FANTASY PLAYS: Packers, Bengals, Broncos stars sit in Week 7
No Aaron Rodgers. No A.J. Green. No Demaryius Thomas. No Matt Forte.
Bye weeks are always tricky, and Week 7 is a gem in which some top names are enjoying a Sunday off, maybe spending the entire afternoon glued to NFL RedZone like you.
Three of the NFL’s five unbeaten teams — Green Bay, Denver and Cincinnati — are off alongside Chicago. And with so many high draft picks idle, owners are forced to dust off those depth guys and hope to play the right guy in the right matchup.
If you’re hunting lineup replacements for your Packers, take solace that the break is probably good news.
While Rodgers has shown off his usual brilliance, receiver Randall Cobb has played through a nagging shoulder injury, while wideouts Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery both have ankle injuries.
Then there’s Eddie Lacy, a first-round pick having a head-scratchingly bad year. He too has an ankle injury and spent most of last week’s game on watching James Starks put up big numbers in his spot.
Maybe the break will allow Lacy — one of two candidates we suggested for the No. 1 overall pick in a preseason edition of “Fantasy Plays” — to surge as he did last year following a slow start.
But hang on to Starks just in case.
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and Rodgers are the top two scoring quarterbacks in standard leagues entering their bye week. For those owners — and others looking for a change — scan your waiver wire and see if these passers are available:
— Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (65 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) has become a reliable producer, cracking 300 yards and 20 points in each of the last two games heading into a matchup with Buffalo.
— Ryan Fitzpatrick (22 percent in ESPN) could need to throw a good bit to help the New York Jets keep up with Tom Brady and New England.
— Houston’s Brian Hoyer (29 percent owned in CBS Sports leagues) faces Miami and has seven touchdowns with one interception over the past three games.
THOUGHTS ENTERING WEEK(END) 7
— Those waiting for Cleveland receiver Travis Benjamin to fall off are still waiting. He’s gotten at least 10 targets in four straight games and is coming off a nine-catch, 117-yard effort heading into a matchup with St. Louis.
— So is the Doug Martin resurgence for real in Tampa Bay? The running back had scored at least 20 points in his last two games before last week’s bye, and next gets a Washington defense allowing 4.6 yards per carry.
— Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs has 13 catches for 216 yards in his first two games, perhaps the start of a permanent stint on fantasy radars for the fifth-round rookie out of Maryland. His ownership rates are shooting up as the Vikings head to Detroit.
— Baltimore running back Justin Forsett appears to have emerged from his rough three-game start. He had two straight 100-yard rushing games, then totaled more than 100 total yards despite an ankle injury last week. Baltimore travels to Arizona this week.
The Peyton Manning nightmare gets a merciful week off. He’s failed to crack 10 points in standard leagues in four of six games. And this fantasy player who ended up with Manning in three leagues spent last week trading, benching or cutting his way out of all those shares.
Probably time to move on if you haven’t already, owners.
Aaron Beard is an Associated Press sports writer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s in his 14th season of obsessing over lineup decisions in fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s NFL site at http://pro32.ap.org .