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Brutal Week 8 Byes Put Fantasy Football Owners in Tough Spot

From the moment I drafted my fantasy football teams, I was dreading week eight. Whereas only four teams were off for most bye weeks, six are off in week eight, and many of them are loaded with fantasy studs. Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the Giants, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are all off this week. That means fantasy owners are scrambling to replace some of these stars:

(Fantasy ranking listed in parentheses)
Falcons: Roddy White (#1 WR), Matt Ryan (#6 QB), Michael Turner (#13 RB), Tony Gonzalez (#10 TE), Matt Bryant (#4 K)
Giants: Hakeem Nicks (#2 WR), Eli Manning (#7 QB), Ahmad Bradshaw (#9 RB), #9 defense
Eagles: Jeremy Maclin (#5 WR), LeSean McCoy (#6 RB), David Akers (#10 K), #6 defense
Ravens: Anquan Boldin (#7 WR), Joe Flacco (#10 QB), Todd Heap (#9 TE)
Bears: Matt Forte (#7 RB), Robbie Gould (#11 K), #3 defense
Browns: Peyton Hills (#8 RB), Ben Watson (#11 TE)

Yes, I write this out of bitterness because I have about half of the players listed above on my two fantasy teams. It’s OK though, just follow some of our waiver wire advice and you should be alright. You may wind up with guys like Anthony Armstrong, Patrick Crayton, and LeGarrette Blount filling in this week, but that should be good enough to keep you in contention.

Working the Waiver Wire: Week 8 Free Agent Pickup Advice

Here is some advice on working the waiver wire in your fantasy league (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Steelers defense, Ravens defense, Giants pass defense, Chargers pass defense.

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Oakland, and New England’s secondary. Buffalo, Oakland, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina, Arizona, Cleveland, and San Francisco.

I know it’s the bye week for many of players and you’ll need some replacements, but unfortunately there aren’t many must-have type guys. You can find some guys to plug holes, but not many difference makers.


MUST-HAVE

Donald Brown, RB, Colts – Joseph Addai will probably be out a month with his shoulder injury. Whoever gets the bulk of the carries will have lots of fantasy value and be a good bet for a touchdown each week. I’m thinking it will be Brown.
Mike Hart, RB, Colts – Hart has been receiving carries and will likely have a strong role in the offense with Addai out. He and Brown are both worth pickups, but Brown will probably be the man.

*Make sure they’re not still available: Kenny Britt

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Donald Brown Could Become Hot Fantasy RB Pickup with Joseph Addai Hurt

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve had Donald Brown stashed away on your fantasy bench waiting for the moment he could step in and replace Joseph Addai in the high-powered Indy offense. If you were, your hopes and patience may have finally paid off. The Colts are on a bye this week, but when they return they may get former first-round pick Donald Brown back from injury while Addai may be out.

Brown’s missed the last three games because of a hamstring injury so former Michigan product Mike Hart took on Indy’s backup running back role. The bad news for the Colts, besides Dallas Clark’s wrist problems, is that Joseph Addai’s shoulder looks like a serious issue. It’s been reported that Addai has a nerve problem in his shoulder that could keep him out several weeks. It’s a bad break for Addai who’s been running the ball better than he has since his rookie year in 2006, but he still might not miss any time.

If Addai is out, Brown should be fully recovered from his hamstring injury in time to take over the feature back role. While the Colts traditionally don’t run the ball too heavily, they elect to handoff inside the 10 quite frequently, making it a running back touchdown heaven. Plus, if Dallas Clark is lost for the year, they might run the ball more than usual (though that’s not guaranteed). I’ve been waiting for a while to see what Brown can do. Maybe in a few weeks we’ll finally find out.

Working the Waiver Wire: Week 7 Free Agent Pickup Advice

Here is some advice on working the waiver wire in your fantasy league (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Steelers defense, Ravens defense, Jets rush defense, Giants pass defense, Chargers pass defense.

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Seattle, Jacksonville, Oakland, and New England’s secondary. Buffalo, Oakland, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina, Arizona, Cleveland, and San Francisco.


MUST-HAVE

Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – His 9 catches and 98 yards were the most he’s had in a game since 2007. He already showed instant chemistry with Tom Brady, so grab him if he’s still available.
Patrick Crayton, WR, Chargers – Had 6 catches for 117 yards taking over once Floyd and Naanee got hurt. With Floyd out this week, expect Crayton to see plenty of action.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers – We told you last week he would make an excellent addition to your roster and he delivered by catching his first TD of the season. Big Ben loves him. You should too.
Cameron Wake, LB, Dolphins – He’s been a sack machine, getting to the quarterback in four of five games including a three sack performance against the Packers. The former CFL product is legit.
*Make sure they’re not still available: Kenny Britt

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Jermichael Finley May Be Done for the Year with Torn Knee Ligament

Sunday was an awful day for the Green Bay Packers. Not only did they lose to the Redskins, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion, Clay Matthews left with hamstring cramps, and tight end Jermichael Finley left with a knee injury (called a hamstring injury as well). Finley’s injury initially appeared to be a three-week thing, but now the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says it’s likely an 8-10 week injury.

This is a huge blow for the Packers as Finley was becoming one of their best receiving weapons. In four games prior to the injury, Finley had 21 catches for 301 yards and a touchdown. He was one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets and was great at stretching the field, averaging 14.3 yard per reception.

According to the Sentinel, doctors initially thought they would have to remove Finley’s meniscus. Finley would have returned from such a surgery relatively quickly, but he would have been missing a ligament. When the doctors went in to perform the surgery, they noticed the ligament was torn, so they repaired it. Recovery from that surgery will take longer but it’s better for Jermichael in the long run. In the meantime, he’s probably done for the season and will likely be placed on injured reserve to create roster space.

Fantasy owners who took Finley highly in their drafts expecting big things (finger pointed firmly at my chest) are in a rough spot. The best move is to drop him unless you’re in a keeper league. There’s no sense having him take up a roster spot when he’ll be out at least two months and bye weeks are coming up. Luckily there are plenty of good tight ends out there, namely Tony Moeaki, Brandon Pettigrew, and Jeremy Shockey, who were all available on the waiver wire in both of my leagues. It’s a major burn for the Packers and fantasy owners alike, but the best teams can overcome such an injury. Hopefully that will be the case.

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Working the Waiver Wire: Week 6 Free Agent Pickup Advice

As well as one can draft their fantasy football team, inevitably a combination of injuries and surprises arise throughout the year. As a result, working the waiver wire is a key component of winning your fantasy league. Here is some advice on whom to pick up and whom to leave alone in the free agent pool (for personal advice email larry at larrybrownsports.com):

With bye weeks in full effect, working the waiver wire for replacement players is as important as ever. The pickings are slim this week for fill-in quarterbacks, unlike last week where the likes of Shaun Hill and David Garrard were stars. There really aren’t many new running backs to recommend, but the player group with the most movement is wide receivers. Most of our advice centers around wide receivers because new players continue to emerge. Also, five weeks into the season we have very good ideas about what to exploit and avoid in fantasy land.

Matchups to Avoid (at your discretion): Steelers defense, Ravens defense, Jets rush defense, Giants pass defense

Matchups to Exploit (at your discretion): Houston, Seattle, Jacksonville, and New England’s secondary. Buffalo, Oakland, Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Indy’s run defense. Start a defense playing Carolina, Arizona, and San Francisco.


MUST-HAVE

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills – We’ve recommended him for two weeks in a row so he might be gone in your league, but he now has a touchdown catch in three straight weeks. As Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, he’s looking like a nice sleeper. Keep in mind he’s on a bye if you do pick him up.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans – Much like Johnson, we’ve recommended Britt for two weeks in a row and he also has caught a touchdown in three straight weeks. With Justin Gage out, expect this to continue.
Danny Amendola, WR, Rams – We already noted Amendola as a guy to pick up with Mark Clayton’s injury, but it’s worth mentioning again. He sees a lot of passes and is great for PPR leagues.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants – He used to be one of the top pass rushers in the league and appears to be completely recovered from knee surgery. Six sacks in four games? Now that’s what I’m talking about!
*Make sure they’re not still available: LaRon Landry, Brandon Lloyd

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Mark Clayton Season-Ending Injury Makes Danny Amendola Strong Fantasy Pick Up

Six years into his NFL career, former Oklahoma receiver Mark Clayton was having his best season. Acquired by St. Louis during the preseason, he became an instant favorite of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, catching 23 balls for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, Clayton went down five minutes into Sunday’s game running a route up the sideline (video at NFL.com). His absence took a major weapon away from Bradford and the Rams offense, and the sad news is Clayton has a torn patella tendon and will be done for the year.

The injury is equally devastating for the Rams and Clayton. Clayton was set to cash in as a free agent following his big year. The Rams meanwhile have now lost two of their top receivers for the season because of knee injuries — Donnie Avery in the preseason, and Clayton. Not all will be lost in fantasy land — second year receiver out of Texas Tech, Danny Amendola, becomes the hot pickup if he’s still available in your league.

Amendola was averaging five catches per game before the Clayton injury, and with Mark out he emerged as Sam Bradford’s favorite target, seeing 19 balls thrown his way. He made 12 catches for 95 yards but still has yet to find the end zone. If you’re in a point-per-reception league, Amendola will have extra value, but he’s still a nice addition to your roster, especially if you lost Clayton.

The other Rams receiver to watch is Brandon Gibson. The second-year man out of Washington State has seen 18 targets on the year and was on the field a lot more after Clayton got hurt. He’s more of a stretch, but keep your eye on him if you’re desperate. For now, Amendola is the man.

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images