It’s not looking like Darren McFadden is going to play on Sunday as he is still nursing a foot injury so Michael Bush could be very serviceable for fantasy owners in Week 9. Bush has been running well all season, but when you play behind a stud feature back like Run DMC it’s tough to have any kind of value in the fantasy world. That value should increase this weekend with Bush being the primary ball carrier for the Raiders. He does go up against a tough Denver run defense, but I still see a lot of upside here. Bush is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and has found the end zone three times in just 60 carries. He’s coming off a 17-carry, 99-yard effort in Week 7 when McFadden sustained his injury so it’s clear that Bush can certainly withstand the workload. Look for him to get close to 20 touches on Sunday and if the passing attack can improve a little bit that will help Bush even more.
The Cleveland Browns’ backfield has been a mess all season and now it looks like they will be forced to use third stringer Chris Ogbonnaya in their Week 9 contest with Houston. Ogbonnaya looks to be in line to get the start on Sunday after Peyton Hills reinjured his hamstring at practice on Friday. Backup running back Montario Hardesty also has a calf injury and will not play. Ogbonnaya has only gotten 17 carries on the season, 11 of which came last week, so it remains to be seen if he can be the horse that Hillis or Hardesty have been in the past for the Browns. The matchup isn’t too appealing either, as Houston has a top five run defense in fantasy. One positive for Ogbonnaya is that he’s a very good pass catching running back. He has 10 receptions in his last two games so this is vital for fantasy owners hoping to catch lightning in a bottle this weekend.
Giant’s running back Brandon Jacobs has been very critical over the last few weeks of the way his team has been using him this season. Well it looks like he’s going to get the chance to prove himself in Week 9 because Ahmad Bradshaw is doubtful to play against New England with a foot injury so Jacobs will step into the starting role. It’s tough to tell just how many carries Jacobs is going to receive, but owners have to like the matchup here. I don’t know if I’d suggest him as a ‘must start’ because this game is going to heavily rely on an aerial attack from both teams. New York will probably be playing from behind in this one so Jacobs might not get as many carries and he’s not a very good receiver out of the backfield so that will limit him as well. Nonetheless, the Patriots have allowed the 8th most fantasy points per game to running backs over the last four games so there is definitely some upside to putting Jacobs in your lineup for Week 9.
Brent Celek, TE Philadelphia Eagles
Celek has had solid back-to-back performances for the Eagles and may finally be in their offensive game plans going forward. He has been used as more of a pass blocker for most of the season and that has hurt his fantasy worth tremendously. In last week’s Sunday night blowout of the Cowboys, Celek had seven receptions for 94 yards and a score. He’s been targeted 18 times in the last two games combined which is a huge stat, especially for a tight end. This is very encouraging for his value the rest of the way and seeing that Philly has won its last two games something tells me that Celek’s solid production may be here to stay. Monday night he gets a Bears defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points to tight ends on the season so the matchup couldn’t be any better. He’s only owned in about 25% of fantasy leagues right now so now’s the time to grab him. Celek is the closest thing to a must start this week as you can get for the tight end position so start him with confidence.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR Kansas City Chiefs
In just his second game of the season (and career) Baldwin had a coming out party of sorts. The rookie out of Pittsburgh had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. He was consistently targeted by quarterback Matt Cassel and made some very impressive grabs in traffic where he went up high and used his hands. He’s got all the makings of being a solid receiver. It’s clear that the Chiefs knew what they were doing when they took him late in the first round of this year’s draft and it’s safe to say that Baldwin is already locked up as the number two option behind Dwayne Bowe. He should continue to see a healthy amount of looks the rest of the season and should be used in fantasy when the matchup is right. Well the matchup looks to be perfect on Sunday against the Dolphins so if you need WR help or a decent flex play Baldwin might be a good place to start.
Mario Manningham, WR New York Giants
With 290 receiving yards and just one trip to pay dirt Manningham hasn’t had a great 2011 season so far, but that should change this week. The Giants will be without number one receiver Hakeem Nicks for their Week 9 battle with New England so Manningham will get a nice bump up in his workload. He is basically the number one WR this week along with Victor Cruz a close second option for Eli Manning so he is a solid play on Sunday. He’s coming off a six catch, 63 yard and a touchdown performance last week and I see him having even better output against the Patriots, who have allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers on the season. New York will be throwing the ball early and often and it’s almost a lock that Manningham will get double digit targets in this game so get him in your lineups. He’s going to have to have a good game if the Giants want any shot at taking down the New England empire.
Lock of the Week
Michael Crabtree, WR San Francisco 49ers
Crabtree has been coming on as of late with two good games in-a-row and should continue this trend against the Redskins. He got targeted nine times last week and came up with five grabs for 54 yards and a touchdown. The game before that Crabtree had nine receptions for 77 yards so it looks like the 49ers are finally starting to use their young wide out as the primary receiver they thought they were getting when they drafted him 10th overall two years ago. San Francisco stills puts a huge emphasis on the run game, but it looks like Crabtree is now fully entrenched as the team’s number one receiver so look for him to consistently get a healthy amount of targets with a ton of upside. He should average at least a handful of catches per game the rest of the season and I see him getting his first 100 yard game of the year on Sunday. Get him in your lineup.
With the type of season the Jets All-Pro cornerback is having, I just had to include a new segment into my fantasy column every week called Revis Island. This will highlight Darrelle Revis’ upcoming matchup and advise fantasy owners to turn elsewhere for wide receiver help.
In Week 9 it looks like Revis will be going up against Bills’ WR Stevie Johnson. In two games against the Jets last season, Johnson had just eight grabs for a little over 100 yards. Those numbers are not very promising at all and the scary part is, Revis didn’t play in either of those games last season. He was hurt in the first matchup and sat out the second game because the Jets already clinched a playoff spot. It should be a long day for Johnson and you’d have to expect Buffalo to hardly try and test Revis on Sunday. Although Johnson is having a great season, he belongs on your bench in Week 9.