Each week Greg Boyce, my colleague on the sports desk at Philly.com, will scour the waiver wire to bring you the best options to fill those pesky holes on your roster. Here is his report for Week 7:
*Percentages are the percent of leagues that the player is owned in
Byes: Bills, Bengals, Patriots, Giants, Eagles, 49ers
Matt Cassel KC (Yahoo 34%, ESPN 60%) vs. Oakland
A great pickup as a filler especially with four top 10 fantasy quarterbacks on bye this week. Cassel has excelled in his last three games, completing passes at a 68% rate while also throwing for seven touchdowns and one interception in that period. And not that you should concern yourself with who is getting the ball from Cassel, so long as they catch it, but his top two targeted players the last two games are wide receivers Dwayne Bowe (12 rec. on 22 targets) and Steve Breaston (8 rec. on 10 targets). Breaston is 9th in the NFL in reception percentage with 72% among receivers who have at least three targets per game. Translation: he doesn’t miss many passes. And the Raiders are susceptible in the passing game, allowing at least two touchdown passes in the last five games.
Curtis Painter IND (Yahoo 14%, ESPN 5.4%) vs. New Orleans
Right off the bat, he is going up against New Orleans so it shapes up for the Colts to be playing from behind. Add in that Joseph Addai could be out again and even when healthy, the Colts still pass the ball more often than they run (23 more pass attempts than runs last three games). Painter has thrown five touchdowns in the last three games. Onto the matchup itself: New Orleans has given up the ninth most passing yards this season and has given up the most touchdown passes in the NFL this year with 12 in six games. Painter actually has averaged more passing yards per game in the last three weeks than the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez and has only turned the ball over once in that span.
DeMarco Murray DAL (Yahoo 16%, ESPN 3%) vs. St. Louis
Well if you were lucky enough to grab Murray before Week 6, disregard the following and accept my handshake. But please believe me when I say I mean it with no intent to harm and don’t want to be chased down on the street. Have I gone too far with the joke yet? Do you get it? Great, now let’s just all pretend Backslap-gate never ever happened. Back to the football field. Or at least to the guys who matter on the football field. Well it looks as if Felix Jones is done for a few weeks with an injury. And as my former college friend Dan K. put it this week, “Felix Jones has the best 0-1 yard runs. I can't believe that anyone else is better.” Let’s face it, Cowboys running backs have truly fizzled for what seems like forever. Now the 7th round rookie from Oklahoma gets his shot. Don’t expect him to get a ton of looks in the passing game but he gets a great matchup in what expects to be his first start against the winless Rams. In four games, the Rams have allowed teams to rush for over 100 yards. The only team not to do so against St. Louis was the Packers and let’s face it, the ‘Pack’ is 6-0 with an air assault unmatched in the NFL. They had no need to run.
Marion Barber CHI (Yahoo 11% ESPN 5%) vs. Tampa Bay
Ricky Williams BAL (Yahoo 10%, ESPN 49%) vs. Jacksonville
In no way am I condoning having these guys as a long term solution or even advising them to be your second RB this week. But if you are really in a bind, both Barber and Williams bring something to the table that could be a gamble but a worthwhile one (at least, I hope). I don’t think it is a secret to anybody that the key to Chicago’s success rests on the health of Matt Forte. In Week 6, we got a glimpse at the Bears starting to keep Forte well-rested by using Barber inside of ten yards. A contributing factor was that the Bears had a sizeable lead, but Barber may have found a role in the offense, so long as he doesn’t attempt any more backflips. The same goes for Williams giving Ray Rice a breather as we hit the midway point of the season for players who usually are accustomed to taking a good amount of hits but with the lockout may be treated differently by coaches.
Heath Miller PIT (Yahoo 23%, ESPN 11%) vs. Arizona
You should not expect any swanky yardage numbers from Miller with the receiving corps stretching the field for Ben Roethlisberger. After he was M.I.A. in the first two games of the season, Miller has had at least three catches in the last four games and actually is second on the Steelers in receptions in the last four games.
Ben Watson CLE (Yahoo 26%, ESPN 21%) vs. Seattle
The Seahawks have not done well against most tight ends this season. If you take away Heath Miller’s numbers against Seattle (1 rec.), No. 1 tight ends have 15 catches, 236 yards and two touchdowns in four games. The last two weeks, Tony Gonzalez (7-56) and Jake Ballard (3-72) each scored a touchdown against the ‘hawks. Meanwhile, Watson has been targeted over eight times a game in the last three weeks, good for fifth among tight ends and second on the Browns.
Kevin Walter HOU (Yahoo 26%, ESPN 12%) vs. Tennessee
Jacoby Jones HOU (Yahoo 34%, ESPN 11%) vs. Tennessee
Andre Johnson is expected to miss another week while he recovers from a hamstring injury. The toss-up between the two Texans receivers comes down to what you want. Jones is more likely to score a touchdown with his deep-threat ability (four of his 12 catches this year have been over 20 yards) while Walter is the more sure-handed. That being said, in the two games Johnson has missed, Jones has just five catches but on 18 targets. The other side of the coin has Walter making 11 receptions on 14 targets. It really is boom or bust with Jones but he could break for a big touchdown this weekend against the Titans, who have been just plain awful against the pass recently. In the last two Tennessee games, the Titans have allowed 305.5 passing yards and six touchdowns. They have given up at least 11 receptions a game to the top two wide receivers on the opposing team in the last three weeks.
Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin