Fantasy Football Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups: Advice on Bradford, Battle, Baldwin, Breaston, Benn, Ballard, and more
Week Six saw relatively few big fantasy performances, and with some potent offenses among the six teams on bye in Week Seven (Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, and San Francisco), that may well repeat itself. The lack of reliable options at some positions, coupled with the bye week crunch, will surely send many owners back to the waiver wire where they will find some intriguing options, particularly at wide receiver.
As always, players listed here are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.Fantasy Football Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups: Quarterback
Sam Bradford (47%), St. Louis
It’s tough to blame people for giving up on Bradford after an ugly start to the season for both him and the Rams. While the team didn’t fare any better against Green Bay, Bradford showed signs of life with 321 passing yards. His receivers have consistently let him down with drops (and continued to do so on Sunday), but the Rams have also faced one of the tougher schedules in the league.
Next week Bradford takes on the Cowboys, who have allowed four of five opposing quarterbacks to throw for two touchdowns. He also has four games left against Arizona and Seattle, so there should be better days ahead.
Tim Tebow (46%), Denver
Just in case you’ve been on a six-day bender, John Fox announced last week that Tebow will start Sunday’s game against Miami. Through their first four games, the Dolphins have given up the second most points to fantasy quarterbacks. And while everyone has their opinion of Tebow, he has produced solid fantasy numbers whenever he has played. He’s absolutely worth adding to see how he responds this week.
Matt Cassel (34%), Kansas City
To rehash a few of the numbers I referenced on Cassel last week, he has seven touchdowns compared to just one interception over his last three games. He also faces an Oakland defense that has allowed 11 passing touchdowns in the past five games, which makes him a prime replacement for any of the bigger name quarterbacks on bye this week.
Andy Dalton (20%), Cincinnati (bye)
The “Red Rifle” couldn’t extend his streak of two-TD games, but he did complete nearly 80 percent of his passes for 264 yards and one score against the Colts. The surprising Bengals are on bye this week, but they face Seattle in Week Eight. The Seahawks have allowed their last four opponents to throw for at least 252 yards, and given their solid run defense, Dalton may need to air it out.
John Beck (1%), Washington
We had started to see signs of it the past couple weeks, but Rex Grossman is, in fact, Rex Grossman. Beck completed 8-of-15 passes for 117 yards and ran for a score in relief of Grossman, and it would be surprising if he wasn’t under center for Washington’s next game against Carolina. He’s not an option outside of two quarterback leagues, but he does have a few decent matchups over the remainder of the season.
Jackie Battle (36%), Kansas City
Even during KC’s bye week, Battle’s ownership percentage skyrocketed in preparation for next week’s matchup with the Raiders. Oakland’s run defense has shown improvement over the past couple weeks, but don’t forget that they allowed opposing ball carriers to run for 465 yards over the previous three weeks. Todd Haley has talked about getting Battle more involved and did just that against the Colts in Week Five.
Image credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun via Arrowhead Addict
Delone Carter (31%)/Donald Brown (5%), Indianapolis
With Joseph Addai sidelined, Carter got 14 carries compared to just five for Brown, but it was Brown who found the end zone. The Bengals have a solid run defense, so that played a role in Carter’s struggles, but Brown did show some ability in passing situations and as a change of pace for the bruising Carter. Addai’s status for next week is unknown, but the Colts face a New Orleans defense that is allowing 5.1 yards per carry. They were victimized this week by a bigger back (Earnest Graham), which might bode well for Carter if the Colts can keep from getting too far behind.
Montario Hardesty (16%), Cleveland
There weren’t many key injuries on Sunday, but Peyton Hillis had to leave Cleveland’s game against Oakland with a bum hamstring. There were initial reports that he was pulled as a coach’s decision, and rumors continue to fly in Cleveland that he may be traded due to the lack of progress in contract discussions. Hillis is set to have a MRI to assess the damage, but Hardesty should see a fair amount of work.
The bad news for Hardesty is that he has continued to drop passes and botched a handoff that resulted in a turnover. Seattle’s run defense is also one of the better units in the league, so while his touches may increase, don’t bank on a breakout performance from Hardesty in the short-term.
DeMarco Murray (5%)/Tashard Choice (5%), Dallas
Felix Jones sustained an ankle injury and has taken up permanent residence in the trainer’s office. The Cowboys kept Jones on the sidelines for the entire second half against the Patriots, which opened the door for Murray and/or Choice to make an impression. Neither really seized the opportunity, with Murray tallying 32 yards on 10 carries and Choice rushing for 14 yards on five attempts. Choice was more involved in the passing game, but Jerry Jones said after the game he would entertain trade offers for him. Murray looked like the more effective runner, and if I had to choose one to pursue, that’s who I would go with.
If Jones is out next week, either of these runners have a nice matchup against a St. Louis defense that has routinely been shredded on the ground. Of course, they’ve also been shredded through the air, but you get my point.
Maurice Morris (1%), Detroit
Lost amidst the post-game shenanigans and tomfoolery between Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh was the fact that Jahvid Best sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter. He actually returned to the game after hitting his head, but given his history of concussions both in the NFL and at Cal, there’s a better than average chance that he doesn’t play against Atlanta this week.
Compared to fellow reserve Keiland Williams, Morris is the best bet to earn the bulk of the backfield touches, as he is the better receiver of the two. The Falcons are holding their opponents to under 90 yards per game on the ground, but given his involvement in the passing game, Morris has value as a bye week fill-in.Fantasy Football Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups: Wide Receiver
James Jones (47%), Green Bay
I said last week that it’s tough to predict which Packers wideout not named Greg Jennings is the safest to start, and despite the fact that Jones has now scored in three straight games, that remains the case. Jones saw just one target against St. Louis, which he converted to a 35-yard touchdown. He’s not an every week starter, but he’s a solid guy to gamble on given how prolific Green Bay’s offense has been.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (45%), Oakland
After another solid game on Sunday, DHB now has 17 receptions for 296 yards over the past three weeks. Quite frankly, I would have thought I had a better chance of recording an album of duets with Mike Tyson than advocating DHB in fantasy leagues. The loss of Jason Campbell hurts his ability to keep the streak going, but Oakland’s next two games are against Kansas City and Denver, who are among the worst in the league at limiting the fantasy production of opposing wide receivers.
Torrey Smith (42%), Baltimore
Following Smith’s breakout game in Week Three, I asked that you temper your expectations due to his inconsistency. In the two games since, he caught one pass for one yard before reeling in three passes for 84 yards against the Texans. Smith will certainly have other big games this year, but next week the Ravens take on a Jacksonville secondary that has allowed just two receiving touchdowns to opposing wideouts in the past four weeks.
Michael Crabtree (42%), San Francisco (bye)
Crabtree showed no ill effects from his previous foot injury, and he continues to show flashes of the ability that earned him his lofty draft status. Crabtree was targeted 15 times against the Lions on Sunday and finished with nine receptions for 77 yards. He narrowly missed catching a touchdown and has a number of favorable matchups following the bye this week.
Jacoby Jones (34%), Houston
After laying an egg in Houston’s first game without Andre Johnson, Jones bounced back with four catches, 76 yards, and a score against Baltimore. However, he was still targeted fewer times than Kevin Walter and faces a Tennessee defense that has limited opposing wideouts pretty well this year, at least those not wearing Steeler uniforms.
Doug Baldwin (24%), Seattle (bye)
I mentioned Baldwin last week following his big game against the Giants. He has at least 83 yards in three of Seattle’s five games this season, including the last two contests. It’s uncertain who will be under center for the Seahawks next week, but Baldwin has shown decent chemistry with both Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Even if Joe Haden is back for Cleveland, he’s likely to spend most of his time on Sidney Rice, leaving Baldwin with a much more favorable matchup.
Early Doucet (23%), Arizona
Like Baldwin, I touched on Doucet last week heading into Arizona’s bye. He is routinely being targeted in the passing game, and with the Cardinals consistently falling behind, they will be forced to air it out. Against a stout Steelers pass defense this week, he’s not a great option, but he does have a number of good matchups in the coming weeks.
Steve Breaston (22%), Kansas City
Breaston has at least 50 receiving yards in three straight games, and as I mentioned above with Cassel, this week’s matchup against Oakland is favorable for the KC passing attack.
Jerome Simpson (18%), Cincinnati (bye)
It’s been feast of famine for Simpson this season. In his two good games, he’s totaled 10 catches for 237 yards. In the other four, he has 12 receptions for 116 yards. Even on the heels of Sunday’s 100-yard effort, Marvin Lewis was critical of his play, particularly his continued struggles with dropped passes. With Cincinnati heading into their bye and a number of challenging matchups looming, there are certainly better options out there.
Greg Little (16%), Cleveland
The Cleveland coaching staff talked about wanting to get Little more involved following their bye week, and they made good on that promise on Sunday, targeting him 12 times. He converted those looks into six receptions and 72 yards, and had he not slipped just short of the goal line, Little would have scored his first NFL touchdown. He is by far the most talented wide receiver on the team and should continue to play a major role in the passing game. Pick him up before it’s too late.
Danario Alexander (12%)/Greg Salas (0%)/Mark Clayton (0%), St. Louis
As I mentioned above with Bradford, the Rams have some nice matchups remaining this year, but someone has to become a consistent threat as a receiver. Alexander was promoted to the starting lineup on Sunday and finished with six catches for a team-high 91 yards on 10 targets. He dropped what could have been an 81-yard touchdown, but if he can stay healthy, he should remain a starter. Salas shook off a terrible start to his NFL career and bounced back on Sunday with eight catches for 77 yards. With Danny Amendola out, the Rams have been searching for a slot receiver, and Salas has now staked his claim to that role. He’s most valuable in PPR leagues. Clayton has been on the PUP list and can’t play until Week Eight at the earliest. Still, he put up huge numbers over the first four weeks of last season and was recently cleared to start practicing with the team. Clayton is at minimum a name to file away.
Arrelious Benn (4%), Tampa Bay
Benn showed his big-play ability as he got wide open on a 65-yard TD, but he’s behind Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow (and maybe even Preston Parker) in the pecking order. Benn has some terrific skills in the open field, but he’s isn’t consistent enough to warrant picking up just yet outside of deep leagues.
Jason Hill (2%), Jacksonville
That’s now back-to-back games with TDs for Hill, but in a passing offense that has shown so little, it’s tough to recommend owning any part of the Jacksonville passing game.Fantasy Football Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups: Tight End
Fred Davis (42%), Washington
Davis feasted on the Eagles defense to the tune of six catches for 95 yards, and now Chris Cooley is expected to miss time with an injured finger. The potential insertion of John Beck into the starting lineup doesn’t hurt Davis’ value, and he has a few games coming up against teams who have been recently victimized by opposing tight ends.
Jared Cook (32%), Tennessee
I mentioned last week that I expected the Titans to use their bye week to find more ways to get Cook involved following his two best games of the season. This week should be a solid test against the Texans, who have done a nice job of limiting tight ends not named Jimmy Graham so far this year.
Lance Kendricks (11%), St. Louis
Following his four-catch, 71-yard performance against the Packers, Kendricks should be starting to rebuild his confidence after a shaky start to his NFL career. Still, the talent is there, as is a matchup with a Dallas defense who is among the worst at defending opposing tight ends. Obviously it’s a huge gamble, but as I mentioned with the other Rams, better days are to come. They have to be.
Jake Ballard (10%), New York Giants (bye)
He now has three straight weeks of at least eight fantasy points in standard leagues, so perhaps the bye doesn’t come at the best time for Ballard. Still, he’s clearly become a part of the offense and is posting Kevin Boss-esque numbers for the Giants. No need to pick Ballard up while he is off this week, but he’s a potential fill-in going forward.
Brent Celek (9%), Philadelphia (bye)
Celek came into Sunday’s game with nine receptions for 73 yards, so you can understand why the Redskins seemed ill-prepared for him to the lead the Eagles in targets. The matchup against Dallas following Philly’s bye is a decent one, but very few things point to a repeat performance of Sunday’s 42 yards and a score.Streaming Defense(s) of the Week
Dallas (43%) vs. St. Louis
The Rams have yet to score more than 16 points this season, and the Cowboys are coming off of their best defensive effort of the year against the potent Patriots offense.
Cleveland (4%) vs. Seattle
The Seahawks are among the worst at giving up points to opposing fantasy defenses, and they’re heading east for an early start.
Have any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@andybottoms).
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