Fantasy football lineups across the globe were compromised in Week 8 due to the fact that there were six teams on the bye, which will once again be true in Week 9. Winning with "franken-lineups" is no easy task, but it can be done with a few shrewd additions off the waiver wire.
It's true that the free-agent market has been picked over significantly in recent weeks, but there are always surprising players waiting to make an impact. There is nothing more gratifying than striking it rich on the waiver wire and chalking up a victory because of it.
Here are three players who are likely available in your league that will put up shockingly good numbers in Week 9.
All of the receiver hype is focused on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones following his four-touchdown performance in Week 8, and while he may be an ideal waiver-wire acquisition, he also happens to be the worst-kept secret in fantasy. Everybody is going to be in on Jones, and unless you're lucky enough to have the No. 1 waiver slot, you're probably not going to get him. One intriguing pass-catcher who shouldn't be too difficult to acquire, however, is Kansas City Chiefs slot receiver Dexter McCluster.
Although McCluster entered the league without a position and without much direction a few years ago, he finally seems to be coming into his own. McCluster and quarterback Alex Smith have developed a nice rapport, as McCluster has at least 67 yards receiving in each of the past two games. He also caught his first touchdown of the season against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. According to fantasy expert John Paulsen of FantasyPros, McCluster is especially attractive in point-per-reception leagues.
McCluster will face a Buffalo Bills defense that allowed 332 yards and five touchdowns through the air to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Bills have a talented defense, but they allow too many big plays. They have also proven to be prone to misdirection plays in recent weeks, so it wouldn't be surprising to see McCluster break a long run on a reverse. You could do much worse with a bye-week replacement.
Week 9 Fantasy Projection: Five receptions for 80 yards, 30 rushing yards and one touchdown
Tight end Delanie Walker hasn't been as explosive as the Tennessee Titans' starter as he was behind Vernon Davis in San Francisco, but he has actually had a fairly consistent season. Walker has yet to break out with a monster performance, but he has had at least three catches in all but one game, and he has three touchdown receptions on the year, as well. Since the tight end position is so devoid of elite talent, Walker is definitely an option this week.
Now that quarterback Jake Locker is another week removed from injury, he should be in line for a solid performance in Week 9. Locker helped Walker have his best game of the season in Week 7, as he racked up 52 yards and a score against his old team. The Titans also happen to have a favorable matchup on their hands, as they will face a St. Louis Rams defense that can certainly be passed on.
Ahead of the Rams' Week 8 Monday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks, they are allowing 247 passing yards per game, and they have also surrendered 12 passing touchdowns in seven contests. The Rams seem like a downtrodden team now that Kellen Clemens is leading the way on offense, and that can easily affect the defense adversely. Expect Walker to have his best outing of the year in Week 9.
Week 9 Fantasy Projection: Five receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton seems to have hit his stride in recent weeks, and that figures to continue on Sunday as the Panthers will face a struggling Atlanta Falcons defense. The Falcons had trouble stopping the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8, and they have allowed 16 passing touchdowns, which is tied for second-worst in the league. One of Newton's pass-catchers will have to be the beneficiary of that, and Brandon LaFell is certainly a possibility.
LaFell is Carolina's No. 2 receiver behind Steve Smith, and he's the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Smith and tight end Greg Olsen, but he is one of Newton's favorite targets for taking shots down the field. All it takes is one big connection in order for LaFell to have a huge fantasy day. That was the case a few weeks ago when LaFell reeled in a 79-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. He only has 58 yards and no scores in two games since then, though, which means he is a feast-or-famine player.
He's more likely to feast this week, however, as Atlanta's defense is extremely vulnerable. Smith used to be Newton's go-to guy on deep passes, but LaFell has certainly taken over that role. Starting LaFell is always like rolling the dice, but don't hesitate to let it ride this coming weekend.
Week 9 Fantasy Projection: Four receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown
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