Last week was a decent one for my fantasy surprises. While none of them had exceptional starts, most of them contributed solid performances. This week is a tough one for fantasy owners as six teams are on bye. Not only is losing six teams difficult, but many of those feature players who headline fantasy teams. While it is a tough break, losing players like this could be overcome with a strong bench or savvy waiver wire moves. Here are some players that could have an impact in a week with a limited player pool.
QB: Alex Smith vs Jets: In a week with so many reliable fantasy quarterbacks out, Smith is a nice play. That he’s playing a Jets pass defense that has been getting thrown on all year just makes things better. Simply put, Kyle Orton threw for four touchdowns on this group last Sunday. While Smith may not have that touchdown total, he should still put up very respectable numbers. Expect around 240 total yards and two touchdowns.
RB: Jeremy Hill vs Jaguars: I’ve put Hill in this spot and he has burned me before, but I’m willing to forgive him. With Giovani Bernard looking extremely questionable, Hill should get his first chance at a feature role. While the Jaguars defensive line is underrated, that doesn’t mean they still have their troubles. If Bernard does sit out, Hill is worth starting in all leagues. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.
WR: Andrew Hawkins vs Buccaneers: Hawkins is essentially the main option in the Browns passing game by default, but he has been producing. Now he has a matchup against a Buccaneers defense that has struggled defending the pass. While his stature may limit him from a lot of red zone looks, Hawkins should put up numbers worth starting in all formats. In a points per reception league, he will be even more valuable. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.
TE: Clay Harbor vs Bengals: This is a scenario where I like the matchup, but it could be a risky fantasy play. The Bengals have struggled covering tight ends this year and Vontaze Burfict being injured doesn’t help matters. Harbor has solid receiving skills, but what scares me is the play of Blake Bortles. The last few weeks, Bortles seems to be regressing which could be a mix of more playbook responsibility and opponents adjusting. While I’m not confident enough to start Harbor in any league, a nice game wouldn’t surprise me. Expect around 40 yards and a touchdown.
K: Blair Walsh vs Redskins: While the Vikings offense may struggle, Walsh still has all the ability to be a fantastic fantasy kicking option. He is still the kicker who helped swing fantasy weeks just two years ago as a rookie. This week, he has a matchup against the Redskins in which can be higher scoring than we think. If you need a kicker and Walsh is available, take a shot on him this week. Expect around two field goals and two extra points.
DEF: Browns vs Buccaneers: The last few weeks, the Browns have been a fairly productive fantasy defense. That trend should continue this week. The Buccaneers offense has had its moments, but for the most part it seems to have been stalling this year. With this game at home, the Browns should be able to capitalize on this appealing matchup. Expect around four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.