If you were the type who sought to be the enemy of group think by taking a quarterback early in your fantasy draft despite all the wealth of advice imploring you to do otherwise, there’s a wee little problem this week. It’s the sort of conundrum that leads to hive
breakout pandemics nationwide: the Saints are on their bye week (along with the Raiders), which means Drew Brees is on his bye. Which means…
Thankfully, there’s a waiver wire for that, and a Nick Foles for that.
1. Nick Foles: Michael Vick still says his hamstring injury was a “pretty bad pull“, and he still feels it whenever he tries to burst. That’s really not ideal, because bursting is the only way Michael Vick is able to do Michael Vick things. So early in the week it’s already looking likely that we’ll get at least one more Foles sighting, and then after that we could get many more as he tries to do his best midseason Kaepernicking, which right now means something entirely different. Owned minimally (see below), Foles is the easily the best Drew Brees bye week glass case for those facing desperate times. He’s preparing to throw against a Cowboys defense that’s now playing without DeMarcus Ware, their primary source of pressure, and Dallas’ secondary is one of only four in the league allowing more than 300 passing yards per game (308.2). That not at all fearsome unit is also tied for the league lead in touchdowns allowed (14), which is pretty inviting after Foles threw three of those while completing 71.2 percent of his passes against a Tampa secondary that employs Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%, Yahoo – 16%
2. Chad Henne: Save us, garbage time hero. Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts continue to remind us that painting the entire Jaguars roster with the suck brush is poor fantasy thinking. Jaguars Quarterback X has been much more appealing since the return of Blackmon, who now rather incredibly has 326 receiving yards on 19 receptions over just two games, and he was targeted a completely ridiculous 20 times in Jacksonville’s loss to Denver by less than 28 points. Right now, that quarterback is Henne, and if he can be a yardage compiler against the Broncos and their basement residing secondary currently allowing 8.5 yards per pass attempt (Henne finished with 303 yards), he can do the same against a Chargers secondary that isn’t much better (8.3 yards per attempt).
Percentage owned:ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 4%
3. Mike Glennon: The kid has learned quickly that Vincent Jackson is his friend. He connected with the tall, physical brute twice Sunday in a loss to Philadelphia, and now Glennon draws an Atlanta defense that’s still bringing little pressure, and was recently kind to fellow rookie Geno Smith (three touchdown passes, and a passer rating of 147.7).
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 3%
4. Joe Flacco: If the trusted veteran route is your preferred option to fill all bye week needs mostly because you’re a tiny wimpy man who still brings an inspector gadget lunchbox to work, then Flacco is the only reasonably available option who fits that description and his matchup isn’t completely horrible (example: Carson Palmer against San Francisco). But oh, it’s still pretty horrible, because it’s Pittsburgh. The Steelers defense may be aging fast and it’s not nearly as imposing as it was a few years ago. But it’s still damn mean and efficient (currently ranked fourth against the passing as one of just four teams giving up less than 200 yards per game through the air), and minus James Harrison, it’s mostly the same defense that held Flacco to only 352 yards over two games last year. In one of them, Flacco had his lowest single-game completion percentage of 2012 (47.1)
Percentage owned: ESPN – 56%, Yahoo – 59%
5. Thad Lewis: There’s an obvious and crappy caveat here. Lewis injured his foot and hobbled his way through a loss to Bengals Sunday, and if we’re still of the belief that actions (signing Matt Flynn) speak louder than words (Doug Marrone saying he “feels good” about Lewis playing in Week 7) then we might have a problem here. That’s why if you’re making a claim at all on Lewis, you’re only investing little with just a low waiver priority or a few FAB dollars. However, if he does play, there’s reason to expect good things, or at least average things, and the latter is often just fine in a deep league when you’re replacing Brees. A less than ideal matchup against the Dolphins is forthcoming, but the Bengals this past Sunday weren’t exactly inviting with their 18 sacks (five of which involved Lewis crumbling) and only 214.3 passing yards allowed per game. And yet Lewis still didn’t turn the ball over while throwing for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including two passes for over 40 yards. For some fun perspective, Peyton Manning with all his glory and Sunday passing spectacles has six +40 yard completions, only four more than Lewis on 208 more attempts.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 1%
1. Joseph Randle: This is the automatic claim for you distraught DeMarco Murray owners who are in dire need for one week, or everyone else who enjoys pissing off said owner in their league. When Murray went down late in the first half Sunday night Randle assumed the primary running back duties. He did little (17 yards on 11 carries), but we don’t care about that right now. What we care about is starting whoever the lead Cowboys running back is over the next four weeks (it’s not Murray for at least one week, and it won’t be Lance Dunbar either, so that leaves us Randle by default), because look at their schedule: @PHI, @DET, vs. MIN, @NO. That’s four teams currently ranked in the bottom half of the league while giving up at least 100 rushing yards per game.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 10%
2. Brandon Jacobs: A bumbling, thumping lump of humanity, Jacobs will be among the most widely claiming players this week, because that’s what happens when you run for 106 yards with two touchdowns while scoring more fantasy points than all but two running backs in Week 7. So claim away, because like Randle above, Jacobs has some favorable matchups teed up against Minnesota and Philadelphia. Just be aware that Jacobs’ wheels could disintegrate again abruptly, and turn into square cube-like things at any moment.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%, Yahoo – 26%
3. Chris Ivory: Mike Goodson’s first season with the Jets that started with a drunken evening and hollow-point bullets has now ended with a torn ACL, which will give Ivory more delicious touches. He’ll still be behind Bilal Powell, but as we’ve found out in the past (5.4 YPC on 40 carries last year), Ivory can do plenty with little. You could do a lot worse if you’re searching for a running back flex in the middle of bye weeks.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 78%, Yahoo – 22%
4. Roy Helu: I get that Helu isn’t a sexy player to own (or maybe he is…only my vast female readership can inform us on this pressing matter), but he’s still criminally available. Over the past two games Helu has 161 total yards on 26 touches, which averages out to a mighty fine 6.1 yards per touch, with 16 fantasy points during that stretch. Add Helu to the growing list of solid flex options, and he should be owned in all PPR leagues.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 39%, Yahoo – 18%
5. Donald Brown: This would purely be a speculative add, and admittedly a reaching one. If the Colts are going to change Trent Richardson’s role and distribute carries more evenly, they’ll take their sweet time doing it, because patience is automatic after you give up a first-round pick to acquire an asset. But don’t kid yourself, because that’s slowly becoming a possibility with Richardson now averaging only 3.1 yards per carry since coming over from Cleveland. Sure, he had a few nice, pounding runs last night while tossing in a reception in which he juked and jived around several flying bodies, but overall the numbers were still wildly underwhelming: only 40 yards on 10 carries. In fairness, he wasn’t used nearly enough, but we can’t say that about the past two games when he had 18 and 20 carries. Richardson still hasn’t topped 60 rushing yards this season, and meanwhile, Brown is averaging 9.8 yards per carry over the past three weeks.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 2%, Yahoo – 7%
1. Percy Harvin: If Harvin is available in your league, that needs to change fast. He has a publicly stated goal of Week 7 as his return, and even though that dream has been killed with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll saying he won’t practice yet since the team is on a short week (they play Arizona Thursday), an ambitious goal is encouraging. Carroll has also been telling anyone with ears that Harvin is making great progress, which again hints strongly at a much quicker return than what was initially projected (around Thanksgiving, and maybe even after Seattle’s Week 12 bye). Although it’s still a longshot, Harvin could be ready to play in at least a limited capacity by Week 8, but your willingness to be the guy who plucks him off the waiver wire depends on both your position in the standings, and the structure of your league’s rosters. For example, in one of my leagues (a pretty unhealthy 20-teamer) there are only three bench spots, so I’m much less eager to burn one of them on a player who is certainly elite when healthy, but he could still be out for a few weeks.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 16%, Yahoo – 44%
2. Keenan Allen: I won’t repeat much from the many glowing and slobbery words I wrote about Allen this morning, and will instead direct you to them (we have the technology to do that). I will repeat these staggering numbers, though: over the first three weeks of the season Allen recorded only 30 yards on three catches, and now over the past three weeks he has 302 yards on 20 receptions. Yep, he’s become just a littttle more involved at this point.
(Ed. note from the editor: Yes, I try to avoid too much week-to-week repetition when possible, and Allen was featured highly last week in this prestigious space too. But look at the ownership numbers below, and look at Allen’s recent production again, and after that one more strenuous step is required: note the Chargers’ upcoming opponent, the woeful Jaguars. Once you do all of those things, I challenge you to name a more coveted waiver wire add this week this side of maybe Foles, especially with Allen’s significantly increased involvement and 21 targets over the past two weeks. Then, I challenge you to a duel.)
Percentage owned: ESPN – 6%, Yahoo – 38%
3. Jarrett Boykin: Bless your weary hearts, Randall Cobb owners. If you’re in a deep league (again, my obsessively unhealthy 20-teamer is a prime example), the options both above and below likely aren’t available to replace Cobb, and you’re stuck clawing and praying that Jason Avant isn’t owned. Instead, go ahead and pick up the guy who will replace Cobb in reality, and he still has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. Yes, Boykin will be forth in line for targets behind Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley most weeks. But once you reach this level of desperation, all you need is one long target and catch to justify your praying, and Boykin can do that for you. His first catch of the season Sunday was a 43 yarder, and we can find even more encouragement in his targets, of which there were six (more than Finley, and behind only Nelson).
Percentage owned: ESPN 0%, Yahoo – 3%
4. Harry Douglas: Guys, Roddy White still isn’t practicing, and Julio Jones is still busted. Please go make that Harry Douglas add that I screamed about last week, because he’s still widely available (why, just look at the digits below). His scarce ownership numbers are presumably a product of the Falcons’ Week 6 bye.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 7%, Yahoo – 37%
5. Kris Durham: I still believe that once Ryan Broyles has sufficiently mended himself and worked his way back into top form, he’ll be Matthew Stafford’s second option after Calvin Johnson with Nate Burleson out. Or maybe that won’t happen at all, and right now it doesn’t matter because Durham — Matthew Stafford’s former college teammate — is balling out hard, and he’s almost universally unowned. With Don Mega battling an injury of his own Sunday while being mostly limited to decoy status during a win over Cleveland, Durham led the Lions in receptions (eight), yards off of those receptions (83, which is easily a season-high, after a previous peak of 58), and targets (13). That last number is the most appealing, as it shows a clear connection between Stafford and Durham, and one that will still be present to some extent when Johnson returns to full health. At worst, Durham will be fun flex fodder.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 1%
1. Heath Miller: As it was spoken, the Miller has returned. Just like Robert Griffin III this year and Adrian Peterson a year ago, Miller playing and being meaningful in a football is an accomplishment in itself after a debilitating knee injury late last season which required reconstructive surgery. But we’re pretty giddy to have the real Heath back now after he was eased in at first. He’s resumed his role as a TE1 in a Todd Haley offense that uses the position a whole lot. After a predictably sputtering start (35 receiving yards in Week 3), Miller has been targeted 15 times over the Steelers’ past two games, and that’s resulted in 154 yards. Remember, this is a guy who had a career high 816 yards during his first year as Haley’s tight end mule.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 20%, Yahoo – 50%
2. Joe Fauria: Eventually, a fluky thing stops meeting that description when it keeps happening. And then it happens again, and again, and now it may just be that when they get into the red zone, Fauria is a near automatic target for Stafford (this is even more true with Calvin Johnson less that healthy). With three in Week 7 and thus also three more chances to dance and embarrass himself, Fauria now has five touchdowns on just seven receptions and nine targets…this season. I really can’t believe I was just able to type those words, because currently 71 percent of Fauria’s catches have been touchdowns. Oh, and here’s a short list of players he had more fantasy points than this week (21 points): Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, and all but 12 players in the whole damn league. Aside: looking up and down that list is fun, as the top 15 includes Nick Foles, Thad Lewis, and Brandon Jacobs.
Percentage owned: ESPN - 1%, Yahoo – 4%
3. Scott Chandler: The best Charles Clay flex tight end who isn’t Charles Clay, Chandler offers you something rare at this position, especially among the dirty lower tiers: consistency. He has at least 45 receiving yards in three of the Bills’ past four games. In PPR leagues that’s some decent flex value, and a stealthy six-ish fantasy points with Chandler’s average of 3.3 catches each week.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 9%, Yahoo – 12%
4. Michael Hoomanawanui: Rob Gronkowski will return sometime in the next five seasons. This I know for sure, but until that happens the Hoo man is emerging as a nice little play with his 57 yards on four catches this week against the Saints. At the very least, he could be some trusted insurance as those who stashed Gronk mercifully enter the home stretch.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 1%, Yahoo – 0%
5. Jordan Reed: This is your sort of weekly reminder that Reed is now the Redskins’ primary tight end after he played 56 snaps in their loss to Dallas compared to Fred Davis’ 19, and in a read-option offense that utilizes TEs often, he’ll continue to have plenty of opportunities. Reed returned from injury to catch four passes for 58 yards, which is a cool five fantasy points from a widely available right end.
Percentage owned: ESPN – 4%, Yahoo – 9%