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The bye-week portion of the season is such a buzz kill. Your big guns are randomly stripped from your roster, leaving you to scramble for respectable replacements. Taking a mini-vacation this week are the 49ers, Bills, Bengals, Eagles, Giants and Patriots. That means stopgaps are needed for two marquee quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Michael Vick), three marquee running backs (Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, LeSean McCoy) and the most productive receiver in the league (Wes Welker).
Today's big news -- Carson Palmer being traded to the Raiders -- certainly spices up this week's waiver wire. Oakland might rely on running back Darren McFadden even more heavily, especially in the next few weeks, as Palmer gets acclimated and learns the playbook, but the veteran quarterback is an obvious pickup. Palmer was still able to put up big numbers the past few seasons in Cincinnati, and he should benefit from Oakland's young, speedy receiver corps of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore.
The same can't be said for A.J. Feeley, who will be starting for the Rams this week if Sam Bradford's high-ankle sprain doesn't improve. St. Louis is not a place you ought to be searching for fantasy help these days. Here are some alternate routes to take.
Pick up: Matt Cassel, Kansas City, QB
Cassel is a fabulous one-week play. He has put up more than 250 yards passing in each of his past two games and threw four touchdowns in Week 5. Yeah, you might be thinking, that was against the Colts and Vikings. True, but this week's opponent, Oakland, is allowing 283 yards passing and has given up a league-high 12 passing touchdowns.
Pick up: DeMarco Murray, Dallas, RB
With Felix Jones likely sidelined for multiple games with a high-ankle sprain, Murray is a leading candidate for pickup of the week. The rookie got the majority of carries and had some decent runs after the injury to Jones on Sunday. Dallas continues to be plagued by a terrible offensive line, but a matchup against the Rams, who have the league's worst rush defense, should make Murray a strong play this week.
Pick up: Jacoby Jones, Houston, WR
Two weeks ago, I advised picking up Jones. Then last week, I told you to drop him. And now here I am recommending Jones again. So goes the roller coaster that is fantasy football. Unlike the previous week, Jones and Matt Schaub were completely in sync Sunday against the Ravens. Jones was targeted at all points on the field and caught his first touchdown of the season -- against Ed Reed! Jones should continue to be a decent option until Andre Johnson returns. Or maybe he won't be, in which case we'll see him back here next week.
Pick up: Greg Little, Cleveland, WR
Little made the most of his debut as a starter with six catches and 72 yards. He was targeted 12 times. Although no Browns receiver is going to be a fantasy commodity in the near future, Little has a good matchup this week against a below-average Seahawks secondary.
Pick up: Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay, WR
Benn had three catches for 83 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown strike, on Sunday. He's slowly becoming a factor in a passing game that is surely gaining momentum. Benn should get some opportunities against a defense in Chicago that is giving up 275 passing yards a game. However, Benn has been plagued by a lack of consistency, so don't consider him more than a bye-week replacement at this point.
Pick up: Michael Crabtree, San Francisco, WR
Crabtree is obviously not an option this week as the Niners have a bye, but he is one to pick up for the future. Alex Smith is finally comfortable throwing the ball (thanks, stellar offensive line), and Crabtree is his No. 1 receiver. On Sunday, Crabtree had nine catches for 77 yards and was targeted 15 times. Trust me, you want to own receivers who are targeted that much.
Pick up: Dallas Clark, Indianapolis, TE
Clark had his best game of the Curtis Painter era on Sunday with six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. More important, he seems to have miraculously recovered from his once-terminal-looking case of the dropsies. Look for Clark to settle back into the Mr. Reliable role he has had for so many years. His numbers will never be what they were with Peyton Manning at the helm, but they should be respectable.
Don't pick up: Devin Hester, Chicago, WR
Devin Hester, you are ridiculous as a kick returner. But despite Hester's big numbers Sunday, don't bite and add him as a wide receiver. Hester has been more consistent at dropping passes and running wrong routes than at catching bombs. Consider Sunday an anomaly and resist the temptation.
Trade: Matt Ryan, Atlanta, QB
Ryan is quietly turning into a fantasy bust. He ranks 16th in fantasy points among quarterbacks and has back-to-back games with fewer than 200 yards passing. Even with the weaponry of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons are a run-first team. Some owners might be unaware of Ryan's disappointing fantasy season and offer you someone of value in return.
Pick up: A situational defense
I have to admit I'm running low on legitimate suggestions at this point. Therefore, I turn to the old standby: the situational defense. Decoded to mean: Pick up a defense playing a bad, turnover-prone team. Presenting your Week 7 nominees: New Orleans (vs. Indianapolis), Cleveland (vs. Seattle), Carolina (at Washington) and Denver (at Miami).
Also worth mentioning is the situation in Detroit, where Jahvid Best suffered a concussion Sunday and now has to be cleared by a non-team neurologist to be able to play this week. If Best is not cleared, Maurice Morris or the recently acquired Ronnie Brown will get the starting nod against Atlanta. However, the Lions are only 25th in the league in rushing, and the Falcons are tough up front, so you should grab Morris or Brown only if you're desperate at running back.
Good luck, and here's hoping your A-teamers come back well rested and ready for more scoring.
Looking for more waiver tips or have any other fantasy-related questions? Drop a note in the comments section. Good luck tinkering with your roster.