Last week’s measly two teams on a bye was child’s play to manage compared to the four who get to take a breather in Week 5. Of the quartet of teams recovering this weekend, two in particular – the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions – are leaving pretty significant holes in fantasy lineups that will need a little spackle.
With big names like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray joining Darren McFadden and a couple of Buccaneers on the bench this Sunday, some owners may be ready to chalk the week up to a loss and move on. But with the unpredictable chaos that is the NFL, that isn’t the right outlook to take. Indeed, from week to week there is always a performance that comes from out of nowhere, always some unknown who becomes a household name.
After scouring the waivers and checking out the matchups, here are those possible future household names. If your team is in dire straits, grab one of these Rent-a-Players to help lead you to fantasy glory – or at least administer a brief patch job for the weekend.
Percentages shown denote ownership in Yahoo! Fantasy Football leagues.
On Bye: QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Rent-a-Player: QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (@ Cincinnati Bengals) – 5% owned After lighting up the Arizona secondary for 431 yards and 19-plus fantasy points, Tannehill is no longer flying under the radar in the scheme of rookie NFL signal callers. The No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft now heads into Cincinnati, guns blazing, to face a mediocre pass defense that is allowing opposing QBs to post a 102.4 rating. Sure, he may throw a couple picks, but anything is better than five interceptions and getting pulled for Kyle Orton, right?
On Bye: WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Rent-a-Player: WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins (@ Cincinnati Bengals) – 25% owned Hartline likely won’t be available in deeper leagues, but I am mentioning him here in case he is. I planned to put Hartline on this list last week, but just didn’t believe in him or his quarterback enough to pull the trigger on the recommendation. Now that he is third in the league in targets and has hauled in more yards than Calvin Johnson, it’s time to jump on him if he is there. He can potentially serve as more than a Rent-a-Player, and has much stickier hands than Dez.
On Bye: RB DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Rent-a-Player: RB Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers (@ New Orleans Saints) – 22% owned As San Diego’s top rusher, Ryan Mathews, continues to suffer from a severe case of fumbilitis, Battle has come out swinging in his place. Posting 42 yards receiving, 39 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Kansas City, he still ended up with less yardage than Mathews, but a generous matchup against New Orleans this week looms large.
On Bye: QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Rent-a-Player: QB Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans (@ Minnesota Vikings) – 2% owned So Hasselbeck may be shaking off the rust a bit against a nasty Minnesota pass rush, but most of the other available quarterbacks – your Kolbs, Sanchezes, Bradfords, and Gabberts – all have tougher secondaries to throw against this weekend. Plus, even if he is starting for just the first time this season, the Titans do have a few passing options for Hasselbeck to use, and the Vikes have only one interception to their name this season.
On Bye: WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Rent-a-Player: WR T.Y Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Green Bay Packers) – 5% owned Everyone knows Reggie Wayne is Andrew Luck’s go-to in the Indy offense, but Wayne is now a possession guy who is racking up catches and yards, but not stretching the field. Enter The Younger Hilton, as I like to refer to him. Although he has only been active for two games, in those two he has hauled in five of nine targets, including 113 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville before the bye. Sure, he has to compete with Donnie Avery for looks, but his yards per game and big play ability are both greater.
On Bye: RB Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Rent-a-Player: RB Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Buffalo Bills) – 17% owned Hunter is always going to take a backseat to Frank Gore until the latter breaks down, but the young back is an intriguing play this week against a Buffalo team that travels cross-country after an absolute beatdown at the hands of New England last week. Recall that New England had two backs go for more than 100 yards apiece, while combining for three touchdowns, and Hunter’s game-breaking speed might have a role in this week’s game plan.
On Bye: WR Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rent-a-Player: WR Domenic Hixon, New York Giants (vs. Cleveland Browns) – 6% owned With Hakeem Nicks still hobbled, it looks like Hixon, and not Week 3 darling Ramses Barden, is set to carry the load opposite Victor Cruz for the Giants. Hauling in 181 yards and a touchdown over two games, Hixon’s gaudy matchup against the 38th-ranked Cleveland Browns passing defense is too good to pass up.
On Bye: RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rent-a-Player: RB Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens (@ Kansas City Chiefs) – 2% owned This is your dark horse, “I have DMC, DeMarco, and Doug all on byes this week! Help!” pick. Ray Rice’s backup has displayed excellent burst as a change-of-pace back, and his almost 5.2 yards per carry average is a testament to his ability. With KC giving up 118 yards on the ground per game, don’t be surprised to see Pierce break off a 40-yarder for a touchdown while Rice takes some oxygen mid-game.
Of course, in order to acquire some of the players mentioned above, you’ll have to drop one of your underachievers. Through four weeks of the season, here are some solid drops to make room on your roster, brought to you by Dez Bryant:
– RB LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
– WR Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers
– QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (I missed on this one)
– RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
– QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
– QB Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
– RB Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions
– RB Shonn Greene, New York Jets