Bye Week Blues

So you drafted well, worked the waiver wire like a pro, and showed a deft touch in choosing the correct starters. You're a legitimate contender. Unfortunately, the bye week blues are coming at you like a freight train and threatening to derail your season. Your perfect lineup isn't so perfect with Marshawn Lynch or Chris Johnson out with a bye in Week 6.

If you're hitting the waiver wire this week, chances are you're papering over a bye week roster crunch. You can't replace Lynch or Johnson, but you can find an adequate fix and hope the rest of your lineup picks up the slack. Here's my rundown of the top options likely to be available this week. Full writeups of each player are below.

1. Reggie Brown
2. Steve Breaston
3. Mike Walker
4. Devin Hester
5. Greg Camarillo

1. Michael Pittman
2. Felix Jones
3. Correll Buckhalter
4. Cedric Benson
5. Kevin Smith

1. Kyle Orton
2. Jeff Garcia
3. Drew Stanton
4. Brodie Croyle

1. Ben Watson
2. Greg Olsen

1. Redskins


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Reggie Brown, Eagles
Now healthy, Brown has led the Eagles in receiving for two straight games. There's no telling how the targets will shake out once Kevin Curtis returns, but Brown has earned a significant role in the passing offense. He's a safe start against the 49ers Sunday.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

Steve Breaston, Cardinals
If Breaston was passed over on your league's waiver wire last week, it's time to pick him up and plant him in your starting lineup for the Week 6 passing friendly matchup against Dallas. Breaston may not have much value after the Week 7 bye, but he's good for one more start.

Recommendation:Should be owned in all leagues

Mike Walker, Jaguars
After a long Sunday tracking football games, I showed up at the bar later that night to take in another exciting Jags/Steelers matchup. Every time I looked up, David Garrard was throwing to Mike Walker. He ended up leading the Jags with nine targets, and he should continue to see his playing time increase as the season goes along. He may have already passed Reggie Williams and Jerry Porter in Garrard's eyes.

Coach Jack Del Rio did report an unspecified knee injury for Walker after Sunday's game, so those with late-week waiver wires will want to check on his status before taking the plunge.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Devin Hester, Bears
The wide receiver experiment is showing signs of life for the first time this season. Hester showed off veteran moves and a new found passing game confidence Sunday on his way to a second straight game with a touchdown. Consistency will remain elusive, but he's worth a stash if you have the room.

Recommendation: Woth a look in deeper leagues

Greg Camarillo, Dolphins
The Dolphins depth chart at wide receiver fluctuates wildly from week to week, but Camarillo is the one constant. Though he doesn't offer high ceiling, Camarillo was Chad Pennington's go-to receiver Sunday against the Chargers. He's remained consistently between four and six catches for 50 to 70 yards, which makes him a fine bye week fill-in.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues


Michael Pittman, Broncos
We've all been burned by the whims of Mike Shanahan, but we keep trying to solve his backfield puzzles anyway. Productive fantasy backs are in short supply. If one comes along with an increased role, we have no choice but to kick the tires and hope it turns out for the best.

The 33-year-old Pittman is running with power and toughness while picking up crucial first downs. The Broncos backfield remains a committee, but Pittman's increasing role, goal-line touches, and passing game work make him the ideal bye week fill-in.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

Correll Buckhalter, Eagles
Buckhalter was dropped in many leagues last weekend when it began to look more certain that Brian Westbrook would play. Westbrook owners are used to the game-time decision headaches, but this week is one of those rare times where signs are pointing toward Westbrook sitting rather than playing.

With fractured ribs on top of a gimpy ankle, it makes sense for the Eagles to let Westbrook heal through the Week 7 bye. There's better than a 50/50 chance that Buckhalter will be carrying the load against the Falcons Sunday.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Felix Jones, Cowboys
Even if his carries are still too unpredictable to use as a starter, Jones is an ideal running back stash. He's a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball, and even a modest increase in touches will make you think long and hard about carving out a spot in your starting lineup.

The Cowboys realize they have to get him involved on an every week basis, so expect a consistent 10 touches per game going forward.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Cedric Benson, Bengals
The box score won't show it at 10 carries for 30 yards, but Benson provided a much-needed spark for the Bengals on six first-half carries in one drive. Chris Perry is impressing nobody with his lackluster running style, and his fumbling problems just keep getting worse. He's not long for the starting job.

Coach Marvin Lewis admitted envisioning a larger role for Benson going forward, and we could see that on early downs as soon as Week 6 against the Jets. Newly re-signed Kenny Watson will likely take over passing down work if Perry is banished to the bench.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Kevin Smith, Lions
The Lions don't do anything right. Even when they announce a change in the backfield pecking order, they get it wrong. In Rudi Johnson's first game as the new starter, he came off the bench and saw fewer touches than Smith. Only in Detroit.

The Lions are an obvious train wreck, but desperate owners need to turn up every rock for a chance at a fill-in. The Detroit backfield is a true timeshare, but at least Smith is getting the passing down and red zone work.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues


Kyle Orton, Bears
Even if you take Sunday's performance against the Lions with a grain of salt, Orton still has seven touchdowns in his last three games. I never thought I'd write these words, but Kyle Orton is a legitimate fantasy quarterback right now. With the way he's spreading the ball around and finding the end zone, desperate owners could do worse than Orton against the Falcons in Week 6.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers
Garcia is the early favorite to start against the Panthers this week, but that doesn't make him a choice option. Though Tampa Bay's "five yards at a time" dink and dunk passing offense keeps them in games, it's not a recipe for fantasy success. Jon Gruden lives week-to-week with his quarterbacks, so Garcia has fleeting value at best.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues

Drew Stanton, Lions
It doesn't say much for Jon Kitna that he left Sunday's game with back spasms, and everybody just assumed he was yanked for poor play instead. Kitna has a chance to start at Minnesota this week, but it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see Dan Orlovsky or Stanton under center for the Lions. Last year's second-round draft pick Stanton makes the most sense in another lost season.

Recommendation: Monitor in deeper leagues

Brodie Croyle, Chiefs
Herm Edwards confirmed that Croyle will regain his starting job after the Chiefs bye in Week 7. Edwards obviously need to be reminded of just how poor of an option Croyle is, but you of course remember the interceptions, sacks, fumbles, and all around failure to put points on the board. To make matters worse, he's facing a dominant Titans defense in his return.

Recommendation: Pass

Ben Watson, Patriots
Finally back to full health, Watson played in 77 of the Patriots 81 snaps Sunday. The box score shows two receptions for a scant eleven yards, but Watson was targeted six times. As long as Matt Cassel is running the show, value is the Pats' passing offense will be hit or miss but Watson is at least seeing an increased role.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Greg Olsen, Bears
Olsen hasn't been heavily targeted, but he's making the most of the passes that come his way. With Kyle Orton doing a good job of spreading the wealth in Chicago's offense, Olsen has produced 122 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. This could be the start of an increased role for last year's first-round pick.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Redskins - Washington is the quintessential good NFL defense, poor fantasy defense. They control the clock and specialize in low scores without producing turnovers. This week, however, the bumbling Rams come to town. If you need a bye week fill-in, you could do worse than a Redskins matchup play this week.

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