With the bye weeks tackling fantasy football rosters across the country, fantasy owners might need some one-week stopgaps at the wide receiver position. The good news is there are definitely some options out there on free-agent lists.
Here are four receivers likely available on fantasy waiver wires who should be in line for more targets and receptions in the coming weeks.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Greg Jennings is officially out this week because of his nagging groin injury, and groin injuries are trickier than Mike Shanahan’s play calls. So Jennings might miss a week, a month, who knows?
While all Green Bay receivers (even Donald Driver!) will see their targets increase while Jennings is sidelined, Jones is the one with the most to gain. Opposing defenses will focus more on Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, leaving Jones and his slippery fingers and slipperier legs with single coverage.
Jones caught a couple of touchdown passes last weekend against that abomination of a New Orleans Saints defense. This week he faces the Indianapolis Colts on Indy’s fast track at Lucas Oil Stadium, another nice fantasy matchup.
Thanks to this humongous opportunity and thanks to his big-play ability, Jones might turn out to be a must-start in fantasy leagues for the next couple of weeks until Jennings returns.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
While quarterback Mark Sanchez would never be labeled a straight shooter since he does not even complete 50 percent of his passes, he will be throwing a lot from here on out—unless he gets benched—because the Jets should be trailing in the second half of most of their games.
With top target Santonio Holmes out for the season and tight end Dustin Keller and rookie receiver Stephen Hill nursing hamstring injuries that seemingly never get better, Kerley has no competition for Sanchez’s wobbly ducks.
Kerley has shown explosiveness in the passing game (19.7 yards per catch) and will be thrown to more than he ever has in his young career. He could pull a Dwayne Bowe and pile up tons of second-half yards and touchdowns in blowout losses. Who else could do that for the Jets? Chaz Schilens? Konrad Reuland? Plaxico Burress?
The only thing going against Kerley are the cringe-worthy quarterbacks tossing to him. But if Sanchez and/or Tim Tebow can complete more than half their passes and find a rhythm with Kerley, the speedy receiver could be a fantasy dark horse.
Domenik Hixon, New York Giants
It is always a war of attrition with the Giants. They are normally ravaged with injuries as soon as training camp starts. Then by the first month they are short a half-dozen key guys. By season’s end everyone returns and they make the playoffs and sometimes win the Super Bowl, but it is at this point of the schedule where they are usually shorthanded.
With Hakeem Nicks battling leg injuries and Ramses Barden concussed, Hixon will step in start for the Super Bowl champs this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, a team whose pass defense has been nonexistent (28th in NFL) since cover corner Joe Haden was suspended.
Eli Manning might not be able to turn water into wine, but he can definitely turn any receiver into a weekly 100-yard threat (except for Sinorice Moss). We have seen no names like Barden and Victor Cruz become overnight fantasy sensations with the Giants, so there is no reason to think Hixon cannot do the same with Manning passing to him.
Hixon has been known more as an injury-prone kickoff returner than a decent receiver during his career. That may change for a couple of weeks, though. He caught six passes for 114 yards last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and should have a solid game versus Cleveland.
With the return dates of Hicks and Barden very questionable, Hicks could be a fantasy find on the waiver wire, especially now that teams will be on bye weeks.
Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams
Danny Amendola was targeted 49 times out of 147 when the St. Louis Rams have attempted to pass. If you have trouble with numbers like Andre Rison does, that means Amendola was the guy Sam Bradford was aiming for one-third of the time the quarterback would drop back to pass.
Now that Amendola has suffered a serious clavicle injury, Bradford has to eye down other receivers, and unless Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are coming out of retirement, it will have to be one of the Rams' other receivers.
While rookies Chris Givens and Brian Quick have the most upside, neither has shown many flashes of brilliance during the first five games. They have combined for a total of five receptions, the equivalent of what Wes Welker catches on one drive.
Gibson will now be St. Louis’ de facto No. 1 receiver. He started off strong with touchdowns in his first two contests but has since vanished like a transporting member of the Star Trek Enterprise. Look for Gibson’s target totals to rise rapidly, along with his receptions and yards, over the next several weeks.