Similar to last week, fantasy owners figure to have their work cut out for them with six teams on bye in Week 9. No Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants and San Francisco means a lot of fantasy firepower is already on the bench. Add to that several other key players who aren’t expected to play and it looks like the waiver wire/free agent pool will be a popular destination yet again this week.
The players listed in Athlon Sports’ weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players worth grabbing.
Teams on bye in Week 9: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, San Francisco
Week 8 Recap: Andy Dalton continued his hot streak, throwing for 325 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in the Bengals’ rout of the Jets. Dalton now has 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions over his last three games. Next up is a Thursday night visit to Miami.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Smith is not known for being a big-time fantasy producer, but he’s actually top 15 at his position for the season and has more yards passing than Andrew Luck and Cam Newton and more total touchdowns (10) than Tom Brady and Robert Griffin III. The main reason a guy like Smith would be appealing this week is because of the matchup with the Bills’ 26th-ranked defense and the fact that the likes of Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick and Eli Manning are all on bye, while Jay Cutler, Michael Vick and Sam Bradford are injured.
Other possible bye-week replacement QBs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Terrelle Pryor, OAK vs. Philadelphia; Ben Roethlisberger, PIT at New England; Joe Flacco, BAL at Cleveland; Ryan Tannehill, MIA vs. Cincinnati (Thurs.); and Jason Campbell, CLE vs. Baltimore
Week 8 Recap: Mike James produced 64 total yards in his first career NFL start in the Buccaneers’ loss to the Panthers on Thursday night. James should continue to get the majority of the backfield touches, although Doug Martin (shoulder) is expected to return at some point. Chris Ivory carried the ball just six times for 11 yards in the Jets’ blowout loss to the Bengals. Roy Helu Jr. got a total of six touches against Denver and finished with only 25 total yards. Jacquizz Rodgers carried the ball just twice and had two receptions as Steven Jackson returned and the Falcons’ running game managed a total of 27 yards rushing in the loss to the Cardinals.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
The Giants are on bye this week, but Brown is expected to return in Week 10. He has been on injured reserve since breaking his leg in the final preseason game. Brown was expected to play a big role in the Giants’ backfield entering this season and as long as he’s healthy, there’s no reason to expect that to change. Especially since the current cast of characters is made up of retreads Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis, neither of which were even with the Giants to start the season. Jacobs has missed the past two games because of a hamstring injury, while Hillis is averaging less than three yards per carry in two games with the G-Men. David Wilson (neck) is still out due to a neck injury, so there’s not much competition keeping Brown from seeing the same number of touches that allowed him to generate 5.3 yards per carry and eight touchdowns last season.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are another team on bye this week, but anytime a rookie running back piles up 154 yards rushing, he deserves mention. That is especially true for Ellington, since 1) he’s available in nearly half of Yahoo! leagues and 2) there’s no reason to expect his opportunities to decrease from here. While Ellington may not get 20+ carries a game, his versatility as a receiver out of the backfield, along with his explosiveness and big-play ability (see his 80-yard TD sprint against Atlanta), should provide enough opportunities for consistent flex production, at minimum.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
Greene has played in just two games and has a total of five carries in them, but the Titans brought him in do more than just spell starter Chris Johnson. Greene has two 1,000-yard seasons with the Jets on his resume and was envisioned as the Titans’ short-yardage and goal-line back when he signed with the team. Coming off of the bye, Greene should be as healthy as he’s been prior to getting hurt in Week 1. It’s speculative, but it’s possible that Greene works his way back into fantasy consideration, especially should Johnson (3.2 ypc) continue to struggle. If anything, CJ owners should definitely consider adding Greene as his handcuff.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
This is another speculative play, but Stewart’s case is a little different in that he has previously been “the man” for Carolina. Stewart was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before the start of the season, as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery. He finally returned to practice last week and said he plans on playing this week. One thing that could be in his factor is that DeAngelo Williams, the current starter, bruised his quadriceps in Thursday’s win over Tampa Bay. Williams should be fine for this week, especially with the extra rest that comes from playing on Thursday, and there’s no reason to expect Stewart to get a ton of carries should he get on the field Sunday against Atlanta. Still, Stewart needs to be on your radar, especially if you have Williams on your roster, as the Panthers’ backfield is about to get a little more crowded.
Other possible bye-week replacement RBs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Joseph Randle, DAL vs. Minnesota; Pierre Thomas, NO at New York Jets; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN at Miami (Thurs.); Mike Tolbert, CAR vs. Atlanta; Daniel Thomas, MIA vs. Cincinnati (Thurs.); Donald Brown, IND at Houston; and James Starks, GB vs. Chicago (Mon.)
Week 8 Recap: If not for Calvin Johnson’s near-record-breaking performance against Dallas, Marvin Jones would have been the top fantasy scorer at his position this week. Jones outscored the Jets by himself as he caught eight passes for 122 yards and four touchdowns in the 49-9 cakewalk. In that same game, Jeremy Kerley recorded just three catches for 27 yards. Sidney Rice was targeted three times on Monday night against Seattle before leaving with a knee injury of some sort. Darrius Heyward-Bey was on bye but he will get his chance at replacing an injured Reggie Wayne starting Sunday in Houston.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
McCluster is very hard to trust, but what can’t be ignored is that he has led the Chiefs in receiving in each of the past two games. Dwayne Bowe has been a disappointment and is now dealing with a groin injury, while Donnie Avery has cooled off considerably following his hot start. So it looks like, at least for the time being, that Alex Smith (see above) has turned his attention to McCluster. There’s no way to tell if he’ll see 10 targets against the Bills, but with so many productive wide receivers already on bye this week, McCluster may be worth a flyer.
David Nelson, New York Jets
After playing for the Bills the past three seasons, Nelson signed with the Browns before getting cut late in the preseason. He then joined the Jets in early October and has posted 15 receptions in his first four games. He has gone for 80 yards receiving in each of the last two and has seen a total of 19 targets during this time. Nelson and Geno Smith are already working well together and this could develop into an even more productive pairing as the season progresses.
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
Two weeks ago, Sanders had just one catch for seven yards in the win over Baltimore. Outside of that, he’s caught at least three passes for 39 yards receiving in every game. He’s topped 70 yards three times and has two touchdown catches over his last three outings. Sanders is the type of No. 2 wideout that could provide valuable depth for a fantasy team, especially in a week like this with six teams on bye.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
The rookie from Oklahoma has seen more than five targets and caught more than three passes just once this season, but he has three touchdown receptions in his last two games and his averaging 25.2 yards per grab. Stills has caught six balls from Drew Brees over the last two contests for 193 yards and three scores. Even with Lance Moore making his way back from a hand injury, Stills has shown he can be a valuable deep threat for a potent Saints passing attack that really doesn’t have one right now.
Other possible bye-week replacement WRs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Brian Hartline, MIA vs. Cincinnati; Brandon LaFell, CAR vs. Atlanta; Donnie Avery, KC at Buffalo; Rod Streater, OAK vs. Philadelphia; Lance Moore, NO at New York Jets; and Timothy Wright*, TB at Seattle
Week 8 Recap: Jordan Reed led all receivers in Sunday’s Washington-Denver matchup with eight catches for 90 yards. Andrew Quarless caught both of his targets in his first start in place of an injured Jermichael Finley for, but they went for just 13 yards.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
Owen Daniels will be out until at least Week 14 with a broken leg, leaving the starting tight end job in Houston all to Graham. He was productive when he was sharing snaps with Daniels, catching 17 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, and those looks should only go up from here. He got eight targets from Case Keenum in his first start two weeks ago, so establishing a rapport with the new quarterback doesn’t seem to be an issue either. Graham is available in more than 75 percent of all Yahoo! leagues and a pretty strong case can be made starting him in 12-team leagues and deeper this week.
Other possible bye-week replacement TEs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
Heath Miller, PIT at New England; Coby Fleener, IND at Houston; Jermaine Gresham, CIN at Miami (Thurs.); Timothy Wright*, TB at Seattle; Tyler Eifert, CIN at Miami (Thurs.); and Delanie Walker, TEN at St. Louis
Week 8 Recap: The New York Jets defense gave up 37 points, had one sack and one takeaway (INT) in a 49-9 shellacking at the hands of Cincinnati on Sunday.
The Colts have been suggested before, but since they are coming off of their bye, a reminder seemed in order. Indy’s DST has gotten at least one sack in every game and have only one game without a takeaway. In their last game against Denver, the Colts sacked Peyton Manning four times, one of them for a safety, and also collected three takeaways (2 INTs, 1 FR) in the win over the Broncos. The real reason the Colts are being mentioned again, however, is an upcoming schedule that begins with a Houston offense that has Case Keenum making his second career start, followed by a visit from St. Louis, who has backup quarterback Kellen Clemens under center. There are also two games with Tennessee and one more with Houston and Jacksonville on tap before the end of the season. If anything, the Colts would be a nice DST to have handy as a matchup option in certain weeks.
Other possible bye-week replacement DSTs less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues:
New Orleans at New York Jets; Dallas vs. Minnesota; Tennessee at St. Louis; Baltimore at Cleveland
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
*Timothy Wright of Tampa Bay is both WR and TE eligible in Yahoo! leagues.