day. He’ll benefit from the same easy schedule and could finally be on the verge of really breaking out with Locker back under center. His lack of touchdowns is all that is holding him back from every-week status.
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU – The move to Case Keenum was a blessing for Hopkins, who found the endzone for the first time since his breakout Week 2. He may have been jettisoned by an impatient owner, and if so he’s worth adding to the back of your bench.
LaVon Brazill, IND – Brazill gets his first mention of the year, since he will now be pressed into action with Reggie Wayne lost for the year. The Colts lack of a running game has put the onus on Andrew Luck and the passing game to lead the way, so the speedy Brazill should get a chance to earn a larger role. If the Colts don’t trade for a WR, then he will be next in line if Heyward-Bey struggles or more injuries strike.
Cole Beasley, DAL – Beasley is a fun player to root for, and has taken advantage of Miles Austin’s injuries to show what he can do out of the slot. He has some PPR value as long as he’s seeing consistent playing time.
Kenny Britt, TEN – I will throw Britt’s name out there, because although this has been a lost season so far, there is a very real chance he gets traded to a contender this week, and if that happens he’ll be worth owning again. If not, throw him back next week.
Week 7 Update
Harry Douglas, ATL – Douglas got the obligatory write-ups the last two weeks, since it was clear he was going to be an everyday player thanks to Julio Jones’ injury. While I did predict a ton of targets coming his way, I was conservative in my enthusiasm. Well, after catching all seven of the passes thrown his way last week to the tune of 149 yards and a touchdown, I will tip my cap to Douglas and since I own Matt Ryan in a few leagues, hope that he can continue to catch what’s thrown his way.
Riley Cooper, PHI – Cooper had another decent week, but he was doing nothing when Michael Vick was the quarterback, and with the former back you might want to try to trade Cooper before he reverts back to a pumpkin by Halloween.
Brandon LaFell, CAR – We warned that LaFell wasn’t as good as his Week 6 performance indicated and he predictably fell back to earth last week. If you chased those stats last week, feel free to speculate somewhere else.
Jordan Reed, WAS – We have written Jordan Reed up every week since Week 4, culminating in last week’s edition where he was again our top ranked TE, and we stated that all that was missing was the breakout game to get him picked up everywhere. When you write a column like this, the goal is to offer interesting, sound and hopefully prescient advice, and it is gratifying when you nail one. It also illustrates the benefit you can get from not being afraid to churn your bench for players who could be on the verge of something, because when you hit on a player like Reed, and get the bonus of grabbing him a week or two early, it can really make your season. I hope you found room for him prior to his breakout, because after his nine catch, 134-yard, one touchdown day he will be one of the most highly sought players this week. Unfortunately, you will have to break the bank to get him now. If you have been struggling at the position, Reed should still be worth the significant investment as he looks like an ascendant TE1 going forward.
Coby Fleener, IND – In the leagues where I grabbed Reed last week, I cut Fleener to do it both times, trading one exciting youngster for another. His lack of production the previous two weeks likely had many owners cutting bait. Fleener will see even more targets now that Wayne is done, and once again looks poised to make a run at being an every-week option.
Rob Housler, ARZ – Housler has been getting more touches lately and at least is back on the TE2 radar. If he can maintain his current usage, then he is a reasonable option to get you through a bye week.
Brandon Bostick, GB – Most people will zero in on Andrew Quarless as the player to take over for Finley in Green Bay. But Bostick is the guy for deep-leaguers to consider, since he is more suited to emerge as the pass-catching TE.
Week 7 Update
Tim Wright, TB – Wright fizzled a bit last week with only two catches for 16 yards, but his role as the top TE for the Bucs hasn’t changed.
Kai Forbath, WAS – The Washington offense is coming back to life and their lack of a defense is creating high scoring affairs and as such, plenty of opportunities for their kicker. This week’s game against the Broncos at altitude gives Forbath some extra allure.
Phil Dawson, SF – Dawson’s season hasn’t been what many had hoped for, but he’s been busier of late and Jacksonville is a good time to plug him back in.
Carolina Panthers – The Panthers defense continues to produce and as such they will find their way into even more lineups this week. Tampa Bay just lost Doug Martin and will try to regroup by Thursday. Carolina could shut them down on a short week.
By now, you have heard the devastating news that Julio Jones will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with a foot injury. There will be nothing for his owners to do but grin and bear it, and try to find someone to plug into the lineup to try and replace some of what the explosive Jones brought to your lineup. There is no way to replace a second-round talent, but if you had been constantly churning the back-end of your roster, always looking to improve your depth, you just might have an Alshon Jeffery on hand to at least make it sting a little less. There are a couple more wideouts to take a chance on, so get to work and figure out who to bid on this week. On the bright side of the fantasy ledger, those owners who have been waiting for TE Rob Gronkowski to finally return to the field will finally get their wish this week. Tom Brady shares in your joy and elation.
Week 6 Byes: Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins
Brandon Weeden, CLE – The season-ending injury to Brian Hoyer hands the keys of the offense back to Weeden, likely for the rest of the season. While the former first-round pick showed the rust from his time missed due to his thumb injury early in last week’s victory against the Bills, he did settle in as the game progressed and flashed some of his deep-ball skills, including a nifty 37-yard TD strike to Josh Gordon. Weeden still held onto the ball too long, stared down his receivers and took unnecessary sacks, and while he lacks the decisiveness of Hoyer, his cannon arm is a better fit for Norv Turner’s vertical offense. While he is not a guy you want to ever force into your lineup, with the weapons at his disposal and a lack of a consistent running game, Weeden is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues as a bye week/injury replacement.
Nick Foles, PHI – We recommended Foles as a deep-league stash candidate for multiple weeks, because it was never really a question of if Michael Vick would get injured, merely a matter of when and for how long. So if you are a Vick owner, hopefully you have him on hand to get you through the next few weeks. Foles showed that he can handle Chip Kelly’s offense, even if he doesn’t bring the same dynamic element to it that Vick can with his rushing ability. He has a tough matchup in Tampa Bay this week, but he is worth picking up anyway in case Vick’s injury lingers.
Chad Henne, JCK – We welcome Henne back to the report this week, as he will start in place of the injured Blaine Gabbert for the next couple weeks, and potentially longer. Henne is no great shakes, but as we have written previously, he has shown that he can put up numbers in this offense. He is kind of an intriguing desperation plug-and-play option this week against the Broncos, since garbage time should come pretty early in that contest. He’s worth grabbing in deeper leagues for bye week depth.
Josh Freeman, MIN – Freeman was signed by the Vikings this week, and since they are paying him more than either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel, it’s only a matter of time before he takes over as the starter. It won’t happen this week, but Week 7 seems likely. He has some upside in this offense, with Adrian Peterson to take the heat off him. At the very least, he should be able to breathe some fantasy life into all of the receivers on the roster once he takes over. He is definitely worth a stash in two-quarterback leagues at the very least.
Thaddeus Lewis, BUF – The knee injury to starter E.J. Manuel will keep him out multiple weeks and is a serious blow to the Bills' passing offense overall. Jeff Tuel was completely overmatched in relief of Manuel, so the team has promoted Lewis off their practice squad to start this week against the Bengals. Owners of Manuel in two-quarterback leagues can grab Lewis, but be aware that the offense will likely be scaled down significantly.
Week 5 Update
Mike Glennon, TB – Glennon didn’t really impress in his first start, turning the ball over three times, but if you are looking for some bye week help in two-quarterback leagues, the matchup with the Eagles at least gives him some decent upside for one week.
Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Pryor proved again that he is going to continue to be a solid matchup play all year, and as he continues to mature, he could make a case for being an every-week starter. With Kansas City and a Week 7 bye coming up, his ownership will likely still remain too low, but coming out of the bye he could get on a nice roll that could make him an every-week starter when all is said and done.
Zac Stacy, STL – My advice to drop Isaiah Pead outright last week prompted one of our readers, Tybs, to advocate on his behalf, and at least got me to mention Stacy, even if it was in the comments section. He took advantage of the date with the Jaguars to rush for 78 yards on 14 carries, before exiting with a rib injury. He should be okay to go this week, and should be able to hang onto his role as the lead back in the Rams' committee. Daryl Richardson will slide into the number two slot. If Stacy wasn’t grabbed yet, he should be owned in all leagues, just be warned the schedule (@Hou, @Car, Sea, Ten) is pretty brutal the next few weeks. Stacy should be able to manage flex-worthy stats, just don’t go expecting miracles.
Andre Ellington, ARZ – Ellington keeps moving up the list each and every week as he keeps eating into Rashard Mendenhall’s workload. The coaching staff saying that they want to cap his workload at current levels may keep some from buying in, but I just don’t see how they will be able to keep him on the sidelines if they actually want to try and win some games. He is still best suited to PPR leagues, but if he can work his way up to 15-20 touches a week, he’ll be an asset in all leagues.
Marcel Reece, OAK – We targeted Reece as a stash in Week 4 in anticipation of the impending Darren McFadden injury, and it actually came right on cue. Of course, Reece got banged up in the same game, making Rashad Jennings a hot pickup last week. Jennings pulled his own hamstring last week and McFadden isn’t expected back this week either. That opens the door for Reece to step in and do what he does when given the chance, produce really decent PPR numbers, regardless of matchups. He might not carry a ton of long-term value, but if you are in a jam this week, he is worth the gamble.
Roy Helu, WAS – We are going to mention Helu again this week, despite the fact that Alfred Morris is expected to return from his rib injury. Regardless, Helu is worth hanging onto if you have him, or even grabbing in case Morris suffers a setback in practice this week. His expanding role as the third-down back makes him a decent flex gamble in PPR leagues, as Morris may not be ready for a full workload in his first game back.
Brandon Bolden, NE – Bolden caught six passes for 40 yards last week and also dropped an easy pass that would have added to those numbers. He is locked into his pass catching role, and should be on the field a lot in the game against the Saints.
Shonn Greene, TEN – Greene is slated to make his debut in Week 6, and if he does he will immediately become the short-yardage back for the Titans. He will be a desperation flex most weeks, but if he runs well he could begin to eat into Chris Johnson’s carries down the road.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR – I will likely keep listing Stewart until he makes it back in Week 7. He continues to make progress, and when he makes it back will get a chance to try and add some life to the Panthers offense.
Donald Brown, IND – The season-ending injury to Ahmad Bradshaw has resuscitated the value of Brown, who now is the clear backup to Trent Richardson. In fact, he has looked better than the guy they just traded a number one pick for, even stealing, and converting, a goal-line carry last week. At the very least, he has a chance to retain last week’s share of the workload and is worth owning now that he is only a Richardson injury away from being a solid every-week starter.
Da’Rel Scott, NYG – David Wilson doesn’t look like he will be able to suit up for this Thursday’s game against Chicago. Scott was re-signed and will see plenty of snaps if that is the case. Just don’t expect him to do much with them. You’d have to be pretty desperate or in a very large league to need to rely on Scott this week.
Week 5 Update
Danny Woodhead, SD – Woodhead had another very good PPR performance last week with nine catches for 58 yards and another TD. It’s time for PPR owners to stick him in their lineups and enjoy the ride.
Keenan Allen, SD – Allen kind of got buried in last week’s report, but we were right in our take that he had the opportunity to emerge as the primary outside threat in this offense. In a breakout performance, Allen played every snap and hauled in six passes for 115 yards and a TD. He also had another touchdown overturned on a replay. One look at the team’s upcoming schedule (Ind, @Jac, bye, @Was, Den) and you will see that the stage is set for him to be a real difference maker the next few weeks. If you just lost Julio Jones, this could be the guy who could help you survive that potentially crippling blow. He’s my top target this week, regardless of position.
Rueben Randle, NYG – Hopefully you followed my advice to hang onto Rueben Randle through his lean weeks. He took advantage of the attention Victor Cruz got last week to the tune of six catches, 96 yards and two touchdowns. That’s just an inkling of what he can do if he ever ascends into an every-down role. With the season slipping away for the Giants, the chances of Hakeem Nicks getting traded will only increase. Even in his current role, Randle is a viable Flex start, but he really needs to be owned since he will explode if fate creates the opportunity.
Vincent Brown, SD – Brown was overshadowed by Allen on Sunday, but not by much. His eight catches for 117 yards were easily his best numbers on the year, and he too lost a touchdown (this time on a penalty) which would have given him a monster day. Brown was the most highly regarded Chargers receiver coming into the season, so it was nice to see him finally produce. I personally like Allen a little bit more, but with the Chargers throwing as much as they are, there are more than enough targets to support both of these wideouts. Brown could have more value than Allen in PPR leagues, so I wouldn’t blame you for bumping him up there.
Terrance Williams, DAL – Williams filled in for Miles Austin again last week and was one of many players to fill up the box score. There are no guarantees that Austin will be back this week to face the Redskins, so the rookie is slated for enough work to find his way into some fantasy lineups. Another good showing and he may push Austin down the pecking order, regardless of injury.
Harry Douglas, ATL – Douglas could very well be the number one WR for the Falcons this week with injuries to Jones and Roddy White. He is going to get every-down snaps, so he will be worth grabbing in deeper formats, but he’s not going to suddenly become something he’s not, and that is an explosive playmaker. Still, he should be good for moderate production and a place at the end of your bench.
Jeremy Kerley, NYJ – Kerley did about as well as anyone could have hoped for filling in for the injured Santonio Holmes, and if you started him in desperation you were rewarded with a 5/68/1 line. He is a tough player for his size and will continue to be asked to make plays and will continue to be a sneaky flex as long as he is starting.
Leonard Hankerson, WAS – Hankerson hasn’t made much noise since Week 1, but he is getting the snaps and targets and this week gets to work against a Cowboys defense that continues to get torched through the air. If you are looking for a horse to bet on this week, you could do worse than lay a wager on Hankerson finding the endzone.
Austin Pettis, STL – Pettis scored his third and fourth touchdowns of the year last week, but despite that fact, isn’t really putting up the big yardage numbers that you look for in an every-week starter. His production is all the evidence you need that the Rams don’t have a clue. However, as long as the team can’t figure out how to get the ball into the hands of Tavon Austin or Chris Givens, I guess Pettis will continue to be the most reliable WR on the roster.
Percy Harvin, SEA – I have resisted listing Harvin in the report, since all we have had is rumors about his eventual return. But, with the injury to Julio Jones this week, it seems like the right time to talk about finding a spot on your bench to stash him. He might not be back until Week 10, but if you can survive until then, he could be a boon for whatever teams own him for the stretch drive.
Week 5 Update
Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Now that is what I call a follow-up performance. A week after topping the WR list, Jefferey came out and set a team record for receiving yards with 218 on ten catches. With Brandon Marshall continuing to draw double coverage, I may have been incorrect in my assumption that his production would be hard to predict going forward. I think you throw him in your lineup with confidence until further notice.
Justin Blackmon, JCK – Blackmon made his much anticipated return to the field and rewarded patient owners with a 5/136/1 day. It will be much easier for owners to start both Blackmon and Cecil Shorts with Henne back under center.
Nate Washington, TEN – Ryan Fitzpatrick took the wind out of Washington’s sails last week. With Seattle, San Francisco and then the bye week, I might try to peddle him off or drop him for someone else if I needed the roster space the next few weeks.
Garrett Graham, HOU – Owen Daniels broke his leg and will miss 4-6 weeks. Graham was already splitting targets and touchdowns, so he gets a nice boost in value on a team that loves to feature the TE in the red zone. The tilt against the Rams only makes him an even more attractive pickup if you need a plug-n-play TE this week.
Jordan Reed, WAS – Reed was quietly pushing Fred Davis to the bench prior to getting injured in Week 3. He could be the best option for those of you in deeper leagues looking for some TE depth. He could have a breakout game against the Cowboys, so if you like to speculate ahead of time, Reed fits the description.
Week 5 Update
Charles Clay, MIA – Clay delivered another score last week and rewarded anyone who plugged him in. He is on bye this week, but will continue to be a reliable, if somewhat boring, option going forward.
Brandon Pettigrew, DET – We gave Pettigrew a pretty tepid endorsement last week, but he delivered another solid performance. He should be able to keep it up with Nate Burleson gone, so PPR owners can start him with some confidence again.
Cleveland Browns – I said it last week, and I know I may have just sounded like a homer, but I hope you cashed in on the Browns' big week. If you did, I suggest you consider letting them ride for another week. They will be at home against a Lions team that gave up five sacks last week and will have a less than 100% Calvin Johnson at their disposal.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cards defense is coming off two very solid performances and made Cam Newton’s life miserable last week. San Francisco has been anything but scary on offense lately, and Colin Kaepernick has been turning the ball over. If you are fishing in deeper leagues, the Cards could be your best bet this week.
Another week, another big injury as explosive Packers wideout Randall Cobb suffered a broken leg last week and will miss basically the rest of the regular season. It is the second major blow for fantasy owners at the wide receiver position, coming just a week after the season-ending injury to Julio Jones. As we inch ever closer to the midway point of the fantasy season, it is time to start shoring up your bench in anticipation of the stretch run and playoffs. That means possibly cutting loose or trading off guys at the edges of your roster to try and secure your running back handcuffs. For those of you 2-4, or worse, there isn't any more time to wait for struggling players to turn it around. You may need to swing for the fences in search of a win this week. There are more than a few names on this week's list that could help you get back in the win column if you are willing to spend and have nothing to lose but some unspent FAAB.
Week 7 Byes: New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders
Nick Foles, PHI – Don’t look now, but we may have a bona-fide quarterback controversy on our hands in Philadelphia. Foles looked great in his start at Tampa Bay, passing for 296 yards and three touchdowns. He also chipped in a rushing score to cap off a monster day in a matchup that didn’t look that great coming in. He looked better in the pocket than Michael Vick has all year, taking less hits and not turning the ball over at all so far. We mentioned last week that Foles was worthy of picking up because Vick’s injury could linger, thus giving Foles the opportunity to shine. The status of Vick’s injured hamstring still isn’t totally clear, and after last week all signs point to Foles getting another start against the Cowboys this week. If he shines again, he could keep Vick on the sidelines the rest of the year. Don’t forget that Vick is in the last year of his contract and Foles is clearly the future of the franchise. He is an absolute get this week for Vick owners, but anyone who needs a boost should think about bringing Foles on board because if he takes the job he’ll be worth it, either in production or as a trade chip.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill has been a fixture on this list all season long, which speaks to his growth as a passer, but also to the fact that he hasn’t quite had the breakout day to force owners to hang onto him as their backup QB. Coming off the bye week, he gets a home date against a Buffalo Bills defense that just made Andy Dalton and Brandon Weeden look good again in back-to-back weeks. The Dolphins offensive line is still giving up too many sacks, and the schedule gets pretty darn tough the next few weeks (@NE, CIN, @TB), so think of Tannehill as a viable Drew Brees replacement this week.
Josh Freeman, MIN – We mentioned last week that Freeman would be the likely starter by Week 7, and Matt Cassel did his part to hasten the move to the former Bucs signal-caller by throwing two costly interceptions in a drubbing by the Carolina Panthers. While I don’t really recommend hitching your wagon to Freeman’s arm in shallower formats, he absolutely has to be owned in all two-QB leagues since he has the skills to succeed and a pretty nice collection of playmakers surrounding him in Minnesota. Freeman’s greatest asset may ultimately come from his ability to breathe some life into the production of Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and perhaps even Cordarrelle Patterson.
Mike Glennon, TB - Glennon bounced back pretty nicely last week in his second start, but it was against the Eagles' forgiving defense, so we can’t get carried away just yet. Nonetheless, it was a solid step forward for the young quarterback, who has this job all to himself going forward. There is talent on this team that just hasn’t gotten on track yet (yes we are looking at you Doug Martin), and Glennon should continue to improve as the year goes along. He’s still relegated to really deep or 2QB leagues, but the arrow is pointing upwards.
Thaddeus Lewis, BUF – You have to tip your cap to the journeyman quarterback for stepping in off the practice squad and acquitting himself pretty well in a hard-fought, overtime loss to the Bengals. He accounted for three touchdowns (two passing/one rushing) and looked in control rallying the team from 14 points down to force overtime. He injured his foot, and concerned the team enough that they signed Matt Flynn as insurance. This week’s tilt against the Dolphins isn’t a great matchup, but those in really deep leagues might not have many better options to choose from.
T.J. Yates, HOU – Yates is on the radar due to the troubles of Matt Schaub, who added injury to the insult of his inconsistent play. Yates was terrible in relief of Schaub last week, and you don’t really want any part of him in his start at Kansas City this week.
Week 6 Update
Brandon Weeden, CLE – We gave Weeden the top spot on the list last week, mainly because he looks like he will have a starting job by default for the time being and a pretty good matchup against the Lions. Despite displaying all the lousy traits that help teams lose football games, including one of the most ridiculous interceptions of the year, he still managed to put up 292 yards and two touchdowns. The schedule is brutal going forward, but he could eke out another solid day against the Packers this week.
Chad Henne, JCK – Henne will get another start this week at home against the Chargers, so his value as a spot-starter is intact for another week.
Andre Ellington, ARZ – Ellington has finally climbed his way up to the top of the waiver list, and appropriately so. He has been slowly chipping away at Rashard Mendenhall’s touches. He got a season-high 12 touches last week, and he made them count to the tune of 96 total yards and his first rushing score of the year. The upcoming schedule (SEA, ATL, Bye) likely keeps him as primarily PPR-Flex for the time being, but after the bye he could ascend to low RB2 status, thanks to a string of positive matchups and the likelihood that he will further cement his place as the most dynamic back on the roster.
Joseph Randle, DAL – DeMarco Murray has suffered his yearly injury, this time a sprained MCL that will keep him out for at least a couple of weeks. Lance Dunbar was the handcuff of choice for many to start the year, but he has a hamstring injury that should give Randle the job to himself with a tasty meeting with the Eagles on the docket. I am not as high on Randle as some may be this week, since I don’t really see as much long-term value as some are forecasting, but he will likely be the hottest commodity in most leagues this week. The matchups are right, and until others return, he’s slated to get the bulk of the work, which could translate to nice numbers in the Cowboys' high-scoring attack.
Brandon Jacobs, NYG – I have to admit that I was one of the many disgruntled David Wilson owners who took to Twitter last Thursday to bemoan the fact that Brandon Jacobs was gashing the injury-ravaged Bears defense, and that I hadn’t picked him up and plugged him in my lineup. It was a great performance to be sure, but don’t get sucked into thinking the yardage total will be an every-week occurrence. Jacobs will have the Giants' starting job without competition for a few more weeks at least and his prowess at the goal-line makes him a viable starting option, at least until Andre Brown can return in Week 11.
Chris Ogbonnaya, CLE – Ogbonnaya had his best game of the season last week, returning from a concussion to grab seven passes for 61 yards and score while adding another 24 yards on the ground. That’s a decent Flex day in any format, but a really solid one in PPR leagues. He’s not going to become the primary rusher for this team, but in weeks where the team will be forced to air it out, he will get lots of balls thrown his way as Brandon Weeden looks to his safety valve. Green Bay fits the bill, and gives the Browns fullback some decent plug-and-play value in those formats this week.
Khiry Robinson, NO – We have been writing about Robinson ever since he pushed Mark Ingram off the roster, mainly because the kid keeps making plays. I think Ingram is done in New Orleans, and Robinson can be owned in deeper leagues with the confidence that he should at least keep his current role. He can make noise in weeks where the Saints jump out front and massage their leads late.
Chris Ivory, NYJ – The season-ending injury to Mike Goodson clears the way for Ivory to get back into the mix with an increase in touches behind Bilal Powell. It was supposed to be the other way around when the season began, but now Ivory will have to prove that he deserves more important carries. Locking up the goal-line job would be the first step in setting a decent floor for his weekly production.
Week 6 Update
Zac Stacy, STL – Stacy had another solid, if unspectacular, week as the Rams' leading rusher. He should be able to hold onto the gig, but as I mentioned last week, the schedule is not very running back friendly before or after the team's Week 11 bye. He needs to be owned, and is worth starting if you need him, preferably as a flex.
Roy Helu, WAS – Helu saw plenty of action last week, thanks in part to the team playing catch-up. He’s holding steady as a high-upside handcuff and PPR emergency play for now.
Keenan Allen, SD – He was my top target regardless of position last week and he backed up that endorsement with another strong performance. Hopefully, you got him last week, because he’s locked in now as the WR1 on one of the more proficient passing offenses in the league. As I mentioned last week, he has some great matchups the next few weeks (@JCK, bye, @WAS, DEN) and an equally enticing playoff schedule (NYG, @DEN, OAK). He might still be out there in your league, and if so don’t be afraid to bid aggressively.
Harry Douglas, ATL – We wrote up Douglas last week, but since the Falcons were on bye, he is still out there in a ton of leagues. He’s not really a very gifted receiver, but the Falcons throw the ball a lot, and with Roddy White still hobbled, Douglas could be the WR1 by default this week. Regardless of his talent deficit, that will mean a lot of targets and some potential red-zone looks. The bye week may have put him off enough radars that you can still get some decent production at a discount rate.
Jarrett Boykin, GB – The injury to Randall Cobb means Boykin will see an increase in playing time for basically the rest of the fantasy season. James Jones also got hurt last week, so the table is set for Boykin to put up some sneaky numbers against the Browns this weekend. Boykin is a big kid (6’2”, 220) and you can expect that Aaron Rodgers will figure out a way to help get him up to speed in the offense as the season progresses. He is worth speculating on in most leagues this week.
Kris Durham, DET – Durham finds his way onto the report again after stepping up and possibly taking control of the No. 2 job for the Lions. He’s not that dynamic, but Nate Burleson already proved that you don’t have to be to put up respectable numbers playing across the field from Calvin Johnson.
Aaron Dobson, NE – I profiled Dobson back in Week 3, since there was an opening for someone to emerge as Tom Brady’s weapon of choice, and Dobson had the pedigree worth speculating on. After some lackluster weeks, Dobson is back on the radar after last week’s game. He only caught six passes for 63 yards, but the bigger takeaway was the fact that he was on the field more than any other receiver. With Danny Amendola hurt yet again, Dobson has another chance to get back on fantasy rosters. He just needs to stop dropping so many catchable balls.
Riley Cooper, PHI – Cooper had his best day of the year by far with four catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. I am not really sold that this is the beginning of a long-term trend, but Nick Foles looked his way more than Michael Vick has all year, and the Cowboys' secondary at least provides the opportunity for Cooper to make plays again this week. Deep leaguers can take a shot and see what happens.
Brandon LaFell, CAR – LaFell will get picked up based on his 107 yard, TD performance, but those that do likely will fail to see that without a somewhat fluky 79-yard scoring play, the rest of his day was decidedly average.
Kenny Stills, NO – There won’t be many weeks when Stills is the leading receiver for the Saints, but last week was one of them. He only caught three passes (on three targets), but one of them was a big 34-yard touchdown on third and 20. Injuries, age and ineffectiveness of others could be opening the door for Stills to really emerge in the second half. His big-play ability makes him a worthwhile stash in deep leagues.
Marvin Jones, CIN – Jones is starting to emerge in the battle for the coveted No. 2 spot across from A.J. Green in Cincinnati. Mohamed Sanu still caps his upside, but Jones’ 107 yard, TD day should at least get him some attention in deeper leagues this week.
Week 6 Update
Terrance Williams, DAL – Miles Austin returned to the lineup and ate into Williams' snaps. However, the rookie made a nifty touchdown grab while Austin came up empty on the day. He should be stashed while we wait for Austin to re-aggravate his hamstrings.
Percy Harvin, SEA – Harvin is now officially eligible to return from the PUP list this week. While he isn’t back yet, the news will likely see him scooped up in the remainder of leagues where he isn’t already stashed. This is last call on the best injury stash candidate out there.
Jordan Reed, WAS – I’ve been pumping Reed the last few weeks, so this week I will stick with him again as my favorite guy to pluck off the waiver wire to cover Jimmy Graham’s bye/injury concerns. Reed looked really good and all that is missing is the breakout game to get him owned in more leagues. While that might not come this week against the Bears, this is a player on the rise who is quickly gaining RGIII’s trust.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN – A favorite of mine last year, Rudolph has been dragged down by the lousy quarterback play for the Vikings this year. He finally lit up the scoreboard and the imminent switch to Freeman does give me more confidence that he could have more days like this in the future.
Tim Wright, TB – Wright has flourished with the move to Mike Glennon, catching 12 passes for 132 yards. A former wide receiver, Wright has good size (6’4”) and speed and should continue to serve as a solid security blanket for his quarterback.
Joseph Fauria, DET – Fauria was a red-zone monster on Sunday and at 6’7’, he figures to continue to be in the mix any time the Lions get in close. It’s hard to bank on a basically touchdown-only player, but if you are in a pickle in a TD-heavy league, he is worth considering.
Week 6 Update
Ryan Succop, KC – Succop’s best games have come when his team has been able to force turnovers and create extra scoring chances. The Texans have serious ball-control issues and Succop will get the chance to trot on the field plenty this week.
Adam Vinatieri, IND – The old veteran has quietly been on a roll the last few weeks and should be busy in this week’s game against the Broncos.
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins are coming off their bye, and get the Bills at home with the prospect of potentially facing Matt Flynn under center. Expect lots of sacks and multiple turnovers in this one.
San Diego Chargers – The Chargers get the Jaguars this week, which means you have to consider streaming them, although Jacksonville had their best showing of the year last week against the Broncos.
Minnesota Vikings – Eli Manning has been giving gifts away all season, so if you feel lucky you could take a shot that another pick-six will be in the offing.
Bye Weeks: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
Terrelle Pryor, OAK – Coming off last week’s concussion, it is very possible that Pryor will be sitting out there on waivers in shallow leagues this week. His ownership numbers in 10 and 12-team leagues is still shockingly low for an improving passer who already has two 20-point games on the season. This week he faces a Chargers defense that has been one of the most generous to opposing passers so far. He’s a great option for Robert Griffin owners this week.
Brian Hoyer, CLE– Brandon Weeden has been cleared to play, but Hoyer will remain under center this week against the Bills on Thursday night coming off another impressive performance in the victory over the Bengals. He threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and didn’t turn the ball over. The Browns still can’t run the ball effectively, so Hoyer will continue to lean on Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. If he can lead the Browns to another victory on a short week, then Weeden may never get this job back. Hoyer is a hometown boy who was a two-sport star at my alma mater, St. Ignatius High School, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite. He obviously studied well in his three years backing up Tom Brady, as his growing connection with Cameron in the red-zone illustrates.
Matt Cassel, MIN –In the comments section of last week’s column, we mused about the fact that Cassel would be the next quarterback to find his way into the starting lineup. The next day, it was announced that Ponder’s ribs would keep him out and just like that, the Vikings have a quarterback controversy. Actually, there shouldn’t be any controversy, since Ponder has been terrible and Cassel showed how good the offense can be with someone who can get the wide receivers involved. Since the Vikings are on bye this week, we will have to wait and see who starts Week 6, but my money is on Cassel getting at least one more start.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TEN – Jake Locker’s misfortune opens the door for Fitzpatrick to start again and as such puts him back on the map in two-quarterback leagues. He’s a limited talent in a conservative offense, so those in other leagues can largely ignore him.
Week 4 Update
Ryan Tannehill, MIA – Things didn’t really go as planned for Tannehill against the Saints on Monday, as four turnovers obscured some more solid football. The offensive line has allowed a league-leading 18 sacks and countless pressures. This week’s matchup against the Ravens doesn’t look too promising, but if Tannehill can find a way to limit the turnovers, he should be able to deliver a serviceable fantasy performance.
Jake Locker, TEN – Just when Locker’s season was looking up and he was finally showcasing some of his tremendous athleticism, he goes down with an injury. Reports say it isn’t as serious as initially feared, but he’s still going to be out for awhile and isn’t worth waiting on in most leagues.
Mike Glennon, TB – Glennon showed some promise in his first NFL start, connecting with Mike Williams for an early touchdown, but he also threw two picks and lost a fumble. It’s clear he has the job for now and gets to face the Eagles defense coming out of the bye in Week 6.
Andy Dalton, CIN – Man, what a stinker of a game for Dalton, who looks like his game is headed in the wrong direction for fantasy purposes.
Danny Woodhead, SD – We highlighted Woodhead as a PPR grab back in Week 3 since it was clear that his role in the offense was solidifying. Last week, he scored two touchdowns, so his big game will get him scooped up even in other formats where his pass catching doesn’t get rewarded as heavily. When I am looking to bolster my bench, I want players who get touches and have the trust of their quarterbacks. Woodhead checks off both of those boxes easily. Sure, you can’t bank on him being a consistent scoring threat, but he’s not going away anytime soon as the Chargers have found their new sparkplug.
Rashad Jennings, OAK – I will state right up front that I am not a big Jennings fan. Part of it stems from getting burned by him last year, but I just don’t think he’s a special talent, which is why I didn’t even mention him when I wrote about Marcel Reece last week. I would have been much more excited to see Reece benefit from Darren McFadden’s latest injury, but instead Jennings will likely get the start against the Chargers and will at the very least make a pretty good flex-play for at least one week. With McFadden’s injury history, those desperate for help can take the plunge, and hope this turns into more than a one-and-done.
Willis McGahee, CLE – McGahee gets a bump up from last week’s tepid endorsement based on him locking down the early-down work for the Browns and drawing a matchup against the Bills defense. As he rounds into shape, he should touch the ball enough to get him into some lineups as a bye or injury replacement the next couple of weeks. I still don’t think there is much long-term value here, but as long as he’s starting he should be owned in more leagues.
Roy Helu, WAS – The speedy Helu made this list to open the year, mainly because I thought he would see more consistent work as a receiver and that he could really break out if Alfred Morris went down with an injury, making him a great stash candidate. After Morris left last week’s game with a rib injury, Helu flashed his playmaking ability and showed that he can handle the job in Morris’ stead. If the team wasn’t on bye this week, he’d be the top name on the list, but since Morris looks like he’ll be back in Week 6, you may need to look for more immediate help. He’s still worth speculating on, in hopes that he can at least start seeing more action on passing downs.
Andre Ellington, ARZ – Rashard Mendenhall’s struggles continued, and that just means the arrow on Ellington continues to point in the right direction. He should continue to be stashed since eventually he’s going to trend into every-week flex territory.
Kendall Hunter, SF – Hunter gets a mention this week after breaking off a nice 29-yard touchdown run late in last week’s blowout against the Rams. Let this serve as a reminder to get your handcuffs in order, particularly if you own an aging and injury-prone power back like Frank Gore.
Johnathan Franklin, GB – The Packers will emerge from the bye week with Eddie Lacy back in his role as the feature back, but Franklin hopefully showed enough in Week 3 to at least get a share of the workload, especially with Lacy coming back from his concussion and James Starks still out.
Mike Goodson, NYJ – Goodson returns from a suspension this week, and should get some touches with Chris Ivory still out. Not a ton of upside here, but he’s worth watching to see how the Jets might utilize his talents going forward.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR – Stewart is still on track to return in Week 7. The closer that date comes, the harder it will be to grab and stash him.
Khiry Robinson, NO –Robinson got more carries than any Saints back last week, but don’t read too much into it. He has basically stolen Mark Ingram’s job in this backfield, and in really deep leagues that could be enough to speculate on.
Tashard Choice, BUF – Choice would be a real desperation play this week against a tough Browns defense, but with a short week and injuries to both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Choice looks like he’s going to be needed this week.
Week 4 Update
Brandon Bolden/LeGarrette Blount, NE – Stevan Ridley completes the three-man committee which keeps all three RB’s value limited for the time being. Ridley is still the starter, but Blount made the most noise last week, and could get a boost if Ridley gets injured or ends up back in the doghouse at some point. Bolden’s value is limited to PPR leagues and by Shane Vereen’s eventual return in Week 11.
Isaiah Pead – After being a healthy scratch last week, it’s time to drop Pead. The Rams running game is an absolute mess right now.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery finally stepped up and had his first breakout game of the season. If he was dropped in your league, then the price to get him this week might not really be worth it unless you really need help to navigate the byes this week. Still, he is locked in as the guy across from Brandon Marshall and we’ll see more days like this as the season progresses. It just won’t be easy to predict where or when they will occur.
Justin Blackmon, JCK – Blackmon returns from suspension this week, and the news will get him picked back up in the shallow leagues where he was potentially dropped. Still, with Blaine Gabbert back under center for the Jags, it’s hard to get that excited about his return. Still, he’ll reclaim his spot as the team’s top wideout, and will likely personally lobby for Chad Henne to get the starting job back.
Nate Washington, TEN – I haven’t really given Washington much love this year, but it’s time to recognize that he has filled the void left by Kenny Britt. He doesn’t have as much upside with Fitzpatrick under center, but he’s clearly the only Titans receiver worth considering starting at this time.
Jeremy Kerley, NYJ – With both Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill injured, Kerley is going to see an increase in playing time and production. Don’t expect miracles from the diminutive speedster, but he is worth grabbing for the next few weeks and maybe even starting this week in PPR leagues.
Robert Woods, BUF – Woods makes it back on the list this week after hauling in four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in Week 4. His connection with E.J. Manuel is gaining momentum, and as we mentioned the last time we wrote him up, he is emerging just as the bye weeks arrive.
Terrance Williams, DAL – We mentioned Williams last week, and he had a pretty good showing as Miles Austin’s replacement. Yes, he lost a bad fumble near the goal-line that killed Dallas’ comeback attempt, but he’ll get better as the season goes along and Austin’s bad hamstrings will give him more opportunities to make positive plays.
Keenan Allen, SD – Allen put himself on the radar in deeper leagues with his eight-catch, 110-yard day against the Cowboys. Philip Rivers is playing well, and with all the injuries to the receiving corps, the opportunity is there for Allen to emerge as the primary outside threat.
Week 4 Update
Ryan Broyles, DET – Talk about a letdown. As mentioned above, Durham prospered most last week in the wake of the Burleson injury. He was on the field plenty, but he just didn’t see the targets. You can’t force him into the lineup until we see some results, but I would still hold for now in PPR leagues.
Donnie Avery, KC – Avery promptly fell back to earth after his big day against the Eagles.
Charles Clay, MIA – He’s been here before and he’s back because he’s likely the best possible name out there in standard formats this week if you have a need. He’s not going to be elite, just a steady guy to plug in on your bye week.
Brandon Pettigrew, DET – Pettigrew had his best game of the year last week with Burleson out, so if you are desperate you could plug him in and hope for a repeat. He is a poor bet to score, so save your desperation plays for PPR leagues if you can.
Kellen Winslow, NYJ – Winslow, like Kerley above, will be more involved in the offense with the injuries to other key Jets.
Mychal Rivera, OAK – Rivera is the main tight end for the Raiders, thanks to injuries, and scored a touchdown last week. Put him on the watch list for now. Grab in two-tight end leagues for depth.
Week 4 Update
Heath Miller, PIT – Miller caught six passes for 80 yards last week. He’s back and doing what he does for the Steelers and Big Ben.
Jordan Reed, WAS – He’s on bye and should return from his injury in Week 6. He’ll be higher on the list next week for sure.
Browns – It’s time to concede that Ray Horton’s defense is for real. They make a real sneaky play this week getting Buffalo on a short week.
Rams – The Rams have been awful lately, but the Jaguars come along at just the right time.
Nick Novak, SD – It’s time to give Novak a go against the Raiders this week. Rivers keeps moving the ball and that has provided Novak with plenty of opportunities to start the year.