Another Sunday has come to a close. And while owners are anticipating a win or a loss after Monday Night Football, lets take a look at those players who are worthy of getting picked up off the Waiver Wire for Week 7.
As the weeks go on, this list will find itself radically changing, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Coaches will continue to search for those hidden gems on their roster, while us owners continue our search for that next big fantasy football option who can be the missing piece to our current rosters. Keep in mind that some of these players must absolutely be grabbed in all league formats, while others are either better off being picked up in deeper leagues or left on the wire for another week.
Carson Palmer - (YAHOO OWNED 30% / ESPN OWNED 6.4%)
After playing the song-and-dance routine with his quarterbacks all week, HC Bruce Arians finally gave the call for Palmer to get his first start since suffering nerve damage to his shoulder a few weeks back. Palmer kick started a Cardinals offense that was suffering badly, throwing a touchdown pass to both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. He also added 250 passing yards, but the win over the Redskins was the biggest plus. Palmer has a very strong schedule coming up against Oakland, Philly, Dallas and St. Louis. With those games on the horizon, Palmer vaults up to a QB1 for at least the next month.
Kirk Cousins - Washington (YAHOO OWNED 49% / ESPN OWNED 47.5%)
I refuse to list guys like Derek Carr and Blake Bortles on the waiver wire because owners shouldn't consider either option better than what they already have. The wire is thin on quarterbacks who can actually help your team, so Cousins is stuck being the second best quarterback on the list. Cousins isn't going to keep the starting job once RG3 is healthy, but he isn't a terrible fill in. Although a turnover machine with 8 interceptions already, HC Jay Gruden is letting Cousins go all out in the passing game. This has resulted in 5 touchdowns over the last 3 games, which isn't bad for those owners whose quarterback situation looks grim. Cousins chucked up 354 passing yards against the Cardinals Sunday.
Kyle Orton - Buffalo (YAHOO OWNED 4% / ESPN OWNED .4%)
The Bills have had to rely on the passing game this year since, for some strange reason, they have lost the ability to call a running play. They've also let their best running back C.J. Spiller rot on special teams. Since taking over the starting job, Orton has passed for 308 and 299 yards respectively, with 3 touchdowns and 2 picks (2 of those scores were against the Pats Sunday). It doesn't look like the coaching staff will change their ways and get back to running the ball, so expect Orton to continue to heave it up in order to keep the Bills within reach. Orton isn't a QB1, but he's a decent QB2 with zero upside.
BRANDEN OLIVER - San Diego (YAHOO OWNED 78% / ESPN OWNED 73.1%)
I can understand why Oliver's owned numbers aren't higher since many owners considered his Week 5 outing as a fluke. Sunday proved Oliver is the real deal as he not only rushed for 101 yards, but punched in the game-winning score against the Raiders. Along with the rushing yards, Oliver also racked up 4 catches for 23 yards. He now has 12 catches for 124 yards on the season. As long as Ryan Mathews (knee) sits, Oliver vaults up to an RB1 as the Chargers are willing to use him as an every-down player.
Ronnie Hillman - Denver (YAHOO OWNED 45% / ESPN OWNED 5.1%)
While I loved Hillman's upside going into Week 6, I hated the matchup against the Jets' rushing defense. Oh how wrong I was on that one. Hillman racked up 100 rushing yards against New York and dominated touches with 27 compared to Juwan Thompson's 8. It appears C.J. Anderson isn't even in the equation after being a healthy scratch in Week 5. Hillman did fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by the Broncos, but that didn't faze Hillman's role as he continued to get fed the ball. The Broncos have another tough game against the 49ers, but it will be hard to bench Hillman after this weekend.
Isaiah Crowell - Cleveland (YAHOO OWNED 19% / ESPN OWNED 10.7%)
Despite Ben Tate getting the start, it was a bit of a shock to see Crowell's stats coming off a win over the Steelers, Crowell rushed for 77 yards and a score. The bad part was Crowell coughed up a lost fumble. I doubt Crowell will be fed this type of work behind Tate every week. But at the very least, this should show owners who are still holding onto Terrance West that Crowell is the handcuff to own if you're a Tate owner. I admit that it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff gives Crowell this type of workload against the Jaguars, but I doubt it.
Antone Smith - Atlanta (YAHOO OWNED 27% / ESPN OWNED 5.1%)
I've tried my best to keep Smith off the waiver wire this year because he doesn't get enough touches to warrant a pickup. I can't ignore the inevitable anymore. Smith didn't do much on the ground against the Bears, rushing for 5 yards. But he caught all 4 targets for 64 yards and another touchdown. Smith has now scored at least 1 touchdown in the last 4 games. But here's the problem: While he has now garnered 346 total yards from scrimmage, he's only touched the ball a total of 23 times. Owners will look solely at the box score, but not the amount of times Smith has the ball in his hand. This makes Smith a very dicey flex option going forward until he gets more touches per game.
Brandon Bolden - New England (YAHOO OWNED 1% / ESPN OWNED 1.8%)
With the fear in New England being that Stevan Ridley suffered a torn ACL against the Bills, Bolden is next in line to be the main ball carrier for the Patriots. Bolden only racked up 10 yards off 6 carries, but figures to see an expanded role in a tough matchup Thursday night against the Jets. We should also see some rookie James White, who was a healthy scratch Sunday, in the mix. Shane Vereen figures to benefit the most from Ridley's loss, but the Patriots' running game as a whole has been fairly hit-and-miss. Bolden is a mere flex option going forward.
Storm Johnson - Jacksonville (YAHOO OWNED 19% / ESPN OWNED 1.1%)
It's easy not to get excited about anyone in the Jaguars backfield. After getting the start against the Titans, Johnson rushed for just 21 yards off of 10 carries, but salvaged his day with a touchdown. The Titans Defense had given up a lot of fantasy points to running backs this year, so it shows you just how bad Jacksonville's run blocking is. Johnson should only be picked up in deeper leagues.
James Starks - Green Bay (YAHOO OWNED 2% / ESPN OWNED 52.1%)
Starks rotated fairly evenly with Eddie Lacy against the Dolphins, and was also the main back in the Packers' two-minute drill as Green Bay scored a last-second touchdown to win the game. Starks has touched the ball 24 times in the last 2 weeks compared to the 30 Lacy has seen. We could be seeing a committee forming. This is also telling of how much of a fluke Lacy's 13/105/2 statline against the Vikings really was.
Tre Mason - St. Louis (YAHOO OWNED 10% / ESPN OWNED 2.1%)
It looks like another formerly ranked RB1 may have bitten the dust after the Zac Stacy experiment seems to have petered out. Stacy was averaging under 4 yards a carry even before last night's ineffective 8 rushes for 17 yards. Stacy relies on carries to get his fantasy value going. But due to his inability to gain yards effectively, it looks like Mason might now carry the torch. Mason didn't do a whole lot, but he was the most effective back against a tough 49ers rushing defense, carrying the ball 5 times for 40 yards. Whether Stacy has lost his job completely is unknown. But we've seen Jeff Fisher not waste any time in trying a new running back once a backup shows signs of life. It just so happens that Stacy stole the job from Daryl Richardson around this time last season. Mason is worth a pickup and stash in the hopes he gains a much bigger role going forward.
Odell Beckham Jr. - N.Y. Giants (YAHOO OWNED 37% / ESPN OWNED 7.8%)
With only 2 catches, Beckham didn't do anything against the Eagles statwise that jacks up his value. However, with the news that Victor Cruz could be out for the year after suffering a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, Beckham will land the starting job opposite Reuben Randle for the rest of the season. Beckham has 6 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in 2 games. Expect his role to expand greatly, making him a WR3 with plus upside. Beckham is clearly this week's pickup of the week as there aren't many waiver receivers who have as much upside as he has this late in the season
Andre Holmes - Oakland (YAHOO OWNED 5% / ESPN OWNED .4%)
It's been said in the offseason that Holmes was easily the team's best receiver behind James Jones, but it took injuries for the Raiders to finally realize his potential. With just 148 yards in the first 4 games, Holmes saw 8 targets, catching 4, for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Chargers. One being a 77-yard highlight-reel catch. Holmes now has 9 receptions and 3 total touchdowns in the last 2 games. He's on the WR3 radar, but it could be a bumpy ride due to the offense as a whole.
Brandon LaFell - New England (YAHOO OWNED 6% / ESPN OWNED 2.9%)
LaFell's fantasy value has been on a roller coaster ride over the last 3 weeks. He went from 6/119/1 against the Chiefs in Week 4, to 1/20/0 in Week 5, and back up to 4/97/2 Sunday against the Bills. That type of output does not a fantasy asset make. You can pick him up if you want, but don't expect consistency from LaFell going forward.
Ben Watson - New Orleans (YAHOO OWNED 0% / ESPN OWNED .1%)
After it was confirmed that Jimmy Graham will miss the next 2-3 weeks due to a shoulder injury, Watson becomes the automatic starter heading into Week 7. Owners should be looking to hook up with Watson this week, but don't be overly aggressive. Watson is nowhere near the talent Graham is. Plus he could share plenty of snaps with Josh Hill and Tom Crabtree. Watson is a very low-end TE2.