After a quadruple-play of NFL games from 9 a.m. ET until midnight Sunday, many of us were able to watch more live football in one day than we had ever watched before. Scouting for this week's waiver wire has never been easier. Luckily, there were tons of points being scored this week, with six games totaling over 50 points and two teams topping the mark by themselves.
Unfortunately, we get Bye-mageddon II in Week 9, as six teams take the weekend off, so don’t get used to all of those high fantasy scores you saw on your league’s scoreboard this week. You’ll see some mediocre quarterbacks with good matchups, goal-line running backs and low-volume wide receivers work their way into fantasy lineups in Week 9.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Alex Smith, Mark Ingram, Knile Davis, Jonathan Stewart, Bobby Rainey, Anthony Dixon, Allen Robinson, Brandon Lafell, Andrew Hawkins, Davante Adams, Heath Miller, Dan Carpenter and Shayne Graham.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (Owned in 20 percent of CBSSports leagues, 10.2 percent of ESPN leagues and 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- After a weekend in which Kyle Orton and the Bills offense exploded and Michael Vick overtook Geno Smith for the Jets' starting gig, you might be surprised to see Hoyer at the top of our quarterback suggestions. But Orton is on a bye in Week 9, and Vick was unimpressive in his relief appearance against Buffalo -- and he’ll be facing one of the toughest defenses against fantasy quarterbacks in Week 9 when the Jets travel to Kansas City. Hoyer, meanwhile, goes up against the Buccaneers, and he’s coming off one of his best games of the season. With Orton, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers all resting this week, Hoyer is someone to consider.
Keeping an eye on: Houston’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (15 percent, 0.1 percent and seven percent) -- We had you "keeping an eye" on Gray last week, and now he's ready for your full consideration. The rookie rushed for 86 yards on 17 carries against the Bears, and as unpredictable as this Patriots offense is, he’s still worth one of the top waiver picks. The Bears defense are one of the worst against the run, but Gray faces a difficult Broncos run defense in Week 9. Of the options available in 30 percent of leagues, Gray’s one of the best, now that he looks to have officially replaced Stevan Ridley.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens (12.2 percent, 2.3 percent and nine percent) -- Bernard Pierce scored a touchdown in Weeks 6 and 7, yet he was a healthy scratch for Week 9 at Cincinnati. Taliaferro, a rookie out of Coastal Carolina, came in to run short-yardage duty for the Ravens as a complement to Justin Forsett and scored two touchdowns, finishing with 69 yards. With six teams on byes, a tailback with goal-line duties becomes a valuable consideration.
Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos (four percent, 0.7 percent and two percent) -- Owners in larger leagues should give Ronnie Hillman’s vulture a look, since Thompson stole a pair of touchdowns in Week 8, and the Broncos have a very favorable schedule for running backs coming up against the Patriots, Raiders and Rams.
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11 percent, 0.2 percent and seven percent) -- If you have the luxury of not needing emergency replacements for bye week players or injured starters, consider taking a long shot on the rookie out of West Virginia. He was having an excellent offseason before he suffered a mid-August ankle injury. He’s eligible to return, and Doug Martin has been underwhelming. Sims has good size, above-average hands and sub-4.50 speed, with a favorable schedule for running backs coming up.
Keeping an eye on: Seattle’s Christine Michael and Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (seven percent, 0.5 percent and eight percent) -- Another player we had you "keeping an eye on" last week, the rookie outshined second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton once again. Bryant caught five of seven targets for 83 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts in a record-breaking game for Ben Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown eats first in this offense, but the second receiver in Pittsburgh has often been relevant to fantasy owners, going back to when Brown and Mike Wallace played together and last season with Emmanuel Sanders. The Steelers face the Ravens and Jets in the next two weeks, both of which rank among the worst defenses against wide receivers, allowing more than 29 fantasy points to the position per week. The Steelers’ newest deep threat toy should be a popular waiver pick this week.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts (three percent, 0.2 percent and three percent) -- The rookie led all Colts players with 12 targets from Andrew Luck in Week 8, and he caught seven of those passes for 113 yards and a touchdown at Pittsburgh. Reggie Wayne’s elbow injury is opening up opportunities for Moncrief, so if you do pick up the rookie, track Wayne’s injury progress this week. Even if Wayne comes back sooner than later, Moncrief has already proven to be more valuable than Hakeem Nicks.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals (17 percent, 2.5 percent and 10 percent) -- As I mentioned at the top, some fantasy teams dealing with six teams on bye weeks will have to rely on some inconsistent players. The speedy rookie out of Pittsburg State made some real progress for the first time with Carson Palmer under center, and he severely outplayed starter Michael Floyd in Week 8. Brown was thrown to more against the Eagles (10) than he had been all season, and his late 75-yard touchdown catch and run makes him someone they’ll rely on even more. The bad news: the Cardinals head to Dallas in Week 9, and the Cowboys have the league's toughest defense against wide receivers.
Keeping an eye on: San Francisco’s Steve Johnson.
Tim Wright, TE, New England Patriots (28 percent, 3.3 percent and 14 percent) -- One week after not getting thrown to at all against the Jets, Wright was targeted seven times for seven catches, 61 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. If you own Martellus Bennett or Delanie Walker, who are on byes this week, Wright is a solid option again versus Denver in Week 9. He has three touchdown catches in his past four games.
Keeping an eye on: Tampa Bay’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Billy Cundiff, K, Cleveland Browns (13 percent, 2.6 percent and two percent) -- The Browns’ kicker has five field goals in his past two games, and the team’s upcoming schedule includes Tampa Bay and Cincinnati. Both of those teams are allowing 2.71 field goal attempts per game -- the most in the NFL.
Washington Redskins, DST (seven percent, 10.4 percent and four percent) -- This unit not only deserves a look because of its five sacks and three forced fumbles against the Cowboys Monday night, but the Redskins also face a Vikings offense in Week 9 that gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to DSTs. Owners of the Bills, Bears, Lions and Packers should be battling to pick up the Redskins.