Risers & Fallers – Week 9

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The second of back to back weeks with six teams on a bye week is upon us.  Fantasy owners have a light at the end of the tunnel and the two most brutal weeks, from a fantasy standpoint at least, are almost over.  What a week it was.  We saw two 50 point performances, one wasn’t a surprise, but the other, wow.  In the words of the immortal Harry Carey, “Holy Cow!”  I know, I know, wrong sport, but the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles were certainly deserving of those words.  While Carson Wentz has been on the top of most fantasy lists, his fellow top two draft selection joins him atop the list this week…

RISER OF THE WEEK:

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Where did this come from??  While we have come to expect great things from Wentz and the Eagles, Goff and the Rams are still somewhat of a mystery to us.  A prime matchup against the struggling Giants was a perfect situation for Goff’s owners this week.  Goff ripped the Giants defense for 311 yards on only 22 pass attempts and threw four touchdown passes on the day, pushing him over the 35 point mark in standard fantasy leagues.  Goff has come into his own as the Rams’ starter and is only getting better as time goes on, much like the other QB drafted in the top two in last year’s draft.  The Rams are back in Southern California next week for a home matchup against the injury depleted Houston Texans.  Goff is a must start if he’s on your roster.

RISERS:

Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia

A change of scenery seems to be just what Ajayi, and his fantasy owners, needed.  Against one of the league’s best run defenses, Ajayi had his best fantasy day of the season.  After being traded from Miami on Tuesday, Ajayi racked up 77 yards on only eight carries and found the end zone for the first time this season in the Eagles’ 51-23 demolition of the Super Bowl 50 champions.  Projections had him in the low single digits for Sunday’s game, but fantasy owners who took the chance were rewarded handsomely.  With the Eagles’ high powered offense humming along like a well-oiled machine, Ajayi will only benefit from his new surroundings.  The Eagles have their bye week in Week 10, but will return to face a Dallas team that’s allowing over 100 rush yards per game.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia

While we’re on the subject of the red-hot Eagles, let’s move to another member of that potent offense.  Jeffery has seen his production increase over the past few weeks, and it’s more probable than not that this trend will continue.  Jeffery has found the end zone each of the past two weeks and led the team in targets again on Sunday with 11.  Jeffery hauled in six of those passes for a game high 84 yards and two touchdowns, pushing him over the 20 point mark today.  With the evolution of the Eagles’ passing game, it stands to reason that Jeffery will continue to see his numbers climb and owners will do well to keep looking his way as long as Wentz does.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans

While a couple weeks ago, it looked as if Mark Ingram would take over the workload in New Orleans, Kamara has quieted those rumors, as well as his critics in recent games.  Kamara’s emergence in the passing game has made him one of the most integral cogs in Sean Payton’s offense going forward.  Kamara played a huge role in the Saints’ 30-10 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.  While he only saw ten carries, to Ingram’s 16, Kamara was targeted seven times (second most on the team,) and was the team’s leading receiver with 84 yards.  Kamara also found the end zone once on the ground and once through the air, giving him a nice fantasy point total for the day.  New Orleans faces a tough Buffalo defense next week, but the offense is moving along very nicely and Kamara will see another decent workload in Week 10.

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets

While we talked about Bilal Powell’s struggles recently, Forte took matters into his own hands Thursday night.  After complaining that the Jets aren’t running the ball enough, Forte showed why the running game is a huge part of the Jets’ offense.  Forte carried 14 times in the 34-17 win over the division leading Bills, and racked up 77 yards and two touchdowns.  For fantasy owners that took the chance and started Forte, these numbers were a welcome sight.  Going forward, Forte looks to keep his hold on the rushing touches and the Jets face a struggling Tampa Bay defense next week.  Forte remains a solid play heading in to that matchup.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee

After recovering from an injury that kept him out of a game a few weeks back, Mariota looks to be regaining his form and has the Titans heading in the right direction.  Tennessee came back from their bye week with a fresh look and took care of business against Baltimore on Sunday.  Mariota completed 19 of 28 passes for 218 yards and two scores against one of the toughest pass defenses in the league.  While Mariota’s numbers weren’t the flashiest of the day, it’s the fact that he’s heading in the right direction that makes fantasy owners so happy.  The Titans have won three straight and face Cincinnati next week in another strong matchup for Mariota and company.  The Bengals are a shadow of their former selves and Mariota could be in line for a big day.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas

For the most part, Prescott has avoided the dreaded sophomore curse that has the tendency to strike young quarterbacks.  Prescott has produced steady numbers and remains a solid fantasy lock.  Prescott completed 21 of 33 passes in Sunday’s 28-17 win over the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, and totaled 249 yards and added two touchdowns to his season total.  The Cowboys managed to avoid a turnover and proved that they deserve some of the attention in the NFC East as well.  Dallas heads to Atlanta for a potential NFC Championship preview in Week 10, and Prescott remains a must start in next week’s matchup.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo

While Buffalo did lose their Thursday night matchup against the division rival Jets, the Bills are definitely proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.  The Bills remain a legitimate contender to the Patriots for the AFC East title and Taylor has been a huge part of it.  The acquisition of Kelvin Benjamin adds a new dimension to the Bills offense and if the passing game can reach the level of Buffalo’s elite defense, this team could be primed for a deep playoff run.  Buffalo has a home date next week with the revitalized New Orleans Saints, but that defense has been suspect in the early stages of the season and Taylor could be in line for a decent game.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay

With Jameis Winston suffering from an injured shoulder that ultimately took him out of Sunday’s loss to New Orleans, the offense is in need of some stability.  Who better to look to than Martin?  With the question marks surrounding the quarterback position the Buccaneers’ offense may look to Martin to carry much of the workload until Winston is back to full speed.  Martin has a favorable matchup in Week 10 against the New York Jets, and although he struggled with a good matchup this week, owners may want to look his way with the Bucs’ offense in limbo.

Greg Zuerlein, K, Los Angeles Rams

We’ve reached the halfway point of the season and why not show a kicker some love?  Zuerlein has been one of the most dependable kickers in the league this season and Sunday was another good day of production.  Greg “The Leg” converted all six extra point attempts, and added three field goals in the Rams’ 51 point outburst against the Giants on Sunday.  The Rams face a porous Texans’ defense on Sunday and the potential for another high scoring game is definitely there.

FALLER OF THE WEEK:

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston

While we’re talking about the Texans, there is no other choice for this infamous spot than Watson.  While questions remain about exactly when Watson tore the ACL in his right knee, when the news came across on Thursday that Watson was done for the season, a collective groan went up from Texans’ fans and fantasy owners alike.  Watson was one of the few bright spots for the Texans this season and his injury will send ripples through the league and fantasy leagues.  Watson has not yet decided when to have surgery to repair the injury, but the timetable for a return is eight to nine months.  Owners will have to take a wait till next year approach to see what Watson can do.

FALLERS:

Broncos D/ST, Denver

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  The league’s best defense two years ago, and arguably the reason Denver won Super Bowl 50, the Broncos’ defense took a serious beating at the hands of Carson Wentz and the Eagles on Sunday.  While only allowing Wentz to throw for 199 yards, the Broncos’ D also allowed four touchdown passes and three on the ground.  The only reason Denver ended up on the positive side of the scoresheet was a late fumble recovery touchdown from linebacker Brandon Marshall.  Things don’t get any easier next week when perennial MVP candidate Tom Brady and the defending champion New England Patriots come to town.

Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas

In a week that started so promising for owners who stashed Morris on their rosters, awaiting the on again/off again suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, it took a downward spiral after it was announced that a judge had allowed a temporary stay of the suspension, meaning that Elliott was eligible to play on Sunday against the Chiefs.  Morris only saw one carry for eleven yards and only remains of any value if Elliott’s suspension holds.  Owners with an available spot will probably want to keep Morris on the bench just in case, but that’s about it.

Will Fuller, WR, Houston

It’s hard to imagine anyone on the Texans’ roster (aside from Watson himself, of course,) that is more impacted by the injury to quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Fuller had seen an increase in productivity with Watson at the helm, but that’s gone now.  Fuller still remains the Texans’ number two receiver but it was clear in Sunday’s loss to the lowly Colts, exactly how much they will miss Watson.  Fuller tied for second on the team in targets with eight, but only managed two catches for 32 yards.  With Tom Savage at QB, owners may be wise to look elsewhere for help at the WR position.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington

While it did come against the tough defense that is the Seattle Seahawks, Cousins had a largely forgettable day on Sunday.  He only managed 247 yards through the air and was kept out of the end zone, although he was instrumental in moving the Redskins down the field on the final, game winning drive.  Cousins has shown that he struggles against the elite defenses in the league and the road doesn’t get any easier over the next couple of weeks.  The Redskins are home against the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings next week and at New Orleans in Week 11.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay

While we mentioned Winston’s shoulder injury earlier and it landed him on this list last week, it looks to be a bigger issue than originally thought.  Winston was knocked out of Sunday’s game against the Saints with the same injury and didn’t return.  The nagging shoulder injury will affect Winston’s performance, and until he’s healthy, owners may want to look elsewhere for production.

Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay

While the Buccaneers struggled as a whole on Sunday against the Saints, Brate was arguably the biggest flop of the day.  Only targeted four times, Brate managed a miserable 1.9 PPR points in the Bucs’ loss.  It is worth noting that the other TE on the field for Tampa Bay, Luke Stocker, managed 9.3 points, due to his touchdown reception.  The fact that Stocker was targeted near the end zone doesn’t bode well for fantasy owners.  That, combined with the Winston injury, throws a big red flag for Brate’s owners over the next couple of weeks.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver

While any number of the Broncos could have made this list, it looks as though Anderson’s value is the one that drops the most.  Anderson left the game briefly in the second quarter with an ankle injury, although he did return in the second half.  The severity of the injury isn’t the issue, it’s the Broncos’ offensive ineptitude that leads fantasy owners to worry.  In Sunday’s blowout at the hands of the Eagles, the offensive snaps were split pretty evenly between Anderson, Devontae Booker, and Jamaal Charles.  The “Running back by committee” approach is never good for fantasy owners and this appears to be where Denver is heading.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas

While the severity of Bryant’s ankle injury is yet unknown, he left Sunday’s game against the Chiefs in the fourth quarter and did not return.  Prior to that, Bryant was targeted a team high eleven times, hauling in six passes for 73 yards.  Owners will want to monitor Bryant’s status closely heading into Dallas’ Week 10 matchup against the Falcons in Atlanta.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati

In what is a personification of Cincinnati’s struggles this season, Green let his emotions get the best of him and got into a scuffle with one of Jacksonville’s defenders in the Jaguars’ 23-7 win on Sunday.  Green only had one catch for six yards and was ejected for fighting late in the second quarter.  It’s highly possible that the league will suspend Green for his actions and fantasy owners will be forced to look for a replacement for the perennial pro-bowler.  Any suspensions or penalties will likely be announced by the league mid-week, so fantasy owners will want to keep a close eye on the proceedings.

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I’m 38 years old and was born and raised in Price, Utah, a small town about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City. Fantasy football has been a major hobby of mine for the past 15 years, and I compete in several leagues annually, having won a league championship numerous times over. While I am an avid follower of all sports, football is definitely my favorite.