The dog days of fantasy football have begun. With six teams on a bye this week, studs at every major position will be inactive, affecting how fantasy owners craft their ideal lineups. While this week will be detrimental to more owners than others, there are still a plethora of waiver wire acquisitions to be made that are worthy to replace your reliable starters. Even before you go that far though, it’s always worth taking a moment to see what you already have on your bench. Who knows, one of your intriguing bench warmers could be insanely productive this week, providing that the matchup is favorable of course.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. New England Patriots)
One of the most overlooked fantasy quarterbacks every year, Rivers always establishes a steady statistical floor every season. Scoring below his projected point total on just two occasions, Rivers almost always finds ways to be productive even against elite defenses. Against the Patriots this week, Rivers and the Chargers should have their pick in how they choose to dismantle this inept secondary. Whether he decides to utilize wideout Travis Benjamin in the deep game or check down to his steady slot receiver in Keenan Allen, Rivers should be able to mix up the ways he wants to attack the Patriots defense. While Rivers may not have the highest scoring ceiling amongst starting quarterbacks, if there was ever a game for the veteran passer to go off and score like crazy, this is it.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (vs. New York Jets)
By and large, the once high-flying offense of the Falcons has been mostly ineffective this year. Considering they were only able to score seven points against the Patriots on Sunday night, many owners have rightfully been wondering if it’s time to drop Matt Ryan. While Matt Ryan’s lack of production is a legitimate concern going forward, it has not affected the potency of Atlanta’s rushing attack. Scoring single-digit points only once this season, Freeman has been a breakout threat in both the rushing and passing game. Although Freeman has looked benign in his last two starts, the fierce ball carrier is due to bounce back in an immense way against a Jets defense that is one of the worst at stopping the run. While it’s fair to be frustrated with the Falcons inexplicably poor passing offense, don’t sleep on Freeman and Atlanta’s rushing game just yet.
Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
Without question, the 49ers offense has been amongst the worst this season. Devoid of serious playmakers (especially at the quarterback position), the 49ers are clearly a team that is looking towards a supposedly bright future. However, one player has made the most of his dubious situation and has quietly put up solid fantasy numbers since the beginning of the season. Considering his lowest target share has been five in a game this season, Garcon has a nice point scoring floor, especially in PPR leagues. Although poor quarterback play has prevented Garcon from converting his massive target share into eye-popping point totals, he’s arguably the most reliable weapon for the 49ers, which means that he’ll have more opportunities to score big. While he would be a risky start during most weeks, the bye week peak has vaulted him into the starting line up for many fantasy owners.
Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
Finding sure-handed receivers to rely on can be an exercise in futility during bye weeks. For tight ends, this is especially true considering how banged up that particular position has been this year. However, the Bengals were fortunate to find a current and potential long-term replacement for productive albeit severely injury-prone tight end, Tyler Eifert. Last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tyler Kroft proved to be a reliable intermediate target for quarterback Andy Dalton as he caught four passes for 23 yards and a touchdown. Considering Kroft was able to score 10.30 points in PPR leagues against one of the best pass defenses in the league, it stands to reason that the youthful pass-catcher should be able to elevate his production against a Colts defense that has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends. Combine that with the fact that the Bengals depleted offensive line will force Dalton to throw short passes more often than not and Kroft should be that much more valuable come Sunday.