With the Dolphins and 5 other NFL teams on bye this week, week 7 becomes a very tricky one for many fantasy owners to navigate. This is the only week in the 2012 NFL schedule where more than 4 teams are on bye. The fantasy effect is that many owners have multiple starters on bye, and must use their bench or search a thin waiver wire for a diamond in the rough. Our fantasy team of James Morris and Jon Cope answer a few questions to help you fill out your lineup this week.
Fan Question: With 6 teams on a bye this week (Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles and Chargers), who are the top two RBs and WRs to look at as replacements?
James Morris: Felix Jones is going to be a hot waiver wire addition with DeMarco Murray already being ruled out for this week. In addition to him, I’d look at Alex Green and Montario Hardesty as short-term value adds.
At WR, you should look at Donnie Avery against the Browns. Joe Haden is sure to focus on Reggie Wayne, which means Avery has a chance for a big fantasy day. Stephen Hill and Josh Gordon are popular pick-ups. But, if you just need a one week fill-in WR, I’d go Avery.
Jon Cope: I agree with James, Felix Jones and Alex Green are the running backs to target. However, if both of those backs are unavailable, I’d go with Tampa’s LeGarrette Blount who has been getting goal-line carries is has a good chance to score against a Saints defense that has allowed more points to fantasy running backs than any other unit in the league.
As far as wide receivers, Randall Cobb, Brandon Gibson, Kendall Wright and Sidney Rice would be the players that I would target in that order. Still find it hard to believe that Gibson, clearly the Rams top target with Danny Amendola out, is only owned in 4.3% of NFL.com leagues.
Fan Question: Josh Freeman has a sweet match-up this weekend against the Saints, but I have Jay Cutler as my starting QB. Should I roll the dice and see if Freeman can string together two solid fantasy games in a row, or look for Cutler to do well since he is coming off a bye week?
James Morris: Josh Freeman has by far the better match-up on paper, as the Saints allow the 5th most fantasy points to QBs this season at 24.5 PPG. The Lions give up 15th fewest at 19.4 PPG. Freeman has put together two solid games in a row now, and the Saints defense has a way of making fantasy studs out of opposing teams this season. I’d play Freeman and let Jay Cutler and the Lions have their 21-17 finish with Michael Bush vulturing a TD or two.
Jon Cope: It’s a very tough call between Freeman and Cutler this week but I would lean towards Freeman. I think Freeman is a very good bye-week fill-in for those that are stuck with Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick or Philip Rivers. We know the Saints will put points in Tampa and I believe there’s a chance for Freeman to either go toe-to-toe with Drew Brees in a shootout or rack up plenty of fantasy points as the Bucs try to come from behind. With Jay Cutler, it’s a case of the Bears being such a well-rounded team that he may not get the opportunity to throw it 35+ times, especially if they get out to an early lead on the Lions.
Fan Question: Brandon Weeden has had back-to-back multi touchdown games, is he for real? Should I pick him up and drop Christian Ponder?
James Morris: I happen to own Ponder in our Dolphins NFL.com fantasy football league, but it was more due to me missing the draft than me actually taking him. That being said, he roasted the Redskins defense last week for 352 yards and 2 TDs.
Weeden is not someone I would even consider adding in fantasy leagues, no matter the format. The Browns are not going to win many games this season, which means Weeden won’t have the fantasy stats we need to pick him up and play him during a bye week. Most fantasy teams carry two QBs until their bye week, then cut down to one. If you need a QB right now, you will likely find a borderline QB1/QB2 on the waiver wire like a Freeman, Andy Dalton, or Carson Palmer.
Jon Cope: Believe it or not, Christian Ponder has more fantasy points than Philip Rivers through 6 games this season. That may be a little bit of an indictment on Rivers, but Ponder has been pretty solid for the Vikings. I would favor Ponder over Weeden, who as James’ stated, really isn’t a player you want to rely on from a fantasy perspective. The QBs that I like most as bye-week fill-ins this week are: Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fan Question: Now that the Ravens have lost both CB Lardarious Webb and LB Ray Lewis for the season, is it time to dump the Ravens defense for someone else?
James Morris: First, I want no part of the Ravens defense this week against the Houston Texans’. The good news is they are activating Terrell Suggs, so that will help. I wouldn’t cut them loose just yet, but I have the defensive coordinator’s number on my speed dial, and they could get a call to come in to the GM’s office (me) if they don’t step up quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Jon Cope: I was worried about the Ravens defense before the injuries to Webb and Lewis, and now with Ed Reed admitting that he’s playing hurt, I think the Ravens defense is no longer a must-start for fantasy owners. Also the schedule does them no favors, after early November match-ups with the Browns and Raiders, the Ravens face elite offenses in each of their final 7 games. I wouldn’t hesistate to drop this once-dominant unit. There isn’t a great matchup on the waiver-wire this week, but I do see the Bills defense continuing to improve and faring well against a Titans offense with a very weak offensive line.
Fan Question: What is the biggest thing you think the Dolphins need to work on during the bye week?
James Morris: They should focus on fixing the running game. Daniel Thomas will hopefully return from a concussion this week and Lamar Miller is a raw talent right now. Reggie Bush is a very good running back that is underrated. If they can get Reggie Bush going, and give him a breather with Miller and Thomas, the run will open the pass and the offense can really flourish under coach Philbin.
I don’t care what the mainstream media says; Ryan Tannehill is the real deal! Brian Hartline has been made himself a household name for himself all over the country this year, not bad for a guy that was virtually unknown by many NFL fans in the pre-season. Because of Tannehill, Hartline jumped up 72 percent if NFL.com fantasy football ownership in one week. That is just CRAZY!
Jon Cope: Ah, a slight break from the fantasy questions. Things are rolling pretty good for the Dolphins in Davie right now, but I agree with James- getting Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas back to as close to 100% as possible would be my top priority during the bye. Since the 263 yard dominant rushing performance against the Raiders in week 2, the Dolphins rushing outputs have declined each game. I think a little R & R for the backs and perhaps some self-scouting by the offensive line should be able to get the running game back in high gear heading into the October 28th showdown against the Jets.
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