Bye week-mageddon begins! Six teams are off this week, which may force owners to decide between dropping stashes and filling a hole in a lineup.
On vacation in Week 8: Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers
Translation: Fantasy owners will be without Todd Gurley, Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, among others. The bright spot is that arguably only the Rams’ defense will be missed from this group.
Ownership rates are in parentheses.
TE Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals (23 percent)
This one comes down to Jordan Reed (concussion) not playing a third straight game. Seldom does a player miss more than two games with a concussion, but if he sits, the Bengals offer a matchup ripe for the picking.
One of every eight receptions by the position ended up in the end zone. Davis is on a two-game resurgence that could — an outside chance — lead to more involvement when Reed returns. It would have to be a truly dire situation to play the 32-year-old when Washington’s star tight end is back on the field.
PK Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (51 percent)
Indianapolis has allowed the third most fantasy points per game on the season. Kickers have split the uprights on 18 of 20 field goal kicks but only 16 of 19 point-after tries.
Indy’s defense may be just good enough to slow KC’s offense playing at Lucas Oil Stadium. Santos should be a busy guy in Week 8.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (19 percent)
Sheer desperation? The likelihood of a gamer needing to play Fitzpatrick is probably pretty low, and I won’t rule out another quarterback change before this game starts. Or during it. All of that out of the way, if you want to wake up missing a limb, Fitzpatrick is your dude!
Cleveland has allowed 26.3 fantasy points per game, which is the second most on the year. The 18 touchdowns scored against them through air ties for tops in football. Even with a decimated receiving corps, perhaps Fitz can get lucky and throw a few TD passes. And probably a couple balls to the Browns, regardless if cornerback Joe Haden misses another one.
Make it a fling
WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (19 percent)
Adams exploded in Week 7 (13-132-2) against a feeble opponent in Chicago (12th worst WR defense over the past three weeks). The upside here is that prior to the game, Adams had three TDs on 15 catches in 2016.
He had been a matchup play, and that should continue. The Packers’ star receiver, Jordy Nelson, has struggled to gain separation this year or hit the home run. Adams has benefited because of it.No running game to speak of also helps Adams.
Green Bay will face the Colts and Tennessee Titans over the next two weeks. Indy could translate into a high-scoring affair, while Tennessee is good on the back end of its defense and could force Aaron Rodgers into a lot of checks to Adams. Determine how long he stays on your roster based on these outings, but I have a feeling it will be longer than the next two weeks.
QB Jameis Winston (70 percent), WR Russell Shepard (1 percent), TE Cameron Brate (31 percent), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Winston-Shepard chemistry of Week 7 was apparent, and if you want a part of this steamy affair, don’t be afraid to bring in Brate for a threesome of pirates. It could turn into some booty for your fantasy team at the end of the year.
Tampa gets three sequential games at home, and the running game has helped ease the load on the passing attack. The next two weeks have the makings for shootouts and/or garbage time.
The Bucs take on the Oakland Raiders this week and Atlanta the following — both good matchups for the QB-TE duo. As for Shepard, he could have a longer runway — potentially four straight games of utility (OAK, ATL, CHI, @KC). With 12 teams on bye in the next two weeks, and four more in Week 10, don’t be afraid to crawl in bed with all three in some combination.
Put a ring on that thing
RB James White, New England Patriots (68 percent)
It’s extremely unlikely that White is available in many competitive leagues, but there’s no clean way I can see the Patriots taking Dion Lewis back once he’s healthy. Lewis has been traded in for a younger model, even if only two years. Should you own White, keep him happily engaged to your lineup.
WR Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (15 percent)
PPR owners need to buy this dude a drink and see where it takes the two of you. He’s healthy — finally — and it is showing. Lee was a talented collegiate receiver with high hopes just a few years ago. The emergence of Allen Hurns in Lee’s stead also helped keep him down. Hurns’ work on underneath routes is now being cut into by Lee. While he has yet to find the end zone, gamers can still score points based on his involvement — at least six targets and four catches in each game since Week 1.
WR Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions (26 percent)
What more does this guy need to do before fantasy owners start warming up to the idea that his production will be a weekly thing? Non-PPR owners should be happy to add him. Detroit has no running game, and you’re fooling yourself if you expect it to magically appear. As long as tight end Eric Ebron and running back Theo Riddick remain out, Boldin is a must-start in fantasy leagues. Once they return, he has matchup-based appeal.
The big tease
WR Justin Hunter, Buffalo Bills (6 percent)
Hunter isn’t on many fantasy radars, at least in casual formats, but it’s telling that he couldn’t get it done in a more prominent role last week against Miami. The once-promising wideout scored in each Week 5 and 6 on a combined two catches — the definition of a fantasy flash. Four Week 7 targets later, Hunter couldn’t muster more than two catches for 25 yards against a defense that gave up seven TDs in its prior six games coming into Week 7.
Grounds for divorce
WR Jeremy Kerley, San Francisco 49ers (23 percent)
Colin Kaepernick has crushed Kerley’s previously surging value. After averaging nine targets per game with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Kerley has seen 12 total targets in his two games with Kaep — both of those contests were drubbings that required more passing. Kerley had 13 targets in Week 5 alone. If you are still in the small majority of owners hanging on to the journeyman, it is time to replace him with a more promising pick.