Fantasy Football: Week 9 Pickups
Montee Ball, RB (DEN)--After much disappointment through the first half of the season, Montee Ball is back on the fantasy radar after a solid performance on Sunday. Ball took over the role of Ronnie Hillman, who was a healthy scratch, finishing with 12 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos win over the Redskins. Some may think that Ball isn't worth top dollar this week, considering he is the clear No. 2 option in the running game behind Knowshon Moreno, but the Broncos are in it for the haul and will need to keep Moreno fresh for the playoffs. The Broncos have a Week 9 bye, so Ball will get plenty of reps with the first team the next two weeks in practice, which will only help his chances of gaining more playing time. Expect him to get a similar workload as we saw Sunday moving forward, and possibly a bump in touches once the Broncos clinch a playoff spot, making him a solid flex play at the very least.
Marvin Jones, WR (CIN)--There is a good chance Marvin Jones will be the top waiver-wire add this week, and for good reason. Jones is tied atop the wide receiver scoring list with Calvin Johnson after scoring 36 fantasy points in standard league scoring in Week 8, finishing with eight receptions for 122 yards and four touchdowns in the Bengals win over the Jets. Entering the season, Jones was looked at to be the team's No. 3 or No. 4 option in the passing game, but as the season progresses his production continues to improve, leading to increased playing time. Although a repeat of last week is unlikely, opposing defenses have to give most of their attention to Green, which will lead to more opportunities for Jones to produce now that he has solidified himself as the team's second option in the passing game. Looking ahead, the Bengals are matched up against the Dolphins, Ravens and Browns the next three weeks, two of which have elite top cornerbacks, so there is a good chance Jones extends his touchdown streak, which is currently at three weeks, before hitting the bye-week.
Aaron Dobson, WR (NE)--For the first time since Week 2, Aaron Dobson totaled double-digit fantasy points after hauling in four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots win over the Dolphins. He was only targeted five times in the contest, but was able to make the most of the limited opportunities, which marks the first time in his rookie season that he has converted 80 percent or more of the passes thrown his way. It is starting to become pretty clear that Tom Brady favors Dobson over the likes of Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman, after both players totaled three targets combined on Sunday, leaving Dobson the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. While it has been hard to forecast how the targets will be distributed in the Patriots passing game so far in 2013, but 22 targets over the last three games for Dobson is something worth investing in.
Shane Vereen, RB (NE)--The Patriots running game has been a mess, to put it lightly, but their backfield will be getting a boost as soon as Week 11 when Shane Vereen is eligible to come off Injured Reserve. Vereen had a monster performance in Week 1, finishing with 14 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown while hauling in seven receptions for 58 yards before suffering a wrist injury. For some reason, and I don't know why, he is sitting on the waiver-wire in more than 50 percent of leagues throughout the major providers, despite being the top option for the Patriots once he returns. Both Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden have failed to claim their stake of the backfield up to this point, so it appears to be Vereen's for the taking. In standard leagues he should be considered a RB2 upon returning, while having RB1 upside in PPR leagues from what we saw in Week 1.
Andre Brown, RB (NYG)--The Patriots backfield may be a mess, but it has not even come close to having the issues the Giants have had in their running game in 2013. After losing Andre Brown in the preseason with a broken leg, the team has now gone through five running backs over the last eight weeks in an effort to try and muster up some semblance of a running game to balance out their pass-first offensive philosophy. Going up against bad defenses the last two weeks, Peyton Hillis has been able to help the Giants in the short term, although once Brown returns he will likely be the featured back. Since he has yet to play in the regular season it is hard to speculate how the carries will be split once he is back, but if he can get back to the level we saw this preseason, Brown could be the type of player to help fantasy owners for the stretch run. He will be eligible to return in Week 10, so now is the time to buy-in before his stock skyrockets once the team makes it official.
Kenny Stills, WR (NO)--Despite recording only three receptions in Week 8, Kenny Stills was able to make the best of his limited opportunities, finding the end zone twice in the Saints win over the Bills. Stills has now scored touchdowns in back-to-back games, and while Drew Brees continues to spread the ball around to all receivers, he appears to have taken over as the deep threat, which is going to result in big plays moving forward. However, the same factor that will lead to his success may also limit his fantasy upside. The limited targets make it difficult to start him outside of the flex position, leading to a boom or bust label for the Saints downfield burner. With that said, there is still some upside moving forward, especially if Marques Colston continues to struggle and the fragile Lance Moore suffers another injury (which is bound to happen at some point).
Jonathan Stewart, RB (CAR)--Here we go again. The Panthers will be welcoming back Jonathan Stewart to the backfield mix, after missing the first half of the season with an ankle injury. The team has already stated that once activated from the PUP list, he will be used in the Panthers offense, making a mess of what has already been a headache between De'Angelo Williams and Mike Tolbert. While I don't recommend getting involved in situations like this, Stewart has the skill set to take over the role from Williams and Tolbert if given the opportunity. It is likely going to take an injury to one of the other backs before he is a viable fantasy option, but he is still worth adding in most fantasy formats to give depth to your roster as the fantasy playoffs approach. Just don't go crazy if you are in a league that uses FAAB for free agent acquisitions.
Scott Chandler, TE (BUF)--With not many options to discuss from the tight end position following Week 8, Scott Chandler tops the list after a solid outing in the Bills loss to the Saints. Chandler was targeted 11 times by Thaddeus Lewis, hauling in seven catches for 72 yards, which tied him with Stevie Johnson in all three categories for the game. While Chandler isn't a TE1, with top options heading into bye-weeks the next few weeks, he becomes a decent option to get through the bye-week blues. It is hard to imagine he will get double-digit targets two weeks in a row, but considering Robert Woods has been MIA. the last few weeks, he may just be the second-best option in the Bills passing game.
Case Keenum, QB (HOU)--The former Houston Cougars standout has now taken his game to the professional level, and has been anointed the Texans starter for the second straight game after a solid Week 7 performance, despite Matt Schaub being cleared to play. In his only start of the season, he was able to manage the game well against one of the best defenses in the league, finishing with 13 fantasy points in standard leagues. His total would have been higher, but he was stripped and charged with a fumble lost on the team's last effort to take over the game. It is unknown if the team is planning on going with Keenum long term, but with a favorable schedule the rest of the way, he could be an option for those looking for a bye-week filler in the upcoming days.
Mike Brown, WR (JAC)--A lot of talk has been circulating around Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts this season, but those two players aren't the only names to know in Jacksonville. Mike Brown has now scored double-digit fantasy points in standard leagues in back-to-back games, despite limited targets in the Jaguars passing game. With most of the attention being placed on Shorts and Blackmon, Brown has become a reliable target for Chad Henne, and that shouldn't change anytime soon, considering the Jaguars will be playing from behind more times than not. Those looking for depth at wide receiver will want to give Brown a hard look because the team's schedule does not get much more favorable following their Week 9 bye.
Defensive Matchup Play of the Week
Oakland Raiders Defense/Special Teams--Coming off of a solid performance against the Steelers, the Raiders defense will be looking for a repeat when they welcome the Eagles to town. Recent news from Philadelphia indicated that Michael Vick will not be under center on Sunday, which downgrades the team's offense significantly after what we saw from both Nick Foles and Matt Barkley last time around. The Raiders are solid against the run and good enough in the secondary to have a chance to force turnovers, making them a sneaky play this week on the defensive side of the ball. In standard scoring leagues, the Raiders have totaled 10 or more fantasy points three of their last four games, and there is a good chance that will happen again this week in the Black Hole.
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Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information. And, to make setting your Fantasy Football lineup easy, be sure to utilize RotoInfo.com’s new NFL Lineup Grids.
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