With five or six weeks left in the fantasy season before playoffs begin – depending on the format of your league – we are approaching the make-or-break stretch of the year. Crucial adds at this point can set you up for a blazing march to playoff glory, while calamitous drops can leave you scratching your head and wondering what went wrong. High waiver priority is a gift not to be squandered, and tough decisions must be made by shrewd fake football owners who want to earn bragging rights.
Lucky for you, the bye week blues should not compound matters too much this week, as only the Patriots and 49ers offer any real fantasy options you might miss this weekend.
However, there have been a couple of breakout candidates still floating around for your consumption, so now is the time to weight your options carefully and decide if you should pounce on the next big name or join the wait-and-see tribe.
On Bye: QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Rent-a-Player: QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (@New Orleans Saints) – 1% owned Foles has not yet been given the keys to the convertible in the land of cheesesteaks, but if I am Andy Reid and I am contemplating a switch, I do it now. What better way to build a rookie’s confidence than to put him up against a historically atrocious Saints defense who couldn’t tackle three-legged weiner dog? If Foles does go under center this coming Monday night, he could be in for a record-breaking performance, and if you have a low waiver priority he is worth the risk.
On Bye: WR Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
Rent-a-Player: WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Detroit Lions) – 9% owner I am a believer in Cecil. Boasting the best name in the NFL outside Colt McCoy, Shorts carried one of my teams as a Sunday morning hail mary waiver pickup last week to the tune of 116 yards. He leads an anemic Jags receiving squad, to be sure, but has flashed big play ability numerous times this year and has earned Blaine Gabbert’s trust. With an upcoming schedule of games against weaker secondaries like Indy, Tennessee, and New England, Shorts will play taller than his name.
On Bye: RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Rent-a-Player: RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ New York Giants) – 46% owned After posting consecutive 100-yard games, Dwyer is no longer flying under the radar, as evidence by his ownership rate. If you are lucky enough to be in a league where he is available, this is a situation where you can feel confident using your high waiver priority. All indications are that Dwyer has earned a much larger role when the injured Rashard Mendenhall returns, and with his volume and consistency he is looking like one of a few late season adds that can be used to fuel a playoff run.
On Bye: RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Rent-a-Player: RB Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) – 10% owned Bell has emerged as a useful passing down running back in an offense that, well, passes. A lot. With lead back Mikel Leshoure being banged up this weekend, Bell saw more of a workload and displayed power. However, with Leshoure’s status up in the air and no guarantee that Bell’s role will expand, this is a high-risk pickup unless Detroit is playing from behind in the game.
On Bye: TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Rent-a-Player: TE Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – 21% owned This is not the first time I have advised adding Myers, and he is still available in most leagues due to being shutout in the touchdown department. However, the Oakland passing game has begun to click lately, and Tampa Bay is lacking in the secondary. Call me crazy, but I think he puts a TD and about 65 yards on the board this weekend.
Of course, in order to acquire some of the players mentioned above, you’ll have to drop one of your underachievers. Through half of the season, here are some solid drops to make room on your roster, brought to you this week by Jermichael Finley:
- WR Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (injured)
- RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
- RB Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
- WR Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints
- RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
- WR Davone Bess, Miami Dolphins
- Any extra kickers or defenses if your starters have had their bye weeks