With Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego on bye in Week Seven, we've dug especially deep to highlight some waiver-wire fixtures who could be worth your while. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (owned in 12 percent of leagues) — He has been a completely different player since throwing four interceptions in Week One. His arm strength gives the Browns’ offense an element it hasn’t had since Derek Anderson’s breakout 2007 campaign. While Weeden isn’t an every-week starter in standard-sized leagues, he should be more widely owned.
Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman (40 percent) — Freeman racked up nearly 22 yards per completion in Week Six, and he draws a struggling New Orleans pass defense on Sunday. With Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia and San Diego on bye in Week Seven, fantasy owners could be looking for a fill-in starter. Freeman’s not a bad option whatsoever.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (15 percent) — I can’t recommend him as a starter in Week Seven at San Francisco, but the matchups are a little more favorable in the next several weeks thereafter. Owners with roster space and some time might want to pick him up and wait for a better spot.
Cowboys RB Felix Jones (19 percent) — The owners who had him tucked away on their benches are feeling very good about themselves. For the rest of us, it’s off to the waiver wire to try and pick Jones up with DeMarco Murray (foot) expected to miss Sunday’s game at Carolina. Jones has scored just 10 offensive TDs in 53 NFL games, but he will get the bulk of the carries for a Dallas offense that showed a renewed commitment to the running game on Sunday. If you are heavily depending upon Jones in very deep leagues, you might also want to pick up Phillip Tanner (0 percent), who’s the next man up at running back for Dallas.
Patriots RBs Brandon Bolden (38 percent) and Danny Woodhead (23 percent) — Bolden carried six times for 28 yards in Sunday’s loss at Seattle before leaving the game with a knee injury. If the injury is not regarded as serious — and ESPN Boston said Bolden was “walking under his own power” after the game — then Bolden is a reasonable pickup for owners willing to wait if the ailment affects him the short term. In limited work, Bolden has gained 5.4 yards per carry, and the Patriots’ increased emphasis on the running game enhances the value of all of their running backs. I prefer Bolden to Woodhead, as Bolden, if healthy, looks more likely to get something close to a featured back’s workload if Stevan Ridley were ever to leave the lineup. However, Woodhead has material fantasy value too, especially in big leagues. He’s gaining about five yards per touch, and he has a pair of TDs in six games.
Chiefs RB Peyton Hillis (33 percent) — Attention Jamaal Charles owners: With the Chiefs on bye in Week Seven, this is a good time to stash Hillis, who’s missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
Steelers RB Isaac Redman (32 percent) — His run strength caught the eye in Week Six, as he racked up 105 receiving yards on just four catches. While Redman sustained a knee injury in the loss to Tennessee on Thursday night, it isn’t regarded as serious, and with Rashard Mendenhall dealing with a minor Achilles ailment, Redman is a reasonable pickup.
Cardinals RB William Powell (31 percent) — In his most extensive action of the season, Powell rushed for 70 yards on 13 carries in the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. LaRod Stephens-Howling, in his 11 carries, gained just 22 yards. Powell looks like the preferred Cardinals back for fantasy purposes, and with Beanie Wells out until late November, Powell definitely has some value.
Saints RB Mark Ingram (31 percent) — He’s been a fantasy nonfactor to this point (37-106-1 in five games), but he’s available in quite a few leagues, so if you want to pick him up and see what materializes as the Saints come off their bye, you may well have the chance.
Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount (18 percent) — He racked up a season-high 58 yards in Week Six and has scored a touchdown in consecutive games. His carries have ever-so-slightly increased in each of the last three games (four, six, then seven).
Rams RB Daryl Richardson (13 percent) — He’s received a combined 20 carries in the last two games as Steven Jackson’s backup. Jackson, who’s carried 30 times in this span, is still the preferred Rams back, but Richardson merits a look on the waiver wire.
Lions RB Joique Bell (12 percent) — Bell, who received a season-high seven carries in Week Six, is the clear backup to Mikel Leshoure.
Browns RB Montario Hardesty (three percent) — If Trent Richardson (ribs) can’t play in Week Seven, Hardesty is likely to be the Browns’ primary back on early downs. The Colts’ run defense isn’t a strength, so Hardesty would be a sensible pickup until more is known about Richardson’s status for Sunday. Make no mistake, though: If Richardson can play, he’s the Browns’ top back.
Browns WR Josh Gordon (13 percent) — He has emerged as the Browns’ top playmaking receiver, hauling in three TD passes in the last two weeks, with a 71-yarder against Cincinnati his latest highlight-reel play. Fantasy owners may understandably be leery of Cleveland wideouts, who have largely been disappointing fantasy propositions in recent seasons. However, Gordon has some upside. Weeden’s strong arm allows the Browns to stretch the field more than in past seasons, making Gordon a legitimate, and regular, downfield threat. What’s more, Gordon has established himself as the club’s top option when the Browns want to dial up the big-play pass.
Giants WR Domenik Hixon (38 percent) — Even with Hakeem Nicks back in the lineup in Week Six, Hixon retained a role in the offense, catching four passes for 78 yards on six targets. Hixon is worth claiming and keeping on your roster; after all, his value would increase if he were to again enter the lineup, and the battle to pick him up would be fierce.
Titans WR Kendall Wright (37 percent) — He’s a work-in-progress, but he’s talented, and he’s getting enough passes thrown his way to make him worthy of a roster spot, especially in PPR leagues. He’s been targeted 38 times in the last four games.
Lions WR Nate Burleson (33 percent) — A steady possession receiver in a pass-happy offense, Burleson is a good back-end-of-the-roster player in fantasy leagues, especially in three-WR formats. He’s not flashy, but he gets plenty of targets.
Saints WR Devery Henderson (eight percent) — With Lance Moore out of the lineup in Week Five, Henderson got a lot of passes thrown his way. If Moore can’t play in Week Seven at Tampa Bay, Henderson’s a smart claim-and-start proposition, especially in three-WR formats.
Jets TE Dustin Keller (24 percent) — First, the bad news: He was targeted just once in the passing game in Week Six. Now, the good news: He played 75 percent of the Jets’ snaps, a positive sign after missing time with injury. The Jets emphasized the run in Week Six, but in obvious passing situations, Keller might be their best option right now. If you are willing to overlook the low Week Six output, he’s a pickup with upside, in my view.
Colts TE Coby Fleener (23 percent) — He has yet to score a touchdown this season, but he’s been targeted 31 times, and he faces a Browns defense that surrendered a long TD to Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham in Week Six.
Broncos TE Joel Dreessen (15 percent) — Targeted a season-high seven times in Week Six, catching six passes for 57 yards in the Broncos’ unbelievable comeback win at San Diego.
Raiders TE Brandon Myers (five percent) — Has hauled in 21-of-24 passes thrown his way for 290 yards entering Week Seven.
Bears PK Robbie Gould (46 percent) — He’s yet to miss a field goal (10-of-10) or extra point (17-of-17) in 2012, and he’s annually one of the league’s steadiest performers at his position. I’m guessing he was a bye-week drop for some fantasy owners.
Browns PK Phil Dawson (23 percent) — Like Gould, he’s been perfect on field goals (12) and extra points (14) this season, and he gets an infrequent opportunity to kick indoors Sunday at Indianapolis.
Buffalo (30 percent) — I can’t say I like this defense as an every-week start, but as a bye-week fill-in vs. Tennessee on Sunday, the Bills make sense.
Cleveland (11 percent) — With CB Joe Haden back in the lineup, and with RS Joshua Cribbs in top form, this defense/special-teams unit might be worth a flier in bigger leagues.