Weeks 8 and 9 in the NFL this year may have more than a few fantasy owners scrambling to put out a legitimate lineup. Why? The dreaded bye week. While the bye week gives teams a chance to rest, there are no byes in fantasy. For the second week in a row, we will see six teams absent from the playing field.
Last week, owners of players such as Ray Rice, Brandon Marshall, Andrew Luck, Antonio Gates or even maybe he-who-shall-not-be-named (Chris Johnson) had to find someone else to replace them. This week will be no different. No Peyton Manning or Colin Kaepernick. No Larry Fitzgerald or Wes Welker. And of course no Andre Ellington, Frank Gore or Reggie Bush.
If you have one of those players and need a start in a pinch, or if you, like many other fantasy owners, are wondering if any potential flex option will somehow find consistency, here are a couple guys who should have a strong week.
Bilal Powell (NYJ)
No one in the Jets running game has lit the world on fire up to this point. Powell, while serviceable, has only one rushing TD on the year while his teammate, Chris Ivory, has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.
However, the rushing attack for Gang Green does have a few factors in its favor this week against New Orleans. First, just because they haven’t been as successful as they would like to be on the ground, doesn’t mean they will abandon trying to be successful.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been all over the map, mixing flashes of brilliance with head-scratching mistakes – a common occurrence for first-year starters. Because of that, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will still be hesitant to give Geno the keys to the car without supervision. He’ll want to establish some sort of running game, so that the West Virginia product doesn’t have to play catch-up with Drew Brees.
That could be easier than it first looks for Powell because of what New Orleans’ defense is bringing to the table. The Saints rank 20th in rushing defense and are giving up 4.8 yards per carry. It’s not all Drew Brees and the offense like it was last year when the defense gave up the most yards in the history of the NFL, but bringing in Rob Ryan and his crazy schemes can’t mask everything. They are still a below-average defense and Powell will have some room to run.
Mike Tolbert (CAR)
Tolbert only has 182 yards on the season through seven games and he’s banging away at a not-so-stellar 3.6 yards per carry. Furthermore, Carolina’s second option as a rusher to DeAngelo Williams will always be Cam Newton. That being said, Tolbert has been able to find the end zone five times already this season (3 rushing and 2 receiving scores)
The Panthers’ offense is finding its groove after a slow start, and this week they are up against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta’s season has only gotten worse as the weeks continue to drag on. They are 2-5, have lost key weapons and aren’t playing very good defense. The Falcons’ defensive unit ranks 22nd overall, 22nd in rushing and is surrendering 4.6 yards per carry. There will certainly be some Superman sightings in Carolina this Sunday, but there should be plenty of scores to go around.