Matt Schaub (QB)- Led by Arian Foster, the Texans are a run-first team that is leading the league in producing running back fantasy points. But that doesn’t mean there’s not another opportunity for fantasy owners to exploit. Houston will be without Ben Tate this week and the Bills have had the bye week to prepare for this game. This could translate into some nice play-action opportunities for Schaub and the passing game, as Buffalo will go all-out to try and slow down Houston’s rushing attack. We all know how bad the Bills are against the run, but they’re almost as bad defending the pass. Through seven games, Buffalo ranks 30th in the NFL, giving up 25.5 points-per-week to opposing signal-callers.
Russell Wilson (QB)– If you’re a Tom Brady owner that’s in a bind and desperate for a temporary replacement this week, Russell Wilson might be your answer. Wilson isn’t special, but he has been a good fantasy option lately for the Seahawks, especially in Seattle. In the Seahawks’ last three home games, Wilson has tossed seven touchdowns vs. only one interception. This week, the Minnesota Vikings struggling defense travels to the notoriously-unfriendly environments of Qwest Field. The Vikings rank 24th in the league, surrendering 22.9 fantasy points-per-game to opposing QB’s.
Pierre Thomas (RB)– Friday’s surprising news that mighty-mite running back Darren Sprolescould miss multiple games with a broken hand provides an opportunity for smart fantasy owner to run to their waiver-wire and grab an immediate starter. Thomas is actually the best fit for the Saints in their offense, combing excellent hands with good speed and power. He’s currently leading the club in rushing yards, even though he’s averaging a mere eight carries a game. That will surely go up this week, as Thomas is the only Saints back with a similar skill-set to Sproles. In Week 9, look for him to get 15+ carries and half a dozen or more targets out of the backfield.
Justin Forsett (RB)– Like Pierre Thomas, Justin Forsett is another potential fantasy free agent that will be thrust into a larger role for Week 9. As discussed earlier, the Texans are leading the league in producing fantasy points out of the backfield. Houston has already ruled Ben Tate out for this game, so head coach Gary Kubiak has already stated that Forsett will take Tate’s role this week. As an added bonus, Houston is hosting a the league’s worst fantasy run defense, the Buffalo Bills. Look for Forsett to get 10-15 touches spelling Foster, with an even bigger role if the Texans get off to a big lead and try to run out the clock.
Jeremy Maclin (WR)– Overall it’s been a pretty disappointing season for the Philadelphia offense, but this seems like the kind of matchup where things could get better in a hurry. The Eagles travel to New Orleans to take on a historically -bad New Orleans secondary that is giving up an unreal 33.0 fantasy points-per-game to opposing wide-outs. Maclin is coming off of consecutive weeks of double-digit targets, so he’s assuredly going to play a big role against a team that will struggle to contain him and DeSean Jackson. If you have a Philadelphia skill-position player, this is the week to start them.
Steve Smith (WR)– Steve Smith is another big-name receiver who has under-performed his draft position, but has an ideal matchup this week. Like the Eagles, Carolina’s offense has struggled to live up to expectations and frustrated fantasy owners have begun benching their starters. For Week 9, the Panthers have the luxury of playing the NFL’s worst pass defense. The Washington Redskins have the distinction of allowing the most passing yards and touchdowns in the league, so there’s an excellent chance that Cam Newton and company will put up very good numbers, and that Smith will score his first touchdown of the season against the beleaguered Washington secondary.
Cecil Shorts (WR)– A complete unknown a month ago, Cecil Shorts has started to become a very relevant option for savvy fantasy owners. Over the last two games, Shorts has been targeted 22 times, and racked up 12 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown. He’s clearly become Jacksonville’s top target, and as long as Maurice Jones-Drew remains sidelined, he remains a viable flex-option. For Week 9, the Jags aren’t expected to be able to keep up with Detroit’s high-flying offense, so there could be plenty more targets and receptions for Shorts, especially in the second half.
Jermaine Gresham (TE)– Gresham has been a solid, if unspectacular fantasy option this year. Through seven games, Gresham is averaging 6.4 fantasy points-per-week, with at least five targets and three grabs each contest. He’s had a couple of big games, but, more importantly, has yet to be held scoreless. For Week 9, the well-rested Bengals will try to end a three-game-slide against a Denver Broncos squad this is surrendering an average of 10.9 points-per-game to opposing tight ends, third worst in the NFL.
2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 25 year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game or Polk High School.