There are six NFL teams that have their bye in Week 11 or Week 12, and for fantasy football owners fighting for one of the last playoff spots in their league, replacing stars on byes is one of the most difficult challenges.
At this point in the year, most of the players worth starting in standard leagues are probably owned already, but there were several guys in Week 10 who impressed enough to warrant a spot on your roster for the rest of the 2013 season.
Let’s take a look at a few of those players, several of whom should be on the waiver wire in many fantasy leagues.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB: Jake Locker‘s season-ending foot injury increases the fantasy value of Titans backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. In the four games he played while Locker was injured earlier in the season, Fitzpatrick averaged just under 200 passing yards per game with four total touchdowns. In leagues that start two quarterbacks, the 30-year-old veteran should be one of the best options available on the waiver wire. He’s not going to dominate, but he’s a reliable player with a lot of highly-skilled pass catchers to target in the Tennessee offense.
Mark Ingram, RB: Saints fans and fantasy owners have been waiting over a year for Ingram’s breakout game, and it happened on Sunday night when he ran for a career-high 145 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. He also had a rushing touchdown and caught two passes for 15 yards.
New Orleans has a crowded backfield with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Ingram all sharing playing time, but as a strong back with good size and vision, expect Ingram to be on the field for a lot of snaps going forward. The Saints spend a lot of time on offense each game, so there’s no reason to think this team is unable to support three fantasy-relevant running backs.
The former Alabama star should also get a few goal-line carries when the Saints are in the red zone. In deep, 12-16 team leagues, Ingram is a must-own and a good flex option or bye week replacement.
Andre Brown, RB: The Giants have won three games in a row, and one of the reasons they are starting to win is their dedication to the running game. Brown made his season debut on Sunday after recovering from an injury, and rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. As a powerful back, Brown is fully capable of handling a high workload each game.
Against a Packers defense that allows over 106 yards per game on the ground, Brown is a must-start in Week 11 as a player likely to receiver 20-plus carries and goal-line touches. Another benefit to adding Brown is the fact that New York has a soft schedule from a fantasy perspective for the remainder of the year with matchups against Dallas, San Diego and Washington (twice).
Donald Brown, RB: The Colts’ midseason acquisition of Trent Richardson hasn’t worked out so far, which has allowed backup running back Donald Brown to become more involved in the team’s offense. He’s made most of his impact in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in Indianapolis’ loss to St. Louis on Sunday, and he’s now tallied over 40 receiving yards in two of the last three games.
He’s done very little in the running game, but as a quality receiver, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has targeted him consistently after the season-ending injury to No. 1 wideout Reggie Wayne. Brown is a good pickup in deep leagues or for owners lacking depth at running back.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR: The former Jets receiver is still a dependable fantasy player as a member of the Steelers. He’s been targeted four or more times in seven of the eight games he’s played in this year, and he’s tallied four touchdowns over the last two weeks.
Cotchery has averaged just under 57 receiving yards per game and is a reliable target for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on important third-down plays. His ability to serve as a deep threat has also been on display recently, and he’s tallied a reception of 20 yards or more in five games. Cotchery is a solid pickup in all leagues because he’s going to be productive just about every week, and that’s the type of player fantasy owners have to go with at this stage of the year.
Thumbnail photo via @GonzaloRuizD