Week 7 of the fantasy football season is creeping up fast and if you are 0-6, your season’s death knell is tolling loudly, but there’s still time, precious little time, but time nonetheless.
This week is tough because many players on Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego are on a bye week, which means fantasy players on those teams are unavailable.
But fear not!
Here are some guys you might want to pick up to fill-in for them or possibly for the long haul.
(The percentages following the players are how heavily they are owned on Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football. I try to stay under 50% owned for the column if I can.)
Josh Freeman (40 percent) – Freeman blew up the Kansas City defense for 328 yards and three touchdowns and gets the New Orleans Saints this week, who have given up 298.8 passing yards per game and over a 67 percentage completion rate. That makes for a decent fill-in for Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick or Philip Rivers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (53 percent) -- So I already broke my under 50 percent owned rule, but since he’s been such playing poorly lately, he may be dropped in some leagues this week. The good news is he gets the Tennessee Titans this week. The Titans have given up an average of 298.8 yards passing (28th in the NFL) to opposing quarterbacks so far this season, along with 13 passing touchdowns (28th in the NFL).
Christian Ponder (40 percent) -- Ponder doesn’t have a cake walk schedule in week seven, but does get the Buccaneers without Aquib Talib in week eight. He’s also been playing well enough that he needs to be owned as a backup. Last week against the Redskins, he threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns and has thrown two touchdowns in four of his last five games. He threw the ball eight times last week to Adrian Peterson, which will help his overall numbers and Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph are playing at the top of their game.
Brandon Weeden (12 percent) -- Brandon Weeden has averaged 280.2 yards passing per game after his week one debacle against the Eagles and has thrown for two touchdowns each of the last two games. He’s also found a nice deep target in Josh Gordon and with the Browns defense giving up 27 points a game; Weeden will need to keep throwing. Add to that, this week he faces the Indianapolis Colts who are in the middle as far as pass defensive statistics, but they have faced Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez, which helped their stats and Sanchez threw for two touchdowns against them.
Felix Jones (20 percent)/Phillip Tanner (0 percent) – Demarco Murray has already been ruled out for week seven according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, so that means Felix Jones will most likely get the start against the Carolina Panthers who are giving up 128 rushing yards (26th in the NFL) and 4.8 yards per carry (27th). That's not the only upside for Jones because it looks like Murray may be out for several weeks and a starting running back of Jones’ caliber is hard to come by off the waiver wire.
Phillip Tanner will serve as his backup and Jones has been injury prone, so he could be worth owning, especially in deeper leagues.
William Powell (31 percent)– Powell would be the No. 1 pick up this week if it wasn’t for a tough schedule against the rush for the Cardinals, but he is very much worth owning as the Cardinals starting running back. Last week he had 13 carries for 70 yards against a poor Bills defense. He had a nice preseason and has the trust of the coaches, so he should remain a flex/bye week play.
Montario Hardesty (3 percent) – Hardesty stepped in well for Trent Richardson after he hurt his ribs, rushing 15 times for 56 yards and a touchdown, so Richardson owners should no doubt grab him in case Richardson can’t go. Since the Browns face the Colts, the reward is quite high if Hardesty ends up starting. The Colts just gave up 166 yards and three touchdowns to slow-footed Shonn Greene and on the season they are giving up 142.6 yards per game (31st) and 5.2 yards per carry (32nd). You’ll want to start the ball boy against them if he gets playing time. Wide Receiver:
Josh Gordon (14 percent) – He’s a boom or bust player and has boom over the last two weeks. You can’t count on this kind of production week in and week out, but as a bye-week player, he’s worth a fill-in with hopes that he’ll start seeing more targets and become a consistent fantasy player.
Brandon Gibson (21 percent)/Chris Givens (3 percent) – With the loss of Danny Amendola, there was a big void to fill in the Rams passing game and so far it looks like Gibson and Givens are the main void fillers so far with nine and seven targets respectively. The good news is the Rams face the Packers and Patriots the next two weeks and will be in pass mode for most of the game.
Kendall Wright (38 percent) – Wright has 15 receptions over the last two weeks and faces two easy defenses in the Bills and Colts the next two weeks. He should be owned in all PPR leagues.
Donnie Avery (15 percent) – Avery hasn’t been producing like I had hoped, but he continues to get plenty targets, averaging eight a game and it looks like he will continue to get those, especially with the Colts being down often by giving up 29 points a game. The Colts also have a nice schedule coming up against Cleveland, Tennessee, Miami, Jacksonville, New England, Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee, Houston (tough), and Kansas City.
Devery Henderson (8 percent) – Henderson had a big game last week with Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore hurting. Though we aren’t sure what Graham and Moore’s status is going to be, it would be a good idea to scoop up Henderson, because there’s a good chance one or both will be limited again.
David Thomas – This goes back to the Jimmy Graham injury. Thomas looks like he would be the next tight end in line if Graham is out.
Brandon Myers – The Raiders' tight end isn’t very flashy, but he is averaging 58 receiving yards per game, which ranks him sixth for tight ends. He just missed a touchdown last week and if he can start getting more red zone looks he could have value.
Check out some nice and not so nice matchups in this week’s sit or start.
Eli Manning -- Manning finished as the 20th best fantasy quarterback last week against a tough 49ers defense. This week should be a turnaround against the Redskins who have been giving up the most passing yards in the league per game at 341.
Andrew Luck – The Colts face the Browns who are giving up 308 yards passing a game. Luck had a poor game against the Jets last week, but the two previous games he averaged 337.5 yards and two touchdowns. At home after a poor game on the road, he should have a nice bounce back.
Chris Johnson – If you an unfortunate owner of Chris Johnson, you thankfully get an extremely good match-up this week against the Bills. They have been giving up 136 yards rushing and over a touchdown per game to go along with a healthy 5.1 yards per carry. Johnson had a decent game last week and hopefully will build on it.
Doug Martin – The rookie finally had a nice game last week against the Chiefs. He accumulated 131 total yards on just 15 touches and this week he faces the New Orleans Saints who have given up a whopping 140 yards rushing a game at a five yards per carry clip. And even though the Saints will most likely get an early lead, Martin is used in the passing game enough to still have value.
Kenny Britt – Britt had 62 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers last week. This week he faces a Bills defense that has given up 11 touchdowns to wide receivers. Add that to a long week of rest and, Britt will show up big.
Hakeem Nicks – After a down game against a tough 49ers secondary, Nicks gets his easiest matchup of the season against the Redskins who have given up 100+ yard receiving games to six different wide receivers this season. Nicks was coming of his knee injury last week and should be in better shape for this cakewalk.
Scott Chandler – The Titans are the worst defenders against tight ends in the NFL this season. They have given up a league=high 45 receptions for 429 yards and seven touchdowns. Chandler is a strong candidate for a touchdown this week.
Martellus Bennett – The Redskins have been just about as bad against tight ends as the Titans, giving up 42 receptions for 431 yards and five touchdowns. Bennett has a plus match-up for sure, but make sure he practices fully this week.
Matthew Stafford – The Lions and Stafford have been scuffling of late and it won’t get much easier along the lake in Chicago. The Bears have given up a league-low four passing touchdowns and have a league-high 13 interceptions.
Joe Flacco – The Houston Texans were just Aaron Rodger-ed pretty good on Sunday night and they will be looking to win back some of their dignity against Joe Flacco at Reliant Stadium. Against non-chip on their shoulder MVPs, the Texans play extremely well, having given up only a 53% completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
Frank Gore – The Seahawks defense is on par with the 49ers right now, so this Thursday night game could end up in a 3-3 tie. The Seahawks are giving up a league leading 50 yards rushing per game and 2.8 yards per carry. That is crazy.
Shonn Greene – The Patriots rush defense has been strong this season allowing only one rushing touchdown to a running back, 65 rushing yards a game and 3.4 yards per carry. And those numbers come after facing Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson, Willis McGahee, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Try to trade Greene today.
Brandon Lloyd – The N.Y. Jets lost Darrelle Revis, but Antonio Cromartie has stepped up strong in his place and should shadow Brandon Lloyd this week. With Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez available, there’s a good chance Lloyd won’t see as many targets as he is used to.
Steve Smith – The Cowboys pass defense has been one of the toughest in the league this season. They’ve been giving up on average 130 yards to receivers and under nine receptions. That’s not just to a single receiver, that’s to all the receivers on the opposing team. They’ve also only given up a total of three touchdowns to wide receivers this season as well. Be wary of Mr. Smith.
Fred Davis – Going up against the Giants has not been easy for tight ends this season. They have yet to give up a touchdown to one and they have faced Witten, Olsen, Celek and Davis.
Vernon Davis – The Seahawks have had to face Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley, Greg Olsen, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski and they’ve only allowed one touchdown. The 49ers will want to bounce back after getting beaten down by the Giants, but it might be hard to do against the Seahawks tough defense.