This week for the first time all season, fantasy owners will be forced to juggle six teams coming off of byes and six teams going on byes. That makes for another active waiver wire, as owners pick up players with great matchups to replace their stars resting on bye weeks. In Week 9, owners of players such as Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones, may have smartly started one-week mercenaries with good matchups like Brian Hoyer, Denard Robinson and Jarvis Landry.
Unfortunately, many of the good fantasy matchups this week (whoever plays the Jaguars, Raiders and Jets) consist of teams loaded with fantasy stars. So finding an unowned gem in those matchups might prove difficult.
With that said, there are a ton of quarterbacks available this week for those looking to replace Andrew Luck, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers. The three owners of those players will be battling for the fantasy services of Mark Sanchez, Kyle Orton or Derek Carr. More importantly, owners of Arian Foster (groin) will have to cross their fingers in hopes Alfred Blue is passed over by owners needing players for Week 10, since Houston is on a bye this week.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are owned in barely more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Ryan Tannehill, Terrance West, Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata, Tre Mason, Greg Jennings, Jordan Matthews, Owen Daniels, Charles Clay or the Rams DST.
One other thing to mention: ESPN posted a message to its owners last week notifying them of more precise ownership numbers. "We have refined the player ownership, trending (+/-) and start percentages. These numbers now provide a better reflection of player usage in ESPN leagues."
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (Owned in one percent of CBSSports leagues, six percent of ESPN leagues and 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- After a few years of mocking Sanchez and the "butt-fumble", we now come crawling back to him as he takes over the controls of Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia. Nick Foles’ broken clavicle will turn many an owner into a groveling, needy Sanchez lover. The former Jets quarterback threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions in relief duty against Houston in Week 9, and he has a very good matchup going against the Panthers in Week 10. Quarterbacks have averaged 21.22 fantasy points against the Panthers' defense over the past six games. It’s a Monday night matchup in Philadelphia, too.
Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills (Owned in 25 percent, 8.5 percent and nine percent) -- He’s coming off his best game of the season, when he threw four touchdowns against the Jets in Week 9, but a bye week cooled off his chances of being a hot waiver-wire pick. True, his next two matchups aren’t favorable, with the Chiefs and Dolphins both ranking among the top five toughest defenses for fantasy quarterbacks. But Orton faces the Jets again in Week 12, and he has one of the hottest wide receivers in the game right now in rookie Sammy Watkins.
Michael Vick, N.Y. Jets (Owned in 26 percent, 5.7 percent and nine percent) -- To continue the theme of veteran backups-turned-starters, Vick faces a Steelers defense that has given up 25 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over the past three weeks. Considering how hot Ben Roethlisberger is right now at the helm of the Pittsburgh offense and the Jets' league-worst performance against opposing quarterbacks, the second half of this game should feature Vick taking to the air to try to catch up.
Keeping an eye on: Oakland’s Derek Carr and Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles.
Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (25 percent, 7.0 percent and 12 percent) -- Foster’s owners will certainly want to add Blue as quickly as possible, but for most other owners it won’t be as big a priority, since Houston is on a bye and Foster might be able to play in two weeks anyway. But if Foster can't go in Week 11, Blue has good size and can catch balls out of the backfield. In his only NFL start, the rookie out of LSU rushed 13 times for 78 yards, with one catch for 10 yards, on the road against the Giants in Week 3. Pro Football Focus ranked the Texans’ offensive line 12th in the running game last month, so Blue would have low-end RB2 value going forward if he does play extensively. Since Foster’s groin injury doesn’t look too serious, non-Foster owners should look elsewhere.
Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins (Zero percent, 0.2 percent and zero percent) -- With Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller considered day-to-day with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, the Dolphins might have to look to their backup running backs for help in Week 10 at Detroit. This pickup is a risky recommendation, since the Dolphins could split carries between Williams and Daniel Thomas or use the veteran more than Williams. But with six teams on byes, owners of Foster, Ahmad Bradshaw, Trent Richardson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Shane Vereen, Branden Oliver and Alfred Morris will be desperate to add any tailback with touches.
Keeping an eye on: Miami’s Daniel Thomas.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (24 percent, 6.3 percent and 13 percent) -- For the third week in a row, Stills has posted admirable numbers, and it’s time to take the speedy second-year receiver into consideration for a waiver pickup. Since the Saints’ Week 6 bye, Stills has out-targeted Brandin Cooks in two of three games, and he has proven to be Drew Brees' best deep-threat option. Among NFL players with more than 20 catches, Stills’ 13.0 "yards at the catch" ranks sixth in the NFL. That measures how far a ball is in the air before it reaches the receiver.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (22 percent, 13.9 percent and 37 percent) -- The explosion of the Steelers’ passing game has everyone excited about rookie Martavis Bryant, but Wheaton has a touchdown catch in each of the past two games. That makes him a fantasy person of interest in a six-team bye week as he goes up against a Jets team that is allowing 14.10 yards per reception to wide receivers (27th in the NFL). He’s an ideal pickup for owners needing a one-week starter.
Kenny Britt, WR, St. Louis Rams (11 percent, 8.6 percent and nine percent) -- Some of the better waiver wire options at receiver are facing very tough defenses in Week 10. Allen Hurns goes up against a Cowboys team that ranks as the third-toughest against wide receivers, and Miami’s Jarvis Landry faces a Lions team ranks second-toughest against wideouts. But Britt, who should see more opportunities with Brian Quick (shoulder) out for the season, goes up against a Cardinals team that’s giving up 26 fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
Keeping an eye on: San Francisco’s Steve Johnson, Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns and Miami’s Jarvis Landry.
Mychal Rivera, TE, Oakland Raiders (four percent, 2.2 percent and two percent) -- Week 10 will force owners to bench Antonio Gates and Rob Gronkowski, the two top fantasy tight ends, along with Dwayne Allen and Jordan Reed. That means there will be some jockeying for the services of a Raiders tight end, as hard as that is to believe. Rivera has 20 targets over the past two weeks, with 15 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Also, only three defenses are allowing more catches to tight ends than the Denver defense (6.12), which Rivera faces in Week 10.
Keeping an eye on: Jacksonville’s Clay Harbor.
Billy Cundiff, K, Cleveland Browns (15 percent, 10.1 percent and four percent) -- We suggested Cundiff last week, and he came through with three field goals against the Buccaneers. The Browns face a tougher test at Cincinnati in Week 10, but he has eight field goals in his past three games, and the Bengals have allowed an average of three field goal attempts over the past five weeks.
Keeping an eye on: Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter.
Atlanta Falcons (eight percent, 3.2 percent and six percent) -- While this certainly looks like a typo, remember that the Falcons scored a ton of fantasy points against their Week 10 opponent, Tampa Bay, back in Week 3. Atlanta is also coming off a bye week, and the Buccaneers are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing fantasy defense/special teams. With all that said, this is a very bad week to have your DST on a bye.