Offensive Deep League Gems — Week 9
It’s Week 9 in the NFL, which means the push for the fantasy football playoffs begins now. If you’re not happy with your roster, however, that means frequent trips to the waiver wire, trying to find that perfect missing piece that will turn your middling squad into a true contender.
This task is much harder in deeper leagues. Competing against a dozen or more other owners often means a waiver wire seemingly picked bare of value. Not helping matters are the six teams on their bye in Week 9, three of whom are major producers of fantasy football talent—the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers. If you don’t have the replacements for these bye-week players on the bench, to the waiver wire you must go. In deep leagues, this can feel like bobbing for apples in the dark rather than shopping well-stocked aisles.
That’s why we put together a list of some of the best waiver wire additions for the week, especially designed for general managers in deeper leagues. Here are four deep league gems for Week 9.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Miami Dolphins (Yahoo! 0% owned; ESPN .2% owned)
Heading into Week 9, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews has played only 100 total offensive snaps, seen just 12 passing targets and has eight receptions for 93 yards and no touchdowns. However, he’s instantly fantasy football relevant from this week on after Miami’s No. 3 receiver, Brandon Gibson, suffered a season-ending knee injury in his team’s Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots.
Matthews had just 11 catches last season—his first in the NFL—for 151 yards. However, circumstance has now put him in a position to see a lot of attention from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Gibson was averaging 7.2 fantasy points per game in standard-scoring leagues and 11.5 in PPR leagues. Though fellow Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline and tight end Charles Clay could see their targets increase, it is still Matthews who will be taking up the majority of snaps that would have belonged to Gibson.
The only risk with Matthews is that the Dolphins sign a veteran free agent or perhaps even make a trade before Tuesday’s deadline. If that’s the case, the veteran might be the more valuable fantasy addition. However, for now, Matthews is a top fantasy addition. The season-ending nature of Gibson’s injury also means that Matthews’ value will remain relatively high for the rest of the year.
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (Yahoo! 5% owned; ESPN 2% owned)
In Kansas City’s short-yardage passing game, quarterback Alex Smith has been able to spread the ball around. Deep-threat receivers aren’t the most productive members of the offense, but speedy possession receivers are. That gives Dexter McCluster excellent fantasy value for deeper league GMs.
Though McCluster has played just over half of all possible offensive snaps, he’s managed to attract 38 targets and make 23 catches, for 253 yards, an impressive 140 yards after the catch and a lone touchdown, coming in Week 8. He had the most of Smith’s attention in Week 8, with 9 targets and seven catches.
McCluster has a total of 32.3 points in standard-scoring leagues and 55.3 points in PPR leagues. His considerable speed makes him a threat to gain major yards every time he catches the football and his style of play fits the passing philosophy of Smith and the Chiefs offense. While McCluster may not be an every-week starter in deep leagues, he does have upside when the Chiefs take on teams weak against slot receivers, like Washington, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, who are all upcoming opponents.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints (Yahoo! 10% owned; ESPN 1.1% owned)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn’t hard up for passing targets and is known to spread the ball around which often cuts into the fantasy football value of otherwise talented receivers. Though Brees’ attentions are often divided, rookie receiver Kenny Stills has been the best fantasy performer at the position this year and his low ownership rate makes him a highly attractive waiver wire addition for those playing in deep leagues.
Stills, who of late has been good for around 40 offensive snaps per game, has 13 catches on 22 targets so far this season, for 327 yards, 104 yards after the catch and three touchdowns. Two of those scores came in Week 8, in which he had four targets, three catches and 129 yards, his best single-game performance of the year. This helped push his standard-scoring fantasy points total to 51.1 and his PPR points to 64.1.
Though Brees has many mouths to feed and Stills is often the fourth option in the passing game, Brees is talented and prolific enough to make Stills a good fantasy football waiver wire addition. He’s a great bench stash who can get hot at any time and is worth a starting nod if any of your other receivers are on their bye week.
Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns (Yahoo! 3% owned; ESPN .8% owned)
The Cleveland Browns made yet another quarterback change headed into Week 8, naming Jason Campbell the starter ahead of the struggling Brandon Weeden. It turns out the Browns’ gain can be yours, too, if you’re a deep league GM who is lacking at the backup quarterback position and find themselves without the services of Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford or Colin Kaepernick, who are all on their bye in Week 9.
Campbell lent a spark to Cleveland’s offense in Week 8, despite their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He completed 22 of his 36 pass attempts, for 293 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers and most impressively, took just one sack from the Chiefs vaunted pass-rushing defense. That made him good for 21.4 fantasy points on the day—a far better showing than the likes of Tom Brady, Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan.
Campbell is aided by experience, a stellar Browns offensive line and an above-average crew of receivers who include Josh Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron and Davone Bess (at least when the latter is not dropping passes). His team hosts the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, and their struggles in coverage could produce yet another strong performance from Campbell. If you need a revamp of your backup quarterback position or need to find a spot-starter while your typical go-to is on a bye, Campbell is a great waiver wire choice this week.