Fantasy football Risers, Sliders: Dalton lets loose against the Jets
On aggregate, fantasy scores seemed to be down on Sunday: Only two players rushed for over 100 yards (and one was a quarterback), and only five quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards. But the top performances were simply lights out: Calvin Johnson's 326 yards receiving, Drew Brees and Andy Dalton's five touchdown passes and the Cincinnati defense's two touchdown returns. Let's check out who's stock is changing halfway through the fantasy season.
• Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals -- Dalton threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns against a Jets defense that before Sunday, hadn't allowed 20 fantasy points to any quarterback so far this season, and kept Tom Brady from throwing a touchdown in Week 7. Dalton has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his last three games, tossing 11 touchdowns over that span. The Bengals face the Dolphins, Ravens and Browns -- three average pass defenses -- the next three weeks, so expect more of this from Dalton.
• Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons -- Even as Atlanta has struggled, Ryan has continued to put up solid fantasy performances, throwing multiple touchdown passes and hovering around 300 yards or more each game. But Sunday against the Cardinals was a disaster: 301 yards passing, but just one touchdown and four interceptions. He threw the ball 61 times for just a 4.9 yards-per-pass average.
• Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals -- With Rashard Mendenhall out with a sprained toe, Ellington made the most of his first start in the league. He rushed 15 times for 154 yards -- most of that came on an 80-yard touchdown, but that's still a 5.7 yards per carry rushing average even without the long touchdown. Don't get too excited, though: Bruce Arians was wary about Ellington's future as a feature back, and fellow rookie Stepfan Taylor got 14 carries on Sunday.
• Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders -- McFadden averaged just 3.0 yards per carry on Sunday, but saw the ball 24 times, rushing for 73 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders' 21-18 win over the Steelers. He can remain a fantasy starter as long as he keeps getting the ball, especially with the Eagles, Giants and Texans -- none of which have incredibly strong run defenses -- coming up the next three weeks.
• LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles -- Three out of McCoy's last four games have been disappointing, fantasy-wise. He's still getting touches -- he had 15 carries and five catches on seven targets Sunday -- but he's not picking up much yardage as the Eagles offense has struggled. He had just 68 yards total; he hasn't topped 100 total yards in three out of the last four games. McCoy's still a fantasy starter in every league, but his value has slipped from his status of best fantasy back in the league a few weeks ago.
• Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons -- Returning to action for Atlanta, Jackson had just 11 carries for six yards on Sunday. Arizona's run defense is stout and the Cardinals were up 21-6 at halftime, but it was a disappointing first game back.
• Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals -- The second-year wide receiver caught eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 49-9 blowout win over the Jets. He was targeted eight times Sunday, after receiving six and five targets the previous two weeks. A.J. Green is the No. 2, but Jones seems to be the second option: Mohamed Sanu hurt his shoulder Sunday and has seen five fewer targets than Jones the last two weeks.
• Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints -- Stills, a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, caught three passes on four targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns Sunday night. This follows his three-catch, one touchdown game a week before. That's still not enough targets to start him in most leagues, but he's worth stashing if you have the room.
• Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, New England Patriots -- The Patriots rallied from a 17-3 deficit on Sunday to beat the Dolphins, but they came back with defense and the run game. Tom Brady threw for just 126 yards. Amendola was targeted a team-high six times, but caught just three passes for 15 yards. Edelman had two catches for seven yards on three targets. The Patriots' passing game is a mess right now for fantasy purposes.
• DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles -- The Eagles' passing game is a mess, too, and there's more to worry about here than with McCoy. Michael Vick re-aggravated his hamstring injury and Matt Barkley was ineffective. With no other options for Philly, Chip Kelly says Barkley will likely start again next week. Jackson still led the team with 11 targets Sunday, but his eight catches went for just 64 yards.
• Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins -- Reed's value continues to increase. He had the most receiving yards of any tight end in Week 8, catching eight passes for 90 yards on 14 targets. After working with Robert Griffin III all offseason, Reed has clearly emerged as his top option. and is clearly Robert Griffin III's top option.
• Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys -- Witten caught every pass thrown his way on Sunday, but unfortunately for fantasy owners he was only targeted twice. He has just nine catches on 13 targets the last three weeks, and rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams has 19 targets over the same span. He may bounce back; the Vikings are a decent matchup next week.
• Josh Brown, New York Giants -- The Giants' special teams is anemic, but Brown kicked five field goals in the 15-7 win over the Eagles. Despite two wins in a row, New York's offense is still sputtering. He could get more opportunities after this week's bye.
• Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Suisham came into the game having made 41 of his last 42 attempts inside the 50-yard-line. In a three-point loss to the Raiders, he missed kicks of 32 and 34 yards.
• Denver Broncos -- The Broncos may give up a lot of points, but they're also taking the ball away a lot: They have 13 interceptions this year, most in the league, and have sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times. They've only forced six fumbles, but their run defense is solid and the secondary seems to be improving.
• New York Jets -- The Jets left their defense back in New Jersey, allowing Andy Dalton to throw all over the field, and they had just one pick and one sack.
MORE WEEK 9 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Tough it out for one more big week of byes
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- The best replacements for Manning, Stafford
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- What will Dalton do this week?
EDHOLM, MIGLIO: Midseason Awards -- Broncos offense cleans up
SI STAFF: Weekly Roundtable -- Who's the fantasy MVP of the first half?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Desperate for starters? Look at Brazill, Campbell
McQUADE: Risers & Sliders -- Dalton put on a performance for the ages
BELLER: Early Week 9 Advice -- Brady should not be trusted as a starter