2014 Fantasy Football: Week 9 Gold Mine
We have finally reached the point in the season where half of the league is going to be heading into their off week. With the next three weeks of the season seeing 16 teams missing due to the bye week, I hope you have been stacking your rosters with players like Andrew Hawkins (CLE), Justin Forsett (BAL), Carson Palmer (ARI) and more to keep your team afloat as players begin to move to your bench.
With Week 9 approaching the Falcons, Bills, Bears, Lions, Packers and Titans are all taking a back seat, which will undoubtedly have a major impact on nearly every fantasy owner out there. Superstars like Matt Ryan (ATL), Julio Jones (ATL), Matt Forte (CHI), Aaron Rodgers (GB), Reggie Bush (DET) and many more all sitting on the side lines is going to make for a pretty exciting storyline as you peruse through the waiver wire to find replacements in a pinch.
Although Week 8 saw an outcry of fantasy points specifically from players who haven’t been known for doing so, the waiver wire is still pretty thin. Understanding trends and roster situations may be the only course you can take in order to solidify a decent week while your powerhouse players are all riding the pine.
Check out these guys owned in less than 25% of ESPN Leagues. Not a player on ESPN? That is okay! Check out these players percentage of ownership in both YAHOO and NFL as well.
Brandon LaFell (NE): It has been a bit hard for me to discuss LaFell at all this year specifically because of his up and down nature through the first half of the football season. However, despite his on again off again behavior, LaFell (29 | 66 | 47) has been a decent target for Brady over the last five weeks. Although LaFell isn’t owned in less than 25% of leagues, his 29% in ESPN leagues is far too low for a player of his caliber who has put it on thick in the last few weeks. Nevertheless, LaFell’s 11 catches 124 yards and a score was good for 29 Fantasy points in PPR leagues, fifth best in the league in Week 8. LaFell has now had two 100-yard games in his last five while scoring four times in those respective games including at least six targets in all but two of the Patriots first eight contests.
The Pats are hosting Denver this week who are the 14th defense against opposing wide receivers giving up 22-points to divisional rival Keenan Allen (SD) this past Thursday Night. What bodes even better for LaFell is Tom Brady’s (NE) success against the Broncos while Manning has been under center, throwing for 567 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions since Peyton took over. Look for LaFell to keep the trend moving forward and succeeding in New England for weeks to come.
Martavis Bryant (PIT): Bryant a fourth round pick in the 2014 NFL draft has come on strong since entering the field for the first time all season just two weeks ago. Scoring in two straight games (3 total TDs) Bryant (3.8 | 36 | 8.9) was a stand out at Clemson as the #2 WR to Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins collecting 1,100 plus yards on 52 catches and 11 touchdowns in his final two years at Clemson. Bryant has had double-digit fantasy points in back to back games and has clearly been the immediate impact we thought for a while would be Markus Wheaton .
Bryant gets to show case his skills on primetime Sunday night when the Steelers take on division rival Baltimore on Sunday Night Football. The Ravens have been susceptible to opposing wide receivers giving up the sixth most fantasy points to them through the first half of the football season. The 38.9 points per game opposing wide outs are getting when they face the Ravens is nearly six points higher than the league average, which will certainly bode well for the Steelers heading into a very important match up.
Andrew Hawkins (CLE): I will not take too much time to discuss Hawkins as I have done so twice already this season. However, the fourth year veteran is putting up more than 12 points per game and is still owned in less than 25% of leagues. The Browns take on the Bucs this week who have given up the second most points to opposing WRs and with Josh Gordon coming back in two weeks there is no time like now to play the young star wide out.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU): Fitzpatrick has had a pretty pedestrian season in 2014 gaining only 14.8 points per game, throwing two touchdowns in a game just twice this season. However, the Texans are taking on one of the worst defenses against the pass in Philadelphia who have given up the fourth most points to quarterbacks this season. Fitzpatrick (5 | 14 | 5.3) has put together three straight games of at least 210 yards passing finding the end zone four times with only two turnovers in that same span. Meanwhile the Eagles have given up more than 325 yards passing in three of their last five games with 10 passing touchdowns in that same span.
Teddy Bridgewater (MIN): Another QB that can help you in a pinch if you are missing the likes of Stafford (DET), Cutler (CHI), Aaron Rodgers (GB) or Ryan (ATL), Bridgewater (9 | 10 | 6.3) has thrown a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time in his young career. Still learning the game, Bridgewater brings a nice element of pass and run to his game with at least 20 yards rushing in two of his games so far including a rushing TD of his own. The Vikings take on the Redskins this week that have their own issues in the defensive secondary ranking 31st in the league against the pass. Heck, even Brandon Weeden (DAL), played well gaining 69 yards and a touchdown in just two drives of action. As Bridgewater continues to grow rapport with his receivers Greg Jennings (MIN) and Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN) this matchup could be a nice break out for the first round rookie.
Charles Sims (TB): Sims (1.7 | 22 | 1.4) has yet to see any game action as he had issues with his ankle before the season that forced him to the IR / designated to return list. Well, he is finally ready to return and a lot of the reports out of the western Florida city are that Charles Sims, a third round pick by the Bucs this past off-season, will see many opportunities to show what he can do. As a Senior for the West Virginia Mountaineers, Sims compiled a 5.3 yard per carry average crossing the goal line 11 times on the ground and another three times in the air with 401 yards on 40 receptions on his way to being named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
At six-foot-nothing, Sims is a quick-footed area runner with the ability to hit the hole with certain suddenness and has explosive one cut capabilities which should provide a nice pick me up to an offense that has been lacking a lot through the first eight weeks of the season. The Browns are the 25th worst team against the run in 2014 and as long as Sims gets his touches he should be able to pick up a pretty decent amount of points this week and beyond.
In most years, by week 9, the waiver wire is extremely thin and this season is no different. Nevertheless, there are plenty of players that can help you when you need it most. Make sure you take a look at these players and others to fill some spots you might have left over.
As always check me out on Twitter @JustinMandaro as I will work right up until game time with start / sit questions.