As the sun sets on another blistering day on the slope, you reflect on this journey. The hot tea emits a fragrance that escapes the metal mug and warms your cracked, weathered face. There have been terrifying challenges, victorious accomplishments and many days where the best you can do is just grind.
But here you are, with week 9 approaching and you’re still breathing. Even if your team is battered and bruised at 0-8 or 1-7, use this week to stash a trade chip or keeper for next year. All leagues should have some incentive for the unfortunate teams to not give up, even if its just a keeper feature. If you sit at 2-6 or better, there is still time. Take it one week at a time and just keep moving.
Priority will be classified in 4 ways:
HIGH – immediate starter on most teams and trade bait at worst; be aggressive!
MEDIUM – probable FLEX-level starter right now; add if you have need at the position.
LOW – still a lottery ticket, but showing signs of growth; add if you have bench room.
FREE – likely can add post-waivers without using FAAB or priority if your league allows.
Players with “PPR+” designation mean they will be extra useful in formats that reward receptions.
First Aid Kit
Players set to inherit a bigger role due to injury
Zach Zenner, RB, ARI (priority MEDIUM pending Chase Edmonds’ status) – It’s shocking how quickly thing can change. Last week’s season saver Chase Edmonds went down with what appeared to be a significant hamstring injury, and we’re looking for the next guy. Before I go any further, on Monday the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake who is rostered in 71.9% in ESPN leagues, rendering Zenner best left on waivers.
Raheem Mostert, RB, SF (priority MEDIUM pending Matt Breida’s status) – The 49ers like to rotate 2 backs, and they have 4 capable in their stable. The split is not really concerning for fantasy as SF has averaged 38 carries per game as a team. If Breida should miss time, Mostert immediately becomes FLEX-worthy facing a hapless Cardinals defense on Thursday night. I would expect somewhere between 12-15 touches for Mostert, possibly 20 if this game becomes the blowout it could be.
Josh Reynolds, WR, LAR (priority MEDIUM pending Brandin Cooks’ status) – Reynolds was the first replacement in the Rams passing game once Brandin Cooks departed. Last year, Reynolds was the receiver to fill in for Cooper Kupp although that did not result in much fantasy production. But Kupp’s role is very diverse and unique and it is difficult to replace.
I think Reynolds’ strengths lend themselves much better to an outside receiver/field stretcher type, which is what Cooks does. He saw 8 targets and caught a touchdown which is worth noting. Cooks does have a bye week to pass concussion protocol so this may blow over. But if you need WR help week 10 and beyond it may be a good idea to sneak Reynolds on your roster and see how Cooks does.
Chris Conley, WR, JAX (priority LOW pending Dede Westbrook’s status) – I might normally write off Conley’s 4-103-1 line as a blip but he also saw 7 targets for the second straight week. It matches his season high and the targets align with the absence of Dede Westbrook (shoulder). Conley is size/speed freak and a big play WR averaging almost 20 yards per catch this year. If Dede is out a while, Conley could gain some additional targets while continuing to be their main deep threat.
High calorie options to grab for a boost
Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR (priority MEDIUM) – This exciting rookie continues to inch his way to fantasy relevance, as he almost was in a full split with Gurley this week (28 snaps vs. 32). Of course, the game was against the absolutely pathetic Bengals and the Rams comfortably controlled the contest. Still, he saw more touches than Gurley (13 vs. 10) and was more productive, gaining 69 total yards to Gurley’s 44.
I am not predicting that Gurley will lose the job outright but he has been a shell of his former self, averaging a full yard per carry less than last year at 3.9. If Henderson continues to make progress adapting to NFL speed, I don’t think a 50/50 split is out of the question with more receiving going to the rookie. It is crazy he is still under 30% rostered, as this is a FLEX play similar to Miles Sanders right now.
Tra Carson, RB, DET (priority FREE) – Sure, Carson “started”, went 12-34, and ruined the week of everyone that spent FAAB on Ty Johnson. But that is definitely more about awful news for Johnson’s potential and less about a bump for Carson. This is a fairly unathletic former UDFA on his third team in 2 years. Hard pass.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, NE (priority MEDIUM) – He’s slightly over 30% rostered but with the pending release of Josh Gordon, Dorsett becomes the main outside receiver for New England. Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu will exchange tricky routes in the slot but Dorsett is the best deep threat on the team.
His lackluster 3-43 line on Sunday may cause some to shy away but he can be a useful WR3/4 for the rest of the season. The Pats’ schedule does get tougher and they will likely have to try for 4 full quarters in the second half of the season.
Danny Amendola, WR, DET (priority LOW/FREE; PPR+) – Full disclosure, this is not usually a type of player I would want to add to my fantasy team. However since Kerryon Johnson went down, Amendola has seen an uptick in use. With 19 targets in the last 2 weeks, he’s registered 210 yards scoreless yards. In PPR he’s a worthwhile FLEX or bye week filler.
Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN (priority MEDIUM) – This one is lit, folks. Titans stalwart Delanie Walker is shelved for an indefinite period of time with an ankle injury. Jonnu stepped right in and saw a team high 7 targets for a final line of 6-78-1.
He is a total freak athlete with a 93rd percentile SPARQ-x score and earned an incredible 33% college dominator ranking at Florida International. If this turns out to be a passing of the torch at TE for the Titans, Jonnu could be a very exciting redraft and dynasty add.
Noah Fant, TE, DEN (priority LOW) – The uber-athlete Fant saw a season high 8 targets in the wake of the Manny Sanders trade. He converted those sweet looks into an uninspiring 5-26. However, we have a clear reason that he might have seen that increase in targets and Fant profiles as an exciting pass catcher for the Broncos. In very deep leagues and/or 2 TE leagues he’s worth a cheap add now to see if the targets continue.
Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, GB – Even with Adams out, MVS has not seen consistent volume. Over the last 2 weeks, he’s only seen 5 targets although one resulted in a 74 yard touchdown. I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting him going forward.
Jamison Crowder, WR, NYJ – I don’t see how anyone can roster Crowder anymore. Darnold has come back, but he’s been atrocious. The Jets’ schedule does open up and I would be OK starting Le’Veon Bell or Robby Anderson but no one else from this team. I’d rather stash Kareem Hunt or even Antonio Brown than Crowder right now.
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