RB Jahvid Best – Lions
Week 9 Stats: Bye Week
We have no idea when or if Jahvid Best will return this season. I’m not even particularly a big fan of him as a lead back, but this is irrelevant when we’re talking about his fantasy outlook. In fantasy terms, he was becoming one of the best running backs based on his per game output, specifically in PPR leagues.
Through six games, Best was on pace for 1,840 total yards, 72 receptions and eight touchdowns. In most PPR scoring systems, this would rank him just outside the top 5 of the running back position. If he returns it may take him a game or two to get back to this level, but the wait may be well worth it.
If you need some added depth to finish off your playoff run, store Best away in hopes he becomes the final piece to your winning puzzle. None of his backups pose a threat to take away playing time once he does come back.
WR Dez Bryant – Cowboys
Week 9 Stats: 4 Rec (9 Tgts), 76 Yds, 0 TDs
I was recently in favor of reaching out to your league’s Miles Austin owner and making a deal. Now that his other hamstring has given out on him, this suggestion is nearly a lost cause. It has made Laurent Robinson one of the hottest waiver-wire adds for the upcoming weeks. I believe it also makes Bryant a must buy on the trade market.
While Austin’s latest injury may have raised Bryant’s price due to leverage, his performance should keep the price low enough to make it worth your time. Buy him for all the same reasons I liked Austin. While he has a lot of room to grow into the stud wide receiver many project him as, he has shown enough flashes to make him a must have.
RB Daniel Thomas – Dolphins
Week 9 Stats: 7 Att, 12 Yds, 0 TDs
After seeing Reggie Bush continue to get the majority of playing time this past weekend, Daniel Thomas is flying under the radar. He may not return as the main ball-carrier, but he is definitely worth a low-risk buy at this point. I don’t know if you’ve seen his remaining schedule, but it will motivate you to target him immediately.
In four of their next seven games, the Dolphins face the Bills (twice), Redskins and Eagles. According to PFF ratings, each ranks in the bottom half against the run. In their other three games, they go against the Cowboys, Patriots and Raiders. Each of these three rank in the bottom half in yards per rush attempt against. Also, here’s a thing of note for each of the latter three. The Raiders have allowed a running back to exceed one hundred yards rushing or receiving in half their games. Through six games, the best a running back had done against the Cowboys was Steven Jackson’s 70 yards rushing. They have now allowed LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch to run for more than 130 yards in consecutive weeks. The Patriots pose the toughest matchup, but they have allowed a running back score in all but one game.
It’s better to be aggressive now rather than waiting for Thomas to take back the majority of carries. After all, in four of his five games played, Thomas has both played more snaps and led the way in total touches.
QB Matt Ryan – Falcons
Week 9 Stats: 14/24, 275 Yds, 3 TDs, 1 Int
This was to be Matt Ryan’s breakout season and move him into the tier of elite fantasy quarterbacks. Well, the numbers are telling us he’s not quite there. That said, I am very excited about his upcoming schedule. I highly suggest holding onto him at this time.
The Falcons will see the Saints, Titans and Vikings in their next three games. Historically, the Saints have been a solid matchup for Ryan. In five games, he averages 245.6 yards, has completed 65% of aimed passes, and he has totaled 7 touchdown passes. His only awful performance came in 2009, which was the year the Saints went on to win the Super Bowl while forcing the third most interceptions.
This season, the Saints are among the worst at picking off passes. They have also shown to be vulnerable to high-level passers. Of the nine quarterbacks they have seen, six of them have a PFF QB Rating above 80. Of those six, they are averaging 289.5 yards, have completed 62.3% of aimed passes, and are averaging exactly two touchdown passes per game.
When you study what the Titans have done this season, it looks as if they would present a tough matchup. Their performance has been boosted by the lack of competition. They have had the pleasure of only facing three quarterbacks with a PFF QB Rating higher than 80. In the five games against those below 80, they are allowing an average of 229 yards and have allowed less than one touchdown per game. Conversely, the three opponents above 80 have averaged only slightly more yards but they average more than three touchdown passes per game.
Ryan’s three game stretch ends against the Vikings. With a messy secondary, which includes Antoine Winfield coming back from a neck injury and an unknown future for Chris Cook, it’s hard to imagine Ryan having much of a problem here. On the season, all quarterbacks are averaging 292.5 yards, a 3.5 rating in the passing game and nearly two touchdown passes per game. To make matters worse, there are currently seven quarterbacks above a 90 PFF QB Rating for the season. Six of the eight quarterbacks the Vikings have faced scored above 90 in their game against them.
Look for Ryan’s value to soar in the next few weeks. Depending on your league’s trading deadline, wait as long you can through these three games before you consider selling on Ryan.
RB Reggie Bush – Dolphins
Week 9 Stats: 13 Att, 92 Yds, 1 TD, 3 Rec (3 Tgts), 50 Yds, 0 TDs
This is simple. For all the same reasons I want you to buy Daniel Thomas, you should hold onto Reggie Bush. He’s never proven he can be his team’s main ball-carrier, but Daniel Thomas has not stayed healthy this season. In case he continues his recent pace and keeps his current role, Bush is a must hold with the potential the rest of the schedule provides.
RB Roy Helu – Redskins
Week 9 Stats: 10 Att, 41 Yds, 0 TDs, 14 Rec (17 Tgts), 105 Yds, 0 TDs
If I want to play it safe, I should have Helu in the hold category. It looks like he is now the starting running back for the Redskins, but do any of us truly believe this will stick? My biggest concern is people are too excited. Yes, he did perform very well against one of the best run defenses in the league. Truly though, the 49ers are a defense receiving backs can succeed against. You should tread lightly in thinking Helu has it easy from here.
I went back and looked through the PFF vault to study running backs versus the 49ers. The table below shows how they have fared against the top 15 receiving backs in each season since 2008.
Along with what some of the league’s best receiving backs did against them, there were a few more backs who also performed very well in each of the past three seasons. This includes Correll Buckhalter catching seven of nine passes for 85 yards, Leonard Weaver tallying 112 yards and scoring twice on four catches, and Pierre Thomas catching all eight passes thrown his way in a game last season.
Look for some of the same to come when they face Ray Rice and Ahmad Bradshaw, but for purpose of this discussion, this serves as a notice to those expecting big numbers ahead for Helu. If you’ve held onto him this long, I would rather see you use this current spike in value to improve your team elsewhere.