By Jack Thomason-
(CBS) This is the toughest bye week we have seen since Weel 4. Six teams (Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Tennessee) are off, and it will make for slim pickings. A solid group of the top 10 quarterbacks and receivers will be at home this week. So I will reach deep here and attempt to provide you with a solution, from guys who are hopefully still available.
If you read this column last week, you hit on Kyle Orton and John Brown, while receiving decent spot starts with Travaris Cadet and Doug Baldwin. Let’s see if we can create some more of that fantasy football magic! Enjoy and as always, good luck.
Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) — One weekly sleeper should be any non-top 12 quarterback playing against the Jets. Last week, Orton threw four touchdowns (should’ve been five if it weren’t for Sammy Watkin’s premature celebration) on only 17 attempts. This week it’s Smith who gets a lowly Jets pass defense that has allowed a league-worst 22 passing scores on the year, five more than anyone else. New York has also allowed opposing quarterbacks a 113.5 rating, which ranks dead last in the NFL, and has only one interception on the year. This has little to do with Smith and everything to do with how bad the Jets are. Smith is available in 40 percent of CBS leagues.
Brian Hoyer (Cleveland Browns) — Hoyer is coming off a solid game in which he threw for 275 yards and a score against an Oakland team that’s better defending the pass than Tampa Bay, which Cleveland plays this Sunday. Hoyer has thrown for at least 204 yards in every start this season and has only one game without a passing touchdown.Those aren’t the greatest of stats, but when the Bucs allow the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and are tied for third-worst in sacks (10), you should feel better about what Hoyer can do for you. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 241 yards and hit paydirt once last week against Tampa. If you’re in a bind, this could be a nice option. Hoyer is available in 77 percent of CBS leagues.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (Baltimore Ravens) — In the last few weeks, Taliaferro and Bernard Pierce have been back and forth for secondary touches behind Justin Forsett. Last week’s healthy scratch for Pierce would seem to indicate Taliaferro has wrapped up the No. 2 job. In doing so, he tallied two touchdowns and 69 yards on nine touches. Taliaferro’s likely to vulture goal-line work from Forsett and possibly more with the news that Forsett missed practice Wednesday due to a leg injury. The Steelers are allowing 4.5 yards per carry and have given up seven rushing touchdowns on the year. Both rank in the bottom-third in the NFL. Taliaferro is available in 59 percent of CBS Leagues.
Charles Sims (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — Sims is a rookie running back who Lovie Smith and his crew drafted with a top-70 pick this year. He comes out of West Virginia and was considered the best receiving prospect at the running back position.He’s drawn many comparisons to Matt Forte. The coaches fell in love with his receiving ability and were extremely excited about him before he went down with an ankle injury. Now, starter Doug Martin is in a walking boot and didn’t practice Wednesday. Keep a close eye on this situation, as Bobby Rainey is still there, but Sims could see his first action after practicing Wednesday. The room to activate him from the short-term IR has been made. Just make sure they officially do before giving him a shot, as this is admittedly a Hail Mary pickup. Sims is available in 78 percent of CBS leagues.
Stevie Johnson (San Francisco 49ers) — Johnson will be facing the same Rams team that teammate Colin Kaepernick tore up for 343 yards and three scores in St. Louis just three short weeks ago. Over the last five weeks, Johnson has been a favorite of Kaepernick’s, totaling 21 receptions on 26 targets for 256 yards and three scores. Kaepernick has spoken about Johnson’s quirky route running and how it took him time to adjust to it. It looks as though they’re on the same page now. St. Louis has given up the ninth-most fantasy points to receivers, and this time the game is in San Francisco. Johnson is available in 77 percent of CBS leagues.
Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles) — Since Week 3 of the season Matthews has at least four receptions in every game. He’s coming off an 11-target contest, catching six of them for 47 yards. He also nabbed what would have been the game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock, but he was out of bounds. The Texans have permitted the fifth-most points to receivers, and Eagles quarterback Nick Foles continues to throw the rock plenty (a whopping 62 times last week), so opportunities will be there for Matthews. He is available in 62 percent of CBS leagues.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — Over the last four games, Seferian-Jenkins has seen 19 targets and hauled in 11 of them for 139 yards and a touchdown. The Browns allowed the Raiders’ Mychal Rivera to snag seven catches and 83 yards on nine targets last week. That was far and away his best performance of the season. Jenkins is a physical specimen topping out at 6-foot-6 and 258 pounds while running 4.6 40-yard dash. As he’s become more involved in the offense, the upside is there. Maybe this is the week to give him a nod after he grabbed his first career touchdown last week. He’s available in 92 percent of CBS leagues.
Tim Wright (New England Patriots) — The Broncos are giving up the ninth-most points to tight ends this season, and while we all know Rob Gronkowski is the man to own in New England, Wright does have three touchdowns in his last four games. Along with those scores, he’s caught 17 of 18 targets on the season. Add to those numbers at least 60 yards in two of the last four contests, and I‘d say he’s as good as a TE2 you could hope for points from. Not to mention, Tom Brady has been red hot. Wright is available in 58 percent of CBS leagues, and he’s worth a shot.
Other considerations: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colt McCoy, Isaiah Crowell, Jonas Gray, Martavis Bryant, Kenny Stills, Mychal Rivera and Coby Fleener.
Jack Thomason is the winner of the 2014 Bud Light Fantasy Expert Contest, co-host of Fantasy Streamers and co-host of the Nerd Herd. You can listen to Fantasy Streamers every Sunday from 8-9 a.m. CT at 670thescore.com/listen. The Nerd Herd is on every Friday, starting at 11 p.m. and lasting until 1 a.m. on 670 The Score and online here. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.