There was a lot of action in week nine of the NFL season, some really good and some really bad. The good: Nick Foles getting in the record books with seven touchdowns on the road at the Oakland Raiders after the Eagles looked dead on offense the past few weeks, and the Kansas City Chiefs somehow finding another way to pull out a close victory on the road in Buffalo to remain undefeated. The bad: Aaron Rodgers fracturing his left collarbone against the Bears and the Packers then falling to the Bears, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers choking away a big lead on the road at Seattle and then falling to the Seahawks in overtime.
Week nine meant a chance to cement your team as a true contender at the top of your division or one that may just play spoiler down the stretch. Also, another week of fantasy football means another week of hits and misses from this column (mostly misses as it was a bad week). The hits: Terrelle Pryor (yardage totals only), Tim Wright, Emmanuel Sanders, and DeAndre Hopkins. The rest are classified as misses.
Remember: This column is not designed to spotlight the top options at each position. If you are looking for advice on start/sit options or top players at a specific position, check out our rankings and other columns throughout the week. This is going to be a weekly spotlight of one player from each game this weekend that has a shot to be a nice flex or last starting option (a WR3 or RB3 for example). Will they all produce a large number of points? No. These are nice lottery tickets to fill in on your team and give you a chance to steal the win.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Steven Jackson (Atlanta Falcons) – A former big name running back in fantasy circles, Jackson has fallen on bad times this year dealing with an injury and some ineffectiveness in the offensive attack of the Falcons. But, this week he gets a defense he knows really well from his time in St. Louis, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have looked pretty weak against the run the past few games, getting shredded by the likes of Mike James and Zac Stacy. While they most likely have focused their practices on correcting their errors, the Seahawks will not turn this trend around right away. Jackson looked more comfortable last week getting 13 carries for 57 yards. He’ll look even better this week as the Falcons go away from being a total pass-first offense and mix the run in. Jackson gets 17 carries for 90 yards and a score (his first with the Falcons).
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Kris Durham (Detroit Lions) – I’m liking Kris Durham again this week for the Detroit Lions. The Bears have to focus their entire defense around stopping Calvin Johnson after the ridiculous numbers he put up last game out. The Bears have to make the Lions use someone else to beat them. While Megatron gets that double and triple coverage, Durham should get the one-on-one matchups and benefit once again from them. He gets five catches for 60 yards and a possible score on a fade route.
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers
Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles) – If I knew Nick Foles was going to the starter last week at the time this column was produced, I would have thrown Cooper into last week’s diamonds. Yes, I know it is a week late, but I’m going to talk about him now since it looks like Foles has ended the quarterback shuffle in Philly. Nick Foles loves throwing the ball and loves to throw the ball to Riley Cooper, as evidenced in the prior performances where Foles was the starting quarterback for the Eagles. The prior numbers include: four catches for 120 yards and a score against Tampa Bay, six catches for 88 yards against Dallas, and five catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns last week against Oakland. Well, that should tell the story. Foles will find a way to keep hitting Cooper throughout the game and he could develop into a high WR3/low WR2. Cooper gets five catches for 75 yards and a score.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Mike Brown (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Well, the goodbye to Justin Blackmon for the year opens up the number two receiver slot for Mike Brown. The good news is that Brown has produced in the Jaguars offense even with Blackmon and Cecil Shorts in the lineup. He totaled five catches for 120 yards against the Chargers two games ago, and he had three receptions for 43 yards and a score against the 49ers last game. So, the production is there and now there is more opportunity to be on the field. He reminds me a bit of former Jaguar Mike Thomas, a guy that just produces despite not being on the radar of most fantasy owners. The Titans have a good defense, but the Jags will have to throw from behind like most games and this will give Brown plenty of chances to have a nice day at the office. Brown gets five catches for 75 yards and a score.
St. Louis Rams at Indianapolis Colts
Griff Whalen (Indianapolis Colts) – I said on Twitter this past Sunday night (check me out @DJ_Gilman) that Griff Whalen could be a name to watch in deep leagues in future weeks. I think the Stanford connection with Andrew Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is a big factor in this reasoning, along with the need for a slot receiver to take over Reggie Wayne’s place. Whalen was targeted nine times against the Houston Texans. Luck seems to have wanted to throw the ball a lot to his former college teammate. While he only grabbed three of those targets for 32 yards, I believe in the potential that could be realized in the future. Remember that this is more of a deep league play, but I like the pickup of Whalen if you are in need of a last wide receiver. He gets five catches for 45 yards.
Oakland Raiders at New York Giants
Rashad Jennings (Oakland Raiders) – Hey, can you guess which Oakland Raider is hurt again? Yep, it is Darren McFadden. I doubt he tests out the hamstring injury this week on the road at the New York Giants. So, that leaves another stint in the starting lineup for Jennings, who produced well when his number has been called. While the numbers last week against the Eagles were inflated by the porous defense he faced, he did get 102 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and seven receptions for 74 yards. So, the Raiders did use him as the focal point of their offense. While the New York Giants will provide a much tougher test on defense than the Eagles did, I would not hesitate to start Jennings since he will get the carries throughout the whole game. Jennings gets 17 carries for 100 yards and a score with three receptions for 35 yards.
Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dan Carpenter (Buffalo Bills) – This is based on the return of EJ Manuel to the Bills and the disappearance of “Tuel Time” in Western New York. Carpenter has had a very good season so far and most of his production has been under the Manuel-led offense. The Steelers’ defense is very suspect as shown in their performance at New England a week ago. The Bills should have a nice day putting up points against the lost Steelers. Carpenter should return to the level of 10 points per game that he was at earlier in the season when Manuel was running the show. He will cash in a few times with field goals and extra points this Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals defense – The Ravens are just lost on the offensive end. They cannot consistently run the ball with Ray Rice and they cannot consistently pass the ball with Joe Flacco. They are just a mess right now as shown in their underwhelming performance against the Cleveland Browns a week ago. Just watching that game made me wonder how the Ravens can fix their problems. They may get a drive here and a drive there that lasts over 10 plays, but they are few and far between. The Bengals defense has been an up-and-down unit so far this season. The loss of Geno Atkins hurts their run stopping unit, but the rookie Margus Hunt has the potential to step in and produce on a high level. This week the Bengals step up and hold the Ravens to 10 points, with three sacks and an interception.
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
Mario Manningham (San Francisco 49ers) – Manningham is expected to return to the lineup this week for the 49ers after being out with a knee injury last December. While it would be unfair to expect great production from game one, he will be a much needed boost for a team that has Kyle Williams as the second outside receiver. Manningham has been a reliable option throughout his time in San Francisco, a trusted target for the quarterback with his sure hands. He will not be out there for a full load of plays this week, but he will get enough time out there to produce solid numbers. He gets three catches for 40 yards in his first game back and is a good desperate play if you need a receiver.
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington (Arizona Cardinals) – Rashard Mendenhall is still limited in practice with turf toe and he hasn’t been the most durable back throughout his career. So, Ellington will be the beneficiary of Mendenhall’s injury proneness and lack of major production when healthy. What I especially like from the Cardinals’ backfield situation is what Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians said in regards to Ellington’s role in the future. He would like to get the young back as many as 20 touches per week and get him more involved in the passing game. This is great news for Ellington owners and if he is available, I’d scoop him up. In regards to this week, he will get his touches no matter if Mendenhall suits up or not. I think he gets the full load as Mendenhall is not ready. Ellington gets 15 carries for 100 yards and a score, plus five catches for 40 yards (a great PPR play).
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
Eddie Royal (San Diego Chargers) – Royal returned to the end zone the last two weeks after a stretch of low productivity. While he is not practicing so far this week, he did not practice at all before the previous two games and he still played; so I would not read too much into him missing practice. The Chargers will have to keep throwing and throwing in order to keep up with the high-powered Broncos offense and Rivers will need to spread the ball around to be successful. I think Royal has a sneaky good game with five receptions for 65 yards and a score against his former team.
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
DeMarco Murray (Dallas Cowboys) – There was some expectations of a breakout season by Murray and none of them have come about so far. He had four runs against the Vikings last week, a number which is truly ridiculous. The Cowboys will need to pound the rock on the road to survive against the Saints. The Cowboys will not win a pure shootout as Drew Brees will out perform Tony Romo almost every time. Plus, the way to beat the Saints is on the ground, where they let up around five yards a carry to opposing backs. Thus, the Cowboys will have to … give Murray some carries? Gasp!! They will have to do that!! Murray gets 15 carries for 75 yards and a score as the Cowboys try to become balanced on the offensive end.
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tim Wright (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – This game has better intrigue for the off-field storylines than the ones on the field. On one side, there are the Miami Dolphins and they are dealing with the bullying controversy that has dominated the news cycles. On the other side, there are the Buccaneers and they are dealing with not wanting to play for their head coach and choking away a great chance at their first win a week ago. I picked Wright again this week under the same reasoning as last week. Mike Williams is out for the year and Wright has taken control of the second option spot in the passing game as Mike Glennon will need to find someone else to throw to on Monday besides the sure-to-be double covered Vincent Jackson. He’s been targeted five or more times in four of the last five games and grabbed another score a week ago. Another solid week for Wright as he snatches five catches for 50 yards and a score.
As you head out into the rest of week ten in the NFL, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. This is all about filling that last flex spot in your starting lineup with a guy that has a good matchup or a solid chance of production. These guys are my best options for that to occur. I wish everyone luck in their tenth week of the season and hope your team starts the stretch run of the season with a bang.