At this point in the NFL season, rookies are starting to get up to speed and seeing more opportunities to shine, while some veterans, who have had plentiful chances, haven't done enough to secure their jobs. While rookies are wildly inconsistent, we learn more about them -- and the veterans whose snaps they’re taking -- each week. Don’t stay married to players who haven’t shown you anything this season.
Also, we have just two more weeks of two-team byes before six teams go on byes in Weeks 9 and 10. Note that Week 9 is going to be very tough on the quarterbacks position (Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford), while Week 10 is a little tougher on tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, Dwayne Allen and Jordan Reed). So make a move a week ahead, if your roster depth allows it.
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 more than 30 percent of leagues, these rising players won't be on this list: Carson Palmer, Kirk Cousins, Antone Smith, Benny Cunningham, Branden Oliver, Ronnie Hillman, Jeremy Hill, Isaiah Crowell, Mohamed Sanu, Odell Beckham and Ladarius Green.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (Owned in 15 percent of CBSSports leagues, 3.9 percent of ESPN leagues and 11 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Nick Foles’ fantasy owners will likely be looking at the waiver wire to find a one-week replacement this week, and Hoyer is not a bad candidate. While he only has seven touchdown passes this season, he has just one interception, and he faces a weak Jaguars defense that ranks among the worst against fantasy quarterbacks. Hoyer should be good for about 250 passing yards and a pair of touchdown passes.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (eight percent, 1.8 percent and four percent) -- This rookie quarterback is another streaming option available in over 70 percent of leagues. Carr will face a Cardinals defense that has given up 833 passing yards and six touchdown passes over the past two weeks. Granted, one of those games was against Peyton Manning, but he did set a personal passing record against them. Don’t expect Carr to repeat his four-touchdown performance from Week 6, but the rookie should put up serviceable stats this week.
Keeping an eye on: Buffalo’s Kyle Orton.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (two percent, 1.8 percent and two percent) -- Many think Stevan Ridley’s torn ACL will make Shane Vereen a top-15 fantasy running back. But it’s more likely he’ll continue with his normal duties, and a player like Bolden will get more early down touches in Ridley’s place.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers (30 percent, 52.1 percent and 10 percent) -- Eddie Lacy turned in another disappointing performance against the Dolphins, and the Packers chose to rotate both backs relatively evenly. Lacy rushed for 2.9 yards per carry in Week 6 (40 rushing yards), and Starks was targeted in the passing game five times – ninth among running backs last week.
Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles (two percent, 0.9 percent and one percent) -- This one doesn’t do you much good in Week 7, since the Eagles are on a bye. But with Darren Sproles (knee) likely sidelined for a few weeks, Polk should pick up touches behind LeSean McCoy.
Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (five percent, 2.1 percent and two percent) -- The rookie led the Rams in rushing against the 49ers on Monday Night Football, and he has already shown more flash than the veteran backs in St. Louis. While the Rams face Seattle in Week 7, he’s still a rookie to consider adding for the future.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders (six percent, 0.5 percent and eight percent) -- He has emerged as the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver, playing all 48 snaps in Week 6. Oakland’s Week 7 opponent, the Cardinals, are allowing 29 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season, which ranks them 31st in the NFL. He has a great chance of getting into your starting lineup this week -- and not leaving it.
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (23 percent, 3.3 percent and 13 percent) -- Brown had a relatively quiet Week 6 (four catches for 43 yards), and Week 5 was even quieter (two catches for four yards). But his 13 targets over those two weeks match Larry Fitzgerald's haul, and that tells us he’s a big part of Arizona’s gameplan. Carson Palmer’s shoulder was fine Monday after throwing the ball 44 times. Brown’s speed can pay off on any catch, so if you can spare the roster space, he makes for a good gamble as a WR3 at Oakland in Week 7.
Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (17 percent, 2.9 percent and seven percent) -- Over the past three weeks, LaFell has emerged as one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers, catching 11 passes (on 15 targets) for 236 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots offense seems to shift its focus from week to week, but with Ridley hurt, Brady might have to throw more than usual.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (seven percent, 0.8 percent and two percent) -- For the second time in three weeks, Woods was targeted at least 10 times, and last week, he ended up posting seven catches for 78 yards and one touchdown -- all season-highs. Cornerback Darrelle Revis covered Sammy Watkins for most of the game, forcing quarterback Kyle Orton to throw toward Woods more, which may not happen every game.
Keeping an eye on: Miami’s Jarvis Landry and Tampa Bay’s Louis Murphy.
Jace Amaro, New York Jets (10 percent, 1.3 percent and two percent) -- While the rookie blew up against the Broncos for 10 catches for 68 yards and his first touchdown of the season, he’s still more of a backup fantasy option in Week 7, as the Jets travel to play at New England. The Patriots have only allowed one touchdown catch to a tight end (Travis Kelce) this season, so look at Amaro as a future fantasy fixture.
Keeping an eye on: Buffalo’s Scott Chandler.
Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals (25 percent, 5.4 percent and nine percent) -- This is the third time I’ve mentioned the rookie -- and likely the last time -- since he’ll likely surpass 30-percent ownership this week. He has been perfect this season, kicking at least two field goals in every game, as well as three field goals in Week 6. He’ll kick against Oakland this week, and they’re giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to kickers.
Keeping an eye on: Denver’s Brandon McManus.
Cleveland Browns Defense (30 percent, 4.8 percent and 17 percent) -- The Titans defense was one of the worst in fantasy coming into Week 6, but they racked up six sacks and two turnovers against the Jaguars. The Browns, meanwhile, enter Week 7 as one of the most disappointing fantasy defenses this year, but this unit had a good week against the Steelers and will now travel to Jacksonville to feast.
Keeping an eye on: Cowboys defense.