Week 9 gave fantasy owners a fair share of logic games to play.
Who's the real lead back in New Orleans? How will changes in Minnesota and Jacksonville affect the offenses? And just how much faith should you have in injured stars like Randall Cobb and Travis Benjamin trying to play through their ailments?
There's also strategy to consider as the bye weeks fade, changing how rosters should be composed leading into the fantasy playoffs.
Benjamin came into Week 9 with a PCL injury and promptly left the game early with more concerns, not returning to San Diego's win over the Titans. Benjamin will now likely sit through the Week 11 bye, if not longer. Fantasy players should consider adding Dontrelle Inman, who caught six passes for 56 yards on Sunday, and is owned in just 14 percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
In other wait-and-see injury news, Jeremy Maclin re-injured his groin, Victor Cruz left with an ankle injury, Derrick Henry hurt his calf in warmups, Ryan Fitzpatrick left briefly (but returned) with a knee issue, Allen Hurns was concussed, Kenneth Dixon left late with a bruised chest, and Browns quarterback Cody Kessler had X-rays on a leg.
THE SAINTS GO RUNNING IN
Mark Ingram was benched in the first quarter last week after an untimely fumble, and didn't see another carry in the game. In Week 9, against the league's worst run defense, Ingram was out-carried by teammate Tim Hightower, 23 to 15, but still managed 158 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hightower, while not as effective as Ingram, still had a solid fantasy game, with 87 rushing yards and a touchdown of his own.
But this game was against the 49ers, a run defense looking like it will be historically bad (and, therefore, wonderfully fruitful for fantasy owners to start their running backs against). The New Orleans backfield is headed down the path of a frustrating timeshare, with neither back running clearly ahead of the other. Ingram and Hightower owners may want to consider trading them away to owners unaware of how poor the San Francisco run defense is.
TIME TO LOAD UP ON RUNNING BACK HANDCUFFS
The two weeks of heavy byes are now behind us, so expect a flurry of activity on the fantasy waiver wire this week as teams drop their fringe players for handcuffs and security. A few under-the-radar players to consider include:
- Kapri Bibbs: the handcuff to Broncos running back Devontae Booker, who is playing with an injured shoulder. Bibbs had a brilliant 69-yard touchdown reception against the Raiders Sunday.
- Alfred Morris: the handcuff to Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
- Kenneth Farrow: the backup to Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.
- Kenneth Dixon: the backup to Ravens running back Terrance West.
- If you're still holding on to - or holding out hope for - Devin Funchess (one catch for 28 yards in Week 9), it is safe to drop him for one of the handcuffs listed above.
- Cordarrelle Patterson caught six passes for 45 yards, but dropped what could have been the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's loss to Detroit. While Patterson's recent involvement in the pass game wasn't stunted with the resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, a wide-open drop in the end zone at a crucial moment in the game won't help his cause.
- The Jaguars also changed coordinators coming into Week 9, and the move had no effect on receiver Marqise Lee, who caught four passes for 84 yards. Lee is averaging 68 receiving yards over his last four games. With 453 total yards this season, Lee - owned in nine percent of CBS leagues - is the Jacksonville leader in that category.
- One stark change in Jacksonville was the emergence of Chris Ivory, who ran the ball 18 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Yeldon, meanwhile, caught five passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. New Jags offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett ran a two-back system in Buffalo in 2013 and 2014 with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Jackson led the team in receptions in 2014. So while Yeldon owners may try to pawn off their back after seeing Ivory dominate the carries, fantasy owners in point-per-reception leagues could get a shrewd buy-low pickup.
- Ronnie Hillman ran seven times for 30 yards and caught one pass for 32 yards for a Vikings run game that is lacking a breakout performer. While Hillman may not fully supplant Jerrick McKinnon (seven attempts for 8 yards) or Matt Asiata (nine attempts for 27 yards), the Vikings - who have lost three in a row - are reeling and could give Hillman an opportunity in hopes of turning their fortunes around.
Next week, the Bills, Lions, Colts, and Raiders are on bye.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com