This is a dark time for fantasy footballers. Bye weeks are wreaking their unholy havoc on our best-laid plans, stripping our team of the depth you worked so hard to secure during your fake football drafts. Woe is us.
There are six teams on their bye weeks this coming Sunday and Monday – the most of any week this season. Jamaal Charles, the various pieces of Atlanta’s aerial attack, Peyton Manning and his merry band of receivers – these fantasy studs will combine a grand total of zero points to your fantasy lineups in Week 7.
These are the times that try men’s souls. Now lets scour the waiver wire.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns – The ageless rookie signal caller is slinging it week in and week out, totaling more than 290 yards in three of his first six pro starts. He’s erratic, yes, and doesn’t have a Hall of Fame cast catching his passes, but against an injury plagued Colts defense this week, Weeden could hover around that 300-yard mark again. Browns running back Trent Richardson is iffy with a rib cartilage injury, so owners might see Weeden chuck it even more this week (even though TRich’s presence hasn’t stopped the Browns from using a pass heavy attack through six weeks). Use Weeden if you’re missing Matt Ryan, Manning, or Philip Rivers this week.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers – Freeman’s Week 6 numbers (328 yards and three touchdowns) were flukey, with some blown coverages and sloppy tackling leading to gigantic gains through the air, but in desperate times, we sometimes rely on flukes. Freeman is certainly a legit bye-week filler facing off against a Bills’ secondary that has allowed 256 passing yards per game to go with 13 touchdowns, fifth worst in the NFL.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys – Don’t get cute. Felix should be everyone’s waiver priority this week. Sure, he burned owners last year with a lackluster start and an injury that led to the DeMarco Murray era starting a year or two earlier than first planned. Despite looking slovenly early this year, Jones broke off a handful of impressive runs against the Ravens last week, finishing with 105 yards and a score. Murray is out at least one week, and with Jones slated to shoulder the load against the cushy Panthers run defense (allowing 127 yards per game on the ground), Jones will be a plug-and-play top-12 play.
Alex Green, RB, Packers – Listen to Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy and snag Green if you miss Felix on the waiver wire this week. McCarthy said Tuesday that Green could “carry a full load” after he played starters’ snaps against Houston in Week 6. James Starks is supremely mediocre, so even if Green doesn’t gash defenses for six yards a tote, he’s going to get plenty of opportunities in the league’s most ridiculously potent offense. Play him with confidence this week in St. Louis.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Patriots – Using New England runners is a dangerous little game for fantasy owners, but if you’re desperate enough – if the bye week blues has infected your very soul – Woodhead is a nice option. Branden Bolden went down with a knee injury that could keep him out this week against the Jets, and Woodhead has taken on a semi-consistent role in recent weeks, averaging seven fantasy points a game over the last three contests. The Jets are more than vulnerable on the ground, allowing 150 yards per game this year, meaning you could do a whole lot worse than Woodhead during this brutal bye week.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns – The unpolished, fast-as-hell rookie is really a swing for the fantasy fences this week. He doesn’t draw a ton of targets – getting only four looks last week against the Bengals – but for a guy like Gordon, one is all it takes. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden has nothing but praise for his fellow rookie: “He has an ability to run past guys,” Weeden told the Akron Beacon-Journal this week. “He’s a long guy who is a huge mismatch, especially on safeties. He can do some things there. It’s a great asset for us. He’s come a long way, he’s continuing to get more and more comfortable and grow each week.” If you’re picking up Gordon, you’re hoping one of his handful of grabs goes for 50 yards and a score. Against Indy, I think you might get your wish.
Donnie Avery, WR, Colts – Avery is quietly racking up targets from Andrew Luck, drawing 47 throws from the Indianapolis rookie. He hasn’t done a whole lot with those targets yet, but all fantasy owners can do sometimes is bank on opportunity. The Colts play the Browns, a team that has given up the second most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2012, and I think Avery could finally make his fake football impact.
Scott Chandler, TE, Bills – There’s a new rule for fantasy footballers in 2012: When in doubt, use the tight end facing the Titans. It’s Chandler’s turn this week, as the sneaky fast tight end looks to exploit a Titans’ defense allowing an absurd 15.5 points per contest.
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets – The Patriots are also especially awful against tight ends this season, making Keller a reasonable play in Week 7. Don’t shy away from Keller’s measly one grab in Week 6 – he played in three-quarters of the Jets’ offensive snaps after coming off injury that kept him sidelined in the early season. New England is allowing nine points per game to tight ends.