Tampa Buccaneers tight end Dallas Clark is heating up.
Week 9 of the NFL season will be particularly painful for fantasy owners stricken with a case of the bye week blues. But if your bench doesn't offer adequate assistance, the waiver wire will.
With the Patriots, 49ers, Jets and Rams sitting idle this week, marquee names like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Frank Gore, and even the San Francisco defense will require a temporary replacement.
Fear not, fantasy freaks. The following list of players will be chomping at the bit in Week 9, waiting to help you stave off defeat.
All they need is a chance.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Never did I envision a day in which I'd find myself recommending any Jaguars' QB as a worthwhile fantasy investment. But remember, you need him for this week and this week only.
If you caught Jacksonville in action Sunday, you likely noticed their passing attack looking somewhat competent for a change. While it took him a whopping 49 attempts, Gabbert eclipsed the 300-yard mark through the air for the first time in his career.
Green Bay's defense, who Gabbert faced in Week 8, isn't exactly a model of efficiency. Then again, neither is Detroit's, which is who Jacksonville hosts this Sunday.
Opposing QB's have an average passer rating of 92.5 against Detroit's D. The fact that they're only allowing 217 passing yards per game isn't promising, but the Lions have trailed in every game this season and most teams were content with keeping the ball on the ground.
Don't expect that to be the case against Jacksonville. Matthew Stafford came alive against the Seahawks in Week 8, throwing for 352 yards and three TDs. The Lions' potent offense was destined for a breakout performance, and it seems it finally came.
If the Jaguars are forced to play catch up this week—and they likely will be—expect Gabbert to attempt 40 or more passes for a second straight week. He won't put up Brady-like numbers, but the result should be a rather sufficient total.
Prediction: 26 for 43, 289 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Dallas Clark, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No Gronk? No problem.
Replacing a tight end as productive as Gronkowski, even for a week, is no easy feat. But Dallas Clark is offering his services to help minimize the potential damage. The former Indianapolis Colts' star isn't exactly lighting it up with this new team, but he has picked up the pace in recent weeks.
After totaling just 15 receiving yards over a three-game stretch, Clark came through against the Saints in Week 7 with five receptions for 51 yards and a score—his first of the year.
A week later, three catches for 40 yards. Nothing spectacular by any means, but hey, that's more than Vernon Davis has accounted for over his last two games.
The Bucs' opponent in Week 9, the defensively inept Oakland Raiders, have had their share of troubles with passing attacks in 2012. In seven games, they've allowed 12 passing TDs—four of them to tight ends.
Quarterback Josh Freeman has been on fire in recent weeks, and it seems he's finally learning to utilize his top TE. Adding Clark in Week 9 is a must for fantasy owners in need of a bye-week replacement, as he should be in line to further the increase in production this Sunday.
Prediction: 6 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
I already recommended Gabbert as a Week 9 pickup, so why not snag his favorite receiver, too?
There's a chance Cecil Shorts could be long gone by now, but if he's still hanging out on the waiver wire, you might need him to replace a Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, or even Michael Crabtree.
After his eight-catch, 116-yard performance in Week 8, it's easy to see why.
Shorts made some big plays early in the season, but had been wildly inconsistent leading up to Week 7. After receiving only 17 targets in Jaguars first five games, he's seen 22 passes come his way in the past two contests, totaling 195 yards and a TD on 12 catches.
Detroit's defense has been susceptible to the big play, and the Jags' speedy WR has already created a few of them this season.
The second-year pro should prove to be a valuable commodity past Week 9, but he's a must add for this Sunday with the Lions coming to town. Forget about Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars' highly-touted rookie receiver, it's the Cecil Shorts show in Jacksonville now.
Prediction: 5 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD
San Diego Chargers Defense
Much like recommending Gabbert as a bye week pickup, suggesting you add the Chargers' defense is not something I'm particularly proud of.
Consider this week a special circumstance.
With the Kansas City Chiefs coming to Qualcomm Stadium for a Week 9 visit, San Diego's D could end up being the pickup of the week. KC fell to 1-6 overall after losing 26-16 at home against the lowly Raiders Sunday, and are now scoring just over 10 points per game in their last three losses.
When these two met in Kansas City Week 4, the Chargers forced six turnovers and returned one of them for a score. And the Chiefs' offense is arguably in even worse shape now than it was a month ago. Matt Cassel was recently benched in favor of backup QB Brady Quinn, who suffered a head injury Sunday—forcing Cassel back under center.
The Chargers and Chiefs are set to battle on Thursday Night Football this week, so you'd better grab San Diego's D quick.
Believe me, you won't regret it.
Prediction: 3 turnovers, 4 sacks, 13 points allowed
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