Imagine a race where you need to fly from Anchorage to Miami, but you must break the trip into 16 separate legs and you have no way of knowing the flight plans or schedules for any airport until you arrive on the premises. Each stop along the way offers a new multi-branched decision tree for where to fly next. Your flight experiences vacillate between smooth sailing and gut-wrenching turbulence. Welcome to fantasy football. As soon as the Monday Night Football game ends, you’ve landed at a new destination and are tasked with setting up your team not only for success in the subsequent week, but also en route to the final destination of a championship.
The stress of the week between games is omnipresent. Every bit of relevant news leads you to question your roster and starting lineup. On the other hand, avoiding the ups and downs of a tempestuous Sunday red-eye is entirely possible. Turn off the television, holster your Smartphone, and find a different way to spend the end of your week. If you’re not willing to quit football cold turkey, find a different way to enjoy the game. Click away from the RedZone channel and keep it locked on your favorite team for three hours. Better yet, go see a game in person. Temporarily disconnecting from your fake football enterprises will teach you new ways to break down a weekend’s worth of fantasy action. From recaps to target breakdowns, the online fantasy tools at your disposal are as useful as they are endless (TheFakeFootball’s are the best, of course).
With all that said, the Week 7 Waiver Wire is brought to you by Candlestick Park, whose blustery confines lured me off the couch one last time on Sunday for the Cards-49ers game. These suggested pick-ups were mined from the box scores that were populated while I was baking in the nosebleeds, cursing the cost of concessions and lamenting the frequency of TV timeouts. It wasn’t a superlative day of fantasy immersion, but it was still football. And yes, even from the upper deck, Andre Ellington looked infinitely better than Rashard Mendenhall.
Better late than never: Chad Henne, Brandon Weeden, and Nick Foles
After leading the Vikes to victory in Week 5, Matt Cassel fell short against the Panthers in Week 6. Josh Freeman is waiting in the wings and could be a viable QB2 if he assumes the starting role.
Thad Lewis scored twice through the air and once on the ground in his NFL debut and finished as a top-10 QB in a week when typically reliable QBs failed to deliver. He suffered a foot injury in the game, but is expected to start in Week 7 against the Dolphins. I’m still not buying in standard leagues, but 2-QB owners should take notice.
Mike Glennon also finished top-10 in Week 6. His match-up this week at Atlanta makes him a serviceable bye week fill-in for managers in extremely deep leagues, but don’t expect much beyond that. Glennon faces Carolina in Week 8 and Seattle in Week 9, respectively the worst and fifth-worst match-ups for fantasy quarterbacks.
Better late than never: Andre Ellington, Zac Stacy, and Brandon Jacobs
With DeMarco Murray likely sidelined this week, rushing duties for the Cowboys will fall to Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar. Dunbar is more appealing fantasy option, but he didn’t play on Sunday. A touchdown saved Randle’s fantasy day in relief of Murray, but he could only muster 32 yards on 13 touches. Every starting running back holds value in fake football, but Randle is less appealing if he’s splitting carries with Dunbar (or Phillip Tanner).
The Jets’ running backs are dropping like flies. Mike Goodson was lost for the season and Bilal Powell hurt his shoulder on Sunday. Powell may be available for Week 7, but injury connoisseur Chris Ivory will likely receive more work, regardless. If Powell can’t play or makes his injury worse against the Patriots, all the preseason hype heaped on then-assumed-starter Ivory could finally pay off.
The trouble with Saints running backs is you never know which one will march into the end zone on game day. Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson each gained over 50 yards on the ground, but Robinson scored the team’s lone rushing TD. Will it be Thomas this week? Darren Sproles? The New Orleans backfield will continue to frustrate fantasy owners, so don’t look at these guys for consistent production going forward.
Chris Ogbonnaya managed to find paydirt on Sunday and he continues to play plenty of snaps in the Cleveland offense. The Browns are dedicated to using Ogbonnaya in the passing game, evidenced by his team-leading 12 targets. Pay attention, PPR owners.
Brandon Jacobs currently resides in the ivory tower that is the “better late than never” section above, but he’s nursing a hamstring injury. Jacobs is expected to practice this week, but with the Giants playing on Monday night, owners planning to start him might want to invest in Michael Cox. Da’Rel Scott suffered a more serious hamstring strain in Week 6, making Cox the only truly healthy running back in New York’s arsenal.
Mike Tolbert scored twice and posted 47 total yards on Sunday on the way to his best game of the season (16 fantasy points). Tolbert has talent, but he only scored 14 points combined in his first 4 games. Jonathan Stewart, meanwhile, could rejoin the fold any week now and that will only muddle this rushing timeshare further.
Better late than never: Denarius Moore, Keenan Allen, Rueben Randle, Robert Woods, Terrance Williams, and Kris Durham
As we all wait for the Rob Gronkowski return that may never happen, someone needs to catch passes from Tom Brady. Kenbrell Thompkins stole the headlines with his game-ending TD grab, but Aaron Dobson was Brady’s rookie receiver of choice for most of the game. Dobson’s 10 targets were second on the team to Julian Edelman’s 11. With Gronk seemingly no closer to playing and Danny Amendola reset to his “injured” factory default, Dobson should continue to accrue fantasy points.
Brandon LaFell broke out on Sunday with 107 yards and TD on 4 catches. The touchdown was a 79-yarder, which puts his yards per catch on the other three grabs at 9.3. The big plays count, but don’t go crazy over LaFell with your FAAB or waiver priority.
If unexciting consistency is more your speed, give Mohamed Sanu a whirl. Andy Dalton keeps giving Sanu a steady dose of targets (5.3 per game), but Sanu hasn’t yet found the end zone. It’s unlikely he’ll go the entire season without scoring, so you could do worse if trying to catch lightning in a bottle on a bye week.
With Stevie Johnson in street clothes, T.J. Graham stepped up and caught 4 of his 6 targets for 74 yards. Johnson could return in Week 7, but on the chance that he doesn’t, Graham could be a sneaky addition to your bench.
Better late than never: Jeff Cumberland
Of Washington’s receivers, only Pierre Garcon had more targets than Jordan Reed on Sunday. Reed is emerging as one of RGIII’s more reliable pass-catching options and should be owned in more leagues.
Similarly, Timothy Wright ranked second on his team in targets for Week 6, but Wright’s usage was elevated by the absence of Mike Williams. At 0-5, the Buccaneers are essentially playing for next year, so don’t be surprised if Wright remains involved even after Williams returns.
Joseph Fauria caught all three of his targets on Sunday for touchdowns. He only has 4 other receptions on the season, two of which were also touchdowns. Fauria is a huge target and that’s why the Lions utilize him so much around the goal line, but it’s hard to trust a player who has three zero-point games in six weeks.
Jimmy Graham couldn’t have had a worse Week 6. In addition to being shut out by Aqib Talib, Graham had to leave the game with a foot injury. Ben Watson amassed a respectable 61 yards on 4 targets in the game and appears to be locked in as the Saints’ #2 tight end, should Graham miss any further time.