Brandon Tate’s touchdown last week was a fluke – a broken play that gave his quarterback, Tom Brady, added time and gave Tate an opportunity to slip behind the coverage. But the ‘why’ is not nearly as important to fantasy owners as the ‘what.’ The fact that Tate got involved – a 65-yard catch as part of a 101-yard day – is all that really matters.
This week, Tate’s prospects look even brighter. The Patriots visit a Browns team that is ill-equipped to stop downfield passing. They allowed Roddy White a 45-yard catch, Mike Wallace a 50-yarder, and old man Terrell Owens had a catch of 78 yards in Week 4. Tate is New England’s big-play target and should be the recipient of one or two long strikes in this contest.
Considered by most to be a No. 3 or 4 fantasy receiver, Tate is worth the gamble as a No. 2 for this week.
Here are a few other fantasy players facing favorable matchups in Week 9 (all of the players listed are considered backups or ‘fringe’ starters in most fantasy league formats):
>> Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Chicago’s pass defense
Based on his last few outings Fitzpatrick is a top 10 fantasy quarterback. Try selling that one to fantasy owners. In most leagues, Fitzpatrick remains a backup for those cautious of the Buffalo signal caller and his checkered past. This week those fantasy owners would be wise to buy into his success. Facing a Chicago pass defense that ranks 15th in passing yards allowed per game, Fitzpatrick should go to work on his home turf. He has registered 40 or more attempts in each of the last two games, and in his only two home starts this year he has five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
>> Marion Barber vs. Green Bay’s run defense
Yes, really. The Cowboys may be in a desperate spot, but that doesn’t mean the team will abandon the ground game altogether (at least not until they have to). Barber’s 3.0 yards per carry and two touchdowns have certainly been frustrating to fantasy owners, but he matches up nicely against a 3-4 Packer defense without many of its top playmakers (most notably linebackers Nick Barnett and Brad Jones). And Dallas may be without a banged up Felix Jones for this contest. In Barber’s trip to Lambeau two years ago he collected 157 yards of offense and a touchdown.
>> Mike Williams vs. Atlanta’s pass defense
Fresh off a career-best 105-yard performance Williams heads to Atlanta for a pivotal NFC South matchup. The Falcons are ranked 27th in the league against the pass, and in the team’s last contest the Atlanta secondary allowed three Bengal receivers to catch touchdowns (both Jordan Shipley and Chad Ochocinco gained 100-plus yards). Williams remains a fringe No. 2 or 3 fantasy receiver in most leagues, but this week he just might put up top-shelf numbers.
>> Dustin Keller vs. Detroit’s pass defense
Keller’s owners are starting to yawn – just seven catches and no scores over his last three games. Help is on the way, however, as New York’s trip to Detroit should provide Keller with plenty of open space to work with. Detroit has made average receivers look sensational this season, and the team’s secondary gives up yards in chunks (7.3 yards per pass attempt). Sounds like the perfect fit for Keller, whose 14.9 yards-per-catch average ranks 20th in the league and second among tight ends.