Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, and that naturally carries over to fantasy football as well. Injuries to marquee players can derail seasons in both real and fantasy terms, but there are always other options available to potentially step up and contribute.
There have been plenty of significant injuries over the past few weeks, so fantasy owners have scrambled to catch lightning in a bottle on the waiver wire. That is easier said than done, especially in deeper leagues, but unexpected players come from out of nowhere to put up big numbers on a weekly basis, so there is reason for optimism.
Here are three players that are still available on the waiver wire in most leagues that owners should target heading into Week 7 to make up for the injured stars currently hurting teams.
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and a host of other elite quarterbacks were in action on Sunday, but Philadelphia Eagles second-year man Nick Foles outplayed all of them. He racked up 29 standard fantasy points, which was second only to the 30 earned by Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton in Week 6, according to ESPN.com. It remains to be seen how the Eagles' quarterback situation will play out moving forward, but Foles has the potential to be a fantasy factor.
Foles executed Chip Kelly's offensive game plan to perfection on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another. The general school of thought seems to suggest that a mobile quarterback is needed to succeed in Kelly's system, but Foles disproved that in Week 6. In fact, he had one of the best quarterbacking performances for Philly in recent memory, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Nick Foles is the 1st Eagles QB not named Michael Vick with at least 3 Pass TD & 1 Rush TD in a game since Donovan McNabb in 2003 (at WSH).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 13, 2013
Some may think that Foles was a one-hit wonder on Sunday, but he was very good in relief of Michael Vick in Week 5 as well in throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns in just over a half of play. Vick didn't play on Sunday due to hamstring injury, but it's possible that he could be ready to go next week against the Dallas Cowboys. Based on how well Foles has played, though, look for Kelly to stick with him, which bodes well for Foles against a Dallas defense that is allowing 308 passing yards per game.
The Arizona Cardinals haven't exactly run the ball well over the past several years, and that has continued this season due to the struggles of Rashard Mendenhall. Despite the fact that Mendy has seemingly lost all of the explosiveness he once possessed while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach Bruce Arians continues to feed him the rock. Backup Andre Ellington has been extremely impressive in recent weeks, however, which could very well lead to a change atop the depth chart in the near future.
Ellington was quite efficient in Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers as he rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. Those are solid numbers against any defense, but they're especially meaningful against the 'Niners' stout front seven. In addition to that, Ellington caught five passes for 36 yards, so he is a factor in point-per-reception leagues, too. As Fantasy Pros so astutely pointed out, Ellington has simply done more with less when compared to Mendenhall.
Andre Ellington has rushed for more yds than Mendenhall on single digit carries in each of last 3 games. #justsayin— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros_NFL) October 14, 2013
The Cards have seemingly overachieved with a 3-3 record, but they could be so much better with a running game to take pressure off of quarterback Carson Palmer. Ellington is clearly the team's best back right now, and Arians has to realize that soon. Arizona has a tough Week 7 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, but Ellington has at least 30 receiving yards in four of his past five games, and Palmer loves to throw to his backs. Ellington will still be a useful fantasy commodity.
The Atlanta Falcons had a bye in Week 6, but rest won't be enough to cure their offensive ills. Quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez have been great despite Atlanta's tough start. However, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the rest of the offense. The biggest blow that the Falcons are dealing with is a foot injury that will cost superstar wide receiver Julio Jones the remainder of the season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Source: Julio Jones will have surgery next week following a second opinion on his foot. Out for the season.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 9, 2013
Which waiver-wire addition will make the biggest impact moving forward?
In addition to Jones, Roddy White is day-to-day with hamstring and ankle injuries, while running back Steven Jackson has also missed the past couple games due to injury. Gonzalez may seem like the Falcons' only offensive constant in terms of weapons, but slot receiver Harry Douglas has been present all year.
Douglas has never really been a fantasy factor before since he is usually Ryan's fourth or fifth option, but he may ascend to the No. 1 receiver role if White is out in addition to Jones.
Douglas may not be explosive as he has never racked up more than 498 yards or one touchdown in a season, but he is sure-handed, and Ryan seems to trust him. He is currently on pace for a career-high 51 catches for 701 yards, and his targets will almost certainly go up with so many guys going down around him.
The Falcons have a favorable Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay defense that Foles dissected this week, so look for Douglas to be a startable fantasy commodity, particularly in point-per-reception leagues.
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