Players are sorted by position and ranked based on priority. This means that, in most formats, you’ll want to pick up the first name listed if several are available. Note that this advice is strictly for redraft formats and usually will lean towards a fairly standard 12-team PPR league.
Matthew Stafford – Lions
The Lions have a bye in week 7, but fantasy owners struggling at quarterback should try to grab Stafford this week, before his expected week 8 return. A popular QB1 sleeper, Stafford was injured after only 15 pass attempts this season, and was the first of several key offensive players who missed time with an injury. Consider that “regulars” Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith, Tony Scheffler, and Brandon Pettigrew have yet to play a single game together this season. They should all be back in week 8. Stafford wasn’t exactly lighting it up before his week 1 injury, but he will be throwing the ball close to 40 times every week. 2,600 yards and 15 TDs the rest of the way is not out of the question, and that would qualify him as a borderline QB1.
Matt Moore – Panthers
The Panthers announced Monday that Moore, not Jimmy Clausen, would be the team’s starting quarterback on Sunday against San Francisco. Unless you’re in a 16 team league, don’t bother with Moore. The Panthers remain one of the league’s run heaviest teams, and the quarterback switch won’t change that. On the other hand, you should upgrade the Carolina skill players. Moore should have an easier time than Clausen getting the ball to Steve Smith, as well as, rookies Brandon LaFell and Davis Gettis. Neither rookie is worth a roster spot in 12 team leagues, however, so this says more about Smith’s fantasy stock than anything. He’s a WR3 upon his return.
Donald Brown / Mike Hart – Colts
Joseph Addai injured his shoulder on Sunday night, leaving the door open for Mike Hart to take on the rushing load. There is no word yet on the severity, but it doesn’t appear to be serious and the Colts have a week 7 bye. Still, oft-injured Donald Brown (who was out on Sunday), should be back to full health in time for the team’s week 8 game. He’s worth an add in case Addai were to miss time. If both come back healthy, Addai keeps his RB2 status and Brown should be on someone’s bench in all 12-team leagues. Hart filled in admirably while Addai was out, but doesn’t have a role unless the top two guys are out.
Danny Woodhead – Patriots
It’s time to give Woodhead some serious consideration after he led the Patriots in carries and was 5th on the team (1st among NE running backs) in pass routes on Sunday. The Patriots running back situation is always somewhat of a crapshoot, but the trade of Laurence Maroney and injuries to Kevin Faulk (IR) and Fred Taylor (week-to-week) have made it even more unpredictable. Right now, Woodhead seems to be part of a three-headed monster with Taylor and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Sammy Morris is also in the picture, but has touched the ball only 11 times so far this season. Woodhead appears to have the edge for snaps on passing downs, which adds to his appeal in PPR leagues, but he will have a hard time finding carries once Taylor is back. He should be on someone’s bench in 12-team leagues, but don’t start him unless Taylor or Green-Ellis are out.
Chris Ivory – Saints
Chris Ivory’s stock is on the rise after a 15 carry, 158 yard performance against Tampa Bay in week 6. Keep in mind, however, that Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were out and that the Bucs do not sport a very good run defense. Thomas should be back next week, and Bush may miss only a few more games. Ivory has earned more playing time with his play, but there’s no question that he’s third in line at running back once Thomas and Bush return. He’s worth rostering until we hear more on Thomas, but isn’t anything more than his handcuff going forward.
James Starks – Packers
I talked about Starks the other week, and, if you didn’t add him then, you should consider doing it now. With Ryan Grant on Injured Reserve, Brandon Jackson and fullback John Kuhn have been handling the team’s carries. Neither has been overly effective, which opens the door for Starks, who is expected to be active this week after spending weeks 1-6 on the PUP list. Don’t expect much of a workload right off the bat, but he has serious upside due to the opportunity he has in a high-scoring offense. If you have a roster spot to burn, grab and stash Starks now.
Deion Branch – Patriots
Branch was far from quiet in his return to New England Sunday, putting up 9 receptions, 98 yards, and a score on 12 targets. His immediate impact was a bit of surprise, but shouldn’t be too shocking when you consider Tom Brady’s affection for the former Superbowl MVP. Although Brandon Tate (35 offensive snaps) seemed to be the favorite to replace Randy Moss in the starting lineup, it’s pretty clear that Branch (56) will be the guy. The Patriots are quickly moving to an offense heavy on short passes, which bodes well for Branch, as well as, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots try to keep the offense balanced, but they’ll lean towards pass-heavy. All of this means Branch is in position to be a WR3 the rest of the way. If he’s still not rostered, get him this week.
Mike Williams – Seahawks
While Deion Branch was busy helping the Patriots to a win over the Ravens, Mike Williams was hauling in a majority of Matt Hasselbeck’s pass attempts for Branch’s old team. Williams almost equaled his stats from the team’s first four games in this one game, racking up 10 receptions and 123 yards on 15 targets. Although he was far and away Hasselbeck’s favorite target, Branch’s replacement, Deon Butler, scored the lone receiving touchdown. Williams has yet to score this season, but expect regression to kick in soon. There aren’t many #1 wide receivers who fail to score despite 34 targets in 5 games. The Seahawks are far from an elite passing offense, but Williams will continue to see plenty of looks, which makes him worth WR3 consideration. Pick him up off waivers this week.
Michael Jenkins – Falcons
Jenkins made his 2010 debut on Sunday after missing the Falcons’ first 5 games with an injury. Although he exploded for a team-high 99 yards on 5 receptions and tied Roddy White for the team-lead with 11 targets, keep in mind that the Falcons fell behind 21-0 early and were forced to play catch-up all day long. The normally run-heavy Falcons ran the ball only 19 times, compared to 42 passes. Jenkins should be considered a WR5, as he’s 3rd in line for targets on a run-heavy team.
Anthony Armstrong – Redskins
Mike Shanahan has made it clear that Armstrong has replaced Joey Galloway as the team’s starting split end. Armstrong has racked up 8 receptions, 130 yards, and a touchdown on 14 targets over the past two weeks, putting him on the fantasy radar. The Redskins have not been afraid to pass the ball and, with Donovan McNabb under center, Armstrong certainly has upside. Still, he’ll be third in line for targets behind heavily-utilized Santana Moss and Chris Cooley (or Fred Davis, if Cooley misses time). Armstrong is worth a speculative look if you have a spot open on your bench, but don’t start him yet.
Devin Aromashodu – Bears
Aromashodu is quietly getting back into the fold at wide receiver, which means everyone should be keeping an eye on him. Devin Hester’s role on offense has been significantly lowered, opening the door for Aromashodu and Earl Bennett to rack up targets. The Bears are struggling with sacks, sure, but they’re still a very pass heavy offense. Only worth serious consideration in deeper leagues right now, Aromashodu is a name to keep an eye on in all formats.
Danario Alexander – Rams
Alexander will be added in a ton of leagues this week, but don’t push too hard to get in on the action. The Rams are throwing the ball more than expected and Sam Bradford has been better than expected, but they’re not exactly lighting it up through the air every week. Not only was Sunday Alexander’s first career game, he has a long history of injury troubles and was even complaining about knee soreness after the game. Even if he remains healthy, consider that he has to compete with Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, and Laurent Robinson for targets (and that’s just wide receivers). Alexander has a ton of talent and should be owned in dynasty formats, but he’s not someone you want to rely on in 2010.
Jason Avant – Eagles
Avant would be higher on this list if DeSean Jackson was officially out for several weeks, but, right now, it appears that he’s week-to-week after suffering a severe concussion on Sunday. Regardless, it appears that he will miss the team’s week 7 game vs. Tennessee, which is followed by the Eagles bye in week 8. Jason Avant, one of the game’s most underrated possession receivers, will see an increase in looks while Jackson is out, but don’t except it to be significant. Kevin Kolb relied heavily on Jeremy Maclin while Jackson was out, and we should see more of Brent Celek, as well. If you’re desperate for a bye week fill-in this week at WR3, Avant has some upside. If not, don’t bother stashing him.
Craig Davis / Patrick Crayton – Chargers
A lot of people were talking about Craig “Buster” Davis and, especially, Patrick Crayton on Monday morning. Taking advantage of injuries to Legedu Naanee (inactive), Malcom Floyd (left early), and Antonio Gates (left early), Davis caught 3 balls and scored on 8 targets, while Crayton went for 6 receptions and 117 yards on 7 targets. Although almost anyone catching passes in an offense led by Philip Rivers has appeal, the fantasy value of these two guys rests soley on the injury status’ of the aforementioned Chargers players. That being the case, Davis and Crayton have to be considered in week 7 with Floyd already listed as out. Davis is the more appealing choice when you consider that he saw more week 6 targets and was actually third on the team in receptions heading into the game. He has WR3 upside while Floyd is out, but keep an eye on the status’ of Gates and Naanee. With so many injury-related variables in play, this is a situation you just have to monitor throughout the week.
Owen Daniels – Texans
Daniels finally put up somewhat of a fantasy relevant performance on Sunday, but is there reason to believe he is back to his 2009 self? Consider his snap count and target numbers, which have actually been relatively consistent so far this season:
As you can see, his snap numbers haven’t changed much. In fact, anyone who says his playing time is increasing would be incorrect. Daniels played 77% of the Texans offensive snaps over weeks 1-3, but that number drops to 73% over weeks 4-6. This would normally be bad news for Daniels’ fantasy stock, but check out his target numbers. After being targeted on only 11% of Matt Schaub’s targets over the first 2 weeks, Daniels has been looked at more than 16% of the time 3 of the last 4 weeks. Considering how effective this offense can be, a figure in the 17-20% range for Daniels gains him automatic TE1 consideration. If he’s still available in your league, put in a claim.
Fred Davis – Redskins
Chris Cooley suffered a concussion in week 6, but it appears that it was minor and he should be available for the team’s week 7 game at Chicago. Davis is an excellent pass-catching tight end and would immediately be a TE1 should Cooley miss any time. Cooley owners in deep leagues should put in a claim for Davis just in case, but everyone else should only pounce if Cooley is ruled out.
Randy McMichael – Chargers
Despite losing Antonio Gates to an injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, the Chargers chose not to target backup tight end Randy McMichael. Instead, they spread the ball around to wide receivers Craig Davis and Patrick Crayton. McMichael did enter the season with 367 career receptions in 8 seasons, but has only 45 during the last 2 years (both with the Rams). Obviously, he can catch the football, but Norv Turner showed on Sunday that he would not step into Gates’ role when he’s out. The latest word is that Gates could be back as early as this weekend, which means McMichael returns to fantasy irrelevance. Should Gates sit, McMichael is only worth TE2 consideration and should not be started in 12-team leagues. It’s safe to leave him on the wire.
Michael Hoomanawanui – Rams
Hoomanawanui is worth a quick mention after he returned to the lineup on Sunday. He had missed 4 straight games after a week 1 injury, but was a favorite target of Sam Bradford during the preseason. Although Hoomanawanui has some dynasty league upside, he’s not a superb pass-catching tight end, is dealing with a rookie quarterback on a shaky offense, and is contending with fellow tight ends Daniel Fells, Billy Bajema, and Fendi Onobun for snaps. Tight end is very deep. Leave him on the wire.