Every week, fantasy football owners make a mad dash to the waiver wire with hopes of landing the breakout performers from the previous weekend. It's sound strategy because a few key pickups can make a major difference over the course of a season.
However, there are only a few players who fit the bill each week.
Owners that miss out are then forced to scour the free-agent market once again to find second-tier options capable of filling a short-term fantasy void. Any production beyond that is a bonus.
Knowing that, let's check out some players worth targeting with the initial waiver-wire rush already complete for Week 9. The list is followed by a breakdown of the top options at key fantasy positions for the week ahead.
Week 9 Pickup Targets
|QB||Jake Locker||Tennessee Titans|
|RB||Mike Tolbert||Carolina Panthers|
|WR||Kenny Stills||New Orleans Saints|
|TE||Charles Clay||Miami Dolphins|
|K||Adam Vinatieri||Indianapolis Colts|
Fantasy Week 9
Breakdown of Top Options
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans
After missing some time due to a hip injury, Locker returned in Week 7 and proceeded to post a 21-point fantasy game against a top-10 San Francisco 49ers defense. He also had a bye week following the game to work back toward full strength.
Now, the third-year quarterback gets to face a middling St. Louis Rams pass defense that's working on short rest after losing on Monday night. This bodes well for Locker, who's averaging 20 fantasy points per game over his last four starts.
The Titans have two key games coming up against the Indianapolis Colts, but have a pair of winnable games first—starting with the Rams.
Expect them to pull out all the stops to stay within striking distance in the division, with Locker leading the way.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Carolina Panthers
Normally, a player in Tolbert's position wouldn't be on the fantasy radar. He gets a limited number of touches in a crowded Panthers offense and hasn't rushed for more than 40 yards in any game.
With that said, he's quickly carving out an important niche for himself in Carolina.
Which player will provide the most Week 9 value?
Despite the low number of overall touches, he's getting a lot of playing time in the red zone and has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He's scored five touchdowns in the last five weeks, with three coming on the ground and two through the air.
In Week 9, the Panthers face an Atlanta Falcons defensive unit that ranks 22nd against the run. Given his success, Tolbert should be able to maintain his budding role and might even get a few more touches. It makes him a solid sleeper option.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints
Stills is an interesting case. He's made just six catches over the past two games, but has translated that into nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. It's allowed him to put up 36 fantasy points over that span and suddenly become an intriguing fantasy commodity.
Yes, the lack of catches is a concern, but very few waiver-wire acquisitions come with no downside. Stills has started getting on the same page with Drew Brees, and the more big plays he makes, the more looks he's going to get.
The Saints feature a pass-happy offense, so there's plenty of targets to go around.
He's certainly worth taking a chance on against the New York Jets, who gave up 325 yards and five touchdowns to Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals last week.