- Depth will be crucial for fantasy owners over the next month. Our fantasy experts give you the players you should grab before they hit the waiver wire after Sunday's games.
The byepocalypse is about to hit the fantasy football world. Six teams—the Cardinals, Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Giants and Titans—go on bye in Week 8. The following week, the Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots and Steelers all take a rest. In total, 20 teams go on bye from Week 8 through Week 11. You’re going to need roster depth to get you through the upcoming weeks.
With that in mind, we asked the SI.com fantasy experts the following question to kick off the Week 7 Cheat Sheet:
There are only two teams on bye this week, but the fantasy community is about to swerve off easy street. Six teams go on bye in Week 8, and six more take a rest in Week 9. Depth will be more important than ever over the next two weeks, making the waiver wire rush more crushing than usual. Who's someone that will be popular on waivers after Week 7 that our readers should pick up now to avoid that rush to the wire?
John Paulsen: I’m going with a player whom I think should be in lineups *this* week: Dion Lewis. He’s still available on plenty of waiver wires and seems to have won RB1 job in New England, at least for now. He drew the start in Week 7, and that was (obviously?) before Mike Gillislee lost a fumble in the late first quarter. He also saw the team’s lone goal line carry, which he converted into a touchdown. With another good matchup next week against the Chargers, who are last in the league in rushing yards allowed, Lewis could be the cure to running back woes in the short term. Bonus: Wendell Smallwood is working his way back and has a great matchup against the 49ers in Week 8.
Michael Beller: C.J. Prosise is the one back capable of making everyone else in Seattle obsolete. We know that, when healthy, as he is this week for the first time in nearly a month, Prosise owns the passing-down work for the Seahawks. We also know that neither Thomas Rawls nor Eddie Lacy has done enough since Chris Carson’s season-ending injury to command a significant share of the work out of the backfield. Prosise may make his money as a pass-catcher, but he can be effective in a more traditional role, too. He had one game with double-digit carries last year, running for 66 yards on 17 totes. He also caught seven balls for 87 yards in that game. The next week, he busted a 72-yard touchdown, but fractured his scapula later that same game. At the very worst, Prosise will be a passing-down machine, forcing himself onto the RB3 and flex radar in all fantasy formats. At the best, he’ll be close to a workhorse for the Seahawks. Get him on your roster for free while you still can. Remember, too, that the Seahawks have already had their bye.
T.J. Hernandez: Jordan Matthews is widely available in most leagues but he should be 100% owned. The Bills have the easiest quarterback and wide receiver rest-of-season schedule according to 4for4, with just one opponent remaining ranked in the top half of the league against wide receivers. Buffalo has seen little production from its receivers this season and with tight end Charles Clay shelved for at least a month, Matthews should return as one of Tyrod Taylor's primary pass catchers. This entire passing game is in a blow-up spot against a porous Tampa Bay secondary in Week 7, and if Matthews returns to action this week he could be a hot waiver commodity going into Week 8. The fact that the Bills already had their bye week gives Matthews a bump in rest of season rankings.
Chris Raybon: Marlon Mack. According to head coach Chuck Pagano, the rookie fourth-round running back out of South Florida will see an increased role in the Colts backfield with Robert Turbin (arm), who had been playing 33% of the snaps, on IR. Despite 58 fewer carries, the explosive Mack already has three runs longer than starter Frank Gore's longest run of 21 yards. The 34-year-old Gore will be on a pitch count, and the Colts will need to run the ball and are desperate for playmakers with Andrew Luck (shoulder) not looking close to a return after a recent setback.
Jennifer Eakins: All the looming byes have me looking at the tight end position, which has been feast or famine this season, unless your name is Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. One tight end who jumps out at me is Darren Fells of the Lions. In the past three weeks, Fells has out snapped Eric Ebron by 12% and has .27 PPR points per snap, compared with Ebron’s 0.8. To put it simply, he’s outperforming Ebron, and the Lions coaching staff has taken notice. While both guys have the same number of targets over the team’s last three games, Fells has scored 35 PPR points, while Ebron’s has put up just 8.2. Detroit is off this week, putting little focus on Fells. Stash him now while he’s still flying under the radar.
Catch up on all our our Week 7 fantasy content below: