Free-agent finds for Week 7
Waiver-wire news changes fast and furious throughout the week, as injuries and depth-chart shenanigans overtake us. So be sure to follow me on Twitter, @CHarrisESPN, and I'll keep you updated as news warrants. Let's get to Week 7's best fantasy roster additions:
Standard ESPN League Finds
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys (owned in 1.4 percent of ESPN leagues): DeMarco Murray will reportedly miss Week 7 with a sprained left MCL, and could be gone for longer. In Murray's absence Sunday night, Randle was uninspiring, producing 17 yards on 11 carries (and 15 yards on two catches), but he did push in a goal-line TD. I'm not the biggest Randle fan in the world; he strikes me as kind of a tall, thin, upright runner without great long speed, plus he was a fumbler in college. But the Cowboys appear to have a plus matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles' defense in their upcoming game. Insiders claim Randle lost out on the backup job during training camp, but the man who won the gig, Lance Dunbar (1.5 percent owned), has been unable to stay healthy in '13, first missing time with a foot injury and then hurting a hamstring in Week 5. I don't rule out the possibility that Dunbar could get involved, but he won't play Sunday. Randle is the better add. Phillip Tanner (0.2 percent) is also in the mix, but he got only one carry after Murray's injury Sunday.
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants (55.9 percent): The Hakeem Nicks trade rumors are flying, so I'm breaking my rule of mentioning only players owned in fewer than half of ESPN leagues. If the winless Giants decide to get something for Nicks -- an impending free agent expected to command high dollars this winter -- Randle gets thrust into the starting lineup. And while Eli Manning's inconsistency (and offensive line) has been maddening, Randle is talented enough to be at least a flex if he's the No. 2 aerial weapon in New York's offense. He's not a deep-seed player, but he's big and is one of the more athletic leapers you'll see at WR. Randle definitely needs to clean up the mental side of his game; he stopped running a route Thursday night, leading directly to a Manning pick, and later slammed the ball into the ground in frustration because he slipped, except he hadn't been touched by a defender (the officials ruled Randle had "given himself up," but that was a shaky call). Still, Randle should be added in all leagues while we wait to find out Nicks' destination.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants (2.1 percent): I don't like writing this any more than you like reading it. There's little question in my mind that we've seen the very best game Jacobs will produce for the rest of his natural born life, after his 22-carry, 106-yard performance against the Chicago Bears. But you can't ignore the Giants' depth chart. David Wilson will reportedly avoid surgery on his neck, but probably won't be available for at least a couple more weeks. Da'Rel Scott is out with a hamstring injury. And Andre Brown (18.4 percent), whom deep-leaguers can also think about adding in anticipation of his return, isn't eligible to play again until Week 11. Things are so bad in Gotham, the team worked out Peyton Hills on Monday. In other words, it appears Jake is the only game in town. I hate chasing improbable performances expecting a repeat, but the Minnesota Vikings aren't world-beaters stopping the run. There's no question Jacobs has standard-league fantasy value, at least for now.
Harry Douglas, WR, Atlanta Falcons (7.5 percent): Julio Jones is out for the season, and nobody really knows the status of Roddy White's injuries. White has been severely limited through five games because of a high-ankle sprain, plus in Week 5 he pulled a hamstring. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last week that the Atlanta Falcons are concerned White will miss at least one entire game. So into the breach steps Douglas, the last man standing on the outside for Matt Ryan. The problem is that Douglas has never shone in a situation where the Falcons really needed him. In 10 career starts, he's averaged three catches for 43 yards. Kevin Cone (0.1 percent) and Drew Davis (0.1 percent) are also candidates to benefit -- Cone is a size/speed downfield burner, while Davis is more of a sure-handed possession guy who sometimes lacks separation, but they have five career receptions between them. Douglas is the best bet, but he's nothing close to a sure thing.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (16.0 percent): Harvin is eligible to come off the PUP list for Thursday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals, but that's not happening. Will he play Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams? It sounds possible, though I'm not entirely sure why the Seahawks would push Harvin's injured hip to return so quickly in what should be an upcoming slate of three or four extremely winnable games. Still, as hot and bothered as we all were to see Russell Wilson and Harvin together this summer, the prospect of an early return is enticing. It's worth worrying that the NFL's No. 1 run-heaviest squad can produce a fantasy star at WR, especially one who's jumping aboard midstream. But that worry shouldn't stop Harvin from being added in all fantasy leagues soon.
Carolina Panthers Defense (35.5 percent): For the second straight week, I'm endorsing the Panthers' D as a bye-week (or bad-matchup-week) fill-in. The Rams picked up a big road win in Week 7, but I'm not buying the offense; they scored two defensive TDs and had 216 total yards of offense while scoring 38 points. Carolina worked well for me Sunday against the Vikings, with three sacks, two interceptions and 10 points allowed. The secondary may struggle against good passing offenses, but that front seven continues to be impressive. If the Panthers aren't available, you could take a shot on the Vikings' defense (7.6 percent), which hasn't been good, but faces the New York Giants in Week 7.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Zac Stacy, RB, Rams (7.0 percent); Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals (8.8 percent); Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints (34.1 percent); Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers (6.8 percent); Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys (46.9 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (37.4 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (20.3 percent); Garrett Graham, TE, Texans (36.6 percent).
Deeper League Finds
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (2.4 percent): Stew Beef has an awful lot of name recognition to appear only on the "deep" list, but the truth is we don't know whether he'll even play a snap in '13. On the PUP list with a bad ankle, Stewart is eligible to be activated for the upcoming game against the Rams, but has already told reporters he's not ready. The Panthers have until Week 9 to decide whether Stewart can help them, or else they must place him on injured reserve. At this point, it's fair to be skeptical that J-Stew can rejoin his platoon with DeAngelo Williams. But if you're in a deep league, I don't hate adding Stewart just in case he can.
Kris Durham, WR, Detroit Lions (0.5 percent): Durham saw a whopping 13 targets in Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, and hauled in eight of them for 83 yards. That increased action came in large part because Calvin Johnson was limited with a bad knee, but maybe Durham can be the complementary piece the Lions have been searching for opposite Megatron. (My preseason flag player Ryan Broyles has been a no-show, and my super-deep sleeper Pat Edwards just got cut.) Maybe, but I'm skeptical. Durham is a tall (6-foot-6), lanky kid who runs pretty well but features shaky hands. Plus, he's kind of a poverty-stricken man's Megatron, whereas the optimal No. 2 in Detroit would be a quicker all-around guy. In a deep league, though, I guess I don't mind the points chase.
Michael Cox, RB, Giants (0.2 percent): Cox is a repeat on the "deep" list, but I removed him from the "other solid waiver adds" section about a month ago, so he's worth mentioning again. There's not much reason to suspect that this undrafted rookie out of UMass is ready for prime time, though he did look strong in a reserve role during the preseason. But Brandon Jacobs is merely meh. Maybe the Giants sign Hillis and he actually contributes. But if there's even a chance Cox could be a useful piece in '14, why wouldn't New York at least give him a look?
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (4.0 percent): Fred Davis is back playing again, but he's an afterthought in the Skins' passing attack. The name to know is Reed's. In fact, if I were desperate in a 10-team league, I might even consider him; for sure he needs to be owned in a 12-team league. Reed belongs to the new tradition of TEs: He's a big, fast, glorified WR who won't add much as a blocker, but he can line up all over the offensive formation. Reed has caught at least three balls in every game he's played as a rookie, and has topped 50 yards in each of his past two.
Austin Collie, WR, New England Patriots (1.4 percent): I was surprised Collie was even active for Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints, but I guess it turns out those Pats sort of know what they're doing. Danny Amendola got himself concussed, and suddenly Collie was making two huge catches, including one on fourth down, on the dramatic game-winning drive. Any recommendation of Collie clearly comes with a warning about his concussion history, and there's no telling where the New England wideouts will be on the depth chart in any given week. (Aaron Dobson played by far the most snaps of any Pats WR on Sunday.) Again, though, in a best-case scenario Collie could be worth a speculative add.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers (0.1 percent): Randall Cobb will miss six to eight weeks with a broken fibula, and James Jones is battling a knee strain. Jones may play in Week 7 against the Browns, but even if he does, Boykin will be on the field a bunch: No NFL team runs three-wide more frequently than the Packers. Now, you may be saying to yourself, "If that's true, then why wouldn't you love Boykin, as a logical inheritor of Cobb's role?" The problem is that Boykin didn't look great running as the team's No. 2 on Sunday. He did take a short pass 43 yards, but he had a couple terrible first-half drops and struggled to get separation. I tend to believe Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and Jones (if he plays) are going to spike instead.
Thad Lewis, QB, Buffalo Bills (0.1 percent): Don't go crazy. Lewis had some good moments early and late against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but he also missed some easier throws and stalled for much of the game, rarely making true "value-add" throws. His early rushing TD was the cherry on top, and certainly he was much better than Jeff Tuel would've been. The Bills signed Matt Flynn this week, not just because Lewis needed X-rays on an injured foot. That said, Lewis is expected to play in Week 7 versus the Miami Dolphins.
Jeff Cumberland, TE, New York Jets (2.5 percent): Kellen Winslow has three games remaining on his suspension, but the truth is that K2 was losing playing time to Cumberland even before he got busted for performance enhancers. Cumby runs well for a 260-pounder, and can plow over guys when he gets up a head of steam. But he's too important in the blocking game to be a top fantasy option. Cumberland has run only 45 pass routes in six games.
Timothy Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.0 percent): Wright is an undrafted rookie recruited by Greg Schiano at Rutgers, and he's flourished the past two weeks while Luke Stocker is on IR with a hip injury; Tom Crabtree barely played Sunday after returning from his own ankle injury. Versus the Cardinals and Eagles, Wright has 12 catches for 132 yards combined, as Mike Glennon has checked down to him often. But still, it's Mike Glennon.
Joseph Fauria, TE, Lions (0.1 percent): Maybe Fauria will be the exception that proves the rule. He did score three TDs against the Browns on Sunday. But a tight end with nine targets, seven catches and five TDs on the season seems to be the very definition of unsustainable. It's true that Tony Scheffler is out indefinitely with a concussion, but I'm not buying on the end-zone-slam-dunking Fauria.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Nick Foles, QB, Eagles (2.6 percent); Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders (32.0 percent); Josh Freeman, QB, Vikings (3.9 percent); Johnathan Franklin, RB, Packers (6.0 percent); Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints (0.5 percent); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (1.0 percent); Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (5.7 percent); Roy Helu, RB, Redskins (39.3 percent); LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots (13.9 percent); Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots (4.2 percent); Donnie Avery, WR, Chiefs (10.5 percent); Robert Woods, WR, Bills (9.7 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (3.0 percent); Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings (4.6 percent); Austin Pettis, WR, Rams (8.8 percent); Ted Ginn, WR, Panthers (6.9 percent); Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins (31.2 percent); Coby Fleener, TE, Colts (23.9 percent); Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (32.8 percent).
FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK 7
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