Waiver wire for Week 9
Week 9 is here and you have roster decisions to make. Mario Puig breaks down the players most worthy of adding off of the waiver wire this week.
Traylon Shead , RB, SMU: If Saturday's game against Memphis is any indication, Shead appears to be over the MCL injury that derailed the early part of his first season with SMU. The former Texas transfer gave his owners reason for hope and his prospective owners reason to rush to the waiver wire as he ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Although he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry against Memphis, there's no need to panic about Shead since Memphis has quietly been quite strong against the run all year, allowing just 3.0 yards per carry over six games. After Storm Johnson and Paul James III , Shead might be the third-best Fantasy option in the conference by the season's end.
Justin Goodwin , RB, Rutgers: Starting running back Paul James III (leg) will miss another game as Rutgers takes on Houston this week, leaving Goodwin with another week in the top running-back role for Rutgers. Although he got shut down against Louisville two weeks ago, running for just 38 yards on 11 carries and catching two passes for 16 yards, Houston (3.5 YPC, eight touchdowns allowed) is a much friendlier run defense than Louisville (2.7 YPC, four touchdowns allowed). Goodwin should be among the top running back options in the AAC this week.
Allen Hurns , WR, Miami: Hurns was widely considered the least exciting of Miami's top wideouts coming into this year. All the anticipation seemed to swirl around Rashawn Scott , Phillip Dorsett and Herb Waters . Scott (shoulder) and Dorsett (knee) are out, though, and Hurns has a lot more experience than Waters, a freshman. Miami needed Hurns to step up, and he has definitely done that the last month. He has 17 catches in his last four games for 387 yards and two touchdowns. With Dorsett only recently suffering his injury against North Carolina on Thursday, Hurns should see his role grow even more.
Isaac Bennett , RB, Pittsburgh: Bennett likely will need to split carries with promising freshman James Conner once Conner gets over his shoulder injury, but Bennett was too good against Old Dominion on Saturday to not hold on to some significant role in the Pittsburgh offense. Bennett was expected to be Pittsburgh's lead runner heading into this year, and he reminded everyone why as he ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries Saturday. ACC-only league owners need to make sure to add Bennett, at the very least.
Johnathan Gray , RB, Texas: Although he hasn't really had a monstrous, breakout game to show for it, Gray has quietly established himself as Texas' definite top running back in the last month. In Texas' last four games Gray has 444 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, and with the Longhorns dependent on the uninspiring Case McCoy at quarterback, Texas will have no choice but to keep leaning on Gray. It might not be against TCU on the road this week, but that breakout game is right around the corner for Gray. He should be owned in almost all leagues.
Dreamius Smith , RB, West Virginia: Charles Sims is still the top running back in West Virginia, but Smith is too good to keep off the field, and West Virginia's inability to throw the ball gives the Mountaineers that much more reason to feed Sims and Smith both. The formula worked well against Texas Tech on Saturday, as Sims ran for 77 yards on 15 carries while adding seven catches for 32 yards, and Smith bruised between the tackles for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. West Virginia is better off continuing to give Smith and Sims a combined 30 or more carries each week than it is throwing the ball with any of its weak quarterbacks, so Smith should stay relevant in Big 12-only leagues, if not other deep formats.
Tony Jones , WR, Northwestern: Jones only made occasional appearances in the Northwestern passing game in the two seasons prior to this one, so it's understandable if college football observers took Jones' fast 2013 start for a fluke. In a four-week span against the weak defenses of California, Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine, Jones raced to a total of 362 yards and three touchdowns after posting 335 yards and four touchdowns in all 2012. If Jones was dropped after catching just five passes for 42 yards against Ohio State and Wisconsin, though, owners needing wideout help can capitalize on Jones. The Ohio State defense is good and the Wisconsin defense is even better, but other than a Nov. 23 matchup with Michigan State, none of Northwestern's remaining opponents have intimidating defenses. That means Jones should get back on track the rest of the way, especially after catching eight passes for 84 yards and a score against Minnesota on Saturday.
Christian Hackenberg , QB, Penn State: Hackenberg has done quite well as a true freshman, living up to his billing as one of the elite quarterback recruits of 2013. He's thrown for 1,672 ayrds in six weeks, posting 11 touchdowns compared to six interceptions. That includes 645 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in the last two weeks alone. The Ohio State defense he faces this week is better than the ones he faced against Indiana and Michigan the last two weeks, but there's still reason to believe Hackenberg can post his third big game in a row. The most obvious reason why is that Ohio State likely will score often and force Penn State to throw aggressively, and the other is that Ohio State has had a surprisingly friendly defense all year. Outside a two-game span in which the Buckeyes allowed just seven points to the dysfunctional offenses of Florida A&M and San Diego State, Ohio State has allowed 26.4 points per game.
Charles Ross , RB, Rice: Ross briefly disappeared from the Rice backfield due to a two-week absence caused by a leg injury, but Ross is back on track for Rice, and he should be owned in most or all formats for which he's eligible at this point. Ross ran for 264 yards and three touchdowns in his first two games this year, including a 107-yard, two-touchdown showing against Texas A&M in which he added 24 yards and a third touchdown as a receiver, and he posted 167 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico State on Saturday. While his receiving contributions aren't particularly significant, Ross is a strong bet to run for at least 100 yards and a touchdown each week.
Jamari Staples , WR, UAB: Even if Jamarcus Nelson returns from an ankle injury as UAB takes on UTSA this week - and it's not clear whether he will - Staples should remain a nice under-the-radar wideout target in deeper formats. The big freshman receiver is a nice red-zone target in a UAB offense that tends to move the ball well through the air most weeks and, outside of tough matchups with SEC defenses (LSU and Vanderbilt) and a blowout game against Northwestern State in which UAB didn't try to throw much, Staples has been consistently active in the UAB offense. In games against Troy, Florida Atlantic and Florida International, Staples combined for 14 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He faces a UTSA defense this week that has allowed 15 passing touchdowns in seven games.
Cody Hoffman , WR, BYU: Hoffman might have been dropped in many leagues after a slow start to the season, an understandable decision given that he missed two games and failed to score a touchdown until Oct. 12, but it's time to pick him back up if he's available in your league. Hoffman has 12 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks and, with the exception of maybe his Nov. 9 matchup with Wisconsin, Hoffman should stay hot the rest of the year. After completing an astonishingly bad 40-of-114 passes in his first three games, quarterback Taysom Hill has been much sharper lately and has completed 65.3 percent of his passes over the last four games while throwing eight touchdowns, averaging more than nine yards per pass over that span. Hoffman will serve as the main target of the much improved Hill.
Beau Blankenship , RB, Ohio: The Ohio running game has been a mess for most of this year, but Blankenship is finally showing some signs of life. Not signs of life that make you hope for the level of productivity he showed as a 1,604-yard, 15-touchdown runner from last year, mind you, but promising numbers nonetheless. After failing to hit the 40-yard mark in three of his first four 2013 games, Blankenship has 132 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks and might have his best game of the year against Miami (OH) this week. The RedHawks have allowed 1,511 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in just seven games.
Dareyon Chance , RB, Western Michigan: Chance is largely unproven, but he's set to provide value in MAC-only and other deep formats as Western Michigan takes on Massachusetts this week. Chance ran well against Ball State on Saturday, posting 120 yards on just 14 carries (8.6 YPC), and Massachusetts is an even friendlier opponent. The Minutemen lack any ability to score (7.9 points per game), so Western Michigan will have the privilege of playing at its own pace, meaning the Broncos won't need to abandon the run. As long as he gets the carries, Chance should produce against a Massachusetts defense that has allowed 242.7 yards per game and 12 touchdowns on the ground while allowing 5.8 yards per carry.
Kapri Bibbs , RB, Colorado State: If Bibbs is still available in your league, you should immediately change that. His role was ambiguous at the start of the year as Colorado State spread the ball between Bibbs, Chris Nwoke and Donnell Alexander , but it's clear that Bibbs is the best of the three, and Colorado State will need to feed him if it wants to win games. Bibbs went nuts against Wyoming on Saturday, torching the Cowboys for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries (6.9 YPC), giving him 630 yards and nine touchdowns on just 94 rush attempts. Needless to say, a touchdown for roughly every 10 carries is a strong indication of Fantasy value, and Bibbs is poised to provide it the rest of the way.
Kendall Brock , RB, Nevada: The Nevada running game isn't what it used to be, but there's still some value to be had in Brock, who took over as the team's leading running back in recent weeks. Despite playing on the road against two reasonably decent run defenses in San Diego State and Boise State, Brock has 190 yards and four touchdowns on the ground the last two weeks. Up next is a UNLV defense that has been absolutely slaughtered against the run through its first seven games, allowing 5.8 yards per carry as opponents piled up 1,760 yards and 17 touchdowns. There's no good reason why Brock shouldn't breeze past 100 yards and at least one touchdown against the Rebels.
B.J. Denker , QB, Arizona: Denker doesn't seem like much of a passer - he averages just 6.0 yards per pass and is completing only 55.5 percent of his attempts - but he's doing a good job of limiting turnovers (two interceptions) and has seven touchdowns as a passer, including five over his last two games. It's primarily because of his running production that Denker is noteworthy, however, as he has 324 yards on the ground (4.4 YPC) and an excellent total of eight touchdowns. He should stay hot the next two weeks because Arizona faces two weak defenses in Colorado and California. Both are hopeless on defense, but just good enough on offense to give Arizona reason to keep the gas pedal down for four quarters.
Silas Redd , RB, USC: Tre Madden is probably the best running back on the USC roster, but a hamstring injury kept him out of Saturday's game against Notre Dame, and there's a chance that he'll miss this week's game against Utah, too. If Madden is out, it means Redd should serve as USC's primary ballcarrier. He did well in the role against the Irish on Saturday, finishing with 112 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries (5.9 YPC), and there's no reason why he shouldn't stay productive if his workload keeps up. Utah has allowed more than 180 yards on the ground in three of its last four games, including 300 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona on Saturday.
Amari Cooper , WR, Alabama: Cooper has been perhaps the biggest bust in college Fantasy football this year, dealing with injury issues and a general lack of productivity despite finishing 2012 as one of the nation's best players. After posting 999 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman in 2012, Cooper plodded his way through the first six weeks of 2013, posting a pathetic 12 catches for 164 yards and no touchdowns. He showed some signs of life against Arkansas on Saturday, though, catching three passes for 65 yards and his first touchdown of the year. While there's no reason to trip over yourself racing to the waiver wire - Cooper is still on a team that rarely throws the ball and has a deep group of receivers - but Cooper definitely has the talent to break back out.
Jaylen Walton , RB, Mississippi: Jeff Scott (thigh) missed Saturday's upset victory over LSU, and Walton had a big game as Mississippi's lead runner. He posted 105 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries (5.8 YPC), adding two catches for 17 yards. It's doubtful that Scott could have run that tough against LSU, so Mississippi might need to turn to Walton as its new starter. In the meantime, it's not even clear whether Scott might be able to return to the field. Walton is definitely a must-add player in SEC-only formats.
Adam Kennedy , QB, Arkansas State: Kennedy finally had a breakout game against Idaho prior to the bye week, throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns one week after throwing for 318 yards and a touchdown on the road against Missouri. The Arkansas State offense appears to be figuring itself out, and Kennedy's dual-threat skill set needs to be its engine. The Red Wolves face a Louisiana-Lafayette team this week that's scoring 38.5 points per game so far this year, meaning Arkansas State could find itself in a shootout. Kennedy would likely provide useful Fantasy production if that turns out to be the case, because the Ragin' Cajuns allowed 321 yards and three touchdowns through the air against Akron on Sept. 21.
Mitchell Henry , TE, Western Kentucky: Henry disappeared for a four-game span from Sept. 7 to Sept. 28, totaling just five catches in that stretch, but it appears that he's made his way back into the Western Kentucky game plan in recent weeks. He has nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in the Hilltoppers' last two games, and he should see targets again when Western Kentucky takes on Troy on Saturday. The Trojans will almost certainly force Western Kentucky into a shootout, as Troy averages 34.4 points per game and allows 33.7 points per game.
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