By Jack Thomason-
(CBS) The final bye week is upon us. With only Pittsburgh and Carolina off this week, I won’t have to dig as deep for sleepers. Hopefully you joined me last week and reaped the rewards of Josh McCown, Jonas Gray, Malcom Floyd and Coby Fleener. Let’s see what magic I have up my sleeve this time around.
QuarterbacksREAD MORE: Multiple Juveniles Arrested After Large Gathering, Fights Near Millennium Park
Josh McCown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, available in 56% of CBS leagues) – I’m going to double dip here and stick with McCown as a great option for this week, too. He’s coming off his second straight performance of more than 285 yards and two scores, Mike Evans is red hot and the Bears have given the most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Sounds like a match made in heaven. In addition, this is Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith and McCown’s first visit to Soldier Field since being part of the Bears organization. Just another reason this is a juicy matchup.
Kyle Orton (Buffalo Bills, 68%) – Last time I called Orton’s number, he played the Jets and gave us four touchdowns on 17 attempts. Orton’s coming off his worst game of the season in not reaching 200 yards or scoring a touchdown. That game was against the Dolphins, while this one is at home against the lowly Jets secondary that’s given the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Jets have only three interceptions compared to 25 aerial touchdowns allowed.
Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders, 87%) – This is a risky start for sure, but Murray looked far and away the best out of the three Oakland running backs last week. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have been nothing short of bad this season, and it’s time the Raiders see what they have in second-year pro Murray, who is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds with 4.34 speed. Murray is also a dual threat, displaying good hands in the pass game. Last week he received his first carry late in the third quarter and ended up totaling seven touches for 59 yards, and Raiders coach Tony Sparano recently said he wants to get Murray more involved after he played a season-high 27 snaps Sunday. The Raiders are 0-10 and averaging 65.5 rushing yards per game, the lowest mark since the 1946 Lions. It’s time to unleash Murray and find out if he is their future. I expect him to see more work for him in Thursday Night Football.
Dan Herron (Indianapolis Colts, 88%) – Ahmad Bradshaw suffered a season-ending injury last week, which means Herron will be the primary backup to Trent Richardson. The Jaguars have been decent against the run of late but have provided opposing runners the fourth-most fantasy points for the season. Richardson missed practice Wednesday due to illness but is expected to be fine for Sunday. The coaching staff for the Colts has plenty of confidence in Herron, and he played well during the preseason. Look for Herron to receive between eight and 11 touches with an opportunity to hit paydirt.
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Cecil Shorts III (Jacksonville Jaguars, 54%) – Allen Robinson was leading the Jaguars in targets but has since suffered a foot injury that ended his season. This means Shorts, who was averaging 9.4 targets over the last five games, should see even more looks come his way. Before the bye week, he led the team with five receptions and 119 yards. Shorts will have ample opportunity to put up big fantasy stats, especially in garbage time. The Colts were just punished by the Patriots, so the Jaguars are in line for the backlash. I like Shorts as a WR2 play this week.
Kenny Stills (New Orleans Saints, 56%) – Brandin Cooks was put on injured reserve with a broken thumb this week. He was averaging 6.9 targets per game. With the loss of Cooks, Stills is the best deep option and playmaker on this Saints offense. He’s a threat to take any touch to the house. Stills hauled in all four of his targets last week, totaled 32 yards and scored a touchdown. I can see him getting by a Jimmy Smith-less Ravens secondary for a touchdown this week. The Ravens have given up the fifth-most points to receivers, and the Saints are at home.
Niles Paul (Washington Redskins, 91 %) – Jordan Reed is dealing with another hamstring injury that’s likely to keep him out of Sunday’s contest at San Francisco. This means Paul is the beneficiary. To give you an idea, let’s look at Paul’s stats prior to his concussion, but while Reed was out. Paul was targeted 28 times over a four-game stretch, caught 21 balls, and racked up 313 yards and a score. The tight end is used heavily in coach Jay Gruden’s offense, and the 49ers are middle-of-the-pack in fantasy points allowed to the position.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 62%) – There isn’t much here outside of the fact that the Bears are the worst team in the NFL at covering tight ends. Seferian-Jenkins has been hot and cold in scoring in two of the last four games but also catching only one ball in two of the last four. He is a big-bodied red zone threat and with the Bears giving the most fantasy points to tight ends on the season, I will take my chances the “good” Seferian-Jenkins shows up, catching a few passes and adding a touchdown.
Other considerations: Zach Mettenberger (92%), Brian Hoyer (76%), Knile Davis (39%), Roy Helu (74%), Kenny Britt (78%), Jarvis Landry (74%), Jacob Tamme (77%) and Kyle Rudolph (47%).MORE NEWS: Former Senator, Presidential Nominee Bob Dole Dead at 98
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.