With the likes of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald cooling off from their blazing starts to the 2015 fantasy football season, and in part to the devastating number of top receivers on byes in Week 7, owners must hit the waiver wire for reinforcements this week.
Brown’s been held out of the end zone and hasn’t registered better than 45 yards as Pittsburgh shuffles injured quarterbacks, while the Falcons’ Jones has neither reached pay dirt nor tallied more than 93 yards and the Cardinals’ Fitzgerald has been held to one score and is in danger of losing more targets and end zone looks with John Brown’s rise, all in the last three weeks.
It was unrealistic for any one of that trio to keep up their stellar work, and defenses have responded by focusing their attacks on these pass-catchers.
There’s also the glaring Week 7 absences of Green Bay’s James Jones and Randall Cobb, as well as Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Chicago’s Alshon Jeffrey, and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to fret over.
But that just makes now the perfect time for fantasy owners to parse the waiver wire for some complementary pieces or even one-week plug-ins at wide receiver.
Here are seven receivers who are largely available in better than 50% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, and have favorable matchups in Week 7.
Leonard Hankerson, Falcons (Owned in 43% of Yahoo, 47.6% ESPN)
Hankerson’s been bumped down to quarterback Matt Ryan’s No. 3 option now that Devonta Freeman’s become one of the best all-around running backs in the league, but he could benefit against Tennessee’s top ranked secondary in Week 7. Jones and Freeman will be the focal point of the Titans D, which may open doors for Hankerson.
Ted Ginn Jr., Panthers (33% Yahoo, 33.5% ESPN)
Sure the Panthers are 30th in passing yards, and tight end Greg Olsen will probably be quarterback Cam Newton’s top target for the rest of his tenure in Carolina, but Ginn’s far and away the best receiver on the team. His 29 targets are second on the team, 10 more than rookie Devin Funchess, and Ginn’s 17.2 yards per reception is better than Olsen’s 15.6. In PPR leagues avoid Ginn, but in standard scoring leagues he’s worth consideration against an Eagles D allowing 26.2 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers (13% Yahoo, 25.8% ESPN)
With Keenan Allen down against the Packers in Week 6, Floyd garnered 12 targets for five receptions and 95 yards, by far his best output of the season. Should Allen’s hip flexor continue to be an issue or keep him out for an extended period of time, Floyd could explode as Philip Rivers’ top target. With the running game just dreadful, Rivers now leads the NFL with 2,116 passing yards, almost 400 more than the next closest quarterback, Andy Dalton with 1,761. So wouldn’t it be nice to potentially have Rivers’ top receiver?
Jamison Crowder, Redskins (11% Yahoo, 11.2% in ESPN)
DeSean Jackson’s shoulder injury and Kirk Cousins’ interceptions have likely scared off owners from the Redskins receiving corps, but Crowder’s second on the team with 37 targets and he hasn’t garnered less than eight in the last three games. Up next is a Bucs D that’s allowing 26.6 points per week to opposing receivers, fifth-worst in fantasy.
Riley Cooper, Eagles (2% Yahoo, 1.6% ESPN)
Another guy with an unreliable, turnover-prone quarterback (Sam Bradford), but who should be on fantasy radars with an Eagles-best two receiving touchdowns and 18.6 yards per reception. Cooper’s still fourth on the team with just 23 targets, but 14 of those have come in the last two weeks. He sat out of Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, but it’s not considered a major blow.
Kamar Aiken, Ravens (29% Yahoo, 32% ESPN)
The matchup against the Cardinals secondary might give owners pause, but Aiken’s become a lethal No. 2 for Joe Flacco over the last three weeks, with 24 of his 34 targets coming in that span. All Aiken’s done with the surge in looks is pull down 12 receptions for 177 yards and two scores. Aiken's also on pace to better his 2014 production over the next couple of weeks.
Tavon Austin, Rams (46% Yahoo, 41.9% ESPN)
Rookie running back Todd Gurley has opened up opportunities for Austin. Since Gurley’s gone off for 305 rushing yards in St. Louis’ last two games, it’s really no coincidence that defenses have given Austin just a little extra room to skirt into the end zone three times. He doesn’t get a ton of targets, but with the Browns are almost certain to tunnel their efforts towards stopping Gurley, Austin may find the end zone for the third straight game.