Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Breakdown: These are guys who are on the rise, moving up from where they’ve been over the first few weeks of the season. They may or may not be on a roster, but likely are, and may even be starting here and there. They are listed here because circumstances are favorable for them to move up in their overall ‘stature’ from a fantasy standpoint. With bye weeks now in season, these are guys who can help you in the coming week, and sometimes beyond!
Vernon Davis (SFO) – We’ve featured Davis here before, but things appear to be getting even better. There is a strong possibility that Alex Smith will be taking over soon as the starter for San Francisco. Davis has been finally settling in and putting up a successful season, but one interesting thing occurred Sunday that should make fantasy owners take notice. Davis, who had a monster day, was thrown to three times by Shaun Hill in the first half. At half-time Smith came in, and in the second half Davis was thrown to eight times and scored three touchdowns. Of course this isn’t to say that this will happen every time Smith plays in the future, that would be naive to think, but it does indicate a comfort level between the two that would lead one to believe that there may be some good things to come should the change take place. Davis has exceeded expectations so far this season and should continue to do so.
Owen Daniels (HOU) – Daniels has been busy all year, but he’s stepping it up a notch the past couple of weeks. Over the first four games he had a total of seventeen catches with two touchdowns. Since then, over the following three games, he’s had twenty-two catches and four touchdowns. He is on pace for over a thousand yards on the season and close to fourteen scores, a monster year by any standards. Will the pace he’s set for the past three weeks continue? It is tough to say, though he does have a few favorable matchups remaining. The next two games pit him on the road against Buffalo and Indianapolis, but there is no reason to think his production is going to slip much during that time based on recent history. He should be in a starting lineup in every league already, but just in case he wasn’t, here’s the extra push owners needed to make it happen.
Devin Hester (CHI) – Hester had a second straight good outing, giving him fourteen receptions in the past two games. With Cleveland on the schedule next weekend this puts him in prime position to make it three in a row. Chicago is going to want to come back with a statement next week after being humiliated in week seven, so look for a lot of offense against a team that doesn’t do too well stopping good offenses. While he’s not on pace to shatter any records, he is on the way to a better year than some anticipated, and it appears that Jay Cutler is starting to throw him the ball with a lot more regularity. Being the playmaker he is, a big game is bound to happen soon, and this week could be when soon happens.
Mike Sims-Walker (JAC) – Chalk this one up to opportunity. The Jags play Tennessee in Nashville this week, and the last time these two teams met, Sims-Walker had quite the game, grabbing seven balls for 91 yards and two scores. Tennessee is still reeling from their shilacking in New England in week five, but they’ll be bringing everything they’ve got against the Jags this week as they try to stop the bleeding of their embarrassing 0-6 start. Even with the effort they are sure to bring, the team just is not that good this year and this should again be a nice outing for the Jags as a whole, but Sims-Walker specifically. He’s finally given Jacksonville a bona-fide number one receiver, something they’ve lacked since Jimmy Smith, and it looks like he’s the real deal, set to be in place for quite some time.
Lee Evans (BUF) – It is unclear how long Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the starter in Buffalo, but as long as he’s in there, Evans’ stock rises. In the two games Fitzpatrick has played, Evans has scored two touchdowns, caught nine passes and collected 143 yards through the air. These may not sound like crazy numbers for a fantasy receiver, but if you consider the minimal impact the Bills’ passing game has posted so far they start to look pretty darn good. When you then look at the schedule and see Houston (followed by a bye) and Tennessee, your fantasy football owner’s heart takes a big beat and escalates the excitement factor. Look for Evans to have a good next two or three weeks in the starting lineup.
Waiver Wire Radar
Breakdown: These are guys who more than likely are not residing on many, if any, rosters. They are in situations that are favorable for possible fantasy impact in the not too distant future.
Michael Crabtree (SFO) – Crabtree finally made it on to an NFL field during a game this past week and showed that he indeed belongs, making it seem, at times, that he’d been on the field since the preseason. Overall he had a very good first game, finishing with five catches and fifty-two yards. It is a good sign that he didn’t seem to fare any better or worse with one quarterback over the other, a slight comfort to fantasy owners who may be concerned because of the uncertainty going on right now at the position, but San Francisco is definitely a team on the rise and they, unlike their counterparts across the bay in Oakland, will get it settled – and right – sooner rather than later. News came out Monday that Smith will be the starter in week eight, so it is possible the change could be permanent from here forward, but be cautious. Either way, Crabtree and Josh Morgan should be the tandem of the future – a tandem that is already starting to pay dividends for the Niners, and should be for your fantasy team.
Sam Aiken (NEP) – No sooner had Julian Edelman started to establish himself than he got hurt and is likely out for the year. Enter Aiken, who’d been seeing a little bit of action in the fourth receiver roll, but now is going to be much busier with the Patriot passing game starting to churn like the old days. The Patriots are on a bye this week, so it is a good time to grab him if you can afford the non-production from a roster spot for a week, otherwise put him in your queue for next week. Aiken is a very capable receiver who is the consummate professional on the field, something that fits in very well with the guys in New England. Look for him to make the most of his opportunity.
David Clowney (NYJ) – Jerricho Cotchery could make it back to the playing field this weekend, depending on how well his hamstring injury responds to practice this week. However, with the bye week following it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jets take it easy in bringing him back, giving more opportunity to Clowney, who has looked pretty good while filling in during Cotchery’s absence. In two of the last three games, including against Miami a couple weeks ago – this week’s opponent – he has caught four balls for seventy-plus yards, including one touchdown this Sunday. Sanchez is obviously comfortable throwing to the second year receiver and even if Cotchery plays, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Clowney get at least a couple of catches, giving him at the very least some value for one week as we see another six teams on their byes. It would be worth noting for those in keeper or dynasty leagues that Clowney looks to be on the rise and could be a good one to take a flier on if you have deep spots available to carry over players.
Keenan Burton/Danny Amendola (STL) – These two guys are on this list this week for one reason and one reason alone. They are the two starters this week for St Louis and they will be facing the Detroit Lions. Most weeks I wouldn’t even mention these guys, but considering six teams are on a bye again this week and the matchup is sweet for fantasy owners, these guys should be strongly considered to help fill gaps in week eight starting lineups. Strangely enough both Burton and Amendola have had thirteen receptions in the past three games for 107 yards, not a lot on the yardage side, but not shabby in PPR leagues – and yes, I realize how honestly strange that little stat is. Keep in mind though that Donnie Avery is banged up and his playing status is uncertain at best, meaning both of these guys have seriously big upside for at least one week – make the smart move!
Jeremy Maclin (PHI) – Kevin Curtis is out for a while, and with his struggles with injuries it is only a matter of time before he loses his job for good. In the mean time Maclin will continue to start in his place and be a viable option even against a relatively tough schedule. The Eagles have already taken their bye week, so he’s going to be a safe every week start, especially the next couple of weeks. As is the case with just about every Philadelphia receiver, consistency isn’t something to expect, but the occasionally breakout game certainly is.
…And On The Slide – Quick Hits
Breakdown: With the season in full swing and bye weeks about to begin, we felt it time to add a bit of the ‘flip side’ to our movers review. These are guys who are relatively well known, but whose stock is most definitely not moving in the right direction – with just a quick hit as to my personal thoughts on the matter.
Terrell Owens (BUF) – Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t already realize it, let me spell it out clearly. Terrell Owens is a bust this year. Many predicted it, and even those that didn’t had their doubts, but I’d wager to say that very few figured the drop off would be this severe. Through seven games T.O. has only made it to sixty yards in a game once…and that was exactly sixty. In fact, not counting that game, he has only hit fifty yards once. This means that in all but those two games he has had forty yards in two games, a shutout in another, and thirteen and twenty-seven yards the past two weeks respectively. He’s caught only one touchdown, and only had more than three receptions in a game once…in week five when he caught four. Everyone knew Buffalo’s passing game wasn’t all that, but with the relative success seen by Lee Evans for the past few years some thought there was a chance Owens’ could make a difference. He hasn’t.
Andre Johnson (HOU) – Andre got pulled from the game with a rough looking injury this past week, but the team says he’ll play this weekend. The injury, as has been reported around the league on Monday, was a ‘lung contusion’. Now, I don’t know much about medical things, but something that sounds like that to say or read sure doesn’t sound like something that I see anyone being at 100% with just a week later. Johnson is a great receiver, no doubt, but it would be safe to be very cautious before starting Johnson this week, and to use the waiver wire to establish a contingency plan should he not go or be very limited.