Week 9 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups in Fantasy Football
We have survived one week of six-bye drama, and, heck, we don't even have to deal with injury devastation this time. The last heavy bye week is to come in Week 9.
Your Broncos, 49ers, Lions, Cardinals, Giants and Jaguars are unavailable for your fantasy lineups this go-around, but we get the returns of the Colts, Texans, Chargers, Titans, Ravens and Bears. Consider this net zero.
We break down the fantasy risers every Tuesday of the season right here in this six-part slideshow. Expect to read about a lot of wide receivers to consider, as always, and few running backs.
Quarterbacks: Good Numbers Coming for Alex Smith, Terrelle Pryor and Jake Locker
Quarterbacks to Add
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
All he does is win games. He can help you do that in fantasy in Week 9, too, facing the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have allowed the second-most points to fantasy quarterbacks thus far this season. Available in almost 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues and starting in just 22 percent, Smith is a solid stopgap option if you have your starter on bye. He should be good for another 225 yards and two touchdowns here.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
He was held to just 88 yards passing last week, but you don't want him for his passing. He rushed for 108 yards and the long touchdown against the Steelers and draws an Eagles defense that has given up the eighth-most points to quarterbacks to date. You have to like him as a bye-week replacement in the near 40 percent of CBS Sports leagues in which he is available.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
The Rams showed Monday night they can be a capable defense, especially at home, but Locker went into his bye week hot and healthy. He also has a slew of weapons at his disposal. He is one of fantasy's hidden gems and a budding star at this position.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
With Michael Vick hamstrung again, the Eagles will turn back to Foles against the Raiders if he is cleared from his concussion tests. Foles has weapons and a potentially productive offense, but it is hard to imagine he performs better than Ben Roethlisberger did last week at Oakland. Big Ben was not fantasy-worthy with his mere 275 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns
No one is going to be immediately excited by this guy, especially with his checkered past, but Campbell held up fairly well last week against the Chiefs defense. The Browns also have some elite fantasy options in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. Couple them with the lack of a running game and Campbell might have some solid numbers to come down the stretch. You cannot be excited by him against the Ravens this week, though.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler's (groin) absence can make McCown a potential temporary fantasy star. Marc Trestman's offense has juice with Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, so McCown can emerge as a 300-yard, three-touchdown threat weekly for as long as Cutler is out. The Packers matchup Monday night should leave McCown some garbage time to work in, too.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Campbell, Glennon is a quarterback of a lost franchise that has some decent weapons, but you cannot like the rookie against the Seahawks defense. Seattle has given up the second-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks thus far. Leave Glennon on the pile until the matchups become more favorable down the stretch, perhaps even in two-quarterback leagues.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, and Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Both veterans have some good targets to work with, but they are heading into their byes this week. The chances are low they will prove starter-worthy in one-quarterback formats down the stretch either.
Running Backs: Thin Crop Has Us Pointing to Bye-Week Backs and Injury Returnees
Running Backs to Add
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Week 8's highest-scoring running back is headed into his bye, but he stands a good chance of putting his timeshare with Rashard Mendenhall in the rear-view mirror. The breakaway back just needs to prove durable to coach Bruce Arians, who is limiting his snaps to keep his small-framed back healthy. Ellington has earned his coach's trust and a reserve spot in all leagues through his bye.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Here is another rookie back worthy of an add in fantasy leagues, despite being idle this week. Ball has taken over as Knowshon Moreno's backup, as Ronnie Hillman has been put on the pine for his fumbling woes. Honestly, it was only a matter of time before the Broncos placed more trust in Ball, their 2013 second-round pick. He is available in almost 65 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
If you need a running back who is active this week, it might be Stewart. The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person tweeted last week that this upcoming Atlanta game is a realistic return date. DeAngelo Williams will remain the starter and get the bulk of the work, but Stewart can do the short-yardage work that can make him fantasy-worthy amid the heavy byes.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
He enjoyed a healthy return and even got into the end zone, but Eddie Lacy is still the feature back, and Starks might not get enough touches to be fantasy-viable in most weeks. The Bears have been the fifth-worst team against fantasy running backs, though, so Starks might have to be added out of necessity.
Running Backs to Monitor
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Zac Stacy sustained an ankle injury on Monday night that required X-rays, according to Fox NFL insider Mike Garafolo, so Richardson's name becomes intriguing again in fantasy circles. Richardson came in on Monday night to rush for 39 yards against a good Seahawks defense, and the Rams are a decidedly more conservative, run-based team with Sam Bradford (knee) out for the season. The Rams' starting running back might prove to be a must-start fantasy option against Tennessee, a team that is seventh-worst against running backs to date.
Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
His fantasy stock has risen with his work as a pass receiver and touchdown vulture in recent weeks, but the potential return of Stewart above puts his value in question now. You could start him out of desperation, but you might want to weigh Stewart's status and workload before continuing to trust this bowling ball.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
The Giants are headed for their bye, but Newsday's Tom Rock reports Brown said he's "ready to go" for Week 10 against Oakland. Brown will still have to deal with the status of David Wilson (neck), Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) and the potential short-yardage touchdown vulture Peyton Hillis, too, which is why he isn't an immediate must-add in all leagues.
Running Backs to Ignore
Peyton Hillis, New York Giants
He had another solid performance as the Giants' workhorse, but the potential returns of those Giants above figure to relegate him to a seldom-used reserve role. The Giants cannot afford to cut him yet, but fantasy owners probably can.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
He is going to continue to be a part of the Pats' running back rotation, but there is no way of guaranteeing how big his piece of the pie will be on a weekly basis. The only certainty with the Pats is Stevan Ridley is going to get the most touches.
Wide Receivers: Yet Another Week of Intriguing Waiver Options Here
Wide Receivers to Add
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Rarely does a player become such a no-brainer waiver-wire addition midseason like Jones has and it not be due to injury. Jones has erupted as a fantasy star, consistently beating single coverage opposite A.J. Green for scorching quarterback Andy Dalton. Jones' eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns put him on the Calvin Johnson level for a week. You have to assume the production will be more in Green's hands going forward, but Jones has proven himself fantasy starter-worthy in year two.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
We already wrote on Stills in the Biggest Takeaways from Last Week, so we will first point you back there to read about what he means to the Saints' passing game. Coming off his 129 yards and two touchdowns, you have to consider him one of the premium waiver-wire options, particularly amid the foot injury slowing Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston's mysteriously disappearing production.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts
The loss of Reggie Wayne (knee) for the season thrusts DHB into the fantasy spotlight. T.Y. Hilton is already owned and should be active in all leagues, but DHB should get enough targets, yards and red-zone chances to be fantasy-worthy at least through the bye weeks. Heck, second-year man LaVon Brazill might even be a solid addition for fantasy owners.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
He returned from a multiple-week wrist issue to reach the end zone for Drew Brees and the Saints. Like Stills above, Moore is going to get more targets amid the injury to Graham and struggles of Colston.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs
It has been made very clear Alex Smith is a short and rhythm passer, so guys like McCluster have to be considered viable in fantasy, at least in PPR formats. McCluster is coming off a seven-catch, 67-yard, one-touchdown performance and the Bills are next up on the schedule. Buffalo has been the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
Was Tate taunting his defender (read about it in The News Tribune) on his second touchdown Monday night or was he waving goodbye to his fantasy value? With Percy Harvin (hip) nearly ready to return, Tate had one more big fantasy performance against the Rams, catching five passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, he has put Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse in the rear-view mirror in fantasy value, but Harvin's return figures to have fantasy owners waving goodbye to Tate all the same. Only pick up Tate if Harvin's status is shaky for Week 9.
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
He had another solid performance Sunday against the Raiders, reaching the end zone late, but the Pats are next up on the schedule, and they are a top-10 team in fantasy against wide receivers. Sanders will be getting the targets that don't go to Antonio Brown, Heath Miller or Le'Veon Bell, so you cannot love him in the matchup at New England.
Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is dealing with a hand issue the Pats won't fess up to publicly, and the returns of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski figure to push the likes of Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Dobson further into the fantasy abyss. Dobson has potential and could get starts still in three-receiver sets, but you cannot count on Brady being productive or Dobson getting consistent looks right now.
Kris Durham, Detroit Lions
He is headed to his bye week, but the loss of Ryan Broyles (Achilles) for the season can make Durham a viable fantasy sleeper down the stretch. Matthew Stafford has a pass-happy offense, and someone needs to get the targets when defenses put so much emphasis on covering Megatron. Durham is a mere speculative add because of the bye and Megatron's monster share of the targets.
Drew Davis, Atlanta Falcons
Someone other than Harry Douglas had to step forward, and Davis was that guy, catching five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals on Sunday. Davis will only prove to be fantasy-viable out of necessity and only as long as Roddy White (ankle/hamstring) remains out.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Mike Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars
Not only are the Jags heading into a bye, but Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts are very clearly better targets in a weak Jags passing game. Brown reached the end zone in Week 8, but don't count on that happening again at this point. Heck, even rookie slot receiver Ace Sanders might be a better fantasy option going forward. The Jags just don't have enough juice to support any fantasy receivers after Blackmon or Shorts.
David Nelson, New York Jets
He picked up 80 yards in garbage time, but the Jets still figure to favor starters Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill going forward. Also, Santonio Holmes (hamstring) will still come back in a week or two, perhaps. Nelson can be ignored.
Tight Ends: Colts Will Turn to Coby Fleener; We Should, Too
Tight Ends to Add
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
Hidden in the loss of Reggie Wayne (knee) for the season and the Colts' Week 8 bye is the fantasy value of Fleener. He figures to become a big part of the Colts' potent offense going forward. Available in over one-third of CBS Sports leagues, Fleener is a must-add if you have a tight end on bye. You should feel confident in him being a top-12 option the rest of the season.
Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton is scorching to the point you should consider either of these seam-splitters against the Dolphins on Thursday night, if you need a bye-week replacement. Miami is the second-worst team in fantasy against tight ends. Marvin Jones is going to draw more attention and A.J. Green already draws a lot of it. Teams have had their best passing success using the tight end against the Dolphins. Flip a coin on Gresham or Eifert for six to 10 fantasy points this week.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The rookie is a converted receiver who has been getting some targets from fellow rookie Mike Glennon. The problem we see with trusting him right now is the Bucs are facing the tough Seahawks defense in Week 9. The loss of Mike Williams (hamstring) for the season, though, can open up potential starting opportunities in fantasy down the stretch for Wright.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
We understand the allure of Chandler from time to time in fantasy. Particularly with how limited the Bills are at quarterback, the tight end is a significant piece of the passing game. Chandler showed that with his seven catches for 72 yards in Week 8, but the Chiefs are next up on the schedule, and they just happen to be the best in fantasy against tight ends to date.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Gavin Escobar, Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten is the only Cowboys tight end to consider in fantasy as long as he stays healthy. You are going to get a lot of no-target weeks if you are picking up Escobar as a stopgap tight end.
Joel Dreessen, Denver Broncos, and Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
Potent offenses and injuries to the premium tight ends for the Broncos (Julius Thomas, ankle) and Saints (Jimmy Graham, foot) made these two guys factors in Week 8. The Broncos have a bye to rest Thomas' injury, and Graham was still able to play enough to lead fantasy tight ends in scoring last week. Don't bother with Dreessen or Watson at this point.
Defense/Special Teams: Consider the Colts, Chargers Units Coming off Their Byes
Defense/Special Teams to Add
They have been surprising thus far this season and come off their bye facing a Texans team that has been the worst in fantasy against opposing defensive units. The matchup alone is enough to consider the Colts a starting fantasy option this week.
San Diego Chargers
This is another viable fantasy defense coming off a bye and facing a favorable matchup. The difference is there were expectations of this unit coming into the year, unlike the Colts. The Redskins are the ninth-worst team in fantasy against defense/special teams.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
St Louis Rams
This has been one of the most disappointing units in fantasy this season, but the seven sacks against the Seahawks had to open your eyes Monday night. The Rams are not quite an elite option against the upstart Titans next week, but they are at least more worthy of your fantasy consideration now.
That was an impressive performance against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, one that makes the Cardinals look a lot more capable of helping down the stretch in fantasy. They are headed to their bye, though, so merely keep an eye on them off waivers.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
We were right in saying the Steelers would stop the Raiders' passing game. We didn't see them being so sieve-like against the run. The Steelers are a terrible play against the Pats in Week 9.
They have some playmakers on defense, but the quarterback woes have put their defense in uncompromising positions. Also, the Colts are the second-best team in fantasy against defensive units.
Kickers: Bye Weeks Make for Opportunties to Improve Here
Kickers to Add
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
Half of fantasy is asleep here, apparently. The Chiefs have offensive and defensive juice, clearly, so it is a shock to see Succop available in around half of CBS Sports leagues. The Chiefs will blow out the Bills, who have allowed the third-most field-goal attempts in the league.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
He was dropped in numerous leagues amid the Falcons' struggles with injury and their bye week a few Sundays ago. The Falcons will still put up points down the stretch, so consider Bryant one of the set-it-and-forget-it kicker options in fantasy, like he was believed to be coming into the season.
Kickers to Monitor
Matt Prater, Denver Broncos, and Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers
Two of the NFL's elite contenders are among the six kickers to hit the bye this week. They stand to be dropped in some leagues and will prove to be top-eight kicker options in fantasy crunch time. Pick them up if you have roster space later this week.
Kickers to Ignore
Josh Brown, New York Giants
He is coming off a five-field goal week, but no one picks up a kicker headed into his bye. Also, you cannot trust the Giants the rest of the season to be consistent offensively. They haven't been consistent in over a calendar year.
David Akers, Detroit Lions
The veteran has a fantasy-worthy name, a dome to kick half of his games in down the stretch and a potent offensive team to get him opportunities. He is too much on the fantasy fringe to keep on your roster through his bye, though.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.