Three weeks in and we've finally hit the dreaded bye-week portion of our fantasy schedule, complicated by injuries, benchings and the recent struggles of players across the league.
Of course, on top of that, you need to start sorting through your roster and making some adjustments.
In some cases, serious adjustments.
The good news is, it's not too late no matter how bad your first three weeks went. Even the New York Giants still have hope.
Let's take a look at some players who might be able to help the cause.
All percentages of player ownership on the following pages refer to those on the NFL Fantasy Football Players Trends page found here.
Before we get into specific players, it's always vital to keep an eye on each team's injury report. See who is practicing and how much, especially with guys who are just a bit nicked up.
Especially during bye weeks, bench players matter.
For example, you might have just lost Nate Burleson due to a broken arm incurred in a car accident early Tuesday morning. That makes Ryan Broyles a much more important part of the Lions offense this week.
You can check out the list of each injured player's status at NFL.com's injury page.
The NFL eases us into the bye week portion of the schedule in Week 4, with just two teams sitting out this week's slate of games.
The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers are out this week, which costs you some very good players—Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, DeAngelo Williams, Cam Newton, Steve Smith and Greg Olson—as well as two fantasy defenses that have been scoring well depending on the format.
Take a minute to look at which players you'll lose from your starting lineup through Week 12 due to bye weeks:
|Week 4||Green Bay , Carolina|
|Week 5||Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington|
|Week 6||Atlanta, Miami|
|Week 7||Oakland, New Orleans|
|Week 8||Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston|
|Week 9||Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville|
|Week 10||Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets|
|Week 11||Dallas, St. Louis|
|Week 12||Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle|
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made the switch from Josh Freeman to rookie Mike Glennon.
Glennon just became the starting quarterback on a team with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Teams (notably Arizona this week) will focus on Doug Martin and let the rookie beat them. Glennon has Jackson, Williams and a big arm, giving him the chance to put some yards on the board.
However, keep in mind that using Glennon could mean a lot of turnovers. Glennon had issues with reading defenses and pocket presence in the preseason. Given his tall, lanky body type, I'm a bit worried about his durability at the pro level.
Still, he is definitely worth a flier this week and going forward.
I wouldn't start him unless I was in a bind (for example, you just lost Cam Newton/Aaron Rodgers to a bye and were depending on Freeman), but having him on your bench is worth the effort.
There are actually quite a few quarterbacks available on waiver wires. Of course, who is available depends on your league, but these are the most attractive ones that are up for grabs in over half of the leagues on NFL.com.
|Player||Week 3 opponent||Percent owned|
Sam Bradford has actually decreased in ownership over the past week, which shouldn't surprise given how uneven he's been. Ryan Tannehill hasn't put up huge numbers, but he has the upside to vault up this list in short order.
Jay Cutler shouldn't even be on this list and should be owned far more widely. His game against the Pittsburgh Steelers hurt his cause, but fantasy GMs should look past that and look at Cutler's potential for some very good numbers down the road at the helm of a potent Bears offense.
Brian Hoyer is the new edition. The good news was the 321 yards and three touchdowns he put up against the Minnesota Vikings. The bad news was the three interceptions.
Will he improve on that? Can he hold onto the job?
You need to decide if the upside outweighs the risk.
Playing Le'Veon Bell probably won't pay off this week. Even though Bell is set to make his NFL debut against the Minnesota Vikings, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, his immediate impact for the Pittsburgh Steelers is hard to gauge.
The Steelers offensive line is a disaster, so Bell could find the early going a bit rough.
That said, he's about to step into a starting job in Pittsburgh, and that absolutely deserves a spot on your bench.
So take a look in your league and see if he's still around. If he is, take a flier on him, as he could put together some good points down the road and he shouldn't cost you much.
A good waiver-wire running back is hard to find.
Here's a list of guys widely available in NFL.com leagues.
|Player||Week 3 Opponent||Percentage owned|
Le'Veon Bell is one we've already talked about, but two names that are worth a gander are actually Jets running backs.
Shocking, I know.
Bilal Powell is healthy (Chris Ivory is not) and has been pretty productive. With Ivory out and the Jets looking to move the ball on the ground and take some pressure off rookie Geno Smith, Powell could put up some consistent fantasy points.
Mike Goodson is about done with his four-game suspension and it's entirely possible he might still be an effective back for the New York Jets upon his return. If Ivory can't stay healthy, Goodson could get a chunk of carries in relief (or in place) of Powell.
As we mentioned before, Nate Burleson is out after breaking his arm in a car accident (stupid pizza). The Detroit Lions will turn to Ryan Broyles, a young receiver coming off his second ACL tear in two years.
Burleson was the second highest-targeted player on the Lions—his 23 targets were second only to Calvin Johnson's 30 (via Footballguys.com)—and Detroit can ill afford a repeat of 2012 when they never found a viable replacement after Burleson was sidelined with another injury.
Broyles can be an exciting receiver and can do a lot with the ball. He'll be facing single and man coverage because teams always focus on Johnson, and running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have been dangerous in the passing game as well.
Right now, Broyles probably looks like a No. 3 fantasy receiver with a tremendous amount of upside.
He's currently owned by just 5.4 percent of teams at NFL.com.
If he's on your waiver wire, he should be on your roster.
The wide receiver class was deep to begin with, and while it's thinning out a bit, there are still some players who haven't peaked yet.
|Player||Week 3 Opponent||Percentage owned|
I liked Alshon Jeffery and Ryan Broyles last year but felt it would take at least a season for them to really start hitting their stride. Then Broyles got hurt and that set him back.
As we said, he steps in for Nate Burleson and has a lot of value now. Jeffery has made huge steps this year and should definitely be worth a look from a fantasy owner who needs help at wide receiver.
At this point, it's rare to find a tight end on the waiver wire who is going to put up stud numbers. There are some decent bye-week fill-ins, though.
|Player||Week 3 Opponent||Percentage owned|
After a solid first week, Kellen Winslow Jr.'s numbers have plummeted, but he should start putting up better numbers as Geno Smith improves. He'll never be a consistent stud, but there will be some good opportunities for spot-starts.
It's still ridiculous that Martellus Bennett is not owned in more leagues since two out of his three games have featured very good fantasy numbers.
I've talked about Tyler Eifert, the rookie tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals, more than once. He's going to have his ups and downs but has really good upside.
I would avoid Heath Miller, by the way. With the issues on the Steelers offensive line, he's going to be more of a blocker than the safety valve he normally is for Ben Roethlisberger.
There are three defensive matchups I like this week.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns
While Cleveland's offense surprised people last week, their performance was partially due to what has become an under-performing and inconsistent Vikings defense. The Cincinnati Bengals defense is much more consistent and stout. It may give up yards, but Brian Hoyer won't get three touchdowns like he did against the Vikings. He might have three turnovers, though.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Giants
The Giants are playing awful football and Eli Manning is making tons of bad decisions. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are doing a great job defensively, led by Dontari Poe and a solid defensive line. Life probably doesn't get better for the Giants in KC, but I do believe it will be sweet for the fantasy owners of the Chiefs defense.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In general, the Cardinals aren't a horrid defense. They have a good secondary and can generate a pass rush. They'll be facing a rookie quarterback who has a slow delivery, struggles with reads, and is still pretty raw. Now, he's probably not the same quarterback today that he was in college, and he has Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to throw to, but you can expect the Cardinals' corners to be looking to generate turnovers on an unproven quarterback.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.