We made it through the back to back weeks of 6 teams on bye! No major injuries to report this week doesn’t mean we can get lazy at the waiver wire. I comb through the results and find the players to pick up even if just for a week. Be sure to read previous articles and make sure your league isn’t sleeping on a gem. Now is the time to start handcuffing your star players just to be safe. Looking ahead to playoff schedules is as important as ever as teams continue with bye weeks through week 13—ugh why DeMarco Murray?
Bye week teams: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and Oakland Raiders.
For our on-going waiver wire exclusive* we will be breaking skill players down into 3 categories and then concluding by recommending some likely free-agent Defenses and Kickers:
- Game Changers: Game changers are exactly what they sound like. Players that through injury or opportunity rise up and become real impact players immediately. They may not be the best or most well-known players, but they are in a position to impact fantasy scores on a weekly basis.
- Depth with upside: Again, the name is fairly self-explanatory. These are players that are just waiting for that opportunity to excel along with one or two quarterback streaming options. Often they possess a solid talent, and elite measurables, but they just have not had the opportunity to “break out” yet. This often includes handcuffs of underwhelming players or players that have started slowly at deep positions, i.e. a QB or TE, that still have you believing in their talent.
- Hail Mary’s: This section is easily going to be the highest turnover section of your roster. And in some cases, the players will literally change from day-to-day. They are often role players that flash, or deeper roster players that may have moved up due to injury, trade, or just plain old ineffectiveness.
*We will not frequently rehash previous players; to see who we recommended last week, click here.
Steve Smith Sr. | Wide Receiver | Baltimore Ravens
Smith is one of those players who does not seem to ever want to retire. No matter the injury, the fact that he’s undersized, or any other factor Steve Smith produces when he’s on the field. In an ugly game against a division rival, Smith led his team in targets coming off weeks of not playing he only managed 47 yards on 4 receptions. A home matchup with Cleveland is the perfect spot for a get healthy game.
Eli Rogers | Wide Receiver | Pittsburgh Steelers
The return of Ben Roethlisberger normally meant good things for Antonio Brown—whom was able to score a touchdown—but in week 9 Rogers led the team in receiving with 103 yards on just 6 catches. Big Ben being hobbled could force this Pittsburgh passing attack into a more west coast style for the time being, fitting Rogers skill set as defense scheme to take away Brown and LeVeon Bell.
Chris Ivory | Running Back | Jacksonville Jaguars
The passing game in Jacksonville has been awful this season, thank you Blake Bortles. This lack of production has led to defenders stacking the box making it tough to run the ball. These fortunes turned around—except for Bortles being a bad QB—Sunday when Ivory rushed for over 100 yards on fewer than 20 carries. Although T.J. Yeldon was handling the receiving role in the backfield, we are seeing a healthy Ivory wearing defenses down.
Richard Rodgers | Tight End | Green Bay Packers
Maybe it’s a Cal connection, maybe it’s the fact they’re both named Rodgers, or maybe it’s because no other receiver can create separation. 10 targets for Rodgers would trail only Jordy Nelson who had 13 for the team lead. Aaron Rodgers loves throwing to his tight end, which is why we all fell for Jared Cook again this season. Instead, it is Richard Rodgers who has filled in and continues to produce consistently.
*QB stream of the week*
Jay Cutler | Quarterback | Chicago Bears
In his first game back, Cutler faced what many would call the best defense in the league against Minnesota. He threw for over 250 yards and found Alshon Jeffery for his first touchdown of the season. Chicago comes off a bye in week 9 and travels to Tampa Bay to face this atrocious secondary. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging nearly 300 passing yards when facing this Buccaneers defense. Chicago boat-races Tampa Bay in this game and Jay Cutler will be the driving force.
Depth With Upside
Trevor Siemian | Quarterback | Denver Broncos
A poor offensive showing all-around in Oakland by the defending champion Broncos will send them back to the drawing board with one game left before the bye. A road trip to New Orleans to face Drew Brees in the Super Dome. This Broncos defense is outstanding but Brees always finds a way to get the best out of his team, especially at home. Siemian will need to be able to put up points, just to keep up with the high-flying Saints attack. We’ve seen Siemian throw four touchdowns earlier this season and he could need to replicate that performance to escape New Orleans with a much need win.
Ronnie Hillman | Running Back | Minnesota Vikings
Ever since the injury to Adrian Peterson this Vikings ground game has slowly become almost irrelevant. Matt Asiata led the way in carries but was out-gained by Hillman who was also more efficient—4 yards per carry for Hillman and 3 yards per carry for Asiata. The offensive line continues to be a massive weak spot and the major cause for this three game losing streak. The defense can only do so much and the running game is a key contributor to giving your defense some time to rest and make any adjustments necessary.
Austin Hooper | Tight End | Atlanta Falcons
So far 2016 has all but taken a bat to the narrative that rookie tight ends can’t perform. Hunter Henry making plays—when healthy—and now that Jacob Tamme has been forced to miss time Hooper has stepped in and become a trusted target of Matt Ryan. The second year under, offensive coordinator, Mike Shanahan has proved that Atlanta is willing to spread the ball around to its playmakers rather than force-feeding Julio Jones like years past. A road trip to Philadelphia after their secondary was just annihilated could keep the offensive juices flowing for Hooper and Ryan.
Taylor Gabriel | Wide Receiver | Atlanta Falcons
As I previously stated about Atlanta, Julio Jones is no longer being forced the ball. Gabriel has become that deep threat receiver that defenses forget about. Fantasy aside, this Falcons offense is legit and here to stay. Against Tampa Bay Taylor Gabriel caught all 5 of his targets for 52 yards, but added a 2 rushing attempts actually finding the endzone on one. Even when Julio still has a great game we are seeing other fantasy relevant options and Gabriel has certainly worked himself a role on this offense.
Albert Wilson | Wide Receiver | Kansas City Chiefs
Just one week ago, Wilson was held scoreless against Indianapolis as rookie Tyreek Hill stole all of the shine from the preseason darling. A matchup with the Jacksonville defense and an injury to Jeremy Maclin was all it took for Albert Wilson to see eight targets. Maclin’s injury could be more serious than we were led to believe as he was listed as active but only recorded one target before leaving the game. If he were to miss more time Wilson looks to take over the WR2 role in Kansas City.
Andre Ellington | Running Back | Arizona Cardinals
Arizona is coming off their bye week facing an absolutely dreadful 49ers defense—who has lost 7 straight games, surrendering 100 rushing yards in each game. David Johnson is the best RB in the league this year and he will destroy San Francisco. Andre Ellington could see work as the Cardinals take their foot off the pedal after Johnson scorches them for over 200 all-purpose yards.
Benjamin Cunningham | Running Back | Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley remains the clear starter on workhorse for this team, but with such shaky quarterback play defenses are loading the box and stuffing his every run attempt—managing 48 yards on 12 rushes. Gurley has become more involved in the passing game, but it was actually Cunningham who led the backfield in targets. Cunningham was in the game on multiple crucial third downs for Los Angeles. If Gurley were to miss time the Rams know they have a safe floor as a backup.
Jalin Marshall | Wide Receiver | New York Jets
The leading receiver for the Jets against a struggling Miami secondary was, of course, a Marshall, just not Brandon Marshall. The undrafted rookie, Jalin Marshall posted a career-high in yardage and scored his first NFL touchdown in week 8. Los Angeles will travel across the country to play the Jets in Metlife Stadium and will look to keep Brandon Marshall silent giving Jalin the opportunity to shine from the slot.
Ladarius Green | Tight End | Pittsburgh Steelers
Green has missed each of the team’s first 8 games after being placed on the PUP list before the season. He returned to practice in week 6 but has yet to be cleared. The Steelers offense is lacking a big-bodied weapon to attack the middle of the field, and Green was originally touted to fill that role. We’re not certain when Green will return to action but he is a worthwhile stash that you can find cheap.
Defense and Special Teams:
Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
Heading into Monday night the Ravens are the no. 1 defense in ESPN standard scoring. An emotional win against a division rival followed up with a matchup against the winless Cleveland Browns are the perfect recipe to continue this defensive momentum.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
Head Coach Dan Quin has this Falcons defense playing fast and causing havoc for opposing offenses. They will face the rookie QB Carson Wentz, who has been struggling with turnovers of late. With no true deep threats for Philadelphia, Atlanta will look to take away the short passing game and sit in the passing lanes of Wentz and co.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
As always, when streaming defenses we are looking for turnover potential. There are few QBs—in fact, there are no QBs this year—better to target than Blake Bortles. If you look at stats only you’ll think Bortles is having a good season, but he has been absolutely dreadful. Houston will be coming off of a bye week. Two weeks of preparation and rest against this struggling Jaguars offense favors the defense heavily.