Tom Lorenzo, Senior Editor RotoExperts.com
I had a buddy of mine say to me yesterday, “If it wasn’t for the bye weeks I would be undefeated!” Yeah, let me speak with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about that, see if he can get rid of those pesky bye weeks. After all, they’ve only been around since the 1990 season. It’s not like it’s become a staple of the NFL for over two decades and it’s not as if you weren’t given enough advanced notice as to what week each team will take their respective bye. It’s all some sort of conspiracy against you, right?
Anyway, the truth is the bye weeks are tough to get through. In one league I lose Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Vernon Davis and my 49ers defense. Such is life. Who am I to complain, really, since I’m playing against a guy who has Michael Vick on bye. I sit Brady, he sits Vick. Welcome to Fantasy Football.
The so-called problem with the bye weeks, though, is that you lose out on some of the key waiver wire additions because other teams are dealing with bye-week blows as well. There’s a pretty good chance that Tim Tebow, DeMarco Murray, Greg Little and Earnest Graham are already gone, which is why we need to dig deeper and look at some less than desirable options to get you through the weekend. These guys aren’t must-starts in standard 12-team leagues, but it’s last call and all the attractive girls have already been scooped up. It’s time to put on your Fantasy Football beer goggles and go shopping on the waiver wires.
Welcome to the Christian Ponder era in Minnesota. The Vikings have officially named Ponder the starter over the aging and underwhelming Donovan McNabb. On paper, the matchup against the Packers is something you probably want no part of. However, while the Vikings are all but certain to lose this one, a possible blowout means good news for Ponder. Think about the Cam Newton matchup against the Packers in Week 2. Sure he threw three interceptions, be he also threw for 432 yards and a score, plus he ran the ball 10 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. I’m not saying that Ponder is anywhere near as good as Newton, but the blowout should allow for the Vikings to have to stick with the pass, and Ponder is agile enough to take off running, possibly for a score. The Packers have allowed nearly 300 yards passing per game and already have given up 10 passing touchdowns. This matchup isn’t ideal, but if you’re in a tough spot, you can do worse than turning to Ponder.
This trade made absolutely no sense for the Raiders, but we’re not here to talk about football moves, we’re here to talk about the Fantasy impact. Palmer, who’s only had a handful of days to not only learn the Raiders offense but to work himself back into game shape, is a low-end option this week. In fact, I think Palmer is a better long-term value, given the weapons he has at his disposal, but the Raiders are likely to ease him in this week, focusing on the run. If you’re desperate, however, and in need of a bye-week option, Palmer is there for the taking. Sure, I can see him throw for 220 and a touchdown, but probably not much more than that.
Yet another QB who is picking up his first start of the season in Week 7. This is getting complicated. To be honest, I would much rather start Ponder this week than Beck, but you can definitely make the case for starting Beck if you’re desperate. The matchup against Carolina is so-so, with the Panthers allowing eight passing touchdowns and intercepting just three passes. They have a bunch of injuries on defense and really don’t have the playmakers to hinder the Redskins from focusing on the pass. Considering Beck, 30, has four career starts to the tune of one touchdown and three interceptions, you need to limit your expectations.
With Peyton Hillis banged up, both physically and mentally, Hardesty might actually pull the start on Sunday against the Seahawks. The good news is that you can instantly grab a running back off the waiver wires who will touch the ball some 15-20 times, but the bad news is that the matchup against the Seahawks is a killer one. Considering that Seattle is allowing a league-best 3.1 yards per carry, Hardesty is really going to need to earn those yards. Still, if you’re a Hillis owner and you have a thin bench, Hardesty makes a lot of sense as a one-week waiver add.
Maurice is another must-add this week, especially since there are rumblings that Lions starting running back Jahvid Best might sit out the entire season due to a concussion. Morris isn’t a high upside back, but he does have some nice ability. Morris did run the ball well last season in six starts, scoring five touchdowns on 75 carries. Not too shabby. The one concern here, though, is that the Lions might split the carries between Morris and Keiland Williams. Still, Morris is the better option and if he can get into a rhythm early he’ll be able to limit the number of carries Williams might vulture from him.
I’m not a huge Battle fan, but I do see some nice value in the Chiefs running back this week. The Raiders offer up a highly favorable matchup, allowing nearly 5.0 yards per carry. I’m not sure we’ll see a repeat performance from Week 5 when Battle carried the ball 19 times for 119 yards, but an 80-yard, one-touchdown performance is certainly within his reach.
This is one kid I really like this week, though starting him in a 10- or 12-team standard league is a bit of a gamble. First, the quarterback change to Tim Tebow coupled with the Brandon Lloyd trade is going to shake the offense up a bit. This could mean, though, Tebow leans heavily on Thomas who has a ton of ability. The second factor here, however, is that Thomas has yet to play this season, coming off an Achilles surgery. That’s not to say he isn’t ready to play, but starting someone like Thomas, considering the many questionable factors this week would be a high-risk, high-reward option. Then again, you’re a risky guy, aren’t you?
Benn had a nice game last week against the Saints, catching three balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. I know he can be a little too hot and cold, seen more as the deep threat for Josh Freeman, but with the Bears giving up their fair share of deep plays (24 passes have gone for 20-plus yards) Benn should be able to make a big play or two this week.
Speaking of deep threats, Brown is a pretty intriguing play this week. Not only is Mike Wallace a little banged up, but the Pittsburgh offense is really starting to take off. Last week it was the running attack, while in Week 5 it was Ben Roethlisberger who threw for five touchdowns. This week, I expect to see the Steelers work the passing game against a Cardinals team that has allowed the third most 20-plus yards receptions. Brown, as the team’s deep threat, should get plenty of good looks in this one. I wouldn’t slot him in as a WR2, but as a flex play he has tremendous upside.
Dickson has quietly shown some signs of emerging as a TE1. Outside of last week, of course, where he was more resigned to playing the role of a blocking tight end. The good news for Dixon is that this week he and the Ravens face off against the Jaguars, a team that has allowed the 8th most points to opposing tight ends. It’s not an ideal start, but then again if you’re picking from the guys on this list you’re probably looking for some desperation plays anyway.