For all those thoughts about the generally mediocre NFL matchups this Sunday—there wasn't a single game to be played between teams with winning records before the Jets upset the Saints—we sure got a lot of excitement and fantasy points.
And that's ultimately the important thing for us in this game.
We break down the top performances, news and notes from a bountiful Week 9.
1. Tom Brady: How's the back of my hand?
You did the right thing, or so we all thought. Sometimes, the right thing goes horribly wrong.
Tom Brady was coming off a bad game, had questions about his swollen throwing hand—if not the guise of a shoulder injury on the injury report—and was facing what was the No. 1 team in fantasy against quarterbacks. Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski hadn't done a thing in their returns from injury.
Brady was a bad play and a sit by many—even this guy who has often said, "Never sit Brady. Ride him through thick and thin."
Well, we should have all stuck to our guns...err...gun in Tom Brady. He went off for 432 yards and four touchdowns as a beleaguered Steelers defense, making not only Amendola and Gronk fantasy stars again but a rookie wideout, too.
Yeah, great quarterbacks come through for fantasy owners through thick and thin. Lesson relearned.
Start Brady in all weeks...well, except that he is headed for his bye next Sunday.
2. Dobson has put Thompkins behind him
Aaron Dobson was drafted in the second round to be Brady's next big downfield weapon, but it was Kenbrell Thompkins who stole the show in training camp and the early part of the season. Dobson has distanced himself from the rookies now, including long-lost Josh Boyce, reeling in five catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Thompkins was a surprise inactive per a coach's decision, not injury, the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe noted. Thompkins' snaps were reduced from a mere 13 a week ago, according to Howe, to zero. You likely can cut him heading into the Pats' bye, especially if you need roster space to find receiver replacements from the four bye teams: Kansas City, N.Y. Jets, Cleveland and New England.
Dobson, meanwhile, looks like a solid add in leagues. He has three touchdowns in the past two games and has 31 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. He has only seven games left—he was inactive Week 1—but that's a solid rookie pace of 62-908-8. He looks like he can emerge as a legit No. 1 long term, regardless of how long Brady's career extends.
3. Gronk, Amendola officially back
Sorry to inundate you with Pats stuff, but Brady's resurgence fed a lot of mouths, including Amendola and Gronk coming off injury. Both were outstanding against one of the best pass defenses in football. It sets them up for huge stretch runs.
Gronk was particularly dominant with his nine catches for 143 yards and a touchdown—with most of that damage coming in the first half when the game was still in question.
Brady even intimated Gronk was the reason everyone else had big games, telling CBS Boston's Michael Hurley:
When he's healthy and on the field, he's tough to stop. He's a great run blocker. What he does for us in the pass game, it's tough to match up. So if attention goes to Gronk with extra coverage, then it opens it up for all the other guys.
4. Eagles' Nick Foles soars
Now for a takeaway that can actually help us in our Week 10 starting lineup: Nick Foles's seven touchdown passes make his starting status at Green Bay next Sunday a no-brainer. That potential shootout against the Packers and Aaron Rodgers should be fantasy friendly.
Not only did Foles add 406 yards to his seven touchdowns, but he pushed his season's total to 13 touchdowns to no interceptions. Amazing.
"Only in a video game," Foles told USA Today's Martin Frank of the last time he had thrown seven touchdowns.
The Eagles have their quarterback, no matter the health of Michael Vick, who can be cut in standard fantasy leagues now. Vick had only five touchdown passes in his six starts.
Foles, available in 60 percent of CBS Sports leagues, is a must-add if you have Brady heading to bye.
5. Zac Stacy is a beast
Forget Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Benny Cunningham, a twisted ankle and the loss of Sam Bradford (knee) for the season. Zac Stacy is a fantasy monster now. Heck, he might even develop into a fantasy first-rounder for next season.
We couldn't be sure that Monday night's performance against the Seahawks' solid run defense wasn't an anomaly. His 127 yards rushing, two touchdowns and six catches for 51 yards make him one of the biggest and best fantasy feature backs now, especially in a down year for elite running backs.
The Rams have fully turned their offense over to the pounder Stacy. They were the only team in the NFL without a rushing touchdown coming into the game, and the Rams hadn't had two rushing touchdowns in a game in two years.
"I try not to talk about my individual success because it all starts up front," a humbled Stacy told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Colts are next up on the schedule, and they are the fifth-worst team against the run. Stacy has emerged as a must-start back in all leagues.
6. Keen on Keenum
The Texans might have lost the game—not to mention their head coach to a health scare—but they have found their starting quarterback. Case Keenum put a healthy Matt Schaub on the pine and threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night against the Colts.
Keenum is a must-add in two-quarterback formats, and his emergence gives plenty of hope for Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins owners. Johnson was particularly favored by Keenum—smart move by a young quarterback. A.J. went off for a fantasy-best nine catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
Most of the damage came in the first half before head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime and was taken to the hospital for tests. The Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith reports Kubiak did not suffer a stroke or a heart attack but felt lightheaded and dizzy. That is the good news. The team is still gathering information on his health, Smith wrote.
Here's to a speedy recovery, coach.
Kubiak is an offensive mind who once made Schaub fantasy-relevant, so Keenum has a bright future for the Texans and fantasy owners.
7. Arian Foster has a new injury concern
We have to add to the ways Foster has been a bust for fantasy owners this season. After being a game-time decision with a hamstring injury, he had to leave Sunday night's game with a back issue after just one series.
We have to be wary of Foster in Week 10 at Arizona, but not just because of injury. The Cardinals are a top-five team against the run and against running backs in fantasy. The matchup and Foster's status cloud backup Ben Tate's value (four broken ribs) too.
Reserves Dennis Johnson and Deji Karim, both signed off the street, are the only healthy backs on the Texans roster right now. Neither is all that intriguing in fantasy either.
Foster is headed for another game-time decision next Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET start).
8. Bengals' Giovani Bernard is the next great back
Yes, this has been a down year for your fantasy first-rounders like Foster, but the Bengals have a future fantasy dynamo in Giovani Bernard. Sure, Cincinnati's first pick in April's draft still shares carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the short term, but Bernard's 35-yard touchdown run Thursday night in Miami (his hometown) was one for the highlight reel.
It should be one of many for the 21-year-old burgeoning superstar.
Bernard scored twice and added over 100 total yards. He is making himself a must-start option in all leagues and likely needs to be kept active even against the Ravens run defense in Week 10.
9. Spiller finally making an impact
Speaking of undersized, speedy dynamos, welcome back to fantasy pertinence C.J. Spiller. Finally.
Spiller broke off some of the huge plays we expected of him as a fantasy first-rounder this season, although he was still limited with his high-ankle sprain that had him out entirely in Week 8. Spiller, who had plays of 61 yards, 29 and 27, told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News:
It's still not there, but it's definitely very close. [Sunday] was very encouraging to me. My cutting ability and exploding off it was good, but [Monday will] be a good day to see how it responds, because this is the most work [I] got since Week 4.
Next up is the maligned Steelers defense, which is second-worst against the run in the NFL. You will want Spiller and cohort Fred Jackson active for that tasty matchup.
10. Waiver flavors of the week
Veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery and emerging Riley Cooper are this week's waiver-wire catches.
Not only did the Steelers' Cotchery go off for a surprising seven catches for 96 yards and three touchdowns, but he faces that Bills secondary next. The Bills did well Sunday against a limited Alex Smith, but they have been among the worst teams in fantasy against wide receivers all season.
Cooper (five catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns) will be popular too, particularly because he has a solid rapport with Foles. No, the Eagles won't have a legendary performance from their quarterback every week, but they at least figure to be playing "Can You Top This" with the Packers and Rodgers next week.
Redskins fullback Darrel Young grabbed three touchdowns from Alfred Morris, but all you have to do is look at Roy Helu's production after his three-touchdown game a few weeks ago. Morris is still the man there in most situations, even near the goal line.
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.
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