Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): Warning: gratuitous soccer reference ahead. Remember in the World Cup last year when the United States played Ghana, Germany and Portugal in the Group of Death? Well we have entered the Week of Death. For most fantasy owners, this will be your hardest week. Six teams are on bye and after Sunday’s injury Armageddon, the talent available for this week is as limited as we’ve seen all year. It’s time to go to the end of your bench and hope for a miracle.
The good news is everyone else is in the same boat so we’re all going down together. In this bye-affected injury-plagued week, who are you throwing out as lottery tickets? One player I’m starting in a few leagues is Michael Crabtree. He’s really more of a WR3 but with players like DeAndre Hopkins and Jeremy Maclin getting the week off, I think he’s a must-start. Rishard Matthews, a flex guy under normal circumstances, is another player I’m elevating. Who are you guys throwing into the fire?
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): I don't want to completely steal Evan's thunder here because he's also been on him this week, but I've picked up Dontrelle Inman in a ton of leagues where I have bye weeks or injuries and will be rolling him out while other people pursue Malcom Floyd.
It's a very small sample, but in the two weeks that Keenan Allen missed last year, Inman caught 12 of 17 targets total for 79 yards in each game and was the WR26 and WR29 in both of those games. In those weeks, Floyd had 79 yards total (although he did score). Eddie Royal had 14 receptions on 20 targets in those games for 95 and 94 yards with a score. That would suggest Stevie Johnson, the player who replaced Royal this offseason, would stand to get the biggest bump, although he's likely owned already.
San Diego plays Chicago who has allowed a league high 16 touchdown passes (12 of which have gone to receivers) and the Chargers just systematically cannot run the football although they are diligent about trying. Philip Rivers has five straight 300-yard passing games and has averaged 49.2 pass attempts per game over that stretch. If you're really against the wall and the waivers are thin, there are worse darts to throw than Inman.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): I am on Marquess Wilson this week. I have been impressed by him all season, and he produced in the two games he was given a real opportunity. Alshon Jeffery will dominate targets with Eddie Royal out while Martellus Bennett should be the No. 2, but I doubt Jeremy Langford sees the five targets Matt Forte was good for most weeks. I like Wilson to get at least six targets in what could be a high-scoring game, and he is a big-play threat every time the ball heads his way. Wilson is a WR4 with upside in redraft, and he is a great low-priced GPP play in DFS.
Another player from the Monday night game people may be sleeping on is Melvin Gordon. He burst out of the doghouse last week with 24 opportunities including a carry inside the 10-yard line. He fumbled on that run -- though it was not counted as one -- but the Chargers kept feeding him the ball. With the season down the drain, there is no reason for San Diego to limit Gordon. If he is going to take lumps, he might as well take them in a lost season. The matchup could not be better for Gordon. Chicago’s front was dominated by a Vikings’ offensive line that struggled to get push against Detroit and Kansas City the two games before. Even with a beaten up offensive line, there should be lanes to exploit. If Gordon can exploit them is still an open question, but he is worth a shot as an RB3 and DFS play.
I also love Chris Thompson this week in PPR formats. He averaged 7.75 targets in the four games before he was injured including 11 and 10 in the two games Washington lost big. The Redskins are 14-point road underdogs to New England, meaning Thompson should dominate snaps in the second half. There is the concern the offense just goes fetal, but Thompson is a good bet for 6 targets and has shown the ability to create explosive plays. He is the best PPR option in the Washington backfield and a good low-cost option on PPR DFS sites.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): I think it's the week I finally dust off Tavon Austin. He has six touchdowns in seven games, and has surpassed 20 yards rushing in four straight weeks. He's the Rams' No. 2 weapon behind Todd Gurley, and quietly the WR18 on the season. We've been conditioned to treat Austin as a bust, but I think he's a legit WR2 for Week 9.
Jeff Brubach (@Jeff_Brubach): Antonio Andrews is an interesting option this week. He likely hasn't been started much so far this season outside of deeper leagues, but with the injury and bye week situation we are dealing with, he is worth sliding up to a starting spot. I am interested to see what Andrews' usage looks like this week after Mike Mularkey's "workhorse" comments, and a back with a decent-sized workload has some value in a week that is thin on options.
Pantuosco: This probably isn’t that big a stretch because he usually hovers around the TE1 borderline anyway, but I like the way this week sets up for Delanie Walker. He’s had a good season in terms of volume (six-plus targets in each of his last five games) but the touchdowns haven’t been there (none since Week 1). This week, I think he gets both. He’ll have a healthy Marcus Mariota throwing to him (we think), which will be a nice change of pace after suffering through two weeks of mediocrity from Zach Mettenberger. Kendall Wright (MCL) has already been ruled out, leaving Tennessee with Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter at wideout. Since the Titans don’t have the courage to use their best receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Walker should be in for a nice workload. Did I mention the Titans are playing the Saints this week? You know, those guys who just gave up 49 points to the Giants while making Eli Manning look like a Hall of Famer. For $5500 on FanDuel, I’m buying.
Evan Silva (@evansilva): Dwayne Harris might seem like a bit of a point-chasing pick after he scored two TDs last week, but he should've had a 3rd (Eli just barely missed him deep) and Week 9 sets up well for him.
The Buccaneers' pass defense is the worst in the league. They have the highest QB rating allowed in football despite a soft QB slate. Larry Donnell is out. Rueben Randle is hurting. The Bucs' run D is pretty good. The Bucs' slot corner, Alterraun Verner, is awful. Harris plays in the slot. I think he gets 7-9 targets this week with about a 50 percent chance to either score a TD or give you 80+ yards.
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