So Week 7 could hardly have been a bigger disaster, yeah? I'll let Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke sum it up best:
Updated NFL injury report: Everyone out with everything.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) October 21, 2013
If you didn't lose someone significant to your roster to injury in Week 7, you were probably playing fantasy basketball. So you'll be all over your waiver wire this week, trying to find fill-ins for Doug Martin, or Reggie Wayne, or Jermichael Finley, or, I don't know, Sam Bradford or something. It was stupid.
Add to that the fact that there are six teams on a bye this week - Bears, Titans, Colts, Chargers, Ravens, Texans - and a dozen or more fantasy-significant players missing from various lineups, and this is probably the most crucial waiver-wire week of the season.
Which brings us to The Ticker (hi). As we look to Week 8, you've got to look deep to find someone who hasn't been looked at already, like searching through the discount DVD bin for a $5 copy of Die Hard (though, if you don't own Die Hard on DVD already, you're kind of a failure). Hopefully this can help. Remember: Stocks I'm buying and not buying, selling and not selling, plus futures market - guys whose value could be going up soon - and hedges - roles that could increase with injury or the dreaded "et cetera." Other than the "selling" categories, everyone is owned in 50 percent or fewer of Yahoo! leagues as of Sunday night.
Sorry for the players (I assume) you lost to injury this week. Best of luck.
Stocks I'm buying
"Buying" is such a tenuous term. I have said in a previous Ticker that I think Helu's value will be higher this year, that Alfred Morris won't be the sole guy all year like in 2012, that Helu's pass-catching ability will keep him relevant. I stand by all those things, and that's why I'm buying stock in Helu. I do not, however, buy a three-touchdown game. There was a lot of fluke in that performance, as there is in pretty much any three-score game. But with Washington going no-huddle more often, Helu will definitely be around more. He's a big add this week.
Eifert got his first career touchdown Sunday, on a 32-yard pass in the second half. The rookie isn't the blocker teammate Jermaine Gresham is, and while Gresham has thus far outgained Eifert (by four yards) with more receptions and more targets, Eifert is far more able of breaking big plays - he is averaging 12.3 yards per reception, compared to 9.8 for Gresham - and the Bengals really need someone capable of such plays to complement A.J. Green.
Gibson has been crazy under-the-radar so far. But he has 322 yards on 29 catches and two touchdowns. He's performed better than Stevie Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, and Emmanuel Sanders, to name three. He, Mike Wallace, and Brian Hartline are separated by less than 80 receiving yards and one touchdown, top-to-bottom. We thought the Dolphins' passing game would be a two-headed monster at most, but literally the only thing I can find that separates Gibson from his two more famous teammates is ownership percentage - he's at 4, while Wallace is at 91, and Hartline is at 67. No, that doesn't make any sense.
Stocks I'm not buying
Ivory had thirty-four carries Sunday. There might have been a running back with more carries than that this year, but I can't find him. There might have been a running back with more carries than that last year, but I can't find him. Seriously, Chris Ivory, he of the games missed to knee injuries, concussions, shoulders, hamstring strains, foot injuries, and thumb injuries, had as far as I can tell the most carries in a game in the last two seasons, and it was only by virtue of those 34 (34!) carries that he got the 104 yards he got. That's...that's not fantasy helpful, I know that much.
Listen, when a team is going out and signing Bobby Rainey instead of letting you have free rein of the running-back job, you can't feel good about your future. After Doug Martin left Sunday's game (with what appears to have been a season-ending labrum tear), James looked decent, with 45 rushing yards and eight receiving yards. But there is basically no way the sixth-round rookie is going to go out there and do what top-five-overall fantasy pick Martin couldn't, and that's before Rainey came into the fold. Stay away.
Two days ago, I could have named a half-dozen Mike Browns before I named the Jacksonville receiver, primarily because I had no idea the Jacksonville receiver existed. Welcome to my reality, Mr. Brown. Anyway, entering Sunday's game, Brown had 63 receiving yards in his only two games active this year, then had five catches for 120 yards against the Chargers. Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon are going to get theirs. If you think there is going to be enough offense going around on the Jaguars for a third receiver to be relevant, your last name is Henne. And I doubt there are many Hennes out there.
Stocks I'm selling
Looking back, I really don't understand why we all thought Spiller was a first-round pick this year. After two disappointing and injury-plagued years to start his career, the Bills running back had two huge games to start last year, with 292 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2 of 2012. He averaged less than 50 rushing yards a game over the next seven, before closing the season with some solid-if-unspectacular games. All told, he had less than 1,250 rushing yards and eight overall touchdowns. That's nice, sure. It's not awful, and considering where Spiller went in 2012, it had plenty of value. But that is not a first-round pick, especially with the inherent injury concerns. Now, I don't mean to make this sound like I was some Spiller naysayer on draft day, as I would have been happy to have him. But between that, and the fact that he has only one hundred-yard game and one touchdown this year? Sorry, C.J. I'm out.
Williams is on pace for more than 1,100 yards, which would be a nice return on a fantasy investment if he could score even ONE SINGLE BLASTED TOUCHDOWN EVER IN THE HISTORY OF LIFE. Sorry, I'm the guy who thought Williams would have a big year and bought in to the tune of ownership on four different fantasy rosters. With Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton running the ball when the Panthers get in close, the only way Williams was ever going to get much in the way of touchdowns was with lengthy runs, and they just haven't been there this year; his longest run of the season is 27 yards. He'll be good for five to eight points a game, which is hardly a disaster, but it's really hard to imagine any greater production out of Williams.
Edelman hasn't topped 60 yards since Week 4 against Atlanta. He hasn't scored since Week 1 against Buffalo. Tom Brady certainly celebrated Rob Gronkowski's return Sunday, to the tune of 17 targets - ten more than any other Patriots player. At this point, Edelman is just one of several tiny mouths to feed, like Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Austin Collie, and they are not the big mouth that Gronkowski is (double meaning!), which means there just won't be the touches, especially with Brady's lesser performance of late. Edelman isn't a viable fantasy starter any time soon.
Stocks I'm not selling
After at least 92 all-purpose yards in every game this season, and three touchdowns, McCoy fell off a bit Sunday, with only 81 yards. The bigger concern for McCoy (and all the Eagles, and the rest of eastern Pennsylvania - this might be a spreading-infection sort of thing) is the miserableness that is the Eagles' quarterback situation, all of a sudden. Nick Foles showed his true colors of mediocrity Sunday, and Matt Barkley was an abject disaster. Foles and Michael Vick both have injury concerns. All that said, McCoy is still the best player on the Philadelphia team, and it isn't close. The quarterback situation is a problem for DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek and Riley Cooper. It's definitely a problem for Chip Kelly. McCoy will be fine.
Go look at the numbers of Joe Flacco and Eli Manning immediately following their games against the Broncos. I don't know what Denver is doing (other than scoring a bunch of points), but quarterbacks come out of their games in a bad way. In the two games since the Denver-Dallas explosion, Romo has thrown only two touchdowns with three interceptions. The Cowboys have won both games, but despite the quarterback, not because of him. All that said, Romo is a tier above the Flaccos and (Eli) Mannings of the world, and no Denver juju is going to keep a quarterback that good down for long. With Dallas facing Detroit and Minnesota the next two weeks, expect Romo to rebound nicely.
Search me; I can't possibly tell you what happened to Gordon Sunday. After averaging more than 107 yards a game in his first four outings of the season, with at least four receptions a game, Gordon was held to two catches and 21 yards against Green Bay. It's not a Brandon Weeden thing, as Weeden and Gordon combined for 126 yards a week earlier against Denver, and had a score after Weeden relieved Brian Hoyer in Week 5. Green Bay's defense isn't particularly strong against the pass, either. No, this really just seemed like a "one of those things" game. Gordon will be fine.
Despite only having played four of the team's games, Holmes still ranks third on the team in receiving yards. (To be fair, Geno Smith is thus far the only Jets' skill player on offense to appear in all seven games, which seems impossible.) He hasn't appeared since Week 4, but Holmes will likely return from his hamstring injury in the next game or two, and he immediately becomes one of the Jets' top options. No, he's not the thousand-yard receiver he was almost half a decade ago, but Holmes needs to be owned in more than 8 percent of Yahoo leagues. That's just too low for someone who could do what he could do.
I expected disaster out of Keenum Sunday, facing the best (and most ball-take-away-ing) defense in the NFL in the Chiefs. Instead, Keenum was...well, he was decent. He wasn't much beyond decent, but 271 yards, a 60-percent completion rate, one touchdown to go with no interceptions? That's all way better than I ever dreamed. Yeah, he fumbled twice, losing one, but he had the ball with a chance to win in the closing minutes against the NFL's only undefeated team, in his debut. That's something. The Texans have their bye week this week, which should give Keenum and head coach Gary Kubiak time to get Keenum an even more involved gameplan. (Yes, it's possible Matt Schaub will return for the start in Week 9, but, as Bill Barnwell explained on Grantland, that wouldn't be the smart move.) I'm not claiming Keenum is a QB1 option or anything, but he's worth monitoring.
Robinson is listed on ESPN as a wide receiver, but he has no receptions on the season, while rushing the ball seven times. But whatever he is, he's tied (at minus-2) with Curtis Painter, T.J. Yates, and Richie Brockel for the worst fantasy point total of the season, thanks to his Week 3 fumble. But Maurice Jones-Drew has been awful, and it's not like there's much wonder about whether Justin Forsett is going to be the answer. If the team deals MJD, or his injuries pop back up, or he continues to be bad at football things, the Jaguars possibilities are Robinson and second-year player Jordan Todman. It's possible Robinson can become a viable NFL running back (or wide receiver, whatever), but no one knows until he gets a few more carries.
And now we arrive at the biggest must-add of the week. Heyward-Bey had his first touchdown of the season Sunday, and also saw his most targets as a member of the Colts. With Reggie Wayne out for the year, Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton are going to have to elevate their games even further for the surprise team to continue its hot streak. As Trent Richardson continues to be a huge disappointment, the team is likely to lean on Andrew Luck and the passing game more and more, even with Wayne gone. That carries good tidings for Hilton, Heyward-Bey, and LaVon Brazil. I expect Heyward-Bey to see the biggest boost, though.
There's really no reason to hold out any hope for Miles Austin at this point; Terrance Williams has pretty obviously supplanted him as the Cowboys' No. 2, and now the team is discussing shutting him down for a while so that he can fully recuperate. That opens the door for the second-year Beasley to continue his improvement - his receptions and targets have increased every game he's been active, and his receiving yards have risen almost as steadily, peaking at Sunday's six receptions on seven targets for 53 yards. If he can continue his improvement, Beasley can give the Cowboys the option of more three-receiver sets. There definitely ought to be enough offense to go around in Dallas, Sunday's 17-point performance aside.
Mike Williams has battled injury this year, and Owusu has been getting more time in the interim. In the Buccaneers' last two games, Owusu has caught six passes for 55 total yards, after getting no time beforehand. And even in that light playing time, Owusu has the third-most yards of any wide receiver on Tampa Bay's roster. Maybe Williams and Vincent Jackson will carry the load, but every team wants a third option. Owusu is the only viable candidate they have, so they're going to at least try to work him in on occasion.