Week 9 Waiver Wire: Top Players To Pick Up for Final Stretch

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIOctober 30, 2011

Week 9 Waiver Wire: Top Players To Pick Up for Final Stretch

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    Now that we are in the final stretch of the fantasy season, working the waiver wire in Week 9 is more important than ever. As the playoffs grow nearer with each week, the waiver wire can be the difference between barely sneaking into the playoffs and the top seed.

    Here are the top players on Week 9's waiver wire to help you down the final stretch.

Christian Ponder: Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

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    After back-to-back impressive performances, it is time to go out and get Christian Ponder for your fantasy team. This kid looks like a true franchise quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, which gives this team a very bright future.

    While it may take a year or two for the Vikings to reach their full potential, this week we saw just how good Ponder can be. He threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, but the biggest plus on his side was the zero turnovers he had during the game.

    Even though we didn't see much of it against the Carolina Panthers, Ponder also has the ability to move the football with his legs. He doesn't run often, but I wouldn't be surprised if he scores a few touchdowns on the ground in the next few games.

    As long as Ponder can refrain from making rookie mistakes, he should be a very valuable fantasy quarterback down the stretch.

Curtis Painter: Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

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    After debating whether or not to put Curtis Painter on this list for the past few weeks, I really liked what I saw from him this week.

    Sure he threw two interceptions, but one of those interceptions was off a tipped pass. With each week that passes, Painter looks more comfortable in this offense. He still needs to make better decisions with the football, but I am confident that he will continue to improve with each week.

    Painter also led his team in rushing against the Tennessee Titans with 79 yards on just seven carries.

    As long as the Colts have no running game, Painter should get plenty of chances to throw the ball and make plays. It is only a matter of time before he becomes a real fantasy weapon.

Reggie Bush: Running Back, Miami Dolphins

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    The truth is that you never really know what you are going to get from Reggie Bush. One week he is nowhere to be seen and the next week he is gaining 103 yards on the ground.

    With Daniel Thomas out against the New York Giants because of a hamstring injury, Bush took full advantage of the extra carries and busted off a huge game. He had 103 rushing yards and added another 17 receiving yards. Even though he wasn't able to find the end zone, he still had a decent fantasy week.

    While Bush may not be available in some leagues due to his past fantasy excellence, grab him if he is available now because he just had his "breakout" game.

Javon Ringer: Running Back, Tennessee Titans

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    There are two key statistics that stick out from Javon Ringer's game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

    First, he received just as many carries as Chris Johnson. Sure some of those carries came in the final minutes of the game when the Tennessee Titans already had the game locked up, but it was still him on the field and not Johnson.

    The second thing that stuck out to me was that Ringer had almost twice as many rushing yards as Johnson. With Johnson continuing to struggle running the football, Ringer should see more and more touches in the coming weeks.

    Ringer is also a pretty good receiver, as evidenced by his five receptions and 42 receiving yards. With the Titans liking to run screen passes, Ringer should continue to get yards through the air as well as on the ground.

    If Ringer continues to perform well, it might get to the point where he is getting more snaps than Johnson. If that happens, he will be fantasy gold.

Emmanuel Sanders: Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    With Hines Ward becoming less and less of a threat each week, players like Emmanuel Sanders are going to need to step up for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The reason I like Sanders better than other receivers not named Mike Wallace on the Steelers roster is because of his ability to make big plays after the catch. He is also coming off the best game of the season two weeks ago when he had five receptions and a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals.

    While Sanders isn't worth starting at wide receiver, he could be a savior at the flex position during bye weeks and leading up to the playoffs.

Jake Ballard: Tight End, New York Giants

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    Even though Jake Ballard's numbers dropped this week, he is still an upgrade over many tight ends in the fantasy world.

    Ballard's recent success is directly related to the improved play of Eli Manning, who has been on an absolute tear as of late. He's got soft hands and has gained Manning's respect in his first year as a starter.

    While he may not be in the same class as Antonio Gates or Jermichael Finley, he is definitely one of the best second-tier tight ends and a great fantasy option.

Atlanta Falcons: Defense/Special Teams

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    According to Yahoo! Sports, the Atlanta Falcons defense is only owned in 20 percent of leagues right now.

    Of course, most of that is due to the fact that the Falcons were on a bye in Week 8, but if they are available in your league, pick them up now. They still have games against the Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

    They should be able to provide your fantasy team with a solid defense down the final stretch.