Preparing for the Week 8-10 Bye Weeks
It may seem premature, but Weeks 8-10 account for half of all the NFL's bye weeks. Weeks 8 and 9 will each see six teams sitting, and four more will sit for Week 10. With only New Orleans and Oakland not playing this week, it will pay to look ahead to the next few weeks and see where you are going to need some free agent help.
Joseph Randle – Randle should be on your radar for Week 7 already, and will be one of the top adds this week. But if you do win the waiver war to get him, a long absence from Murray could be quite fruitful for you. The Cowboys are playing two of the three teams (Detroit Week 8, New Orleans Week 10) that are allowing over 5 yards per carry to their opposition. In Week 9, Dallas plays a Minnesota defense that is currently allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. Also keep an eye on Lance Dunbar as he recovers from his own hamstring injury. He is out for Week 7 but may come back and usurp Randle’s potential value as he was Murray's primary backup.
Chris Ogbonnaya – He doesn’t have a high ceiling and he has a Week 10 bye, however, Ogbonnaya has been getting plenty of snaps as both a fullback for Willis McGahee and as a singleback in passing situations. He has more value in PPR leagues but is averaging over seven targets per game the last three weeks, and has found the endzone twice over that time. He faces a couple of stout rushing defenses in Weeks 8 and 9 (Kansas City and Baltimore), but as a pass-catching back, that could help his value as the Browns avoid their “running” back (McGahee has only one catch all year) and get Ogbonnaya into more singleback sets.
Shonn Greene - Greene is out Week 8 so be careful for those who need help then. However, he faces St. Louis (ranked 23rd against the run according to our advanced metrics) and Jacksonville (20th) in Weeks 9 and 10. These defenses have allowed a combined 13 rushing touchdowns so far this year and Greene was signed for goal line duty. Greene may find even more playing time, if Chris Johnson, the worst running back in the league from an effectiveness standpoint according to our metrics, continues to struggle.
Roy Helu Jr. – While most of his value revolves around the possibility of something bad happening to Alfred Morris, Helu does have a little more upside than your average handcuff. Morris has shown hands that appear to be chiseled from oak, and cedes almost all pass-catching duties to Helu. If the Redskins fall behind early (which is likely as they face San Diego and Denver in Weeks 8 and 9) Helu could find himself some work in the passing game.
Nick Foles – If he shreds the Dallas defense like everyone else has, there is a definite chance that he remains the starter for the Eagles. Foles has put up over 45 standard fantasy points in the past 6 quarters, and on an offense that churns out big plays, he has a ton of potential. During Weeks 8-10, Oakland will be the most menacing defense he faces, so rest assured that the matchups will be in his favor as well.
Josh Freeman – He isn’t a lock to start this week, but assuming Matt Cassel continues being his thoroughly underwhelming self, there is a good chance that Freeman will be trotting out in Week 8. Luckily for Josh, he gets to play three porous passing defenses (Green Bay, Dallas, Washington) during this stretch. Unfortunately, Freeman’s completion percentage this year (45.7 percent) has been lower than Tim Tebow’s career average (47.6%), and his passing net expected points, which measures how many points above or below expectation a player contributes for his team, is one of the worst in the league this year (-21.04). But he has talent and maybe leaving Tropical Storm Schiano in Florida will allow him to play better. At the very least, he has more upside than guys like Alex Smith and Matt Schaub (RIP).
Jordan Reed - Reed has seen six targets in three of four games so far this year, and he saw 47 more snaps last week than fellow tight end and teammate Fred Davis. He has value for the same reason Helu does: the Redskins look like they will be in some shootouts, and Reed is a pass-catching tight end rather than an inline blocker. As Reed and Griffin develop chemistry, Reed could prove to be a TE1 long term and not just be a bye week filler.
Zach Ertz - Chip Kelly is looking to ramp up Ertz’s role in the offense as he continues to look for reliable secondary receivers behind Desean Jackson. Ertz is starting to get more snaps and saw twice as many targets as Brent Celek last week. The rookie actually tied for the team lead in targets in Week 6. With promising matchups against the Giants (Week 8) and Green Bay (Week 10), there is potential for the Eagles tight end.
Aaron Dobson - I figured Dropson’s inability to catch a football (he had another brutal drop on 4th down against the Saints) would have sent him to Billy Belichick’s doghouse. Instead, he saw the most snaps and had the most catches of any Patriots receiver last week. Who knows, but with Amendola out for at least a week, and Gronkowski a mystery, he has value as long as Brady remains healthy. Also, keep an eye on Austin Collie who is starting to reek of a Tom Brady/Bill Belichick rejuvenation project.
Kris Durham - Durham now has 21 targets in his last 2 games and is settling into Nate Burleson’s vacated number two receiver spot fairly nicely. He has promising matchups against Dallas and Chicago (sandwiched with a Week 9 bye), and if Megatron remains hobbled, Durham could emerge as a solid threat, especially in PPR leagues.
Jerome Simpson - He hasn’t been consistent, but he also hasn’t had Josh Freeman’s big arm. As I mentioned with Freeman, the Vikings face some miserable passing defenses in Weeks 8-10, and Simpson has been Minnesota’s best receiver so far this year. He has more targets, catches, and yards than Greg Jennings, and with two games over 120 yards and two games under 30 yards, Simpson has boom or bust potential. But a wise man once told me: you gotta risk it for the biscuit. I like his chances for a couple double-digit fantasy outputs during this stretch.
Any Jets WRs - I don’t really know what to make of the Jets’ WR situation. None of their top-three wide receivers (Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, and Stephen Hill) are owned in even 15 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. They are the only team in the league without even one receiver owned in at least 45 percent of leagues. While Geno makes some mistakes, all three wideouts have had a double-digit fantasy game. Though I can’t sort this mess out, Hill and Kerley are worth a flier if you are in a bind as both are likely starters for the foreseeable future.