If the co-worker in the cubicle over from you looks a little tense this week, there's probably a good reason. She or he is probably coping with Aaron Rodgers or Robert Griffin III being on bye in Week 10.
However, as we discuss below, there are a handful of intriguing passers on the waiver wire. What's more, there continues to be a good deal of RB help more widely available than expected.
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.
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (owned in 48 percent of leagues) — It's surprising he's available in this many leagues, but with the Bills having their bye in Week Eight and then facing Houston in Week Nine, there perhaps hasn't been a huge push to get him onto rosters. Well, this is the week to pick him up. The Bills get another shot at the Patriots, and this could be a high-scoring game, what with New England winning the first meeting 52-28. In defeat, Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and four TDs against a struggling Patriots secondary. Fitzpatrick is very hot-and-cold; he's had five games with two TD passes or more and three games with no scoring throws whatsoever. Nevertheless, it's time to roll the dice if he's available in your leagues.
49ers QB Alex Smith (45 percent) — He was exceptional in his last start before the 49ers' Week Nine bye, completing 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards with three TDs in a blowout win at Arizona. Off that effort alone, he's a logical claim.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (19 percent) — The Seahawks' offense has perked up recently, and Wilson is one of the major reasons why. He's thrown multiple TD passes in three of the last four games, with the only off-performance at San Francisco. Now, that said, Wilson isn't a surefire pickup for all owners. After facing the Jets Sunday, the Seahawks are on bye in Week 11, and they face Miami and Chicago in Weeks 12 and 13. However, the Seahawks draw Arizona and Buffalo in Weeks 14 and 15 — favorable matchups for the rookie passer from Wisconsin. If you can afford to take the long view, Wilson could pay some dividends down the stretch.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (eight percent) — While he's only thrown five TDs in eight games (one of which he left early with a knee injury), Tannehill could still be an appealing pickup, especially in bigger leagues. For starters, he draws the Titans' shaky defense in Week 10. After that, he draws the Bills (Weeks 11 and 16), Patriots (Weeks 13 and 17) and Jaguars (Week 15). If you believe Tannehill's a player on the rise, you might want to pick him up now, as the matchups are in his favor down the stretch.
Raiders RBs Taiwan Jones (two percent) and FB Marcel Reece (three percent) — With RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both dealing with high ankle sprains, Jones and Reece could be the top fantasy options in the Oakland backfield in Week 10 at Baltimore. While neither McFadden or Goodson has been ruled out as of yet, I believe it's prudent for McFadden owners to pickup at least one of the Oakland backs as insurance. Jones, a second-year pro from Eastern Washington, probably has more upside; he has excellent speed. However, he's also had fumbling issues. You know what you're getting with Reece, who's primarily a receiving threat out of the backfield. He's most interesting in big-PPR leagues. I would claim Jones before Reece on the basis of Jones being likely to get more carries than Reece. But Reece isn't an unreasonable pickup, either.
Texans RB Ben Tate (45 percent) — He continues to deal with a hamstring injury, and he could end up on more waiver wires this week. He's a wonderful pickup-and-stash proposition for Arian Foster owners. Tate is unlikely to help you in Week 10, but if he's helping you in mid-December ... well, that's the goal, isn't it?
Packers RB James Starks (12 percent) — Starks has to get a long look from owners with some extra roster space after he received a season-high 17 carries in Week Nine. I'm not sure how much upside he has — the Packers are a pass-first team, and this could be a split-carries situation with Alex Green going forward. But what's the risk in taking a flier?
Lions RB Joique Bell (19 percent) — Bell (season-high 13-73-1 rushing Sunday) has to have major appeal to Mikel Leshoure owners. He's gotten 30 touches in his last four games, and he's doing well with his opportunities. I wouldn't expect him to notch double-digit carries every week, but it's also quite clear that he's the top option behind Leshoure in a productive backfield.
Saints RBs Mark Ingram (27 percent) and Chris Ivory (one percent) — In his first action of the season, Ivory made the most of his playing time, racking up 48 rushing yards and a TD on 10 carries. Ingram also impressed, racking up 67 combined yards. With Darren Sproles (hand) likely out in Week 10, and with the Falcons having a below-average run defense, Ingram and Ivory have some value.
Patriots RBs Brandon Bolden (10 percent) and Shane Vereen (six percent) — Bolden (knee) could return in Week 10. In his absence, Vereen has played well of late. The Patriots' RB pecking order behind starter Stevan Ridley is always tough to figure. Nevertheless, both Bolden and Vereen could be quite valuable to Ridley owners looking to strengthen their bench for the stretch run.
Others worth considering: Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers (36 percent), Rams RB Daryl Richardson (32 percent), Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (27 percent), 49ers RB Kendall Hunter (24 percent), Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (four percent).
Jets WR Jeremy Kerley (47 percent) — Targeted 11 times in each of the last two games before the Jets' Week Nine bye. Isn't a slam-dunk start vs. Seattle on Sunday by any stretch but is a nice stretch-run addition.
Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon (21 percent) — Good news: Blackmon leads the Jaguars in targets (54), and he's had 17 passes thrown his way the last two weeks. Also, he has some upside, and the Colts' pass defense isn't particularly strong. Bad news: He has just 23 catches for 225 yards, and his first TD came in Jacksonville's eighth game.
Seahawks WR Golden Tate (11 percent) — Has hauled in 11-92-2 in 13 targets in the last two games. The Seahawks' passing game is improving. Primarily a big-league consideration for the time being.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (seven percent) — In the Colts' Week Nine win vs. Miami, Hilton set season-highs in targets (11), catches (six) and exceeded 100 yards receiving (102) for the second time. Note that both of his TD catches this season were 36 yards or longer.
Vikings WR Jerome Simpson (seven percent) — Simpson has some big-play potential and could get a few more opportunities if Percy Harvin (ankle) can't play in Week 10. However, he's the epitome of a boom-or-bust proposition.
Others worth considering: Cowboys WR Kevin Ogletree (15 percent), Colts WR Donnie Avery (15 percent).
Jets TE Dustin Keller (36 percent) — In his last two games before the Jets' Week Nine bye, Keller was targeted 18 times, catching 14-160-1. If you need a tight end, he merits strong consideration.
Broncos TEs Joel Dreessen (24 percent) and Jacob Tamme (43 percent) — A Broncos tight end has caught a TD pass in five of eight games in 2011. Dreessen, who's hauled in four of those scores, is the preferred pickup because of his better overall fantasy production.
Bills TE Scott Chandler (35 percent) — In the Bills' first 2012 meeting with New England, Chandler had his best game of the season, catching four passes for 62 yards and a pair of scores.
Raiders TE Brandon Myers (21 percent) — He's had double-digit targets in two of the last three games, and he FINALLY found the endzone in Week Nine — and twice, to boot. Myers has caught 78 percent of the passes thrown his way this season, which — going out on a limb here — likely has a lot to do with why he's the second-most targeted player on the team.
Colts TE Dwayne Allen (10 percent) — Allen set season-highs in targets (seven), catches (six) and receiving yards (75) in Week Nine. He could again have a key role in the passing game on Thursday at Jacksonville with Coby Fleener (shoulder) out.
Broncos PK Matt Prater (40 percent) — Not getting a ton of field-goal attempts (10 in eight games), but he's yet to miss one, and he's 27-of-27 on extra points.
Rams PK Greg Zuerlein (35 percent) — Tied for fifth in the NFL in field goals made (17), and his leg strength is a major asset in leagues that award points for long kicks.
Buccaneers PK Connor Barth (24 percent) — Just 13 field goals, but the Buccaneers' offense is soaring.
Chargers PK Nick Novak (seven percent) — Has hit 8-of-9 field goals and all 14 extra points in five games.
N.Y. Jets (36 percent) — Four of Jets' next five games are against the Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals and Jaguars.
Dallas (18 percent) — Week 10 opponent Philadelphia has committed 19 turnovers in eight games.
Indianapolis (four percent) — Colts draw Jacksonville in Week 10.