This is the most dreaded week in fantasy football because of all the teams on bye. Those teams, of course, are the Packers, Giants, Cardinals, Rams, Titans and Jaguars. Looking at this group, the biggest hit we will take is at the running back position. We will be without Jones, Peterson, Gurley, Murray and Fournette. Throw in a suspended Marshawn Lynch, and making the correct waiver claims becomes even more stressful!
Let’s jump right into it and see if we can find some gems to win you the championship! I will be giving you some suggestions of players you should add or drop, with each player’s ownership in ESPN leagues.
QB Andy Dalton, CIN (32.9%)
Sure, Dalton struggled in week seven, but that was against the top pass defense in the league. This week, he gets to play the struggling Colts. Indianapolis gives up the second-most passing yards in the league, at over 300 per game. If you’re looking for a bye week fill-in, Dalton should do the trick.
QB Tyrod Taylor, BUF (59.3%)
Tyrod had his first 20-point week of the season on Sunday, and he’ll look to do it again against a vulnerable Raiders defense. If Oakland continues their offensive success, that will also mean Tyrod will be forced to play a little more aggressively. The dual-threat could be ready for another successful week.
QB Case Keenum, MIN (10.9%)
Available in nearly 90% of leagues, Keenum has a great matchup against the Browns. While the Vikings will definitely not rush Diggs back, he may be ready to go after missing the previous two weeks. Having Diggs, Thielen, Rudolph and McKinnon should be enough to make Keenum a worthwhile replacement for this week.
Running Back Adds
RBs Jalen Richard (5.1%) and DeAndre Washington (3.1%), OAK
Marshawn Lynch is suspended for the game this week, so Richard and Washington absorb those snaps. Due to the difficulty of running against Buffalo, the Raiders may play Richard more and get him into space. If the Raiders sustain drives, I expect Washington to be the short yardage and goal line guy, giving him the better chance at touchdowns. It’s a toss-up for these two, but there is value to be had. I would lean slightly towards Richard.
RB Dion Lewis, NE (20.4%)
Here we go…a Patriot running back. While they usually come with plenty of questions and headaches, Lewis has been active three weeks in a row. This week, Patriots play the Chargers, who are among the worst in the league against the run. One would think New England takes a run-heavy approach in this matchup.
RB Aaron Jones, GB (66.0%)
The Packers are off this week, but if you don’t put in a claim for Jones, you’ll miss out.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (26.5%)
The Colts lost Turbin for the year in week six, which caused Mack’s snap count to jump from 24% to 47%. While he only carried the ball five times, he received six targets in the passing game. His role should only grow.
RB Matt Forte, NYJ (49.9%)
Forte and Powell continue to split the workload pretty evenly. Forte received seven carries and five catches for 82 total yards. Powell had nine carries and two catches for 83 total yards. If your running back is on bye, check to see if Forte is available.
RB Alex Collins, BAL (32.5%)
Collins continues to see double-digit carries. He also continues to avoid the end zone. With the receivers banged up and playing on Thursday Night Football, we could see the Ravens run the ball more than usual against the Dolphins.
RB Wendell Smallwood, PHI (39.2%)
The young back returned from injury on Monday night. While the 5.9 fantasy points he earned doesn’t excite you, he got the start over Blount and out-touched him 9-3 in the first half. Smallwood is the best back they have in pass protection. Now that they lose left tackle Jason Peters, Smallwood’s assistance to keep Wentz upright is even more valuable. This will get Smallwood snaps, as long as he can stay healthy.
Pass Catcher Adds
WR Ted Ginn Jr., NO (44.0%)
Ginn will continue to serve a big role in this offense, but it is even more valuable when Snead is out. He has 11 catches for 207 yards over the past two weeks. The Saints get the Bears at home this week.
WR Nelson Agholor, PHI (63.0%)
If he’s out there, grab him. Agholor has thrived in the slot this season, grabbing a touchdown in 5-of-7 games. Agholor will look to make it six against the 49ers this week.
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL (50.6%)
Sanu returned from injury to catch six passes for 65 yards. He gets the Jets this week.
WR Deonte Thompson, BUF (0.2%)
Tyrod may have finally found his receiver, after connecting for four catches and 107 yards.
WR Kenny Stills, MIA (15.5%)
As long as DeVante Parker is out, Stills will continue to serve a big role in this offense.
WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ (53.1%)
I’ll continue being one of the only people in the fantasy community to rank Kearse every week, because he continues to perform. Welcome to yet another Add/Drop article, Jermain Kearse.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (7.7%)
I know Mike Tomlin said they will not be trading Bryant despite what he says, but the Steelers organization is certainly taking offers. If they see an offer they like, they’ll pull the trigger, making JuJu the clear second receiver. Even if Bryant stays, Tomlin made it seem as though he would be punished, and if nothing happens, Smith-Schuster is still performing well. In any case, he’s worth a stash if you have the roster space.
TE Jack Doyle, IND (35.0%)
I was actually surprised to see Doyle’s ownership. Make sure he’s owned in your league. Even though this week’s matchup isn’t great, the Colts loving using tight ends.
TE Tyler Kroft, CIN (10.8%)
Kroft faces the Colts this week after averaging nearly 15 fantasy points in his last three games.
TE Nick O’Leary, BUF (1.5%)
O’Leary has 50+ yards in back-to-back weeks, and he gets a beatable Raiders defense this week. As long as Clay is out, he gives us needed value at the tight end position.
Cincinnati Bengals (35.6%)
The Bengals D/ST got lit up against Pittsburgh last week, but the Colts should prove to be an easier opponent. They know they need this win to stay relevant, so look for this defense to take chances and make plays Sunday.
Miami Dolphins (35.1%)
The Dolphin defense’s biggest weakness is their offense, because this is a really solid group. They play against a weak Ravens offense on Thursday Night Football, which will likely be an ugly game.
New Orleans Saints (51.1%)
I never thought I’d be writing about the Saints D/ST as a pick-up. After posting negative scores the first two weeks, they have averaged 16.75 per week. Yes, this is partially skewed by their three-touchdown performance against the Lions, but even without the game, they have averaged 11.7. They get the Bears at home, which could be another double-digit performance if they stop the run.
QB Carson Palmer, ARI (68.5%)
Suffered a broken arm on Sunday.
QB Andrew Luck, IND (46.8%)
Are you struggling to make playoffs and have Luck on your bench? Drop him or trade him to the first place guy. He suffered a setback and won’t take part in practice this week. The Colts are a couple losses away from officially shutting him down for the season.
RB Mike Gillislee, NE (86.5%)
Sure, he’s usually the short yardage guy, but that role hasn’t gotten him a touchdown since week two.
RB Marshawn Lynch, OAK (97.3%)
Did you draft Lynch thinking you were going to get Beast Mode? Well, I’m sorry this man hurt you. He’s suspended for this game, plays the Dolphins next week, then is on his bye week. If you need space, don’t feel like you need to hang onto Lynch.
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr., WAS (90.9%)
Doctson has surpassed him in the depth chart. There’s no reason to be patient with him.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (56.8%)
Same sort of thing with Pryor. Could Crowder become decent in PPR? Yes, but you don’t need to sink your ship being patient.
WR Eric Decker, TEN (60.2%)
The Titans are on by this week and Decker is not valuable enough to hang onto if you need bye week fill-ins.
WR John Brown, ARI (57.4%)
You can probably drop Brown with Palmer out. I don’t see Stanton taking too made effective shots down the field.
TE Martellus Bennett, GB (71.1%)
The former tight end coach doesn’t know how to use tight ends in his offense. Go figure. That’s the greatness of Mike McCarthy for you.
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