By: Joe Griffitt
We are getting deeper into the season and we are reaching our first bye week. The Titans and Patriots are on the shelf this week. The Pats players have the potential to leave a few holes in your lineup. Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis and LaGarrete Blount are all players that are owned heavily in every fantasy league. In some cases you could potentially have players on the bench that can fill the large scoring voids left by all the players listed above. If you don’t below are a few options to help cover yourself this upcoming week. Pay attention to a few names outlined in this article, as I believe that they will go beyond a bye week fill in, and could potentially earn a starting spot in fantasy leagues.
Quarterback- If you do own Brady, who is currently the number 2 ranked quarterback in PPR leagues on ESPN, this bye week could be difficult to find “Brady” like numbers. But guys like Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor and in deeper leagues Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston should do just fine. Dalton faces a Chiefs defense who just gave up 5 touchdown passes against the Packers and are ranked 28th in the NFL in passing defense. With a full healthy arsenal Dalton should have no problem racking up some impressive numbers at home against Kansas City. Tyrod Taylor has been the surprise quarterback of the season, it took all the way to the end of the preseason to name Taylor the starter in Buffalo and it has paid off thus far. Coming off a 3 touchdown performance against the Dolphins, Taylor has gotten better with every start he will face the worst ranked passing defense in the league in the New York Giants in week 4. If he can continue to work wide receiver Sammy Watkins into the mix Tyrod should see his value continue to increase in fantasy formats.
Running Back- Last week proved to be more of a split effort for backs Dion Lewis and LaGarette Blount. This should be the norm for the rest of the season for the Patriots, and wow does it make them more dangerous. Blount was welcomed back with 18 carries for 78 yards and 3 touchdown scores. Lewis chipped in 8 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Lewis should be more involved in the pass catching plays, but will also see a decent amount of touches a week. Running backs are usually hoarded on benches, so you should be able to plug a guy in here to help you out. If you do need to hit the waiver wire for a replacement a few that I like the upcoming week are Chris Johnson, Karlos Williams and Lance Dunbar. CJ2K looked like the Chris Johnson of old from his 2,000 yard rushing season this past week. He torched a decent rush defense in the 49ers for 2 scores on 22 carries for 110 yards. As long as Andre Ellington is sidelined due to an injury, I believe Johnson will continue to pour in his throwback games. I will make a bold statement here and I personally believe that rookie running back Karlos Williams is the back to own in Buffalo. LeSean McCoy has been nothing short of mediocre this season, while he is nursing a hamstring injury and early reports are that he may sit this week against a stout Giants front line. Williams has absolutely made the most of every one of his chances so far this season. This past week against the Dolphins he was handed the ball 12 times and rushed for 110 yards. He has successfully entered the end zone all three weeks, and I think he will get back there again this week, especially if McCoy is ruled out. My last guy is Lance Dunbar, who I almost have trouble calling a running back. Dunbar led the Cowboys in receptions and receiving yards in week 3. He has 2 carries on the season, and if you are looking to find rushing production from Dunbar, look away. The actual rushing front will continue to be dominated by Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden. The thing about Dunbar is he has the unique ability to lineup all over the field and will continue to be a go to player for quarterback Brandon Weeden. He is an outstanding play in PPR formats, in standard leagues he is a little bit of a tougher sell due to the fact he most likely will not be involved in a whole lot of scoring plays.
Wide Receiver- Julian Edelman has turned into one of the more consistent receivers in the game, and that is not hard to do when you have a quarterback like Tom Brady. As I said above that chances are you have a few receivers tucked away that can cover the lone spot left by Edelman this week. So I will outline a few guys who should be good additions to your squad for the upcoming weeks and can cover for you when you need them. James Jones showed on Monday Night Football, that he is a name that should appear on any fantasy roster. Can you believe that Jones was cut twice in the past year before finding himself back in Aaron Rodgers receiving core? The aforementioned Rodgers has a lot to do with Jones early success, as he can make any decent receiver look untouchable. Not to take anything away from the Packer receiver, Jones has made some spectacular plays so far and look for those to continue as Rodgers will continue to air it out his way. In my first article I outlined Donte Moncrief, and mentioned that if veteran Andre Johnson continued his struggles that the doors were about to open for Moncrief… Come on in, Donte. It is clear that from here on out Andrew Luck will go the way of lead receiver TY Hilton and his second option Moncrief. Luck has started out somewhat shaky, but when he finds his stride it will continue to sky-rocket the value of the Hilton/Moncrief duo. My last receiver that I want to outline is Miami Dolphin, Rishard Matthews. He is a very interesting player, being the second option on the depth chart behind Jarvis Landry for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The interesting fact involving these two players is that Landry has yet to reach the end zone. It is just a matter of time before this changes, but Landry has more targets and more receptions than Matthews. 24 receptions for Landry and 20 for Matthews. Matthews leads the touchdown race 3 to zero. In the last two contests Matthews has a whopping 228 yards receiving compared to 177 for Landry. Matthews is more of a vertical threat for the Dolphins and it is showing due to yards receiving and touchdowns. I would think that this would make Rishard Matthews more of a riskier play than Landry, but I don’t think that it does. The Dolphins have a very weak running game and have been playing from behind a ton this year. This means that Landry and Matthews should keep putting up big numbers. Matthews is an excellent fill in player and I believe will prove to be a week to week Flex option in the long run.
Tight End- It is Gronk’s world and we are living in it. He is such a powerful force and joy to watch every week. When the bye week comes for this guy it hurts, and we all know that picking a tight end past the top 4-5 can be a crap shoot. I really like Jared Cook the St. Louis tight end, but the Rams are going to be up against it this week against a Cardinals defense. I will suggest you pass on him this week. That leaves three guys who I think that are worth a quality play in Gronk’s place.. Charles Clay, Richard Rodgers and Gary Barnidge. Clay goes hand in hand with Tyrod Taylor who I highlighted as one of my quarterbacks. Clay broke out in week 3 and was on the receiving end of 5 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown score. He should rack up plenty of good opportunities against the weak Giants pass defense. Richard “The second” Rodgers was kept quiet on Monday night, but I foresee Aaron Rodgers getting him back into the mix, especially in the red zone this Sunday against San Francisco. The last is Gary Barnidge who has broken out as the receiving tight end in Cleveland. He posted a huge game against the Raiders, racking up 6 receptions for 105 yards and a score. He was targeted 10 times by quarterback Josh McCown and I think that this will continue to be a developing relationship that should prove lucrative for fantasy formats.
Hopefully the waiver wire finds you well! Follow me on Twitter @joeg_12.