The bye weeks are here! The bye weeks are here! The bye weeks are here! That statement isn’t usually riddled with that much excitement, but bye weeks are The Backup Plan’s niche market. We’re here to make dealing with team’s off-weeks as easy getting Mark Sanchez to turn the ball over. Well, maybe not THAT easy, but you catch the drift.
The Backup Plan won’t be your book of answers, so to speak, but it will give you some solid fill-in options. Seven of the 13 players listed in last week’s plan lived up to their predictions, which is a way better passing day than Sanchez, Joe Flacco or the insufferable Jay Cutler had last week. So if you’re in a bind this weekend, you better get out of, because it’s likely one of your players is on a bye and you’ll need to make a roster move.
So same deal as usual: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.
Alex Smith vs. Tampa Bay
Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent owned
The 49ers are 3-1 this season. And Alex Smith has actually been a part of their good play. And no, you’re not the only person confused by those two statements. Smith’s first three starts weren’t so hot, but he had 291 yards and two scores last weekend against the Cowboys, and he could post similar numbers against a 21st ranked Buccaneers pass defense that just allowed Curtis Painter to throw for nearly 300 yards. Smith has to be better than Painter… right?
Guys he’s better than this week: Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Kolb
Matt Hasselbeck vs. Pittsburgh
Yahoo: 56 percent owned, ESPN: 43 percent owned
To be honest, this isn’t the greatest matchup for Hasselbeck. The Steelers still rank No. 1 in the league in pass defense, but at what point can you look less matchups and more at overall performance? Matty Hass is averaging nearly 290 yards and scoring two touchdowns a game so far, making him a top-10 fantasy option. It’s a tough matchup, but if your starter is on bye, it could be hard to look past Hasselbeck’s success so far this season.
Guys he’s better than this week: Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton
Donovan McNabb vs. Arizona
Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 36 percent owned
It’s pretty difficult to find good things to say about McNabb as a fantasy quarterback this season, but if you need a spot start this week, Bounce-Pass might not be the worst play of all time. The Cardinals rank 26th against the pass, and McNabb has thrown for 200+ yards in each of his past three starts with three scores in that span. Let’s just say he’s a slight1y better play that the five QBs on a bye this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Andy Dalton, Tarvaris Jackson
Isaac Redman vs. Tennessee
Yahoo: 36 percent owned, ESPN: 13 percent owned
Rashard Mendenhall has been painfully ineffective for the Steelers so far this season. Mendenhall is also a little banged up nursing a hamstring injury he suffered last week. Even if he does play, he’ll definitely be slowed down from his already sloth-like pace this season. Redman already has 107 yards rushing and a touchdown in limited action, and had 40 yards rushing last week on just six carries. With Mendenhall hurting, Redman is definitely a guy to watch this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams
Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned
Bill Belichick hates your fantasy football team. Both BenJarvus-Green-Ellis and Ridley are getting carries, and there’s no indication on which will be more valuable each week. After rushing for just 51 yards in his first three games, Ridley exploded for 97 yards on 10 carries last week, raising his YPC average to 8.2. Meanwhile, the Law Firm is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, so if you’re picking between the two, Ridley is the better play against a 27th ranked Jets rush defense.
Guys he’s better than this week: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mark Ingram
Dexter McCluster vs. Indianapolis
Yahoo: 58 percent owned, ESPN: 55 percent owned
Will this be the week that Todd Haley takes the training wheels off McCluster? Even though Thomas Jones has averaged a meager 2.8 yards per carry this season, Haley has only let McCluster get 12 touches per game in the Chiefs’ past two, something that will hopefully increase this week against a 28th ranked Colts rush defense. McCluster is an explosive talent, so if he gets more touches he could have a big week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Thomas Jones, Ryan Grant
Victor Cruz vs. Seattle
Yahoo: 50 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned
Cover your eyes, Mario Manningham owners; Cruz is the Giants’ new No. 2 receiver, posting 208 yards and two scores in the past two weeks compared to Manningham’s one catch for 10 yards. Yes, Manningham did miss Week 3 with a concussion, but is your brain crashing against your skull really an excuse? Yes it is. But either way, Cruz is the new hot guy that Mrs. Eli Manning can’t stop thinking about, so he’s a strong play against a bad Seattle defense.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mario Manningham, A.J. Green
Titus Young vs. Chicago
Yahoo: 8 percent owned, ESPN: 4 percent owned
Nate Burleson entered this season as the clear Robin to Megatron’s Batman. But after four weeks, it seems as if Young is relegating Burleson to the role of Alfred the Butler. The rookie has out-received Burleson 92 to 28 yards in the past two games, and with a primetime matchup against the 29th ranked Bears pass defense, this could be the game that Young finally explodes.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Thomas, Nate Burleson
Jacoby Jones vs. Oakland
Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 11 percent owned
Andre Johnson is out this week. Which means Jacoby Jones is in. Please, try to contain your excitement. Kevin Walter will continue to man the over-the-middle type routes for the Texans’ offense, but Jones will likely take over Johnson’s role as the No. 1 receiver. Will he perform anywhere to a Johnson-esqe level? Not unless he triples his talent level by Sunday. But can he get you 50+ yards and a touchdown? Yes.
Guys he’s better than this week: David Nelson, Michael Crabtree
Notable TEs on bye: Jason Witten, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley
Jermaine Gresham vs. Jacksonville
Yahoo: 48 percent owned, ESPN: 21 percent owned
Gresham has at least 50 yards receiving in three of four games this season, and he’s also caught two touchdowns. The Jacksonville defense has allowed opposing tight ends to rack up 340 yards and three touchdowns in their first four games. This is what people in the business refer to as “good odds.” This is a great matchup for Gresham, so start him if you got him.
Guys he’s better than this week: Kellen Winslow, Marcedes Lewis
Randy McMichael vs. Denver
Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 2 percent owned
McMichael hasn’t been a productive fantasy tight end since Joey Harrington and Daunte Culpepper were throwing to him in Miami, but he could be in for a renaissance against Denver this week. There’s a legitimate possibility that Philip Rivers throws for 600 yards and totals eight touchdowns against the travesty that is the Broncos’ secondary, and with Antonio Gates’ plantar fascia still hurting, McMichael will get a lot of looks.
Guys he’s better than this week: Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler
Notable DSTs on bye: Baltimore, Dallas
Cincinnati vs. Jacksonville
Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 20 percent owned
There was a time this offseason where everyone—yes, you too—thought the Bengals would be the worst team in football. Through four weeks, they boast the league’s No. 1 overall defense. You can’t see it, but Marvin Lewis is actually laughing at you—yes, you—right now. The Cincinnati defense gets rookie Blaine Gabbert this week, which should be a bag of laughs. Look for the Bengals to keep their opponents to a low score with a turnover or two thrown in.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Philadelphia, New York Jets
Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh
Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 26 percent owned
It’s weird to think that the Steelers are no longer a powerhouse, but at 2-2 with an offensive line so bad that even Dakota Fanning could rack up a few sacks against them, this is not a team to be feared. They can’t block, and, to make matters worse, Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with a foot injury that will surely slow him down. And if our girl Dakota can post those types of numbers, Tennessee probably gets close to 22 sacks this week.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Atlanta, New England
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