The pickings get slimmer than a Slim Jim on fantasy waiver wires as the season goes on, yet a few names popped out from behind the couch after Week 8 concluded.
There are a couple of unknown running backs who might get some serious carries this week, thanks to the injuries of others. A first-round receiver, who many fantasy owners might have forgotten about, has also quickly asserted himself into the fantasy fold.
Here are three players who should be picked up in fantasy leagues heading into Week 9.
Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
Remember Baldwin? No, he is not Alec, Billy, Daniel and Stephen’s younger brother. The Pittsburgh product was scheduled to be the guy to free Dwayne Bowe from opposing defenses’ double teams. Unfortunately, Thomas Jones pulled a Michael Westbrook on Baldwin during training camp, and Baldwin ended up with a broken wrist that sidelined him for the first six weeks.
Baldwin had his coming-out party this past Monday night against the San Diego Chargers, catching five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. A couple of the grabs were even worthy of prime spots on highlight reels. He proved that even when he is well-covered, he can make catches like Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald.
Baldwin has great size, leaping ability, hands and could be a terror down in the red-zone area when K.C. throws deep. In fact, Baldwin looks a lot like Bowe out there when running routes, only with a different number.
Baldwin’s stats will be inconsistent since he is a rookie, but he is playing on a team not known for throwing 40 times per game, and Bowe and Steve Breaston will still be ahead of him on the targets chart.
However, he is the top talent available on waiver wires right now because he has the tools to become a dominant receiver in the NFL some day soon.
Curtis Brinkley, San Diego Chargers
San Diego is the most injury-prone team in the NFL: Just start with Antonio Gates and work your way across the roster. The strength and conditioning coach’s salary should be slashed in half.
The running back position is among the most injury-prone positions for the Chargers, and with Mike Tolbert’s hamstring hurting and Ryan Mathews’ groin strained, Brinkley might be starting Week 9, except...
Brinkley now has his own injury problem, a concussion suffered late in San Diego’s Monday night game against Kansas City. If he doesn't pass the battery of tests and get the proper clearance, he will not be dressing on Sunday. But, if he is able to play and Tolbert and Mathews are not, Brinkley would be a nice late-week roster addition.
Brinkley looked decent subbing in for Mathews against Kansas City, carrying the ball 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown. Considering he has only had two career carries coming into the contest, Brinkley did a heck of a job.
The San Diego RB soap opera will need constant monitoring throughout the week. If you own Tolbert or Mathews, Brinkley should also be on your radar. But just do not rank him too high on your waiver wish list, since it is not certain if he can even go this weekend.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns
Do not confuse this man with former New York Mets folk hero Benny Agbayani. Ogbonnaya is Cleveland’s seldom-used running back who is quietly getting more touches every week and could be in position for a heavier-than-usual workload this week.
Montario (I just want to call him Mondesi for some reason) Hardesty is going to miss multiple weeks due to a calf injury, and there is no telling when Peyton Hillis will return. Between his hamstring, strep throat and contract troubles, something always keeps him off the field. So, it looks like Cleveland would have to turn to Ogbonnaya to be its starting tailback—unless Jim Brown or Earnest Byner feel like dusting themselves off and putting on some pads.
Ogbonnaya had 11 carries for 37 yards and five receptions for 24 yards after taking over for Hardesty last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Those numbers are not exactly Gale Sayers-like, but Ogbonnaya was thrust into a difficult situation against one of the premier defenses in the league.
Cleveland faces the Houston Texans this Sunday, which would give Ogbonnaya some extra motivation if he starts, since Houston traded him to Cleveland three weeks ago. There is nothing better than making your former employer look foolish, that’s for sure.
I think Hillis will probably be ready to go by Sunday, but since he has been as reliable as a Kardashian marriage this year, Ogbonnaya is must pickup.
I could see Ogbonnaya having a solid game, even if Cleveland trails for most of it. He is an above-average receiver out of the backfield and capable of racking up 50 receiving yards to go along with 50 rushing yards if given the chance.