Free-agent Forecast: Week 9

Free-agent Forecast: Week 9

Roster Management

Free-agent Forecast: Week 9

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Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team league formats, unless specifically stated. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.

Bye weeks: Falcons, Bengals, Rams, Saints

(Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

1-Week Plug & Play

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

It’s tough to get behind recommending a game manager in a run-heavy offense, but this week Garoppolo will pop off against the pathetic Arizona secondary. The Cardinals struggle to apply pressure, and it also has fits vs. running backs, making it unlikely they will be able to key in on any one area of San Fran’s offense. Newcomer Emmanuel Sanders made an immediate splash in Week 8, and the veteran receiver will only get better as he absorbs more of the playbook and takes reps in practice. Then there’s George Kittle going against the worst defense of tight ends in recent memory. Toss in the possibility of a screen pass going the distance from a running back and there’s much to like about Jimmy G. with so many starters injured or on vacation.

Availability: 57%
FAAB:
$2-3

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders vs. Detroit Lions

The Lions are banged up on defense and imposed a self-inflicted wound with the trade of safety Quandre Diggs. The results were evident with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones breaking his slump and leading all fantasy passers in Week 8. Carr is coming off of a 285-yard day in which he threw a trio of scoring strikes vs. Houston. The Raiders have WR Tyrell Williams back from a foot injury, and emerging star tight end Darren Waller showed against the Texans he can be held down only for so long. Oakland is still fragile on defense, suggesting Detroit could force the Raiders to keep up.

Availability: 74%
FAAB:
$1-2

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans

There are notable injuries within both Jacksonville’s receiving corps and Houston’s secondary, so tread carefully. If you’re a gamer without Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Jared Goff or one of the several other injured guys not on a bye, Minshew will have a hint of appeal. He’s coming off of a 279-yard, three-TD showing and faces a defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position in the past five weeks. Houston was missing three-fourths of its starting secondary in Week 8, and Derek Carr became the fourth straight quarterback to exploit this defense for at least three touchdown passes. Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook (shoulder/neck) was blanked in Week 8 after entering the game with injury issues, and Marqise Lee left early. Volume may not be there for the rookie, but Minshew could toss several short touchdowns.

Availability: 46%
FAAB:
$1-2

(Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)

Running Backs

priority free agent

Update: Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner (shoulder) could miss some time, and rookie Benny Snell was lost last week, as well. He was on crutches as of Tuesday afternoon. Samuels returns from a knee injury and should be rostered in all formats. The Steelers will continue to rely on the run and have a few matchups of utility for the young back in the coming weeks (IND, LAR, @CLE, @CIN). Check the wire, but he probably is owned in deeper and more competitive leagues.

Availability: 40%
FAAB:
$10-12

Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins

Update: Ballage touched the ball only four times in Week 8’s Monday tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His FAAB allocation has been lowered, but he remains a priority addition for depth because of the remaining schedule. The matchup with Pittsburgh, especially with a week of practicing as a reserve, was less than ideal.

Kenyan Drake has been dealt to the Arizona Cardinals, and it means a little larger workload for the bruising Ballage. Mark Walton and Ballage will share touches in the absence of Drake. While there isn’t a great deal to be excited about with the second-year Ballage seeing more action, he’s a decent option for the occasional touchdown, and playing time increases matter. It would come with little surprise to also see rookie RB Myles Gaskin get more work as the year progresses, likely at the expense of Walton. Miami’s remaining fantasy opponents after Week 8: NYJ, @IND, BUF, @CLE, PHI, @NYJ, @NYG, CIN.

Availability: 91%
FAAB:
$5-6

1-week plug & play

Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles

There’s a major caveat here: Before investing, get a solid feel for Miles Sanders’ shoulder injury. If he is scheduled to miss action, Scott immediately has value in PPR formats. Should the rookie shrug off the injury and play in Week 9, there’s no value in Scott. Philly hosts the Chicago Bears in Week 9, and the Monsters of the Midway they are not vs. running backs in 2019. Since the Eagles have a Week 10 bye, Scott is no better than a one-week recommendation for now.

Availability: 99%
FAAB:
$0-1

Watch list

San Francisco 49ers

Keep tabs on Matt Breida’s ankle injury throughout the week. Jeff Wilson also left and was examined for a head injury. In the event both of them miss, Raheem Mostert would return to fantasy relevance behind Tevin Coleman. We’ve long see this is a committee approach, regardless of how well one of the players is rolling. If you recall, Breida was constantly aggravating an ankle injury in 2018. Keep tabs on this one for now.

(Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports)

Wide Receivers

priority free agents

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

In a repeat from a week ago, Beasley posted another touchdown and warrants a roster spot in all PPR formats. The Bills have fed him 13 times in the past two games, although only six have hit their mark — to be expected with Josh Allen’s accuracy ills. Beasley has posted double figures in five of his seven games this year in scoring that rewards receptions. The Bills face Washington, Cleveland and Miami in the next three weeks. Lock him in.

Availability: 76%
FAAB:
$6-7

1-Week Plug & Play

Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans

The Jaguars could be down Marqise Lee and possibly Dede Westbrook in this game. They little at tight end, and there are only so many passes one can expect to go to Keelan Cole, D.J. Chark and Leonard Fournette. Conley is a possession receiver with enough ability to get down the field. He now has 15 looks in his past two games, resulting in 186 yards on only seven snags, with one score. The Texans will be without J.J. Watt, which cannot be of understated importance vs. the Jacksonville line. Houston’s secondary was missing three of four starters in Week 8, and we saw Oakland score a pair of touchdowns from the position.

Availability: 97%
FAAB:
$2-3

1-Week Plug & Play/grab & stash

Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions at Oakland Raiders

Amendola has seen 19 targets come his way in the past two games, going for 16 receptions, 200 yards and, as usual, no touchdowns. He’s strictly a PPR asset, and the way Matthew Stafford is slinging it right now, all three of Detroit’s primary receivers belong in fantasy lineups. The Raiders have given up six WR touchdowns in the past four games. Over the course of 2019, this is matchup is 19.2 percent better than the league average, and that figure jumps to 31.6 percent in the past three weeks — Oakland played only two of those games. All but one team has a high-scorer of at least 19.6 PPR points.

Availability: 91%
FAAB:
$2-3

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

Also a repeat from last week, Miller is finally healthy and fully in game shape. The second-year wideout has seen an associated uptick in his target count over the past three games. The Bears are still a major work-in-progress on this side of the ball, but the matchup with Philadelphia couldn’t come a better time. We have four teams on vacation this week, and all of them offer fantasy starters at the position. Miller has 19 total looks in his last three outings, landing 12 balls for at least 52 yards in each contest. The heavily injured Eagles have yielded at least five catches to a single receiver in every game this year, and position has scored four times in the last three games alone. Philly presents the seventh-best PPR matchup, one that ranks 28.6 percent better than average.

Availability: 89%
FAAB:
$2-3

Grab & stash

Demaryius Thomas, New York Jets

The matchups ahead are fantastic, but one has to be concerned about the way Sam Darnold is playing of late. Presuming the second-year quarterback can get it together even fractionally, Thomas is worth a stash and the occasional spot start. This is the third-best strength of schedule ahead for fantasy receivers, and Thomas has 28 targets in the past four games, with no fewer than five in any contest.

Availability: 94%
FAAB:
$1-2

Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints

Smith (ankle) has missed five straight outings and enters his bye week on no one’s fantasy radar. Use that to your advantage once waivers process. Add him via first-come, first-served waivers and stash Smith for his expected return in Week 10. The Saints face the seventh-best remaining fantasy schedule, and having Drew Brees back is a boost for the young wideout.

Availability: 96%
FAAB:
$0

Watch list

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Gage saw nine targets, landing seven of them for 58 yards in Week 8. The Falcons are searching for a reliable replacement after trading Mohamed Sanu, and Gage could be their man. He may share reps with Justin Hardy (4 targets, 2-23-0); Gage outplayed him in Week 8. Atlanta goes on its bye this week, so don’t invest. In fact, don’t bother upon Gage’s return. Wait to see what kind of involvement he has vs. the Saints in Week 10 with Matt Ryan. He won’t be better than a matchup play but is worth keeping an eye on since Atlanta has a need and no defense.

Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams

LA also is on bye this week. Brandin Cooks suffered his second concussion in a month and could, in theory, miss time after the Rams return. Monitor media reports and be prepared to add Reynolds in case. For gamers with an extra spot to stash a receiver, it won’t hurt to get ahead of the waiver curve.

(Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)

Tight Ends

1-Week Plug & Play

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts

Entering Monday night, McDonald has just six targets, five catches and 49 yards in the last three games combined. Mason Rudolph will return under center for the Steelers, which helps a little, but this one is more about finding paydirt than accumulating volume. In the past three games, Indy has granted 27 receptions and a trio of touchdowns to tight ends. One score every nine grabs is among the most favorable opportunities for a dart throw in fantasy this week.

Availability: 38%
FAAB:
$1-2

Jacob Hollister, Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dumpster diving time … Seattle has shown a propensity to target the position in 2019, and Hollister has been the preferred option since Will Dissly was lost for the year. In the last two games, Hollister has produced an unassuming eight targets, five grabs and 38 yards worth of action. This one is strictly about the matchup: Tampa Bay has given up the second-most PPR points per game in the past five weeks and over the course of 2019, fueled by three touchdowns in the last four outings. Hollister may be better suited for DFS this week, but there is considerable upside in this gamble — all it takes is one catch for a TD to make it worthwhile.

Availability: 99%
FAAB:
$1-2

Grab & Stash

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Between a pathetic start to 2019 and his recent injury, Howard is being found on plenty of waiver wires right now. The Buccaneers are bound to get it figured out — that kind of talent rarely fails over the course of an entire season. Luckily, Tampa has the third-best remaining strength of schedule for the position. Bury him on your roster until we see signs of improvement. Don’t rule out Tampa Bay trading him before Tuesday’s deadline, either.

Availability: 18% (rising)
FAAB:
$1-2

Kickers

1-Week Plug & Play/priority free agent

Brett Maher, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Returning from the bye week, Maher has been fantasy-relevant in consecutive games. He swept the leg for a 62-yarder in Week 6 and another for 63 yards came the next game, en route to a season-best 16 fantasy points in Week 7. The Giants have granted the fifth-most fantasy points, on average, and 11 of the 13 field goals faced have connected. The same goes for point-after attempts. Four of eight kickers faced have gone for at least seven points, and two of them have 13 or more vs. the G-Men.

Availability: 72%
FAAB:
$0-1

1-Week Plug & Play

Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa has granted 15 extra points and seven of nine field goals to split the uprights in the last four games, creating the No. 3 matchup over the last five weeks of data. Myers is a low-end starter based on data in the past five weeks, making eight of his 10 three-point attempts and 12 of 13 extra points. Tampa’s defense is starting to trend in the right direction with the return of Jason Pierre-Paul, and Seattle could be forced to settle on three points more than usual. Five of seven kickers have posted at least nine fantasy points vs. the Bucs this year.

Availability: 47%
FAAB:
$0-1

Austin Seibert, Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos

While the Browns haven’t provided Seibert many chances, he has made all five of his three-pointers and seven of eight PATs. The Broncos are a top-10 opponent for kickers, and five of the foes each have made nine points worth of kicks so far. In the past two games, all seven field goals against have hit their mark. Six kickers have attempted three or more field goals in 2019 vs. the Broncs.

Availability: 92%
FAAB:
$0-1

Defense/Specials Teams

1-Week Plug & Play

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Some of this has to do with which version of Daniel Jones do we see — the turnover machine or the guy who led all fantasy passers in Week 8. Dallas returns from its bye week and should have a pretty good chance of coaxing the rookie into a few mistakes, and there’s no telling how many unforced errors he’ll make on his own. Don’t put a ton of confidence in this recommendation, because Dallas has struggled to matter on this side of the ball, but we’ve seen a few bright moments with the right opponent.

Availability: 68%
FAAB:
$1-2

Buffalo Bills vs. Washington Redskins

The Bills probably are owned in most competitive leagues, but they could be dropped in some formats this week after Philadelphia pushed them around. Once waivers process, check the wire to see if Buffalo was dropped. In shallow formats or more casual setups, the defense could be available right now. Washington has given up 12 turnovers, including two touchdowns, in the last five games, allowing more than three sacks a contest in that time.

Availability: 35%
FAAB:
$1-2

Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

Feeling brave? Crazy even? The Dolphins haven’t exactly generated much for fantasy purposes. In the past five weeks, only Atlanta has been less productive. Miami has averaged only one sack a game and a lone takeaway in its past four appearances. There is a tremendous layer of risk associated with trusting Miami, but the way Sam Darnold has played the past two games makes this a worthwhile pursuit.

Availability: 98%
FAAB:
$0-1

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