NFL Fantasy Bluffer’s Guide: Your week nine lifeline for players on bye

With five games left in the fantasy regular season and six teams on a bye, the right waiver wire add could make all the difference for your playoff run...

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If your team’s on the cusp of the playoffs in your league, or you’re hoping to make a late charge, you probably could do without losing AJ Green, Andrew Luck Saquon Barkley or Zach Ertz for a week (anyone relying on Blake Bortles has probably abandoned their team already).

Wouldn’t ya know, they’re only all heading off for a week of rest and relaxation – that is, relentless working out and prep for their next opponent – just when you need them most.

So we’ve dug through the sludge of your league’s waiver wire and emerged like a fantasy football Andy Dufresne with the warden’s shiny shoes in the form of some essential pick-ups to keep you competitive.

Oct 28, 2018; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Do you believe in FitzMagic?

It’s starting to look like Infamous Jameis could be on his way out of Tampa. His comically bad 4 interceptions performance versus the Bengals is the kind of showing that gets coaches fired. It’s not like Dirk Koetter needs the help, as he’ll likely be fired whatever happens over the next few weeks.

And he probably deserves it just for taking Ryan FitzPatrick out of the Bucs line-up once Winston had served his early season suspension.

The Harvard alumnus ripped it up in the opening weeks of the season in characteristic style, surrounded by the best offensive talent he’s had in his career, but his play has always been the definition of boom-or-bust, and he came down to earth in week four.

Winston is always just bust though, so why Fitz had to benched immediately wasn’t clear.

With a few QBs off this week, it’s worth taking a flier on the bearded wonder. The Bucs play the Panthers this week. They’re divisional rivals and the NFC South usually throws up high scores. There are worse QB options out there if you’re in a bye bind.

Oct 28, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Other options worth considering are Derek Carr if he’s been dropped – the Raiders QB put up points on the Colts and faces a similarly porous defence in the Niners this week – or Joe Flacco, who is still lingering on waivers. His match-up with the Steelers isn’t great, but he can fill in if you’re desperate and, if the game lights up, he could be surprisingly productive.

Gory running-back selection

If you’re looking for a running-back, it may just be best to write off this week.

It’s a sign of the halloween bloodbath that the week nine waiver wire is that I’m reaching for these Frank Gore-related puns.

Look what I’ve been reduced to.

The Dolphins have got Kenyan Drake going at last, but the former Colt Gore has gobbled up a chunk of his touches and is worth adding in your league if he’s still knocking about.

Oct 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore (21) runs with the ball as Houston Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) defends during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Davis is still out there on some wires too, but his appeal is drifting as Chris Carson powers his way through opposng defensive lines. Davis would be a desperation play where you’re hoping he can snipe a short-yardage score against the Chargers.

Ito Smith of the Falcons should be persevered with or pursued if available too. Atlanta are off their bye, he’s likely going to replace Davonta Freeman permanently next year, so the fact they have an opportunity to run with him now should see him get a decent workload alongside Tevin Coleman.

One final throw of the dice is Devontae Booker of the Broncos. He had 13 touches last week for over 100 yards thanks to Royce Freeman’s injury. Assuming he’s out again versus Houston, Booker could be productive behind rookie Phillip Lindsay.

Parker finally sparking?

Another variation on the Devonta theme, Miami’s DeVante Parker is likely one of many Dolphins re-released into the wild after four or five weeks held captive on rosters in your fantasy league.

It’s time to load up on your tranquilisers and wrap yourself in a wetsuit because Parker tore up the Texans on Thursday night and flipped back into fantasy relevance. If he’s available, snap him up.

Nov 19, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Justin Evans (21) intercepts a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Courtland Sutton becomes a must add with Demaryius Thomas trade to the Texans. Houston needed someone after Will Fuller went to IR, and that’s opened up an opportunity for the Broncos rookie who has looked really good when given the chance this year.

The Panthers look to be working rookie DJ Moore more into their passing offence, and he may be out there too. He could become a real asset in a Carolina team that is looking dangerous in the NFC after knocking off the Ravens last week.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling is another rookie who continues to impress. His prospects looked bleak in week eight with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back, but Aaron Rodgers found 45 yards and a touchdown for the unheralded MVS and he’ll be worth keeping tabs on as the Packers fight for a playoff spot.

The Cardinals fluttered away from Mike McCoy OC tenure and there was an immediate reaction with the new regime of former Jags QB Byron Leftwich. Larry Fitzgerald finally got some attention (if he’s been dropped by a short-tempered owner he is a mst add) but Christian Kirk also figures to benefit. He caught the winning touchdown from Josh Rosen against the Niners and if Arizona can pick up their offensive output he’ll be worth owning, especially in PPR leagues.

Sep 24, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald (89) stiff arms Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Chris Conte (23) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Advance with the Steelers

Tight end has been a rough spot all season. Vance McDonald presents the best likely waiver option for a bye week if you’re without Zach Ertz, but that’s about all he’s worth. The Steelers aren’t targeting him heavily, and he’s splitting snaps with Jesse James, but has a knack for getting touchdowns, which is what you’ll be relying on if you’re forced into starting him.

Of others available, Chris Herndon is a name most won’t be familiar with, but he has a touchdown in three straight games for the Jets and if he can make that four he’ll do more than many other reserve options. Besides him, old man Ben Watson is a lottery ticket in a Saints offence that scores heavily.

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