Week 7 Fantasy Sleepers: Unheralded Players Who Will Lead Your Team to Victory

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 06:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins passes during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Sun Life Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With fantasy stars such as Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints on the bye this week, there is no doubt that some fantasy owners are scrambling to fill out their lineups.

That isn't always an easy task, though, as depth is far from a guaranteeespecially in deeper leagues.

Even so, there are plenty of intriguing options worth exploring as bye-week fill-ins. They could be on the waiver wire or possibly your bench, but thanks to favorable matchups in Week 7, there is a solid chance that they will put up some big numbers.

Here are three fantasy sleepers in particular that will come up with huge performances this week to propel your fantasy team to victory.


Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill has yet to establish himself as a regular starter in fantasy leagues, but he is clearly developing quickly as an NFL starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.

He had his moments as a rookie last season and has most definitely made big strides in his sophomore year. In addition to throwing for at least one touchdown in each of his games this season, he hasn't thrown for fewer than 236 yards in a single contest either.

Add in the fact that Miami is solely committed to the run, and Tannehill suddenly becomes an intriguing fantasy option.

Owners of Brees or Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor could use a replacement in Week 7, and Tannehill is a great option. The Dolphins are facing a Buffalo Bills team that is allowing 271 passing yards per game.

While defensive backs Jairus Byrd, Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore were all in action last week after missing time due to injury, Buffalo's secondary is still gelling, as evidenced by Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton's solid showing in Week 6.

The most encouraging thing about Tannehill's play this year is that he has excelled against the solid defense of the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens.

The Bills have their moments defensively, but they are prone to letting up big plays. With a pair of explosive receivers in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, expect a season-best outing from Tannehill in Week 7.

Week 7 Projection: 305 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT and 25 rushing yards.


Mike Tolbert, RB/FB, Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Mike Tolbert #35 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There is no disputing that DeAngelo Williams is the Panthers' bell-cow running backat least until Jonathan Stewart returns from injurybut that didn't stop Tolbert from having fantasy value in Week 6.

Though Williams did the bulk of the work, Tolbert cashed in with a pair of touchdowns against the Minnesota Vikings. This probably miffed Williams owners, as pointed out by NFL Fantasy Football on Twitter, but it makes Tolbert a very interesting player this week.

It's tough to trust Tolbert on a weekly basis due to the fact that his value is tied largely to finding pay dirt, but he has a great matchup in Week 7.

The Panthers will face the St. Louis Rams, who are giving up more than 130 yards per game on the ground. Tolbert may top out somewhere around 40 or 50 yards. However, Carolina will be committed to the run.

Tolbert is masterful in short-yardage situations, so expect him to receive his fair share of opportunities near the goal line.

On top of that, Tolbert has surprisingly soft hands and is more than capable in the passing game. He has just six receptions this season, but had 54 for the San Diego Chargers just two years ago.

It wouldn't be advisable to start Tolbert over a back who is guaranteed to carry the load this weekend, but if you have an open spot in your lineupespecially at flexyou can do much worse than Tolbert.

Week 7 Projection: 45 rushing yards, 3 receptions for 27 yards and 2 TDs.


Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 24:  Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys during a preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Injuries have long been an issue for Austin, as he struggles to stay on the field at times, but he has been a hugely productive player over the course of his career with Tony Romo throwing the ball.

Austin has two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit and fell just short of that mark last year, so he entered the season as a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3 on most draft boards.

He has missed a couple of games due to a hamstring injury, though, and seems to be falling out of favor in Dallas' offense.

Austin played in Week 6 against the Washington Redskins, but failed to register a catch. Much of that had to do with the fact that the Cowboys barely had the ball in the second half, which is something that many seem to be overlooking.

With that said, the emergence of receiver Terrance Williams is definitely unsettling for Austin. Romo has looked to the rookie quite often in recent weeks and ESPN's Adam Caplan believes that could render Austin moot in Dallas' offense.

It may be a bit too early to bury Austin, however, as the Cowboys have a favorable stretch coming up. It starts with the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. Philadelphia is giving up nearly 315 passing yards per game.

Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will get their share of the pie, but Austin figures to see single coverage, so he should be able to get open. If that is the case, a vintage Austin performance could be in store this week.

Week 7 Projection: 6 receptions for 102 yards and 1 TD.


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