Fantasy moves to consider for Week 9
Week 8 was chock-full of revelations. Here are a few: Sometimes you need an adequate defense to beat even a hapless team like the Rams. Rob Ryan should never call another team "all-hype." And a quarterback relying entirely on intangibles will not succeed in the NFL.
From a fantasy perspective, we saw our usual share of injury shake-outs, breakout performances and Chris Johnson disappointing on every carry. How does it all affect you as you trudge through the remaining bye weeks and aim to put your best roster forward? Let's discuss.
Johnson owners are understandably furious. A top-three pick in most leagues, he already has been one of the biggest busts in fantasy history, a position solidified Sunday when the Titans split his carries with Javon Ringer. This running back by committee seems to be the Titans' plan moving forward, making Ringer a guy you want to pick up. There is little doubt his workload will increase when Johnson continues to flop. As for Johnson owners, the guy has 302 yards and only one touchdown -- through seven games! DeMarco Murray, who was discovered about 15 seconds ago, has better production, as do virtually all other starting running backs in the league. I have learned not to be sentimental when it comes to fantasy, so if I owned Johnson and needed the roster spot, I would put him on the trading block. If I wasn't offered anyone of value, I might even consider dropping him. At the very least he would no longer be starting.
In other running back news, Montario Hardesty left the Browns game with what we now know is a moderate calf tear. Browns head coach Pat Shurmur, rather unspecifically, said Hardesty "will miss some time." Peyton Hillis is questionable to return from his hamstring injury this week, and if he does, the starting job is waiting for him. But for the moment, Chris Ogbonnaya is the Browns' lone healthy running back and is worth picking up in advance of Sunday's game against the Texans. Ogbonnaya, as Hardesty's replacement, didn't do much against the 49ers, but the same could be said about every running back on the Niners' schedule. The Texans are more inconsistent against the run.
Reggie Bush is a guy you may want to consider picking up. More important than Sunday's stats (15 carries, 103 yards, his first 100-yard game since 2006), is that he finally showed an ability to run on the inside. He may be starting another week or two if Daniel Thomas' hamstring injury lingers. At the very least Bush proved he has more dimensions to add to the Dolphins' running game and should see increased work even if Thomas is back.
Over in Denver, Willis McGahee's hand is supposedly healing nicely, and there's a good chance he returns for this week's game at Oakland. It's a good idea to keep backups Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball for one more week, but if McGahee is back and dominating the workload, those two should get sent to the chopping block.
Also in Denver, we learned Tim Tebow probably won't rival Brett Favre's record for consecutive starts. Not surprisingly, Tebow's mechanics or lack thereof were grossly exposed against a top defense. But he actually didn't have a terrible fantasy day, putting up 12 points in ESPN standard leagues. It looks like John Fox will be sticking with Tebow for the upcoming game at Oakland. Tebow is still not a terrible start as long as he remains a starter.
Kevin Kolb played through a foot injury but left M&T Bank Stadium in a walking boot. His situation should be monitored throughout the week. If Kolb is a go, I would pick him up only as a bye-week replacement. He has been too inconsistent and could net you two points as easily as he could net 20.
The Texans expect Andre Johnson to return for this week's game against Cleveland. His return obviously affects the fantasy value of fellow receivers, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones. Walter gets more targets and is the clear No. 2, so he can be used as a low-end starter in certain leagues. Jones owners should hold on to him and see how he blends into the next chapter of the Andre Johnson offense, but be prepared to upgrade the spot if Jones is incognito this week.
Here are a few more decent pickups off this week's waiver wire:
Braylon Edwards, San Francisco, WR: Edwards was dropped by many when he went in for knee surgery. He had a decent return Sunday, winding up with four catches and 42 yards. Look for Edwards, already targeted seven times this past week, to get more and more chances as the Niners continue expanding their passing attack.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia, TE: While the Mike Vick era has mostly ignored Celek, you can't argue with the 94 yards and touchdown he put up Sunday night. The Eagles will face the Bears, one of the most generous teams to opposing tight ends, Monday night.
Jake Ballard, New York Giants, TE: Ballard has put up more than 50 yards in each of his past three games. It would be nice to see him add to his early-season touchdowns, but his consistent yardage adds value.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, QB: Overshadowed by fellow rookie Cam Newton, Dalton is having an impressive rookie season. He has terrific chemistry with fellow rookie A.J. Green, finding him in the end zone every week at this point. Dalton's overall numbers are robust enough to earn at least a fantasy roster spot if not a starting nod, depending on your situation.
Roy Helu, Washington, RB: Why would I recommend picking a running back who had a grand total of zero carries last week? Because starter Ryan Torain was awful with eight carries and 14 yards, and Mike Shanahan changes his mind a lot. Helu has no value as the Redskins face the Niners this week, but he's a good one to grab for the near future.
Jon Baldwin, Kansas City, WR: The rookie wide receiver shined in his home debut with 82 yards and a touchdown. Used in the slot, he was targeted eight times, second only to Dwayne Bowe. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has already indicated he wants to use Baldwin even more in subsequent games.
As always, please ask any waiver or trade offer questions, and I will respond promptly. Join me for a live chat Friday at 3 p.m. ET with all your tough start/sit decisions.