For fantasy owners injuries are a pain in the behind when setting weekly line ups. On top of that owners must deal with the slew of bye weeks happening from week five through week 11. Each week there is between four and six teams on a bye; except for week seven when there are only two.
Each week I will be giving my fantasy followers potential “bye week saviors” that they can use when their studs are on a bye. In order for players to qualify their ownership in ESPN leagues must be under 60% owned. For each position I will suggest players that fantasy owners should consider picking up and one player I feel that needs to be dropped in order for owners to pick up their “bye week saviors” player.
Teams on a week 8 bye: Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.
Tyrod Taylor vs Oakland (59% owned): Last week against the Buccaneers, Taylor had a season-high 20 fantasy points. This week he takes on the Raiders at home, who give up an average of 19 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks when on the road and last week gave up 25.7 fantasy points to Alex Smith. Taylor has scored at least 17.8 fantasy points in every home game this season. Expect another 18+ fantasy point game from Taylor this week.
Josh McCown vs Atlanta (12% owned): Over the last two weeks, McCown is averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game, while throwing for 563 yards and five touchdowns. The Falcons give up an average of 17.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks when on the road, including 18.5 last week to Tom Brady. The Jets defense have given up an average of 26 points per game over the last two weeks, so if the Jets are going to stay in the game against the Falcons, McCown will need another big performance.
Case Keenum/Sam Bradford at Cleveland (11% & 8% owned): Whether it’s Keenum or Bradford starting this week, the Browns have given up an average of 18.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and have given up 23+ fantasy points to three of the last five quarterbacks they have faced. My guess is Keenum will start this week as the Vikings give Bradford one more week to rest with the team’s bye coming in week 9.
Carson Palmer BYE Week (69% owned): Sunday against the Rams in London, Palmer broke his left arm that will require surgery and sideline him at least eight weeks. Assuming Palmer can return in exactly eight weeks, he will be back for week 16 against the Giants. The Cardinals season very well may be over thanks to the injuries to Palmer, David Johnson and others. If the team is clearly out of the playoff picture by December, don’t expect Palmer or Johnson to play again this season.
Matt Forte vs Atlanta (50% owned): Last week against the Dolphins, Forte led all Jets running backs with 12 touches and 13.2 fantasy points; he is clearly at the head of this running back by committee situation. This week, Forte faces the Falcons defense that gave up 33.2 fantasy points last week to the Patriots and give up an average of 27 per game to opposing running backs. Both teams defenses have been bad the past few weeks, meaning this game should be high scoring. Forte has the most catches among Jets running backs this season with 19, giving him the clear edge in PPR leagues.
Marlon Mack at Cincinnati (27% owned): Over the last three weeks, Mack’s role in the offense has picked up; averaging seven touches and 9.6 fantasy points per game. Last week against the Jaguars, Mack and Gore both had nine touches. However, Mack got four catches while Gore had none. With the Colts trailing that was expected. This week the Colts take on the Bengals, who gave up 24.1 fantasy points to the Steelers running backs last week. The Bengals should be ahead for a majority of the game, meaning Mack should see plenty of work while the Colts try to catch up via the pass.
Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington at Buffalo (5% & 3% owned): If Marshawn Lynch’s one game suspension is overturned, then he is the only Raiders running back that should be on fantasy rosters this week. However, assuming Lynch is still suspended both Richard and Washington offer upside this week against the Bills. Last week against the Chiefs, Richard played 26 out of 82 offensive snaps while Washington played 25. Richard touched the ball on 42% of his snaps while Washington touched it on 48% of his snaps. Between the two I like Washington just a tad more but both players will get touches if Lynch is out.
Mike Gillislee vs Los Angeles (87% owned): Once again this week, Dion Lewis out snapped Mike Gillislee 26 to 13. During those snaps, Lewis had 14 touches while Gillislee had eight. However, Lewis was the running back used early in the game while Gillislee came in later in the game during “mop up duty”. Gillislee has four touchdowns on the season, but they all came in the first two weeks. From week three on, Gillislee has been kept out of the end zone and is averaging just 3.8 fantasy points per game. Yet somehow he is the highest owned Patriots running back. Gillislee has lost is starting role to Lewis and isn’t getting in the end zone; it’s time to dump him.
Tyrell Williams at New England (55% owned): Last week I told fantasy owners to drop Williams and after last week’s 2.1 fantasy point performance, so you must be wondering why he makes this list. The simple answer is one word: Patriots. Last week against the Falcons, the Patriots gave up 45.4 fantasy points to the wide receivers and give up an average of 40 fantasy points per game on the season. The Patriots didn’t just struggle against Julio Jones; they allowed the number two receiver, Mohamed Sanu to score 12.5 fantasy points. Williams, like Sanu, is the number two wide receiver and he should have a good game this week.
Mohamed Sanu at New York (51% owned): Speaking of Sanu, his 12.5 fantasy points last week was the third time this season he scored 12+ fantasy points in a game. This week he faces the Jets defense that gave up 51.9 fantasy points to the Dolphins wide receivers, minus DeVante Parker, last week. Over the last four games the Jets are giving up an average of 40.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Sanu should be owned in more leagues and if you play in one where he isn’t owned, he should be the top wide receiver wavier wire claim.
Kenny Stills at Baltimore (15% owned): Of the 51.9 fantasy points the Jets allowed to the Dolphins wide receivers last week, Stills finished with a team-high 26.5. Jay Cutler left the game with a rib injury that is expected to keep him out at least this week against the Ravens. When Matt Moore entered the game, he repeatedly targeted Stills. While the matchup isn’t pretty, the Ravens give up just 22.2 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receiver, Stills should be targeted a lot by Moore, especially if DeVante Parker misses the game.
Martavis Bryant at Detroit (81% owned): I’m not sure what the Steelers are doing with Bryant, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that the two are headed for a divorce. Over the last five games, rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster is out snapping Bryant 245-224 and is out scoring him 47.5 to 27.5 in fantasy points. With the NFL trade deadline about a week away, unless Bryant is traded to a better situation, he needs to be dropped in all redraft leagues. For dynasty leagues, Bryant is too talented to drop and just needs to be held on your bench in hopes that he lands elsewhere in 2018. Update: Martavis Bryant has since been demoted to scout team.
Tyler Kroft vs Indianapolis (11% owned): Crazy to think that Tyler Eifert is owned in more ESPN leagues than Kroft. Yet, Eifert averaged just 4.3 fantasy points per game in the two games he played this season. Meanwhile, Kroft is averaging 12.7 fantasy points per game since taking over as the starter after Eifert’s injury. This week Kroft takes on the Colts who give up an average 13.6 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Since taking over as the starter, Kroft has three touchdowns and is a redzone threat. Outside of A.J. Green, Kroft has been the most consistent pass catcher for the Bengals.
Julius Thomas at Baltimore (10% owned): Last week against the Jets, Thomas had a season-high 8.8 fantasy points. Thomas hasn’t been a major part of the Dolphins offense so far this season, but this week he faces the Ravens, who give up an average of 14.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. If Thomas can fall into the endzone this week he could finish as a top 12 tight end thanks to all the players on a bye or injured.
Nick O’Leary vs Oakland (2% owned): Over the last two games, O’Leary is averaging 9.1 fantasy points per game despite not getting in the endzone. Tyrod Taylor seems to trust O’Leary while he fills in for Charles Clay. The Raiders give up an average of 13.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. In deeper or two tight end leagues, O’Leary has sneaky upside this week, especially if he can find the endzone.
Ed Dickson at Tampa Bay (39% owned): In week five, Dickson had 22.5 fantasy points against the Lions but since then he has scored just 12.4 fantasy points. Cam Newton’s hot streak has ended and so has Dickson’s fantasy value. In addition to his limited targets, the Buccaneers only give up an average of 10.9 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Dickson needs to be dropped in all 10 and 12 team leagues.
Dolphins at Baltimore (35% owned): The Dolphins have won three straight games and over that streak their D/ST is scoring an average of 11.7 fantasy points per game. This week they face the Ravens on Thursday Night Football on a short week. Opposing D/STs are averaging 9.1 fantasy points per game when facing the Ravens offense. The Dolphins have been on a hot streak lately and that should continue against the struggling Ravens offense.
Panthers at Tampa Bay (59% owned): After facing two weak offenses during the first two weeks of the season, the Panthers D/ST has struggled since. During the last five games, the Panthers D/ST is scoring just 5.4 fantasy points per game. This week they face the Buccaneers offense and opposing D/STs are averaging just three fantasy points per game against the Buccaneers. The Panthers then face the Falcons in week 9 so fantasy owners should drop the Panthers and look for another D/ST at least for the next two weeks.