The fantasy playoff hunt is fully underway. Your bye week fill-ins and flex starts could land you a ticket to the playoff promise land or cost you an early exit. With Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers all on bye this week a few teams will be in need of some quarterbacks and wide receivers (or a tight end for you Gary Barnidge owners).
**Owning percentages are based off of standard ESPN Fantasy leagues**
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans – Owned in 43% of leagues
Despite everything the rookie quarterback hasn’t had a terrible debut season. He’s had four multi-touchdown games and is facing a Jaguars defense that has given up at least one passing touchdown in its last six contests.
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs – Owned in 35% of leagues
KC is on a hot streak right now. Their running game is back on track and their defense is playing some lights out football right now. Alex Smith should continue to reap the benefits especially against a San Diego secondary that hasn’t stopped anyone all year.
Brock Osweiler – Denver Broncos – Owned in .3% of leagues
Peyton is out and Osweiler is taking over the reigns to a very capable and potent offense. In two-quarterback leagues he’s definitely worth a spot start.
Case Keenum – St. Louis Rams – Owned in 0% of leagues
The journeyman is officially replacing Nick Foles under center for the Rams. With one of the best running backs in the league behind him, who knows, maybe Keenum will be a second-half breakout. Plus, he’s facing a Ravens defense that has been more than generous this weekend. His stock is trending upwards.
Jonathan Grimes – Houston Texans – Owned in 2% of leagues
He’s still the #2 guy in Houston, but that may be changing sooner rather than later. Alfred Blue has been atrocious to say the least, putting up a lowly 22 yards on 12 carries last Monday night. Whereas, Grimes was the Texans leading rusher against a stout Cincinnati defense gaining 33 yards on just six carries. If you have the roster space, snag Grimes up now while his price tag is still low.
Shaun Draughn – San Francisco 49ers – Owned in 9% of leagues
Another #2 guy, but due to Carlos Hyde’s nagging foot injury Draughn is looking to become the feature back for the 49ers the rest of the season. With Hyde’s injury still lurking, Draughn provides some quality upside in deep leagues or running back thirsty teams since he’ll be provided with a number of opportunities over the next couple weeks.
Danny Amendola – New England Patriots – Owned in 22% of leagues
Julian Edelman out, Amendola in – that’s the bottom line. With Edelman’s injury Amendola should be filling in as the go-to slot/slant receiver in New England’s vertical attack. He’s got one the best quarterback’s in the NFL throwing him the football, Amendola is the must-have player on this week’s waiver wire.
Dorial Green-Beckham – Tennessee Titans – Owned in 19.4% of leagues
He was on my watch-list last week and rightfully so. The rookie has a ton of potential, but suffered a very tough match up last week versus Carolina. This week he’s got Jacksonville on Thursday Night, but DGB is worth a flex-play. With Kendall Wright’s knee injury still lingering and Justin Hunter out for the season DGB joins tight end, Delanie Walker as the main receiving options for this offense. Even better, Jacksonville has given up a touchdown pass to a wide receiver their last six games.
Coby Fleener – Indiapolis Colts – Owned in 15% of leagues
Fleener’s stock is relatively worthless with Andrew Luck under center. However, with Luck out for the next few weeks, Fleener gets veteran quarterback Matt Hasselback who loves to throw his way. Just a little food for thought: Fleener’s biggest game of the year (9 catches for 83 yards and a score) came back in Week 4 when the Hasselback started under center.
Crockett Gillmore – Baltimore Ravens – Owned in 11% of leagues
He’s healthy, playing for an offense that doesn’t boast a ton of receiving threats, and has a heavy check-down throwing quarterback. Gillmore is worth a fill-in for Barnidge, Ben Watson, and Heath Miller owners this week.