Players are sorted by position and ranked based on priority. This means that, in most formats, you’ll want to pick up the first name listed if several are available. Note that this advice is strictly for redraft formats and usually will lean towards a fairly standard 12-team PPR league.
David Garrard – Jaguars
Garrard exploded for 5 touchdowns against Dallas on Sunday, but don’t overreact. He’s the same player he was last week: an above average game manager in a below average offense with a fantasy boost thanks to the many occasions he scrambles. Garrard entered this season as our No. 15 fantasy quarterback and little has changed. Currently he sits at 14. Jacksonville will continue to lean on a run heavy attack, limiting Garrard’s pass attempts. In fact, despite the five-score day on Sunday, Garrard recorded only 21 pass attempts. Expect a return to the norm in the coming weeks. He’s a good QB2 with limited upside. Nothing more.
Tarvaris Jackson – Vikings
Jackson is an intriguing name right now when you consider the Vikings current situation. Brett Favre is beat up and, at 2-5, the team is a loss or two away from exiting the playoff picture completely. Randy Moss was already cut loose and it’d be silly for the Vikings to continue relying on an aged, struggling, beat-up Favre if they eventually reach rebuilding mode. In most leagues, he’s not worth rostering right now, but he should be stashed in leagues with deep benches and 2-QB formats.
Troy Smith – 49ers
Troy Smith replaced the injured Alex Smith on Sunday and led the team to a victory over the Broncos. Head coach Mike Singletary hinted that Troy will be the starter going forward after he went 12-of-19 for 196 yards and 2 total touchdowns, while managing to avoid turning the ball over. Although Smith has some added appeal because he will rack up a few extra points with his legs, he’s not a strong fantasy option at this point. The 49ers turned heavily to the run with Smith under center, rushing it a season-high 42 times, compared to a season-low 19 pass attempts. Even if Smith is able to keep his completion rate around 60%, he’s unlikely to throw it enough to keep up with the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks. He’s only worth a speculative bench spot in very deep leagues.
Derek Anderson – Cardinals
Anderson has not yet been named the Cardinals’ starting quarterback going forward, but he was clearly more effective than Max Hall on Sunday. Assuming he gets the nod this weekend, he’s still not worth consideration. Anderson is one of the least talented starting quarterbacks in the league, has little job security, and has already disappointed in his first try this season. Leave him on waivers.
Kerry Collins – Titans
I figured he was worth a mention since he replaced an injured Vince Young on Sunday, but the Titans are on a bye this week and it appears Young has a good chance of recovering in time for the team’s week 10 game. Leave him on waivers.
LeGarrette Blount – Buccaneers
I covered Blount last week, but he’s worth mentioning again after another good performance. Although he will continue to be spelled by Cadillac Williams, especially on 3rd down, it’s becoming clear that Blount is the team’s top ballcarrier. He’s been effective enough in that role to earn RB2 status, even in PPR leagues. Considering that the struggling Williams and, to a lesser extent, fullback Earnest Graham are his only serious threats for carries, he has more job security than you might think. If he’s still on waivers in you league, make sure you get your claim in.
Mike Hart – Colts
After an outstanding effort in Monday night’s win against the Texans, the Colts third string running back might now be their #2 back. Mike Hart drew the start over 2009 first round draft pick Donald Brown and was very effective, racking up 84 yards on 12 carries. Of course, Hart was only playing because starter Joseph Addai is out of action due to injury. Despite the fact that Addai will return to action relatively soon, we should be tempted to hang onto Hart in deeper formats. He’s clearly showing that he can run at the NFL level and seems to be ahead of Brown on the depth chart. Hart is worth using in the flex for now (assuming his MRI checks out and he is healthy enough to play on Sunday), but should only remain on your roster if you have a deep bench once Addai is back.
Keiland Williams / Clinton Portis / James Davis – Redskins
Starter Ryan Torain left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, which opened the door for Keiland Williams to take on a more significant role. Torain’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but it could cost him a few weeks. Williams would immediately take over as the starter and Chad Simpson or recent practice squad addition James Davis would be the backup. Simpson doesn’t offer much upside, but Davis, a 6th round pick by the Browns in 2009, has some appeal, as the Browns only gave him a 13-carry tryout over 2 seasons before cutting ties. It’s also worth noting that Clinton Portis was back at practice today, and he certainly could return to the lineup before the end of the season. Williams is someone to target on waivers if you need a RB this weekend, but he only has value if Torain is out. Portis and Davis are only worth stashing in league’s with very deep benches.
Tashard Choice – Cowboys
Choice saw a little bit of action late in Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville, but is still third in line for carries in Dallas. That being said, Felix Jones’ body isn’t handling a larger role very well and Marion Barber has been ineffective. If you’re looking for an upside guy you can stash and hope opportunity comes his way, Choice is your man. Bernard Scott (Bengals) also fits the bill.
Kevin Smith – Lions
The Lions 2009 starter at tailback is stuck behind rookie Jahvid Best for touches this season, but quietly managed 15 looks on Sunday, compared to 20 for Best. There’s no official word if we’re looking at a timeshare going forward, but Best is clearly the more talented back and should be in line for most of the workload from here on out. Still, Smith is averaging 1.1 more yards per carry than Best and has 2 extra years of experience under his belt. Keep an eye on this duo, but expect a wider gap in touches going forward. Best is a borderline RB1 in PPR, while Smith is no better than a back-end RB4.
Steve Breaston – Cardinals
As expected, Breaston was heavily involved in his return from injury, racking up 8 receptions and 147 yards on 11 targets. Derek Anderson certainly added some juice to the Arizona passing game and Breaston reaped the rewards. Regardless of who is at quarterback, Breaston is a possession wide receiver who will demand most of the targets not directed at Larry Fitzgerald. It’s hard to call anyone in the Cardinals offense reliable this season, but Breaston must be owned as a borderline WR3 going forward.
Nate Burleson – Seahawks
All but tied with Breaston in my current rest-of-season projections, Burleson is going to be very overlooked on the waiver wire this week. Don’t fall into that crowd. Lions tight ends were being targeted on close to 33% of the team’s pass attempts while Matthew Stafford was out, leaving very few looks for any wide receivers not named Calvin Johnson. That changed on Sunday, with Stafford targeting the tight end on just 6 of his 45 pass attempts, while looking to Burleson on 9 occasions. Burleson, who exploded out of the gate with a handful of big games to start the 2009 season, responded with 7 receptions and 47 yards. Although that isn’t overly impressive, it works out to a solid 11.7 points in PPR leagues. The Lions are the pass heaviest team in football and Stafford clearly prefers throwing to the wide receiver more than the tight end. Burleson should see close to 18% of the targets from here on out, which will translate into close to 40 receptions, 400 yards, and 3 scores. He’s a must-own in all leagues as a borderline WR3 with upside.
Sidney Rice / Greg Camarillo / Bernard Berrian / Greg Lewis – Vikings
Randy Moss is out the door, which re-opens the door for plenty of Vikings wide receivers. Prior to the Moss trade a few weeks ago, the Vikings had acquired Greg Camarillo, with the hopes that he could help replace Sidney Rice as a possession receiver. Instead, he was targeted only 5 times over 3 games and has seen only 2 total targets since Moss’ arrival. Meanwhile, Berrian and Lewis have seen about the same number of targets/game since the Moss trade. The moral of the story here is that the only Vikings wide receiver you can rely on is Percy Harvin. Camarillo might be worth a bench spot in deep PPR leagues and Berrian the same in deep standard scoring leagues, but that’s about it. As for Sidney Rice, he’s still a few weeks away and certainly has some risk, but he’s worth stashing in most formats. If he returns, he will immediately see a significant role in the passing game.
Jordy Nelson / James Jones – Packers
I’ve been monitoring the Packers receiving situation closely since the season-ending injury to Jermichael Finley. Although the numbers are also skewed due to Donald Driver’s injury limitations, it’s worth noting that Driver has only seen 1% more of the team’s targets than James Jones and 3% more than Jordy Nelson this season. In fact, Nelson has seen exactly 7 targets each of the last 3 games, making him an intriguing add in PPR leagues. Jones has seen 16 targets over the last 3 games, but was targeted exactly 8 times twice over the last 4 games. The beat-up Driver, meanwhile, has been targeted a grand total of 9 times over the team’s last 3 games. Nelson and Jones should both be considered WR4s in PPR leagues, but, until they stop canceling each other out or Driver officially is out of action, neither are safe starts.
Brandon Gibson – Rams
The Rams’ struggle to replace Mark Clayton continues. Gibson paced the Rams with 7 targets, 6 receptions, and 67 yards on Sunday, and has seen a WR-high 17 balls thrown his way since the team’s first game without Clayton (week 6). Sam Bradford continues to complete short passes, which bodes well for Gibson in deep PPR leagues, but upside here is limited. The Rams offense lacks explosiveness and, although he might have an edge on everyone not named Danny Amendola, Gibson is in a rotation for targets and is not a safe play in fantasy. He’s not quite a WR5 in PPR formats.
Brandon Tate – Patriots
Tate will see his ownership rise this week, but it’s not really justified. He caught 3 passes for 101 yards, including a 65 yard touchdown on Sunday, but all of that came despite only 4 targets. Tate is a playmaker with tons of upside, but he’s 4th in line for targets in New England and isn’t seeing enough snaps to make a consistent fantasy impact. Games like this were expected and will continue to pop up once in a while, but it won’t be on a weekly basis. The upside makes him worth rostering in deep leagues, but that’s it.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Raiders
Heyward-Bey finally made a splash, racking up 135 total yards and a score on 5 receptions (9 targets) on Sunday. Consider, however, that the team’s top WR, Louis Murphy, was out of action. Furthermore, Zach Miller/Darren McFadden combined for only 4 targets on Sunday despite averaging close to 12 combined most weeks. Add to the equation that oft-injured, but talented Chaz Schilens is due back in the next few weeks and Heyward-Bey isn’t looking quite as appealing. Still, the 7th overall pick from 2009 has upside, which makes him at least worth bench consideration in the deepest of leagues.
Jerricho Cotchery – Jets
Cotchery led the Jets in targets by a long shot on Sunday, and, as predicted in our pre-season projections, leads the team this season in the same department. Unfortunately for his fantasy stock, he has caught fewer than half his targets and has scored only one touchdown. In fact, Santonio Holmes has only caught half of his 20 targets, meaning Braylon Edwards is currently the only one of the “big three” to have caught more than half his targets. Condering Edwards caught only 48% a season ago and just 40% in 2008, that is quite surprising. Regardless, Holmes should continue to be viewed as the team’s top fantasy wide receiver going forward. Although he will see similar targets to Cotchery, Edwards, and tight end Dustin Keller, he is the best playmaker and will see a spike in snaps as the year progresses. Edwards’ knack for long receptions and touchdowns puts him #2 on the list, leaving the oft-unappreciated Cotchery as only the 3rd best fantasy option. Leave him on the waiver wire, as there is not much upside here.
Damian Williams – Titans
It appears that Kenny Britt will be out for, at least, a handful of games, which means an increase in the fantasy stock of the other Titans wide receivers. Unfortunately for the rookie Williams, who saw 9 targets, but caught just 2 on Sunday, Justin Gage is expected back after the team’s week 9 bye. The Titans are a run-heavy team and can’t support a third wide receiver’s fantasy value. Leave him on waivers.
Donte Stallworth – Ravens
Stallworth is expected back this weekend after missing the first eight weeks of this season and the entire 2009 season. The Ravens are a run-first team and Stallworth is behind Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Ray Rice, and possibly T.J. Houshmandzadeh for targets. He certainly adds a downfield dynamic to the offense, but he’ll be lucky to see 3-4 targets most weeks. He’s absolutely not worth your time.
Jacob Tamme – Colts
I mentioned Tamme last week, but that was before his first game as a regular in the Colts offense. Last night, we saw the receiving tight end rack up 6 receptions on 9 targets for 64 yards and 1 touchdown. That line looks a lot like one we might see from his predecessor Dallas Clark. The Colts clearly plan to utilize Tamme exactly how they used Clark. Tamme might not be quite as talented or experienced, but he will see enough work to warrant TE1 consideration the rest of the way. He should be owned in all formats.
Visanthe Shiancoe – Vikings
The Randy Moss trade is good news for the fantasy stock of Visanthe Shiancoe. If you recall, he was one of Brett Favre’s favorite targets prior to the Moss acquisition, racking up 17 targets, 11 receptions, 169 yards, and 1 score during weeks 1-3. In the 4 games since Moss’ arrival, he’s totaled 18 targets, 9 receptions, 96 yards, and 0 touchdowns. Shiancoe will, once, again, be one of Favre’s top targets and should be considered a borderline TE1.