We’ve hit the halfway point of the regular season in most fantasy football leagues, and some unpleasant trends have emerged in 2013.
These factors have combined to leave fantasy owners combing through the waiver wire, or sorting through the end of their bench, in a frantic effort to keep their lagging playoff hopes from fading entirely.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some lower-end fantasy options that could be set to save the day in Week 7.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DAL)
With Michael Vick on the shelf due to a hamstring injury, Nick Foles got his chance to show what he can do at the helm of Chip Kelly’s offense last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The second-year pro responded by racking up nearly 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, while running for another score in a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That outburst made Foles a hot commodity on fantasy waiver wires this week. With Foles set to start again in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys, fantasy owners who picked Foles up should waste no time getting him into the lineup.
The reason is simple: According to ESPN, no team has allowed more fantasy points to the quarterback position than the Cowboys in 2013.
Josh Freeman, QB, Minnesota Vikings (at NYG)
Sometimes fantasy owners at the helm of floundering teams have to throw caution to the wind. Roll the dice. Go for broke.
That’s the mentality it will take to start quarterback Josh Freeman, who the Minnesota Vikings signed last week after he was let go by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Freeman struggled mightily prior to his release in Tampa, but a 1-4 Vikings team searching for a spark under center is ready to start the 25-year-old, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
That makes Freeman an interesting desperation play in fantasy football. Only the Dallas Cowboys have allowed more fantasy points to signal-callers this year than the New York Giants, who Freeman and the Vikings face Monday night.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants (vs. MIN)
New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs turned back time in last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears.
For the first time since December of 2011, Jacobs topped 100 yards rushing, rumbling for 106 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 22 carries.
That performance made Jacobs the flavor of the week at running back on the waiver wire, and fantasy owners who acquired the big man shouldn’t hesitate about releasing the beast in Week 7.
The Minnesota Vikings, who the Giants will host on Monday night, rank 17th in the NFL in run defense.
More importantly, the Vikings have allowed 22 fantasy points per game to running backs in ESPN scoring.
No team has surrendered more.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers (vs. STL)
Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams isn’t really a fantasy “sleeper” per se.
Williams’ 23rd-place ranking in standard-scoring leagues makes him a weekly starter in 12-team leagues, especially in this year of disappointing running backs.
If ever there was a week for Williams to be more, this would appear to be it.
The St. Louis Rams have one of the more porous run defenses in the NFL, giving up more than 130 yards per game.
The Rams have also been very kind to opposing running backs this year from a fantasy perspective, allowing the second-most points to the position.
It’s reached the point in 2013 where starting Williams over the likes of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 really isn’t a half-bad idea.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers (vs. STL)
It’s a pair of Panthers!
Carolina wide receiver Brandon LaFell had his best game of 2013 in last week’s trouncing of the Minnesota Vikings, reeling in four passes for 107 yards and a touchdown.
In fact, it’s been LaFell who has been the top wide receiver in Carolina over the past three games, with 11 catches for 203 yards and three scores over that stretch.
There’s a good chance LaFell will keep the good times rolling at home Sunday against the Rams. St. Louis ranks 18th in the NFL in pass defense, and the Rams have been a favorable fantasy matchup for wide receivers this year.
Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Rookie wideout Terrance Williams of the Dallas Cowboys hasn’t taken long to make an NFL impact.
With Miles Austin nursing yet another hamstring injury, Williams emerged as the second wide receiver for the Cowboys, with over 300 receiving yards on the season and touchdowns in each of the past two games.
Austin returned to action last week against the Washington Redskins, but he didn’t record a catch in a performance that head coach Jason Garrett called “OK,” according to Todd Archer of ESPN.
Austin’s return costs Williams some snaps in two-wide receiver sets, which adds a measure of risk to starting him in Week 7.
However, there’s also undeniable upside in a matchup with a Philadelphia Eagles team allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2013, per ESPN.
Jeff Cumberland, TE, New York Jets (vs. NE)
The New York Jets just can’t buy a break on offense.
Injuries have ravaged the wide receiver position, and now tight end Kellen Winslow will miss four games after being suspended by the NFL.
We have to look at it this way. We have a really good tight end in Jeff Cumberland and this is a guy [who is] a young stud tight end. You look at him, [he’s] a big guy who can block and he does a nice job receiving. He’s a good player.
This week’s matchup with the New England Patriots isn’t great, but Cumberland should see quite a few targets. Jimmy Graham owners in a one-week bind at the position could do worse.
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