Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 9

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 9

Fantasy football roster management tips, strategy and advice

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 9

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

Bye weeks: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles

Fantasy football waiver wire targets

Quarterbacks

1-week plug & play

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Only Seattle has allowed more fantasy points per game to the position in 2020 than Atlanta, and no roster has permitted more yardage on a weekly basis. The Falcons have given up 2.5 passing touchdowns, on average, while picking off six of 303 attempts over eight contests. Lock has been on the upswing the past two weeks after returning to the field, and with all of the injuries Denver has experienced, including his own, it’s easy to forget he was a candidate by many to break out in 2020. Even with a limited cast of weapons left at his disposal, we’re seeing reserve players pick up the slack. Lock is a viable starter with a modest ceiling this week, or more ideally used as a QB2 in superflex.

Availability: 50%
FAAB: $1-2

Nick Foles, Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Admittedly, it has not been pretty for Foles in Chicago, but he has flashed a few moments of fantasy football utility along the way. He threw three TDs in a half vs. the Falcons in Week 3, and his line of 272-2-1 produced a useful 21.6 fantasy points in Week 8. At Carolina three games ago, he rushed for a score and was able to overcome only 198 passing yards for a barely acceptable 20.3 … nothing to write home about, but he hasn’t been a complete failure, either. The Titans present a good enough matchup that, if you’re in a pinch, Foles can be a serviceable option as a fringe QB1 or a second starter in superflex this week. The position has averaged 277.8 yards and a touchdown every 10 completions, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a line similar to what he posted against the Saints on Sunday when he was the 13th-best passer entering Monday night’s action.

Availability: 51%
FAAB: $1-2

Running backs

Priority Free Agent

Jordan Wilkins, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor has a minor ankle injury, but it’s not being portrayed as a serious factor in his poor Week 8 showing. Two things: Any back seeing 20-plus utilizations in a game belongs on a roster in fantasy leagues, and Wilkins’ strong performance came vs. the Detroit Lions, so keep your expectations in check. The Colts gave Wilkins 20 carries, plus a reception, over Taylor’s 11 carries that generated only 22 yards. While Taylor has not been the powerhouse fantasy gamers had expected, he clearly had a rough day at the office, and the Colts found a spark in Wilkins. Will that kind of carry split continue? Probably not to such an extreme, and there’s something to be said for the idea of a coaching staff possibly giving a rookie a midseason breather in what appears to be a postseason-bound campaign. The reality is this is likely to be a weekly roller coaster. “We kind of rode his hot hand a little bit,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “He just was seeing it well, had great balance, made some great runs,” Reich spoke of Wilkins. Nonetheless, Wilkins a priority addition with a mostly favorable schedule after this week’s meeting with Baltimore.

Availability: 83%
FAAB:
$10-12

1-week plug & play/grab & stash

JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

Simple reminder in case Hasty somehow remains on your wire, which is possible since he’s out there in almost 40 percent of leagues polled. No Raheem Mostert (ankle) once again, and it seems improbable we’ll see Tevin Coleman (knee) return on a short week after getting reinjured in his first game back. Green Bay has been trampled on the ground in 2020, and its defensive personnel isn’t built to be physically dominant vs. running backs. Hasty belongs in all redraft lineups this week and should be useful as long as he has a direct path to meaningful touches.

Availability: 39%
FAAB:
$4-5

grab & stash

NEW — DeAndre Washington, Miami Dolphins

Washington was traded to the Dolphins and has a line of sight to meaningful action. That said, it could take weeks before he’s up to speed on the playbook, and gamers shouldn’t treat him as more than a speculative option for depth in larger leagues.

Availability: 94%
FAAB:
$1-2

Wide receivers

Priority Free Agent

Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

It’s surprising Samuel is available in as many leagues polled as we see. The do-all receiver has rushing touchdowns in consecutive games and added his first receiving TD in Week 8 vs. Atlanta. Since the year began, his worst outing was 5.9 PPR points, and five contests have netted gamers at least 9.2 points, including three straight with 11.4 or more. Having Christian McCaffrey back devalues Samuel’s rushing touchdown odds, but he will maintain a role as a change-of-pace/gadget weapon in all phases of the offensive attack. If nothing else, he’s a competent fill-in as we continue to navigate bye weeks and injuries. Carolina still faces KC, TB, DET, MIN, BYE, DEN, GB and WAS to close out the fantasy season.

Availability: 43%
FAAB:
$4-5

grab & stash

Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Pittman returned to action this week but was hardly involved. Looking forward, the Colts face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, likely rendering the wideout useless once again. His chances go up with CB Marlon Humphrey (COVID-19) out. WR T.Y. Hilton (groin) suffered an injury of unknown severity, and it would be wise of the Indy coaching staff to force-feed Pittman — a natural possession receiver — in an effort to find out what they have in him for the future. Hilton is on his last legs by the looks of 2020’s to-date efforts, and Pittman should be rostered in deeper PPR leagues.

Availability: 70%
FAAB:
$1-2

1-Week Plug & Play/Grab & Stash

Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Each week when writing player analysis for The Huddle, it seems I find myself talking up Mooney. He finally delivered enough on his adequate target volume, going for a career-high 69 yards on five receptions (tied Week 4 high) and his second score as a pro. The rookie has insane speed on the outside and has seen at least five targets in every game since Nick Foles assumed the starting gig. In fact, Mooney has been more involved than WR Anthony Miller in that time. The Tulane product now faces a stellar pair of matchups in a row before heading into the Week 11 bye. Tennessee (second-worst WR defense) and Minnesota (third-worst) are ahead, and Chicago’s Foles-Mooney stack may not be just for contrarian DFS decisions in these two weeks.

Availability: 70%
FAAB:
$1-2

1-Week Plug & Play

Marvin Hall, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Back in the first couple of weeks, when WR Kenny Golladay was out of commission with a hamstring injury, Hall was barely involved, but he managed to score a 24-yard touchdown in Week 2. Golladay left Sunday’s action with a hip issue and didn’t return. As of Monday afternoon, his status is not expected to play this week and will be viewed as week to week. Partly due to the Golladay absence in Week 8, Hall stepped up his game and was targeted seven times, producing 113 yards on four grabs. He brings a vertical element to the passing game, although he isn’t as physically dynamic as the guy he’ll be replacing. This week, the Minnesota matchup is just too good to ignore. The Vikings have allowed receivers to average the third-most fantasy points per game, and no team has permitted touchdowns to the position at a higher frequency than Minnesota’s once every 6.4 catches. Should Golladay be out longer, Detroit faces tough secondaries in Washington, Carolina, Chicago, Green Bay and Tampa in the coming weeks, so take his roster-spot worthiness one week at a time.

Availability: 99%
FAAB:
$1-2

DaeSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Another stack possibility — though it was unintentional — Hamilton could be asked to step up his game in consecutive weeks if WR Tim Patrick (hamstring) remains on the shelf. Monitor this one throughout the week before investing more than a roster spot, since most gamers won’t go here anyway. Atlanta provides a top-five matchup for receivers in Week 9, and Drew Lock is starting to put it together with a hodgepodge cast of weapons. There is tremendous risk in playing Hamilton, so understand what you’re getting out of this gamble. Fourteen receivers in eight games have posted double-digit PPR points against the Falcons, and there’s a good chance the Broncos will have to sling it to keep pace.

Availability: 90%
FAAB:
$0-1

Tight ends

1-Week Plug & Play/Grab & Stash

Ross Dwelley/Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

Initial X-rays on George Kittle’s foot were negative, but further testing says he is likely done for the rest of the fantasy season. The Niners also will be without QB Jimmy Garoppolo this week, and it likely will be Nick Mullens making the start. The Packers have been mostly strong vs. the position, giving up their only touchdown to Rob Gronkowski in Week 6. The next-best performances are 10.2 PPR points from T.J. Hockenson and 9.1 from Hayden Hurst. But the Packers come to town on a short week. Dwelley is the immediate backup to Kittle and would be a low-end starting flier. Keep an eye on what happens with Reed’s activation status from IR. He has progressed much faster than expected. Neither player is going to win your week, but there’s a hint of utility to be found in whichever is the Week 9 starter this Thursday.

Availability: 99% (Dwelley)/94% (Reed)
FAAB: $0 for both

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys

It’s a little strange that Ebron remains on the wire in basically a third of leagues after he had shown some life entering Week 8, which ended up being his season-best performance. The veteran has at least 43 yards in five games this year, and he has scored twice in his last five games. Dallas has given up only mid-tier fantasy points to the position this year, but we’ve witnessed four different players go for at least 11.1 PPR points. The route to justifying fantasy usage has been finding the end zone. Ebron could fill in should Zach Ertz or George Kittle have been your primary starter.

Availability: 34%
FAAB: $3-4

Kickers

1-Week Plug & Play

Stephen Gostkowski, Tennessee Titans vs. Chicago Bears

Sure, he has missed way too many kicks this year, but the opportunity to attempt them has been there. This has been a premium matchup for kickers most of the year, and with Tennessee having concerns at offensive tackle now, plus possibly being without WR Adam Humphries (concussion), the offense could be slowed in a serious way that favors Gostkowski. Chicago has given up 29 field goal attempts in eight games — the next closest team with eight games played has permitted 21 tries.

Availability: 64%
FAAB:
$0-1

Nick Folk, New England Patriots at New York Jets

Even with all that has been wrong with the Patriots offense in 2020, especially of late, Folk has posted at least six fantasy points in five of his last six outings. Serviceable is the idea here … New York has given up 21 three-point attempts in eight games, good for the second-highest figure in football. No team has allowed more extra points. Folk is a fine one-week play who is sure to fly under the radar.

Availability: 94%
FAAB:
$0-1

Defense/specials teams

1-week plug & play

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

It’s hard to get behind a defense that allowed 226 yards and four scores to one player in Week 8, but the Packers head to the Bay Area to tackle a San Fran offense that has been utterly ravaged by injuries. The Niners could (likely will) be without their starting quarterback, two primary running backs, No. 1 receiver, and Hall of Fame-caliber tight end … all on a short week after getting smacked by Seattle. This one feels like it could be ugly in favor of Green Bay.

Availability: 66%
FAAB:
$0-1

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

With both teams returning from a bye week, Houston faces an offense that will start either Mike Glennon — also known as a giraffe on ice — or sixth-round rookie Jake Luton making his NFL debut. Houston has struggled to matter in fantasy this year, and if the defense cannot exploit this situation, you’ll never see me recommend them again in 2020. The point being, understand you’re assuming as much, if not more, risk than reward potential here. The Jaguars have yielded 23 sacks in seven games and 10 turnovers in that window. Both quarterbacks are turnovers waiting to happen.

Availability: 89%
FAAB:
$0-1

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