What a brutal week of fantasy football. Injuries knocked out key players like Randall Cobb, James Jones, DeMarco Murray, and Cecil Shorts. And Jimmy Graham got completely shut down before finally going out with an injury of his own. Between this rash of injuries and the worst bye weeks of the year coming up in Week 8 and Week 9 (you’d better prepare now or else a week from now, you’ll be stuck in the wild mix of frantic fantasy owners going after the same players you want), this week of waiver wire pickups becomes one of the most important of the season.
So who should you be looking for?
Among quarterbacks, Alex Smith tends to be widely available. He is a safe choice for anyone looking to cover a bye week for their normal starting QB. Another reasonable option is Nick Foles. There is risk here, in that it is not clear whether he will continue to hold down the starting job after Michael Vick returns. But Foles has been looking good and the Eagles face some very beatable defenses in the next 3 weeks (Dallas, NY Giants, and Oakland). If you have room to take a chance on him, he may well be worth the risk.
DeMarco Murray owners and those looking for an improvement at running back should look to Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs has quickly taken firm hold of the starting RB role in David Wilson’s absence (100+ yards and 2 TDs in Week 6). He has the experience. And it looks like he still has the physicality to handle the job. Jacobs has the makings of a solid RB2 the rest of the season. Add him if you can.
Keenan Allen is a must-grab in all leagues. He has emerged as Philip Rivers’ favorite target over the past 3 weeks (5-80-0, 6-115-1, and 9-107-1). He has WR2 potential going forward and has a nice matchup against Jacksonville this coming week. Atlanta wideout Harry Douglas is worth pursuing with Julio Jones gone for the season and Roddy White struggling to stay healthy. Douglas has been a disappointment so far this season. But he is now the next man up for Matt Ryan to target. He’s worth a shot as a WR3 or as a flex option/bye week replacement every week.
A good sleeper option to consider in deep leagues is Ravens WR Tandon Doss. He has quietly become a legitimate target for Joe Flacco, hauling in 3-4 receptions over the past 3 weeks, including almost 100 yards receiving in Week 6. Doss also has punt return touchdown potential in leagues that credit returns. He may not be Marlon Brown, but he is getting just as many fantasy points as Brown, and is due to score TDs as the season continues.
TE Joseph Fauria will garner a lot of attention this week after his 3 touchdown performance on Sunday. Fauria doesn’t get a lot of receptions – in fact, he has scored zero fantasy points in 3 games this season. But of his 7 catches, 5 of them have been for touchdowns. He is a great high-risk, high-reward pickup. Another tight end to consider is Washington’s Jordan Reed. He has supplanted Fred Davis as the starting TE. His production will likely be limited (think 4 receptions for 55 yards per game), but he’s a safe pick as a fill-in at TE on a bye week or as a replacement for your injured starter.
Of course, there are many more options out there to consider. Your decisions need to be tailored to your league settings and the needs of your team. So above all, do some homework to be sure you are chasing after the players on the waiver wire that are right for you.