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First, a disclaimer: The following pickup suggestions are by no means legitimate jumpstarts to a flat-lining fantasy campaign. This is a week of slim pickings and overall inconsistent producers.
But we're in the thick of the bye-week part of the season, and that means you have to adequately plug holes wherever you can. If you're one of the lucky few whose team is unaffected by the schedule and injuries, this is a perfect time to add some depth and shed some dead weight. Who doesn't like dropping a size?
Pick up: Curtis Painter, Indianapolis, QB
Don't blink or you might not notice Painter is actually putting up some decent numbers. In two starts, Painter has four touchdowns, no interceptions and 558 yards. He's excelling early at spreading the ball around and even bringing Reggie Wayne out of hibernation. Even against a tough Bengals secondary, Painter is a decent start. Watch out Peyton!
Pick up: Alex Smith, San Francisco, QB
I don't know what happened to the old Smith, but keep him in that safe and forget the combo. The new version of Smith is thriving in Jim Harbaugh's offense, benefitting from a progressively less conservative playbook. He threw for three touchdowns against Tampa last week, and should continue the productivity with upcoming games against the Lions and Browns.
Pick up: Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh, RB
Redman ran well as a fill-in for the injured Rashard Mendenhall, but didn't put up big numbers (15 carries, 49 yards). Fellow running back Jonathan Dwyer was more the fantasy darling with 107 yards, thanks largely to a 76-yard run in the second quarter, and most of his carries came during fourth-quarter garbage time, after the Steelers had pretty much clinched the victory. Expect Redman to start if Mendenhall's hamstring is still hurting when the Steelers host Jacksonville this Sunday. But if Mendenhall plays, you shouldn't be playing Redman.
Pick up: Jackie Battle, Kansas City, RB
It looks like the Chiefs may have a new starting running back as Battle had a career game Sunday with 19 carries and 119 yards. Thomas Jones will cut into his carries, and the Chiefs face a stingy Raiders run defense after this week's bye, but Battle is worth adding, especially as a fill-in.
Pick up: Steve Breaston, Kansas City, WR
Yes, it's "clog your fantasy roster with Chiefs" day here at espnW. Even with the Chiefs on a bye this week, Breaston's a good stash option if you'll be short on receivers in upcoming weeks. He has four catches in each of the last two games and found the end zone twice Sunday.
Pick up: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland, WR
The Raiders may have finally found a leading receiver in Heyward-Bey. The second-year receiver has had two solid performances in a row, racking up 115 yards two weeks ago and 99 yards, plus a touchdown, last week. Of utmost importance, Heyward-Bey was targeted 12 times last week.
Pick up: Jason Avant, Philadelphia, WR
Good Jason Avant had 139 yards Sunday against the Bills. Bad Jason Avant had a fumble and an interception stripped out of his hands. While Avant remains the No. 3 receiver in Philly, it is hard to ignore his 15 receptions over the past two games. The Eagles have a tough matchup at Washington this week. Perhaps Avant will benefit from the 'Skins focusing on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
Drop: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay, QB
Freeman seemed like a decent second-tier quarterback on draft day. But after five weeks with only three touchdowns, six picks and no 300-yard games, Freeman has little value. LeGarrette Blount's knee injury might mean Freeman throws more regularly, but nevertheless, the Bucs' passing game falls somewhere between clunky and nonexistent. You're better off hitting the refresh button with some new QB blood.
Drop: Jacoby Jones, Houston, WR
I know I listed Jones as someone to pick up last week, but hey, that's why they play the games. It turns out Jones couldn't even fit one toe into Andre Johnson's cleats. The miscommunication between Jones and quarterback Matt Schaub was obvious and led to a plethora of incomplete passes (Schaub was 24 for 51). Instead, it was tight end Owen Daniels and wideout Kevin Walter who picked up Johnson's slack.
Wildcard: Tim Tebow, Denver, QB
Few NFL players inspire more heated debate than Tebow. From a fantasy perspective, I don't have a strong hunch on him either way. The prospect of quarterback draws at the end zone is a nice bonus; the inaccurate passing is not. Honestly, if you're a Tebow fan, pick him and plug in when necessary. If not, let someone else take him and know he'll probably never kill you Aaron Rodgers-style, at least not every week.
Looking for more waiver tips or have any other fantasy-related questions? Drop a note in the comments section. Good luck tinkering with your roster.