The Steelers, Packers, Seahawks and Raiders have byes this week, and the real roster management challenge begins.
Four or more teams will be off in each of the next five weeks. This is the stretch where depth either really pays off or can hurt your outlook if you are not informed and dedicated enough. But do take one week at a time, especially if you have superstars off this week. We're most notably without the services of all the prime Pittsburgh skill position players, the Packers passing game pieces, plus Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.
MARLON MACK, Colts (26.4 percent owned): Projected to be the lead back in Indianapolis this year, Mack finally returned from a hamstring injury last week and rushed for 89 yards on 12 carries. He is not going to be a regular starter for you but can be a good fill-in for bye or injury purposes. This week, faces Buffalo's 18th ranked run defense, which makes him an adequate replacement play.
ITO SMITH, Falcons (13.7): The rookie remains widely available despite TD runs in three consecutive games. A total of 62 rushing yards during that span may be a prime reason he is still on many waiver wires. But the RB position is tough enough to deal with when there are not four-team byes and you may need to use Smith as a sub. On a very good offense, he should continue to get some opportunities to finish off scoring drives.
RAHEEM MOSTERT, 49ers (0.1): After flashing some spark in the preseason, Mostert surprisingly received some playing time against the 49ers Monday night and rushed for 87 yards on 12 carries. Mostert displayed good vision and patience and added some more speed to the Niners offense. Mostert may only be a part-timer going forward, but depth is obviously needed at this position right now.
NICK CHUBB, Browns (22.2): Carlos Hyde has only 12 total points in point per reception formats in his last two games and appears to have hit some sort of invisible wall. Hue Jackson has indicated he needs to get Chubb more work and Hyde could also force him into an expanded role at any time when you consider his injury history.
MARQUISE GOODWIN, 49ers (43.6): Injuries hindered Goodwin until this week, and he was cut in 8.9 percent of leagues last week. Goodwin, who was drafted as a potential WR3 with upside in the preseason, then re-emerged in a big way with four catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. Goodwin is not only back on the fantasy radar, but at a high cost as he may be the most sought-after waiver pickup of the week.
JERMAINE KEARSE, Jets (0.9): Quincy Enunwa is out for at least three weeks with a high ankle sprain and Kearse stepped into the void quickly in Week 6, catching nine passes for 94 yards. Kearse is a veteran receiver who should have the trust of rookie QB Sam Darnold, especially after he performed adequately at times for the Jets last season.
JOSH REYNOLDS. Rams (0.4): He is in the waiver conversation again with Cooper Kupp out with a knee injury. Reynolds may be third on the receiving ladder for the Rams this week, but you can consider him for bye week usage when you note he faces San Francisco's 20th-ranked pass defense, a unit which has often looked even worse than that rating.
TAYLOR GABRIEL, Bears (32.6): The emergence of the Bears offense over the past two games has included the sudden rise of Gabriel as a featured playmaker. He has caught 12 passes for 214 yards and two TDs during that span. Gabriel is getting more volume than expected, which could quell some concerns that he may be a boom-or-bust type.
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (36.5): Considering the thin state of the position, if you need help at TE, Howard should be your top priority this week. He returned rather quickly from a knee injury this past week and caught four passes for 62 yards and a TD. Howard already has three double figure PPR performances this year. He was regarded as a top TE prospect coming out of last year's draft and could be on the verge of a real breakout in a pass-happy offense.
C.J. BEATHARD, 49ers (5.7): Beathard has played better than expected, having scored 18 to 19 fantasy points in standard scoring over the past three games, with two TD passes in each and 298 or more yards in two outings. He can keep his team in games or playing catch-up. Beathard is looking like a viable fantasy QB2, and against the Rams' 29th-ranked pass defense this week, he is a good sub for Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers.
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