Much has been made of the destruction of the New York Giants’ receiving corps. Luckily, most NFL fantasy managers don’t need to find a full set of new wide receivers this week. There are, however, four teams on a bye week whose absences need to be covered.
Here are some key players available in 50% or more of the three biggest NFL fantasy sites. Read carefully, because some should cover only a week or two, while others can plug a roster hole for you.
RB Aaron Jones, GB
Questions about whether Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams would be the workhorse in Ty Montgomery’s absence were emphatically answered Sunday. Jones’ 125 yards rushing should put him well over 50% owned by Tuesday morning. I mention him only in case you missed this weekend’s performance. There is no telling what happens when Montgomery comes back to the lineup, but I would bet the Packers give him another week or two to rest after seeing what the rookie did against Dallas.
RB Alvin Kamara, NO
New Orleans comes off its bye this week and Alvin Kamara will continue to play a big part in their offense. There is always a risk Mark Ingram could take over, but that’s not likely. The Saints’ offensive coordinator alluded to bigger things ahead for Adrian Peterson. That’s not likely either. What is likely is that the Saints will give Kamara at least the same amount of touches he has been getting in both the rushing and passing games. He is still available in an insane amount of leagues.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ
Assuming Matt Forte and Bilal Powell remain limited or out by injuries, Elijah Powell could be working alone against the generous defense of the New England Patriots this week. Even if either of the incumbents is available, McGuire is likely to see a bump in his usage. He had a bad day against a decent Cleveland Browns front seven, but earlier in the season, McGuire showed how explosive he can be.
RB Matt Breida, SF
Matt Breida’s performance is very intriguing. Carlos Hyde was on the bench for some important possessions Sunday. Kyle Shanahan said he was playing the hot hand; many fantasy pundits think Hyde’s hip is still hurt, but Hyde’s name did not appear on the pregame injury report, which is supposed to mean he has zero injury concerns. This would explain why Carlos Hyde was so mad after the game and opens the possibility of a changing of the guard, or more likely, another running back committee coming up.
Be careful with Marlon Mack
Marlon Mack had a nice game, but still only took the third-most snaps after Frank Gore and Robert Turbin. As long as Chuck Pagano is in charge that is not likely to change. Don’t draft Mack expecting him to be the workhorse in Indianapolis, even if he did just post his second top-ten running back fantasy score.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG
Sterling Shepard is not done for the season. While everyone else is jumping on the last man standing in New York, leave Roger Lewis alone and grab Sterling Shepard. He may miss a week, but when he comes back, he is essentially the only starting receiver left after Brandon Marshall was confirmed as having season-ending surgery. Shepard is already the WR-20 over the past four weeks, slightly ahead of Odell Beckham.
Roger Lewis will likely be the other starter, and a touchdown-reliant receiver even before Shepard returns to the Giants. If you are desperate to grab a Giants receiver for two tough games against Denver and Seattle, pick up rookie Travis Rudolph. Rudolph led the Giants in receptions and yards in the preseason. Lewis is on the team solely for speed. Rudolph will jump ahead of him on the depth chart quickly.
WR Mike Wallace, BAL
Mike Wallace has disappointed before, but if you are going to own a Ravens wide receiver, he has become a better target than Jeremy Maclin. He has some favorable games coming up and showed this week he can still bust it down the field when he gets his hands on the ball.
WR Devin Funchess
Funchess is owned in slightly over 50% of leagues, but that is still too low. Cam Newton is developing a connection with his sizable receiver. Even with Ed Dickson’s emergence these past two weeks, it was Funchess who got the end zone targets.
WRs Jermaine Kearse, Jeremy Kerley NYJ
New York is about to face the New England Patriots who offer the unique combination of an offense that makes their opponent fight from behind and a defense that lets them do it successfully. Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley are the trusted, veteran receivers of a conservative, veteran quarterback in Josh McCown. If you want to be a little more daring, McCown will probably throw three or four sideline bombs in Robby Anderson’s direction, too.
TE Nick O’Leary, BUF
Charles Clay is a fine receiving tight end, but that is not the reason he leads the Bills in every receiving category: it is the scheme of the offense that makes the tight end very involved. Nick O’Leary can catch passes, too. In fact, his five catches on six targets for 61 yards after Clay left the game shows the Buffalo offense will probably continue unimpeded with O’Leary covering for Clay after the Bills’ bye week.
TE Cameron Brate, TB
Cameron Brate continues to be a touchdown machine for Tampa Bay, leading the team in red zone targets and scores since last year. Rookie OJ Howard has not cut into Brate’s production even a bit. He needs to be owned in more than the 35% of leagues he is now.
TE Ed Dickson, CAR
Does anyone else think Cam Newton will continue throwing passes to Ed Dickson? While his 35 yards-per-catch in Week 5 and his 20+ yards per catch since Greg Olsen went down are unsustainable, he has proven he can provide a good chunk of what the team is missing without Olsen. He is worth a one-week flier if needed. We’ll see soon enough if he really is invisible to defenses like it seemed in Week 5.
QB Jacoby Brissett, IND
If you’re streaming quarterbacks, Jacoby Brissett goes against the Tennessee Titans in Week 6. The way he is spreading the ball around will likely keep the Titans among the worst passing defenses for another week. A rushing touchdown on top of 300 passing yards made Brissett a top-ten fantasy quarterback for the second time in three weeks. He offers a good floor and nice ceiling against Tennessee.
QB Josh McCown, NYJ
Did we mention that Josh McCown is going against the New England Patriots this week? And his running game might need help? It’s kind of a stretch to stream him, but it’s also not the worst idea I’ve ever had.
QB to watch: Kevin Hogan, CLE
Browns’ coach Hue Jackson pulled DeShone Kizer for the second time in two weeks, replacing him with Kevin Hogan at halftime. In 30 minutes, Hogan threw for two touchdowns, 194 yards on 16-19 passing and ran for another 30 yards. He did throw one interception, which wound up keeping him from finishing as a top ten passer in Week 5. Look for the announcement from Cleveland – if Hogan is named the starter against Houston this week, he could be worth a look.
Defenses: WASH, ATL, LAC
For those of you streaming defenses, Washington comes off their bye week to face the 49ers. Atlanta also comes off a bye and takes on the Miami Dolphins. The Chargers come off their first win to play Oakland, which becomes a better play if Derek Carr is still bothered by his back fractures.
The situation changes by the hour, so check back often for advice and updates. And be sure to send your NFL fantasy questions to [email protected] We’ll post the answers every Wednesday in our NFL Fantasy Mailbag.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?