Welcome to Claim to Fame, where we’ll provide recommendations on a handful of players that are available in most fantasy leagues*. Some might just get you through an injury or a bye week; others might pull a Victor Cruz and make you famous. Each week, we’ll list players you should consider pursuing in your league, and we’ll provide a letter grade that will give you an indication of how aggressively you should bid on that player. Here’s what each letter grade means:
A: Must-have player in all league types. Aggressively pursue.
B: Should be on rosters in most leagues.
C: Viable additions for leagues with deep rosters.
D: Speculative additions that might pay dividends weeks down the road.
F: Only worth adding as a handcuff if you have the starter.
(*Yes, we realize that availability varies greatly by league size, but we strive to only introduce players owned in 50% or fewer leagues)
Week 7 Byes: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Ahoy, me fellow fantasy football mates! The captain of the Buccaneers ship will be very popular in a week where lineups will be without Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Michael Vick. Freeman has hornswaggled opposing defenses to the tune of 627 yards and four scores over the last two weeks, and he hosts a shady Saints crew this Sunday. The Saints have served up over 280 passing yards per game, along with nine touchdowns through five games, and Freeman has had recent success against the NFC South rival with 255-2, 303-2, and 281-1 in the last three meetings. He’s a quality one-week fill-in.
Felix Jones, Cowboys
In Week 7 of the 2011 season, then-rookie DeMarco Murray burst onto the NFL (and fantasy) scene with 253 rushing yards against the Rams. Murray got his shot because Felix Jones suffered (yet another) injury and once again failed to take advantage of his starting gig. Will Jones return the favor this year? Murray suffered some ligament damage in his left foot, and he is almost certain to sit in Week 7 against the Panthers. Jones will be the starter against a Panthers defense that has allowed 983 total yards to opposing running backs through five games. Early reports suggest Murray could return fairly quickly, but foot injuries can be tricky to overcome, especially for a skill position player who relies so heavily on… well, his feet. Jones has a long history of disappointing fantasy owners, but the combination of raw talent, motivation (he is in his contract year), and opportunity make Felix an intriguing add
William Powell, Cardinals
The Cardinals opted for LaRod Stephens-Howling as their starter in Week 6. But they may want to consider another depth chart change for Week 7. Powell, who is better suited for heavy lifting than his smaller teammate, led the charge with 70 rushing yards on 13 carries on Sunday, and The Thin Man should continue to receive the bulk of the carries and the short-yardage role. The upcoming schedule (at MIN, vs. SF, at GB) is rough, but there simply aren’t many lead dogs sitting out there on waiver wires at this point. The Cardinals will give this preseason star a chance to show his August work wasn’t a fluke.
Joique Bell, Lions
The Lions announced on Monday that Jahvid Best (concussions) won’t return this season. They will move ahead with Mikel LeShoure as their starter, and Bell as their top backup. LeShoure is the workhorse and is coming off a nice outing against the Eagles, but I’ll remind everyone again that this is a guy who suffered a serious leg injury (torn Achilles) last year. Will he hold up while averaging over 21 touches per game? The journeyman Bell is next in line if LeShoure breaks down, and the backup has shown some versatility with 255 total yards over the last four games. He is worth a bench spot in larger leagues.
Daryl Richardson, Rams
The Dolphins owned the NFL’s top run defense heading into Week 6, but Richardson cracked them open early with a 44-yard scamper on the Rams’ second play from scrimmage. The rookie ended up splitting the workload (13 touches, 99 total yards) with starter Steven Jackson (15 touches, 80 total yards). I very much still prefer S-Jax, but it won’t be a surprise if the Rams keep working something like a 60-40 split, especially if it keeps the veteran fresh. Richardson has shown upside in his limited action and is a Jackson stubbed toe or tweaked knee away from being a very valuable piece. He needs to be on more fantasy rosters.
Montario Hardesty, Browns
If you own Trent Richardson, feel free to bump up my grade a couple of notches. Richardson injured his ribs during the Week 6 win over the Bengals, and Hardesty stepped up with 56 yards and a touchdown over 15 carries. The Browns are downplaying the ailment and labeling their stud rookie as day-to-day, but Richardson’s owners need to grab this backup for insurance – especially since the Browns are headed into a matchup against a Colts defense that just got railroaded by Shonn freakin’ Greene.
Josh Gordon, Browns
This is two straight weeks in this article for Gordon, so I’ll keep it short this time. The Browns are woefully thin at receiver, and this rookie has emerged as their best big-play threat. He may not get enough looks to be a regular PPR play, but Brandon Weeden recognizes Gordon as a “huge asset” and will continue to look for Josh down the field. His stock is on the rise.
Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens, Rams
The Rams’ first game without Danny Amendola saw Sam Bradford give extra love to Gibson (nine targets, seven catches, 91 yards) and Givens (seven targets, three catches, 81 yards). Both wideouts also had notable drops, but the Rams will likely continue to stick with the Killer Gees as their starters. I like Gibson a little more – mainly because he is the veteran of the two – and both wideouts are worth roster spots in larger leagues.
Stephen Hill, Jets
Hill saw limited action (18 plays) in Week 6, but he caught all three passes thrown his way and pulled in a nice touchdown grab. With his hamstring getting closer to 100 percent, I expect Hill’s role to grow, and there is very little (Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley) standing between him and 7-10 targets per week. Of course, I can’t promise that any of those Mark Sanchez tosses will be catchable, but Hill’s talent plus his opportunity should equal a few nice performances over the second half of the season.
Scott Chandler, Bills
I’m cheating by putting Chandler in this article (he is owned in most leagues), but I expect him to be dropped by numerous owners after his one-catch, four-yard outing. That’s a mistake. The Bills head back home to face the Titans in Week 7. Chandler has scored seven times over his last eight home games, and the Titans have surrendered a ridiculous 53 catches, 531 yards, and eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends through six games. Beam Scottie up to your roster if he is available and if you need a tight end play.