Week 9 is approaching and we are officially on the back end of the 2014 fantasy football season. Are you tired of your team yet? Have you officially labeled yourself a degenerate gambler after spending your kids college funds on a weekly fantasy football site? Well if that's the case, then that's dedication right there. I salute you.
Over the past week, there's been a few developments at the running back position. One is the injury to Bengals RB Giovani Bernard, and the other is the injury to Ravens RB Justin Forsett. Both injuries aren't severe, but could impact the starting matchups for Week 9. Jeremy Hill is a must start with A.J. Green back in the lineup keeping safeties more honest than George Washington. Forsett, on the other hand, may end up playing. So without further ado, here are your boom and bust RBs.
Start of the week
Arian Foster vs. Philadelphia — #2 in weekly rankings
Foster has turned into a fantasy monster once again after an injury-plagued 2013 left his value sandwiched between an RB2 at worst and RB1 when at best. He was an RB2 more often than not though.
This season, Foster is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, a scary good number when you consider he's averaging around 22 carries per game. He's rushed for more than 100 yards in all but one contest, and has strung together back-to-back four reception games. In short, Foster's value has skyrocketed just like we all thought when Bill O'Brien took over as offensive coordinator.
This week against Philly, Foster will deal with a rushing defense that ranks 21st in the league and is giving up more than 115 yards per game to running backs. Jadaveon Clowney is out, so Eagles quarterback Nick Foles should get a slight break with the pass rush. Philadelphia will likely keep moving the ball down the field as they've done all season and while that may impact Foster's rushing numbers slightly, the second best RB in fantasy should get some receptions if Houston has to throw their way back into the game.
Some under the rader potential booms
Lorenzo Taliaferro vs. Pittsburgh — #16 in weekly rankings
With Justin Forsett listed as probable, it's probably wise to only use Taliaferro as a flex guy in a deep league, but there's still lots of potential here. The Steelers have given up seven touchdowns to running backs this season (20th worst in the league) and are coming off one of their worst defensive efforts of the year despite defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8.
Forsett will likely be the starter, but Taliaferro could easily snag a goal line touchdown or two if Forsett comes out a bit slow. Taliaferro is averaging a solid 4.4 yards per carry and the Ravens defeated the Steelers handily 26-6 earlier in the season.
isaiah Crowell vs. Tampa Bay — Unranked
Yes, we didn't rank Crowell and opted to list Ben Tate way too high, which deserves a 'come on man.' To make it up to you, we'll talk about Tate's struggles. He's only averaging 3.6 yards per carry in a run-based offense with a coaching staff that considers him a bellcow. He's also coming off a game where he averaged a measly 1.7 yards per carry against a bad Oakland run defense. He's got only one 100-yard game so far this season and aside from a two-touchdown effort against Pittsburgh, hasn't been much of a factor on the goal line.
Enter Crowell. There's been talks around the Cleveland locker room that Crowell could be in line for more carries this week against the Buccaneers. The rookie out of Alabama State already has one more touchdown (4) than Tate and is slowly starting to create a buzz in the backfield. Tampa Bay ranks 23rd in the league in rushing defense so even if Tate plays well, expect Crowell to see some of the workload and hopefully grab a touchdown in the event of a blowout.
Andre Williams vs. Indianapolis — Unranked
With starting RB Rashad Jennings still sidelined and the Colts' defense surrendering a ton of yardage to Pittsburgh last week, it may be tempting to think Williams is in line for a big day. But that's not the case this week. The Colts are expected to have cornerback Vontae Davis back for an entire game. Davis' physical play has been a nuisance to nearly every receiver he's covered and more importantly, has allowed the Colts to blitz more which causes all sorts of problems for the offense. Expect the Colts' defense in Week 9 to resemble the defense of Week 7 that shut down Giovani Bernard and the Cincinnati Bengals.
As for Williams, he hasn't shown much since taking over for Jennings in Week 4. He's a plodding back who needs to get running down hill before in order to plow over defenders. While that style has been effective at times, Williams hasn't rattled off a carry longer than 23 yards and is averaging a mediocre 3.1 yards per carry. He's likely to be shut down on Monday night.
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Start of the Week
Andrew Hawkins v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers #14 Weekly Rankings
With Josh Gordon suspended for the majority of the season, the Cleveland Browns needed someone to step up and try to fill some of the void left by Gordon. As many of our writer’s here at Fantasy Football Helpers have indicated, Andrew Hawkins has been the most consistent Browns receiver from a fantasy perspective.
Despite not having the body of a typical no. 1 receiver (5’7”) Hawkins is quietly having a very successful year, leading Browns' receivers in targets (52) receptions (36) and receiving yards (471), showing to be quarterback Brian Hoyer’s safety blanket.
This week Hawkins gets a juicy matchup with a Tampa team that has officially waved the white flag on the season after making a couple of trades at the deadline, including one for starting safety Mark Barron. The Buccaneers are currently giving up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (29.4), and have given up a league-high 12 receiving touchdowns this season. Look for Hawkins to build on his hot-start as Hoyer picks apart the Buccaneers secondary this Sunday.
Dwayne Allen v. New York Giants
First thing's first, Andrew Luck is an absolute monster and should be one of the leading candidates to be the NFL’s MVP at the half-way point of the season. Luck has not had a game this year with fewer than 300 passing yards, and shown the ability to spread the ball around to the multitude of receiving options on the Colts offense. Even though there was some uncertainty early on as to whom would be the primary tight end for the Colts, Allen has cemented himself atop the tight end depth chart, proving to be the superior option in the passing game between Allen and Luck’s college teammate, Coby Fleener. Despite not having a high-volume of targets, Allen makes the most of his opportunities, finding paydirt in all but two games this season.
This week Allen gets an owner friendly matchup against a Giants defense that is currently allowing the 10th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and just gave up two touchdowns to Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar in week 8. Due to the recent history, and the Colts offense being one of the best in the league, I see Allen as a top-10 play in a week owners are scrambling to find bye-week replacements.
Pierre Garçon v. Minnesota Vikings #16 Weekly Rankings
Garçon owner’s are likely getting very frustrated with the Redskins receiver due to the reduction in fantasy production in Jay Gruden’s offense. However, this is the week I feel Garçon finally busts out of his slump.
With Robert Griffin III officially ruled active for the Redskins week 9 matchup with the Vikings, look for Garçon to once again be the focal point of the Redskins passing game. Despite having a suspect sophomore season, Garçon still led the team NFL in targets and finished second in receiving yards. This year, it was looking as if the two were going to continue their ways, as Garçon led the Redskins in targets (12) and receptions (10) in the team’s week one loss to the Texans.
Despite having a tough matchup with a Vikings defense that ranks in the top-5 in terms of yards-per-game I expect Griffin to try and establish a rhythm with both of his receivers, utilizing the short passing and screen game to get Griffin some early completions. I know that it has been hard to trust Garçon on a weekly basis, but if you had the patience I think you are going to be drastically rewarded very soon.
Michael Floyd v. Dallas Cowboys Unranked this Week
Despite having the big-play potential of the Cardinals receivers, third-year wide receiver Michael Floyd has struggled, failing to top 50 receiving yards or five receptions in any of his last five games. Floyd has been saved by a two touchdowns in his last three games to save any fantasy relevance, but with nagging injuries and an inconsistent workload, Floyd may be someone to keep on your bench this weekend.
It has been no secret that Floyd has been battling some lingering injuries over the last few weeks. He tweaked his knee last week against the Eagles, and even though Floyd was able to remain in the game the team started to feature rookie John Brown as the team’s vertical threat, showing the injury may be more serious than originally led on. Floyd has practiced in full this week and is on track to play, but I know as a fantasy owner I would feel much more comfortable rolling with Fitzgerald, or even the rookie John Brown as a potential sleeper, rather than roll the dice on potentially damaged goods.
Vernon Davis v. St. Louis Rams
Despite having being one of the most well known tight ends in the NFL, Vernon Davis is on the verge of being droppable for fantasy football owners. Since destroying the Cowboys in week one with two receiving touchdowns, Davis has failed to register a game with more than 3 receptions or 40 yards in any game.
Davis has also had a run-in with the injury bug, suffering back spasms after taking an award shot to the back from Demeco Ryans in week 4, causing him to miss the teams next game.
If I were a Vernon Davis owner, I would keep him as far away as you can from your starting lineup. As shaky as Davis is there are plenty of other options if you are looking for a potential bye week fill-in, such as Clay Harbor (v. Bengals) or Jace Amaro (v. Chiefs). While none of these players will produce at the TE1 level, both of them I feel have a better chance of reaching fantasy relevance than Davis does in week 9.
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