Only the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders are on byes this week, but fantasy football rosters will be thin in the coming weeks. Six teams will take their byes in Week 8 and Week 9, meaning you might have some holes to fill for the future. Check out a complete NFL bye week schedule at NFLByeWeeks.com.
Whether through trade or the free agent market, there are some marquee players poised to make an impact in the coming weeks that you should target. Here's a look at three big names who could help you get through the dog days of fantasy football.
Gronk is still owned in more than 95 percent of ESPN's fantasy leagues, as owners wait out his highly-publicized rehab. It would be foolish for Gronk owners to trade him away now after six weeks, but if someone in your league is fed up with him, try to make a deal for him. The immensely talented New England Patriots tight end spoke to reporters on Thursday but didn't provide any specifics on expectations for his return.
However, Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, recently went on 560 WQAM in Miami and said his client could even return as early as this Sunday against the New York Jets, per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald:
Drew Rosenhaus: Rob Gronkowski could be back soon, 'maybe even this weekend' http://t.co/vvyWnajqgG— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) October 17, 2013
Rosenhaus' words should be taken with a grain of salt, as it's a simple way to draw more attention to his client. But they are an encouraging change from the non-stop, non-updates from the Patriots and Gronkowski, who has undergone five surgeries in the past year. As soon as Gronk gets in the lineup, expect him to vault into Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas and Vernon Davis territory in terms of production.
In the eyes of many, the Seattle Seahawks became legitimate Super Bowl contenders this offseason by adding major talent on both sides of the ball. While pass rushers like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett also made headlines, it was Seattle's acquisition of Percy Harvin that caught everyone's attention.
But Harvin's season was derailed before it started when he went down with a hip injury this offseason that required surgery. During a Monday radio interview with 710 AM ESPN in Seattle, coach Pete Carroll said he was "very, very encouraged" by Harvin's progress, saying he could return in as early as three weeks, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Harvin is expected to return to practice next week:
Source: #Seahawks star WR Percy Harvin scheduled to begin practicing next week. After hip surgery, he should play sooner, rather than later— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 17, 2013
So, the earliest we might see Harvin active is in Week 9 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If and/or when Harvin returns, he figures to be quarterback Russell Wilson's top playmaker in the passing game. He's owned in less than 22 percent of ESPN's fantasy leagues, so if you have a spot on your bench for Harvin, add him now.
Colin Kaepernick needs some help in the passing game, and he might be getting it from Mario Manningham in the near future. The veteran wide receiver, who suffered a serious knee injury in Week 16 last season, has returned to the practice field. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Manningham is just getting eased back into action.
Christian Gin of Examiner.com also shared this picture of Manningham on the practice field Wednesday:
Manningham is owned in less than one percent of ESPN's fantasy football leagues, so he's probably available in yours. From Manningham's comments to Barrows, a return for this weekend's matchup against the Tennessee Titans doesn't seem likely, but with two weeks of practice, he could be ready for Week 8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.
Tight end Vernon Davis has put up big numbers (22 catches, 404 yards, 6 touchdowns) as Kaepernick's most explosive option in the passing game. But Anquan Boldin (29 catches, 421 yards, 2 touchdowns) is the team's only wide receiver with more than 10 catches this year. Manningham figures to get instant touches when he returns, as fellow wideout Michael Crabtree isn't expected to return for another month.