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Last week’s Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains cratered out almost as epically as the Cubs’ Pennant Race. Much like Latavius Murray, however, I’m looking to bounce back in Week 7. It’s an ugly week with a ton of injuries and four teams on a bye, so the pickings are slim. Get ready to hang tight, dig deep, and scream extra loudly at your flat screens.
To review… all of the below players are owned in less than fifty percent of Yahoo leagues (one of them is only owned in one percent of leagues). They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup. Have at it!
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams ($21)
The Rams generated a lot of chatter this summer about getting Austin more involved in the team’s offense. Since then, OC Frank Cignetti has turned many an eye roll to an eyebrow raise. After finding creative ways to utilize Austin’s skill set, the former first round pick has found the end zone in four of the team’s last five outings. Three of those came in back-to-back contests in tough matchups at Arizona and Green Bay. With defenders loading the box in an attempt to contain the one-man wrecking crew that is Todd Gurley, the rest of the field has opened up for Austin.
His matchup in Week 7 versus Cleveland is even more tempting than a free ticket to Magic Mike on Broadway. The Browns are admittedly softer on the ground than they are through the air, but their secondary has been far from shutdown. With CB Joe Hayden questionable to start on Sunday, even the Rams’ low volume passing offense has an opportunity to put up some numbers. As the team’s most targeted WR, Austin is in prime flex position.
Update: Austin has yet to practice this week. Coming off of a bye, that’s not great news. Keep an eye on his status over the weekend. I wouldn’t recommend using him if he’s far from 100 percent. As a speed guy, a leg injury would obviously be a huge detriment to his playability. I’ve added a few “bonus” sleepers to make up for Austin’s potential scratch.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, Tennessee Titans ($20)
It’s adorable that Marcus Mariota thinks he’s going to play on Sunday. I genuinely appreciate his optimism, and think that mindset is why he’s proving to be such a good leader. However, he’s going to spend Week 7 in shorts… not pads. In his stead, the selfie-afflicted Zach Mettenberger will be under center for the Titans.
Mettenberger had a fantastic preseason, gleamingly confident in the pocket and consistently moving the offense. There were even rumors that he could be used as a trade chip to other teams lacking at the position. (Frankly, I was stunned Dallas didn’t go after him after the Brandon Weeden experiment went up in flames.) Mett seems genetically engineered to play quarterback, possessing ideal size and a cannon of an arm. His decision-making skills – both on and off the field – are suspect, but for such a young player he shows an impressive amount of promise.
This week he’ll host the Falcons at home. Atlanta is currently getting torched by running backs and leads the league in rushing scores given up (10). So it would figure that the Titans will want to focus on their ground game… except they don’t really have one. Given the team’s cadre of sub-par rushers, in tandem with Mett’s skill-set, Tennessee is likely to put the ball in the air and test the Falcons’ secondary. Given the personnel changes made over the last year and the budding emergence of downfield threat Dorial Green-Beckham, this back-up QB is in a spot to surprise.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee Titans ($11)
Way to bury the lead, huh? Just hear me out. DGB’s targets are obviously lacking, but his playmaking ability has become increasingly clear. With a mere 6 catches off of a sparse 11 looks, Beckham has managed to score two TDs in five outings. What’s even more intriguing is that in Week 6 he saw his highest snap count of the season. He may not be on a rocket ship to the moon, but his value is trending upwards.
If the previously mentioned Zach Mettenberger does indeed start and takes the shots downfield that I think he’s wont to do, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Green-Beckham haul in another score (or two). In fact, it was just about two months ago that this pair showed off in the preseason, connecting for a 32-yard TD at Atlanta of all places. Foreshadowing much?
At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds DGB is a beast of a red zone target. It’s worth noting that the Falcons gave up a 10-127-1 stat line to similarly sized TE Ben Watson in Week 6. While Delanie Walker is a solid play, he’s 31 years-old and struggling to stay healthy. Green-Beckham is far from a sure thing, but his ceiling is directly proportional to his size.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions ($17)
The Lions backfield is a straight up disaster. Preseason darling Ameer Abdullah is coughing up the ball harder than a SARS patient on a cross-country flight. Veteran Joique Bell is neither effective nor healthy. And rookie Zach Zenner is on the IR with some busted ribs and a punctured lung. That, of course, leaves Theo Riddick.
Riddick isn’t built to be a workhorse, but he can carry the rock for a limited number of touches and in spot situations. His primary job is to catch the ball out of the backfield on passing downs. Over his past five outings, he’s averaged six catches and nearly 50 receiving yards per game. A solid check down option for a quarterback struggling behind a shoddy offensive line, Riddick is a serviceable play in PPR formats.
In Week 7 he’ll face off against the Vikings at home. Minnesota has a formidable defense, but they did give up five catches and 41 yards to Riddick when the teams met earlier this season in Week 2. Assuming the Vikes focus the bulk of their efforts trying to quiet Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Eric Ebron (who’s expected back this Sunday), there’s a good chance Stafford will continue use Riddick as a chain-moving safety valve.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals ($12)
A gnarly hand injury slowed Floyd’s start to the season. Since Week 4, however, he’s been on the field for at least 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. In that time his play has been admittedly up and down, but last week he converted five of eight targets for 50 yards and his first score of the season. It should also be noted that he nearly had a second TD, but wasn’t able to keep both feet in bounds on the play.
Floyd may not be the team’s No. 1 receiver, but with Carson Palmer passing for the fourth most yards and scoring the second most TDs in the league, any piece of this offense has a chance to go off. Additionally, his matchup against the Ravens screams opportunity. Baltimore is getting shredded through the air, giving up an average of 30 fantasy points to WRs each week. In Week 6 both Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith had near 100 yard games opposite their old team. Plus, you can be sure that coming off of a loss and playing in primetime, these desert birds are determined to make a statement. There may be a lot of mouths to feed, but this offense is good enough to keep them all satiated.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders ($19)
He’s getting a ton of looks (four more on the season than Amari Cooper) and the coaching staff is swooning over his recent play. Likely to see a lot of CB Brandon Browner this Sunday, Crabby’s matchup is certainly a plus. The game script figures to be run heavy, but the Raiders’ secondary is thin enough to keep Derek Carr passing.
Marcell Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders ($10)
The matchup sets up nicely for a Latavius Murray bounce back, as the Chargers are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing RBs. If the Central Florida product continues to struggle, however, Reece could be in store for a big day. He’s being used more by this coaching staff than previous regimes, and he has a more diverse skill set than the other two options in Oakland’s backfield.
Ladarius Green, TE, San Diego Chargers ($11)
A reported knee injury has kept Antonio Gates out of practice all week. A veteran in his thirteenth season, Gates doesn’t have to practice in order to play on game day. If, however, he’s not fit to take the field then Green could benefit heartily. The Raiders are softer than bubble gum against the middle and have given up six scores in five weeks to the TE position. With Stevie Johnson also nursing a sore hammy, Green could be in for the biggest game of his career.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF