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Flex Plays: Players to Watch in Week 7

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

My Monday Night picks (Shonn Greene and Daniel Thomas) came up short and cost me a 0.500 week, so instead of 13-13 I fell to 11-15 in the second of five straight bye weeks.

Of my top picks from last week, only Ryan Torain completely busted, as Jay Cutler and Danario Alexander posted good numbers and Ben Roethlisberger came up one measly rushing yard shy of 15 points in standard scoring. Ahmad Bradshaw completely going off turned out to be my monster pick of the week, while Antonio Brown and Owen Daniels combining for 29 receiving yards were both major duds.

Week 7 again has six teams (Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco) out of action and so with a pile of talent unavailable, some bold moves will need to be made to fill holes. Now almost half way to the fantasy playoffs, these flex starts and bye-week replacements are more crucial than ever. Once again I've selected four favorites to step up and lead your team to a victorious week. So if you have them, don't be afraid to count on Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Donald Brown and Damian Williams.

And remember, it takes fearlessness to make a championship run, so be ballsy, take a risk and win a tough bye week.

Sunday 10/23/11

San Diego @ New York Jets


Mark Sanchez (QB) for Jets - Sanchez has accounted for at least two touchdowns in every game this year with the exception of the team's horrible outing versus Baltimore. I'd say two scores makes for a great bye-week replacement at the very least.

Santonio Holmes (WR) for Jets - Holmes finally showed his playmaking skills off again versus Miami and with at least 60 yards and a score each of the last two games, he appears poised to finally live up to his potential as a No. 2 fantasy receiver.

Chicago @ Tampa Bay

Earnest Graham (RB) for Buccaneers - The Bears have been one of the worst in the league at slowing down opposing ball carriers, giving up the most (5.4) yards-per-carry of any team. The fountain of youth Graham has discovered with LeGarrette Blount out should continue to flow in Week 7.

Josh Freeman (QB) for Buccaneers - As it turns out, the Bears aren't much better defending the pass either, allowing 276 yards per game through the air. That should translate to a big day for Freeman and the entire Bucs offense.

Washington @ Carolina

Ryan Torain (RB) for Redskins - Torain may have struggled mightily against the Eagles defense, but facing an early deficit, the Redskins went away from the run and Torain finished with only 10 carries. Expect him to see more action against a Panthers defense ranked dead last against the run.

Jonathan Stewart (RB) for Panthers - While the Redskins rush defense has been much stronger than Carolina's, they have given up two 100-yard rushers in their last three games. With Stewart averaging 4.8 per carry and finally getting goal line looks, he's primed for a breakout game.

Atlanta @ Detroit

Harry Douglas (WR) for Falcons - With Julio Jones (hamstring) out last week the Falcons leaned on the run game, pounding the ball 35 times to victory. But in a matchup with a more physical Lions defense, in a game they could be losing early, Atlanta may be forced to air it out and could call on Douglas often in Jones' likely absence.

Nate Burleson (WR) for Lions - With Jahvid Best (concussion) a good bet to be out Sunday, Detroit will have to rely even more heavily on the pass than usual. Burleson saw 10 targets last week and with Calvin Johnson drawing constant doubles, that could easily be the case again versus Atlanta.

Seattle @ Cleveland

Marshawn Lynch (RB) for Seahawks - The Beast Mode is just warming up, having gone for at least 70 yards or a touchdown in each of his last three outings. With the Cleveland defense allowing 130 rush yards a game that could translate to the best Beast performance yet.

Greg Little (WR) for Browns - With 20 targets and 12 catches over his past two games, Little has become the clear No. 1 option for Colt McCoy. With his size and athleticism, it's only a matter of time until he puts one in the end zone. And that time could be now.

Denver @ Miami

Tim Tebow (QB) for Broncos - It's Tebow Time! So even though the Broncos brilliant administration just traded away his best receiver, go ahead and crack open a can of Cam Newton Lite, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the ride.

Daniel Thomas (RB) for Dolphins - Thomas looked plenty healthy in his return to action against the Jets last week, and with Reggie Bush (neck) possibly out Thomas should have the backfield to himself. That could translate into a big day versus a Denver run defense giving up nearly 125 rushing yards a game.

Houston @ Tennessee

Damian Williams (WR) for Titans - Nate Washington was assumed to be the No. 1 receiver for Tennessee after Kenny Britt tore his ACL, but after this week Williams might steal that role outright. The former 3rd-round pick led the team with 11 targets in their last outing and is developing into a more complete receiver.

Jared Cook (TE) for Titans - Cook is an athlete in the mold of another Jermichael Finley. His 18.9 yards-per-catch average is best among all tight ends and he has become the big-play threat for the Titans passing game since Kenny Britt went down. Against a stiff Texans defense, that should come in handy for Matt Hasselbeck.

Kansas City @ Oakland

Steve Breaston (WR) for Chiefs - With nearly 200 yards and two scores in his past three games, Breaston has stepped up as a very capable No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs opposite Dwayne Bowe, and he should keep up that solid production against the Raiders' weak pass defense.

Jackie Battle (RB) for Chiefs - As bad as the Oakland pass defense has been (29th in the league), their rush D hasn't been much better (21st in total yards, 28th in yards-per-carry). Battle stepped up in a big way for KC prior to their bye and could take complete control of the backfield with a repeat performance.

Pittsburgh @ Arizona

Rashard Mendenhall (RB) for Steelers - Okay so Mendenhall proved that he wants to keep his job. Against a pushover Cardinals defense he'll prove to the league that he's still one of the best running backs in the game.

Early Doucet (WR) for Cardinals - No. 2 receivers have scored in each of the past two weeks against the Steelers defense. And with Doucet seeing a whopping 28 targets over the Cardinals' past three games, he could make it three straight scores against the Steel Curtain.

Green Bay @ Minnesota

James Jones (WR) for Packers - It occurred to me recently that any Packers wide receiver is worth a flex play any week. And with Jones overtaking Donald Driver as the No. 3 wideout in Green Bay, he's got big-game potential every time he steps on the field.

Jordy Nelson (WR) for Packers - See Jones, James.

St. Louis @ Dallas

Lance Kendricks (TE) for Rams - With newly acquired Brandon Lloyd and Danario Alexander getting most of the defensive attention, don't be surprised if Kendricks is the top target this week, especially with the Dallas pass rush forcing A.J. Feely into checkdown after checkdown.

DeMarco Murray (RB) for Cowboys - The 'Boys will be without Felix Jones (ankle) for a few weeks which is perfect timing for Murray, as he figures to be the lead back in a matchup with a defense giving up 163 a game on the ground.

Indianapolis @ New Orleans

Donald Brown (RB) for Colts - Brown's 18-yard touchdown run against the Bengals last week sure looked like the work of a No. 1 running back. Sooner or later the Colts will realize that Brown is finally ready to play like a first-rounder. I'm guessing it's sooner. Like this week soon.

Mark Ingram (RB) for Saints - Ingram now has three touchdowns in four weeks. He hasn't gotten the yards to really turn in a big performance, but if he's ever going to do it, this is the week against an Indy defense giving up nearly 140 rushing yards a game.

Monday 10/24/11

Baltimore @ Jacksonville


Torrey Smith (WR) for Ravens - Smith is fast developing into one of the better deep threats in the league, with a catch of 50+ yards in two of his three starts. I'll need to see a defense other than the Jets hold him without a big-gainer before I see him as anything less than a solid flex starter.

Joe Flacco (QB) for Ravens - The Jaguars defense has given up at least one passing touchdown in every game this year. Flacco has not thrown a TD in his last two outings. Something's got to give and I'd wager it's the Jacksonville defense.