Hip check: You would be foolish to ignore the now-practicing Percy Harvin (hip) off waivers Tuesday night.
We knew we would need to replace fantasy options from six teams this week, including the Ravens, Colts, Chargers, Texans, Titans and Bears. Oh my.
We didn't anticipate needing to find long-term replacements for the likes of:
- Reggie Wayne (knee)
- Doug Martin (shoulder)—potentially
- Sam Bradford (knee)
- Jay Cutler (groin)
- Ben Tate (ribs)
- Jermichael Finley (neck)
The heaviest part of the bye season—half of the league will be off between Weeks 8 to 10—puts a lot of stress on your fantasy roster, and now injuries are making a bigger mess of things. With every action, there is a reaction, though, and the injuries have created some opportunities for us off waivers.
Wide receivers like Percy Harvin, Harry Douglas, Jarrett Boykin and Darrius Heyward-Bey are going to be hot commodities, while running backs like Chris Ivory, Mike James and Roy Helu can be important stopgaps in the coming weeks. Oh, and all of this fails to mention the star we have found in the Redskins' Jordan Reed at tight end.
And, finally, here are some of the players on bye that might be cut because of all this roster stress:
- Ravens: Bernard Pierce, Justin Tucker or the Ravens D/ST
- Colts: Trent Richardson or T.Y. Hilton (eight-team leagues), Donald Brown, Coby Fleener or Adam Vinatieri
- Chargers: Philip Rivers, Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews, Keenan Allen, Nick Novak or the Chargers D/ST
- Texans: DeAndre Hopkins or Garrett Graham
- Titans: Kendall Wright or the Titans D/ST
- Bears: Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Robbie Gould or the Bears D/ST
There are some great stash opportunities potentially before us later this week. Watch the cuts closely in the coming days. For now, check out the goodies to line up for Tuesday night's waivers run in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks to Add
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders have been the middle of the pack against fantasy quarterbacks this season, so we might get starter-quality numbers out of Big Ben here, particularly on the road. He is available in 28 percent of CBS Sports leagues, and the development of Le'Veon Bell and return of Heath Miller give the Steelers some weapons to use off of Antonio Brown.
We wouldn't go gaga over Emmanuel Sanders or Jerricho Cotchery necessarily, but Big Ben could have a 300-yard, two-touchdown day for fantasy owners who have one of these quarterbacks: Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler (torn groin), Sam Bradford (out for the season, knee) or Joe Flacco.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
He has been mostly awful this season, but Larry Fitzgerald and some fringe weapons make him a potential sleeper for fantasy owners against the Falcons secondary this week. Atlanta has some young players in the secondary still developing, and it is the fifth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks to date. This might be one of Palmer's best weeks of the season in a shootout against Matt Ryan.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
That was an impressive return, with 326 yards and two touchdowns. He will have the bye week to rest his still-healing hip, and there is a chance he might emerge as a sure-fire NFL quarterback down the stretch, if not a potential matchup play in fantasy. The Titans have a slew of potential targets in the passing game, so if you are looking for a Sam Bradford (knee) replacement, Locker is your guy.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You should not consider him outside of two-quarterback formats this week against Carolina, but the loss of Doug Martin (shoulder) will put a lot of the offensive onus on this rookie's strong right shoulder. Glennon has fantasy-worthy targets in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to help him produce, and there should be a lot of garbage time to get the passing game going in Tampa Bay the rest of this season.
Glennon is going to be an interesting guy to watch, especially with things about to open up as he gets more comfortable.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
If not for a bye week, McCown would be a viable pickup in two-quarterback leagues. He wasn't bad in relief of Cutler (out for at least four weeks, according to NFL insider Jay Glazer), and there are productive weapons in Marc Trestman's West Coast offense. Consider McCown out of necessity if you need a viable second quarterback after this week.
Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
That was an awful performance Monday night against a suspect Giants defense. Who in the world makes the Giants look capable of stopping someone? Apparently this guy. We will list Freeman as a "monitor" instead of an "add" only because we give him the benefit of the doubt as far as not having enough time to fully integrate himself into the offense. There are weapons in Minnesota, if only because Adrian Peterson will draw so much attention.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
There were some promising signs from his play against the Chiefs, but the Texans are headed into their bye and the quarterback decision will remain up in the air. There will be an opportunity to pick up Keenum later in the week, if needed, so don't waste a waiver pick on him now.
Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
The Rams are likely kicking themselves for not having a suitable veteran backup behind Bradford. Clemens is going to get thrown to the wolves against the Seahawks next Monday night, and the odds are slim he comes out as the Rams' starter going forward, much less as fantasy viable. It is bad news when there is talk of Tim Tebow being considered as an option off the street, too. Heck, Tebow might actually prove to be a fantasy option because of rushing yardage and touchdowns. Clemens won't be.
Chris Ivory carried the Jets, not to mention the ball, 34 times Sunday. He tops the running back adds.
Running Backs to Add
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
We cannot explain the Jets' sudden decision to move away from Bilal Powell for Ivory against the Pats, but we also cannot argue with the success of it. He was a workhorse, and the Jets might stick with the hot hand going forward. If you need a back who can get 100 yards and a touchdown in any matchup, Ivory is your guy. Just cross your fingers the Jets don't suddenly go back to Powell on a whim.
Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FantasyPros.com might have jumped the gun a bit here. James is a solid addition if Doug Martin (torn labrum) is out for the year, but Greg Schiano isn't ready to rule Martin out, Mike Brown of the Lakeland Ledger reports. Schiano told Brown on Martin's status:
It'll probably be a stretch for this Thursday but we'll have to see. I wouldn't go any further than that. We'll have to see. I'm not going to get into specifics of exactly what his issue is. If it was season ending, we'll let you know. I don't feel that it is right now. We're just going to play it by ear and go from there.
As for James' potential, Schiano told Brown:
I think Mike has really improved as a running back from the beginning stages of training camp and has made improvements steadily. When he has had his opportunity he's done good things. ... He understands our running game. He sees what the vision is and he tries to execute the play and I think his natural abilities take over.
As I talked about early on when we drafted him, he's got really good one-cut ability as far as when things flash in front of his face, whether it is in the backfield, of on the line of scrimmage. He's got some quick feet. He can make that first guy miss that keep you out of negative plays and he seems to fall forward which is an important thing.
Veteran Brian Leonard and James will likely be the starters Thursday night against the tough Panthers defense, a matchup that wouldn't likely make them fantasy-starter worthy. After that, they have to hope the offense gets going and Martin remains out. James is a decent waiver claim, but not the home run everyone might have initially thought.
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins
Yes, the three touchdowns were impressive in Week 7, but they were also a function of circumstance, coming in the Redskins' hurry-up offense. Helu does replace Alfred Morris in those situations, so he can score when the Redskins need quick points; otherwise, it will be Morris pounding the rock.
Helu is a solid addition this week, because the game at Denver figures to necessitate a lot of the hurry-up offense, playing from behind against Peyton Manning.
Running Backs to Monitor
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
It wasn't a great performance against the Eagles, particularly since Phillip Tanner vultured the touchdown, but Randle's value hinges entirely on DeMarco Murray's (knee) status. Murray will make Randle nothing more than a mere low-end handcuff if he is able to return in Week 8 at Detroit.
Head coach Jason Garrett told ESPN's Todd Archer:
DeMarco is our starter and has been our starter and will be our starter. He's played well for us, but we've got to get him healthy. We'll see how he does the next few days. ... We'll just kind of see what the health is and what the availability is as we go forward to figure out the rotation plan.
Outside of desperation in the leagues in which he isn't already owned, we wouldn't be in a rush to pick up Randle until Murray's status is determined. Heck, even Lance Dunbar (hamstring) might return from injury and further cut into Randle's workload, too.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have shown they like to use two backs in tandem, so Brown is someone to monitor, particularly if you are a Trent Richardson owner. Richardson has continued to prove to be a mere plodder, but he will also remain the feature guy. Brown is a handcuff until Richardson has his injury that seems to come around every few weeks.
Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
He has emerged as a touchdown vulture for the Panthers and DeAngelo Williams, but Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is eligible to return to practice soon. If Stewart comes back healthy, we would have to assume Tolbert moves down to third string. Also, Stewart might be capable of stealing the short-yardage role.
Tolbert is not a great bet to score against the Tampa Bay defense Thursday night, but he is a better bet than most backup running backs if you are desperate.
Peyton Hillis, New York Giants
He came off the street to total 81 yards and a touchdown against a bad Vikings defense, but Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) could return to steal the starting and short-yardage roles this weekend. Hillis will only be an add if Jacobs cannot practice Friday; otherwise, you will be wasting a waiver claim Tuesday night.
Running Backs to Ignore
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
Yes, he has moved up to No. 2 behind Stevan Ridley, but Ridley has gotten more and more work the past few weeks and Shane Vereen (wrist) is only a few weeks away from being eligible to return. Bolden might get a touchdown here or there in the meantime, but good luck guessing on when that might happen. Bolden is only a starter out of desperation in deeper leagues through these trying bye weeks.
Stanley Havili, Indianapolis Colts
The fullback scored against the Broncos, but you have to figure those red-zone touches are going to go to Richardson or Brown in most future instances.
Phillip Tanner, Dallas Cowboys
He could be the Cowboys' goal-line back behind Randle, or he could be fourth-string if Murray and Dunbar are both back from injury. There are too many things that have to go right for Tanner to hold true fantasy value. Look elsewhere for a stopgap.
Michael Cox, New York Giants
Cox has displayed a decent burst, but the Giants didn't want to run young David Wilson (neck) when he was healthy. Odds are slim they will trust Cox. Also, Jacobs and Hillis will be favored over Cox in heavy formations and a power running game, which is the only kind of running game the Giants could have behind that awful offensive line. Long term, you have to expect Wilson and even Andre Brown (leg) to be the feature options, not Cox. Ignore him.
Wide Receivers to Add
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
We are going to play him atop this list, but there are a few problems with this:
- Harvin is owned in all but 18 percent of CBS Sports leagues, so he might not be an option for most of you.
- Harvin was activated to the practice roster Monday, which starts his PUP-list clock that could run for as long as three weeks. The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta speculates the Seahawks might try to get him active as soon as next Monday's game against the woebegone Rams. That is wishful thinking, and it is likely Harvin will be limited, if he plays.
- The Seattle receiving corps tends to be difficult to trust week to week. Harvin will be more trustworthy than Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse, but until Harvin proves to be healthy and the go-to guy for Russell Wilson, we have to assume it will be tough to trust Harvin in your starting fantasy lineup.
- The heavy bye weeks of Week 8 and 9 (six teams off in each) make it tough to stash a guy you might not be able to play. Pick him up, but don't go booking your trip to your fantasy Super Bowl because Harvin is returning to practice Tuesday.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
We said Matt Ryan is going to make do with what he has, and Douglas proved to be plenty to work with. Douglas was the go-to receiver against a good Bucs secondary, rattling off seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. He will remain a starter and a viable fantasy option even if Roddy White (hamstring/ankle) is able to practice later this week.
Put your full faith in Douglas in a pass-effective offense going forward, regardless of White's status.
Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
It turns out we shouldn't have been so stubborn here. Boykin, with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, was a revelation for the receiver-needy Packers, and he should rate as a must-add even if James Jones (knee) is able to practice this week.
The Packers will be without Jermichael Finley (neck), who suffered a "significant injury," according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This will leave Boykin as a productive No. 3, if not a No. 2, as a target for one of the most proficient offenses in football. Add, if not start, him in all leagues.
Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets
Geno Smith continues to prove productive, and Kerley has to be considered his No. 1 receiver as long as Santonio Holmes (hamstring) is banged up. That latter point is the most important: Holmes is always banged up. Even if Holmes returns, Kerley has ingrained himself as a functioning part of the Jets' passing attack. Consider him a useful piece during the bye season at the very least.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
T.Y. Hilton becomes Andrew Luck's primary receiver with Reggie Wayne (knee) out for the season, but DHB scored Sunday night and can be a functional No. 2 in an offense that can keep up with anyone's. The performance against Peyton Manning and the Broncos showed that. DHB is a solid receiver with a huge opportunity before him.
He could really ignite for fantasy owners going forward—if only he wasn't on bye in Week 8. Bummer.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
Regardless of who plays quarterback, Cooper has distanced himself from Jason Avant as the Eagles' answer when teams double DeSean Jackson with a safety over the top. Cooper is a productive member of a potentially potent offense, so consider him viable during the heavy bye weeks.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
It isn't that we don't like Jones' talent; he can be a good fantasy receiver for the long term. We just know A.J. Green is going to be a high-volume leader of the receiving corps, and Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham and even rookie Tyler Eifert are going to get theirs. Jones is among that group, but he is a marginal play in Week 8 against the Jets and will be a tough guy to count on for consistency thereafter.
Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers
He was a monster in the early part of the season and went back to the waiver wire because of an injury that plagued him. He proved healthy Sunday, but the Chargers are on bye in Week 8 and we still have to view Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen as the better options on the outside for Philip Rivers. Antonio Gates will be the seam-splitter, while Royal will work the underneath stuff.
Royal is an add for Week 9, perhaps, but not worth stashing this week.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
We have been cold on all of the Titans receivers, but Wright is the exciting one of the bunch, especially with Kenny Britt playing through injury and perhaps playing himself out of town in a contract year. Wright's nine catches for 98 yards Sunday give fantasy owners hope for him down the stretch, but he is on bye in Week 8.
A healthy and productive return of Jake Locker certainly opens the door for Wright to be a fantasy contributor down the stretch, if you can afford to stash him.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Brandon Gibson, Miami Dolphins
He reeled in a pair of Ryan Tannehill touchdowns, but you can hardly count on the Dolphins' first two receivers, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, so counting on their third one is rather tough. Gibson will be one of the most over-added players in fantasy this week, but he shouldn't be starting for anyone, even during these byes.
Aldrick Robinson, Washington Redskins
He caught a deep touchdown pass Sunday, but the problem with all of the Redskins receivers is they just don't get a consistent enough number of targets in the Redskins' run-heavy, play-action passing attack. A solid run game does force safeties up and allow receivers to blow the cover off defenses, but Robinson cannot be counted on to get enough action week to week.
Mike Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars
Who? The Jags will feature Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts in most weeks, and even rookie Ace Sanders will get targets out of the slot in one of the weaker offenses in football. Counting on Brown to get any action going forward—even after his five-catch, 120-yard performance Sunday—is a real long shot.
Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams
We hated most of the Rams' interchangeable receiver pieces with Sam Bradford rotating through them week to week. With Bradford (knee) out for the season, we have to completely ignore all of them at this point. Against Seattle on Monday night? Forget it.
Jordan Reed is a burgeoning star for the Redskins and a must-add for tight end-needy fantasy owners right now.
Tight Ends to Add
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
It is beyond time to add this burgeoning star who has become Robert Griffin III's go-to man. Not only was Reed the most productive tight end in Week 8, but he is already through his bye and has emerged as a top-12 option at the position going forward. Check out some quotes and my glowing review of him in the Biggest Takeaways from last week.
There are almost a dozen tight ends we would cut to go with Reed in your starting lineup through thick and thin the rest of the season. Among them (with CBS Sports ownership percentage):
- Jermichael Finley (neck), Green Bay Packers (100)
- Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (100)
- Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (88)
- Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (88)
- Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (86)
- Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (75)
- Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (58)
- Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles (50)
- Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (41)
Reed is available in 58 percent of those leagues and is worth owning over all those guys, particularly since he won't be going on bye.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
Fleener didn't need his touchdown reception Sunday night to return to this list. Reggie Wayne's season-ending injury clinched his status as a must-add fantasy option. We always say you shouldn't have two tight ends on your roster in a standard league, but the potential for Fleener to emerge as Andrew Luck's top target down the stretch makes him an add even going into his bye week.
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
If there is a hidden gem in fantasy right now, it is this guy. He has gotten over his high-ankle sprain that plagued him in the season's first month-and-a-half, and he reeled in seven catches for 53 yards Sunday. It sets him up to emerge as a top-15 fantasy tight end the rest of the way.
If you need a stopgap and miss out on Reed, Housler is your man.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
We wouldn't yet trust Quarless in fantasy, but Jermichael Finley (neck) doesn't look like he will be available for a while, if at all this season, after being hospitalized and dealing with a bruised spinal cord, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Quarless figures to emerge as the starting tight end, and the Packers could make him one of their red-zone targets. Aaron Rodgers is going to get his multiple touchdown passes somewhere, and Quarless can emerge as a viable fantasy starter for the stretch run.
Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints
We wouldn't get jump on this veteran tight end, despite some circumstantial involvement near the goal line in a pass-heavy Saints offense. Jimmy Graham (foot) is up in the air for Week 8, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, so pick up Watson if Graham is unable to practice through the week.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
He still has to deal with all those targets to Jermaine Gresham, on top of those to A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and now Marvin Jones. Eifert has long-term potential, but he is going to be shaky in his involvement for a run-heavy team in the coming weeks.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
He has gotten some touchdowns this season, but the Seahawks still are not completely trustworthy with their passing game. Also, figure these throws to Miller are more likely to be Marshawn Lynch touchdown runs when the chips are down later in the season.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
If we cannot like any of the Titans receivers yet, we cannot like the tight end either—especially heading into a bye. Leave him on the pile even after he reeled in another touchdown.
Defense/Special Teams to Add
Green Bay Packers
If you stayed up to suffer through the Vikings' Monday night performance at the New York Giants, congrats. You have discovered the best streaming option on the board. Sure, Adrian Peterson is going to have a better week, but Josh Freeman looked like a bum against a Giants defense that has been arguably the worst in football. The Packers are a solid play in Week 8.
New Orleans Saints
So much for Thad Lewis, right? The Saints haven't played great defense, but they have an offense that will make it a lot easier to play defense against a team that cannot keep up the pace. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is going to load up on the run and play press coverage and force Lewis to beat them.
With two weeks to prepare coming off of a bye, the Saints might be primed for their best defensive performance of the season.
They are already owned in 79 percent of CBS Sports leagues, but you have to pick them up in those 21 percent if they are available. The Bucs are going to be even more one-dimensional with Doug Martin (shoulder) out, and the Panthers are becoming one of the best defenses in football under coach Ron Rivera.
The Raiders have been the fifth-most generous team in fantasy against opposing defensive units, so consider the resurgent Steelers a solid option this week. Heck, they have shown enough life to be a viable fantasy unit in most weeks.
When in doubt, trust a team with a defensive mindset like the Steelers in fantasy.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
We have to admit we didn't see that performance coming against the Eagles, but we wouldn't be so quick to jump on a defense that might still be without its best player. DeMarcus Ware (thigh) was held out last week because of a precaution, according to ESPN's Calvin Watkins. If Ware practices and plays, you might want to take a shot on Dallas against the hot-and-cold Lions offense.
Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears
They are headed to their byes, and it is possible they wind up on the waiver pile come Wednesday morning. These teams will have fantasy-worthy performances down the stretch, so if you're looking to pick up some bench options, they could be it.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
New York Giants
Don't read anything into that Monday night performance against the Vikings. Minnesota is awful, and so too is that Giants defense. It will be exploited against the Eagles again this Sunday.
San Diego Chargers
You were right to pick them up when they faced the Jags and are right to drop them when they are heading into a bye. This defense has fantasy potential, but not enough to suck up a precious reserve spot during the heavy bye weeks.
They have played some surprising defense, even slowing Peyton Manning some Sunday night. They are not good enough to stash through their bye week, though.
A dome kicker, with a potent offense and his bye behind him? Sign Garrett Hartley up in all leagues now.
Kickers to Add
Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints
This time of year, the best two things you can say about a kicker are: he has a potent offense to get him opportunities; and he has been through his bye week. That is Hartley, who is a top-12 kicker the rest of the way. You can drop your kicker and just ride this guy out—especially because the Bills have allowed more field goals (17) than all but the Ravens (21) and Lions (19).
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
He posted a dud in Week 7, but the Pats game this weekend figures to be a lot more loose for him to pick up field-goal attempts. Sturgis has a strong, accurate leg—as we have said for weeks—and he will finish among the top 12 kickers. With his bye week already expired, pick him up as a set-him-and-forget-him option if your kicker is on bye (read: Justin Tucker, Adam Vinatieri, Robbie Gould, Nick Novak or Randy Bullock).
Kickers to Monitor
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
A disappointing year and a bye week could get him cut in a number of leagues this week. If you have a roster spot, you could potential stash a top-five kicker for the stretch run.
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
Ditto here, although Vinatieri is not quite as elite as Tucker can be.
Kickers to Ignore
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
Everyone loves this guy, but the Steelers defense is playing better football and the Raiders could get shut out here.
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
He has dealt with a hamstring issue, had a stinker Monday night despite a favorable matchup against the Giants and now has to deal with an offense in disarray because of the quarterback play—now more than ever. Walsh can be cut in all leagues, especially since the Packers have been the fourth-best team against kickers to date.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.