Week Eight featured fewer injuries and breakout performances than we’ve seen in recent weeks, but it did provide fantasy owners with a sobering reminder that we live in a world where Drew Brees, in a gift-wrapped matchup against a floundering defense, can be outscored by guys like Matt Moore and Matt Painter.
The good news is that we are through most of the bye weeks, and just four teams (Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, and Minnesota) are off in Week Nine. While most of those teams haven’t racked up many wins, there are some big fantasy names on those rosters for which owners may need a replacement.
As always, players listed here are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups: Quarterback
Kevin Kolb (46%), Arizona
I’m not putting Kolb on here because he played well on Sunday, because, well, he didn’t. However, the Cardinals face a St. Louis pass defense that has given up multiple touchdown passes in five of seven games. In fact, the Rams have allowed seven passing scores in their three road games, making Kolb a decent bye week fill-in based solely on the matchup.
Matt Cassel (37%), Kansas City
Since I’m writing this on Sunday night, I can’t speak to Cassel’s Week Eight performance, but I can speak for the quality of his next few matchups. The Chiefs face Miami, Denver, and New England during weeks 9, 10, and 11, and those just so happen to be the three defenses who allow the most points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks.
The Red Rifle now has two total touchdowns in three of his past four games, and my belief in him is undeterred by his two picks on Sunday, as they were made while he was being aggressive down the field. His matchup against Tennessee next week is decent, given that the Titans have allowed at least 250 passing yards and/or multiple TD passes in five straight games. What looks even better than that are Dalton’s fantasy playoff dates with St. Louis and Arizona.
Sam Bradford (29%), St. Louis
As I have mentioned the last couple weeks, Bradford still has some great matchups remaining on the schedule, starting with this week’s game against Arizona who has routinely been torched by opposing signal callers. Keep an eye on his injury status this week to see if his ankle will allow him to take advantage of the deficiencies in the Cardinal secondary.
Carson Palmer (27%), Oakland
Like Kevin Kolb, let’s file this one under the “I know he played like Ryan Leaf the last time you saw him, but look at the matchup!” category. Palmer used the bye week to develop timing with his new teammates, and he’ll face a Broncos defense allowing the most points to fantasy quarterbacks this year. He’s worth a gamble if you’re looking for a one week fill-in for the likes of Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Back
Bernard Scott (42%), Cincinnati
Obviously Cedric Benson will be back next week, but Scott had some decent runs against a stout Seattle run defense and finished with 76 yards on the ground. That isn’t enough to take the starting job from Benson, but it should be enough to get him a few more touches. As is the case with Dalton, there are some great matchups to round out the year, making Scott a decent option to stash on your bench in the interim.
Maurice Morris (35%), Detroit (bye)
With Jahvid Best still out with a concussion, Morris had another solid game with 65 total yards and a short rushing TD. He outplayed Keiland Williams by a fairly wide margin this week and would again be the starter if Best still isn’t recovered following Detroit’s bye. As I have mentioned before, Best is far from the picture of health, which makes Morris a valuable handcuff.
After the last couple weeks Ryan Torain is dead to me, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Mike Shanahan shared that sentiment. That said, you never really know what’s going through Shanahan’s head, so the fact that Helu didn’t receive a single carry in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo means virtually nothing. Consequently, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that Helu gets a shot as the starter sometime between now and the end of the season.
Javon Ringer (6%), Tennessee
It was Ringer, and not well-paid mega bust Chris Johnson, who was taking fourth quarter handoffs against the Colts. Johnson remained woefully ineffective, and while the offensive line didn’t do either back any favors, Ringer clearly looked like the better runner. After the game Mike Munchak alluded to a committee approach going forward, which makes Ringer among the top waiver wire targets. It’s worth noting he has 12 receptions in the last three games, so he’s an even better option in PPR leagues. Next week’s matchup against the Bengals isn’t particularly enticing, but there are a number of games looming against teams who struggle to stop the run, starting with Carolina in Week Ten.
Kregg Lumpkin (5%), Tampa Bay
It sounds as though LeGarrette Blount will be back this week, but the Bucs will turn to Lumpkin if he experiences any setbacks. Even if he doesn’t, Lumpkin is expected to serve as the third-down back, giving him some value in deep PPR leagues.
Lance Ball (1%), Denver
Both Ball and Knowshon Moreno rushed for over 60 yards against the Lions on Sunday, with Ball reaching that mark on just six carries. If Willis McGahee misses another game next week, Ball is potentially worth a flier given the matchup against an Oakland defense that has given up some big games to running backs earlier this year.
Chris Ogbonnaya (1%), Cleveland
Healthy running backs are pretty tough to come by in Cleveland right now. Peyton Hillis has missed the last two weeks with a hamstring injury, and backup Montario Hardesty is headed for a MRI on his calf after leaving Sunday’s game. Ogbonnaya was just signed a couple weeks ago, but he has five receptions in each of his two games with the Browns and ran for 37 yards on 11 carries against the 49ers. The Cleveland running game hasn’t been too impressive so far this year, but assuming Hillis and/or Hardesty are limited or out, Ogbonnaya stands to be a potential flex option this week, particularly in PPR leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups: Wide Receiver
Torrey Smith (48%), Baltimore
Smith still hasn’t shown great hands and will continue to be inconsistent, but if Joe Flacco could actually hit him in stride more than once a game, the big play ability is there. That said, I don’t love the matchup with Pittsburgh this week, but given Baltimore’s remaining schedule, there will be some weeks when you’ll want to roll the dice and get him in your lineup.
Steve Breaston (40%), Kansas City
Similar to Cassel, there’s a lot to like about his upcoming schedule, particularly given his consistency in recent weeks.
I’ve been hyping Crabtree for a few weeks now, and on Sunday he came through with his first touchdown of the season to go with five receptions and 54 yards. His foot continues to look healthy, and his rapport with Alex Smith is growing. Crabtree now has at least five receptions in three of the last four weeks and has a number of favorable matchups over the latter half of the season.
Doug Baldwin (28%), Seattle
Like anyone who watched or attended it, Baldwin just wanted to forget about his week seven game against Cleveland. He bounced back this week after being shutout against the Browns, catching five passes for 73 yards in a loss to Cincinnati. Baldwin has at least five catches in three of the last four games and will continue to factor prominently in the Seattle passing game (yes, that actually exists) given what seems to be solid chemistry with Tarvaris Jackson.
Early Doucet (24%), Arizona
For the most part, the yardage hasn’t been there for Doucet, but he does have a TD grab in each of the last two games. As I mentioned with Kolb, the matchup against St. Louis is enticing, which makes Doucet a possible one week fill-in if you are in a bind.
Damian Williams (2%), Tennessee
Williams has shown decent chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck after Kenny Britt went down, catching TD passes in weeks four and five and posting 60 yards against the Colts on Sunday. Hasselbeck is really spreading the ball around, so no one player is going to assume Britt’s role as the go-to guy. Still, Williams is a decent red zone target and has a few good matchups left on the slate.
Greg Salas (1%), St. Louis
After a less than inspiring start to his NFL career, Salas continues to play well out of the slot in St. Louis. He caught five passes for 47 yards and seems to have put his early drops behind him. As I mentioned with Bradford, the schedule gets much easier, making Salas an intriguing option in PPR leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups: Tight End
Jake Ballard (30%), New York Giants
Ballard is now averaging 60 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns over the past four weeks. The Patriots have shown vulnerability against the pass, and tight ends have done some damage against them in their last two games. At this point, Ballard doesn’t look like a flash in the pan and is firmly entrenched as a TE2 going forward.
Scott Chandler (26%), Buffalo
After posting four catches for nine yards over the last three games, it seemed that the honeymoon was over for Chandler owners. He caught just two passes on Sunday, but both went for touchdowns in Buffalo’s win over the Redskins. Despite his gaudy TD total, Chandler has more than two receptions just once this season, making him a risky play against a Jets defense that has allowed only one score to opposing tight ends.
Marcedes Lewis (22%), Jacksonville (bye)
Even after his four-catch, 45-yard performance on Sunday, he’s not a guy to run out and grab. However, the Jags made a concerted effort to get him the ball with nine targets, which is a good sign for one of last season’s breakout performers at the position.
Brent Celek (10%), Philadelphia
After a disappointing 2010 season and a painfully slow start to this one, Celek caught seven passes for 94 yards and a score against Dallas Sunday night. He now has a touchdown in two straight games and faces a Bears defense that has been vulnerable to opposing tight ends this season, allowing an average of over six receptions and 70 yards per game with six touchdowns.
Streaming Defense(s) of the Week
Atlanta (20%) at Indianapolis
At this point of the season, I think it goes without saying that you want to grab the defense facing Indy.
Kansas City (19%) vs. Miami
The Chiefs showed against Oakland that they can take advantage of poor offensive line and quarterback play against an inferior team. That formula should work again versus the Dolphins, who almost forgot to suck for Luck on Sunday.
Update: The Week 9 Start/Sit column is posted. Check it out.
Have any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@andybottoms).