The Week 9 waiver wire has a few solid options for fantasy football players looking to re-tool their rosters as leagues enter the stretch runs prior to the playoffs.
We'll take a look at five options below and review a few players who can be dropped from leagues. A discussion on some evolving running back situations wraps up the analysis.
Week 9: Best Adds and Projections
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues) at Carolina Panthers: 350 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT (24 points)
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore (16 percent) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5 catches, 80 yards from scrimmage, 1 TD (19 points)
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith (30 percent) vs. Los Angeles Rams: 4 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD (18 points)
Houston Texans WR Keke Coutee (20 percent) at Denver Broncos (if he plays): 7 catches, 80 yards (15 points)
Houston Texans WR Vyncint Smith (0 percent) at Denver Broncos (if Coutee does not play): 5 catches, 50 yards (10 points)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers game will be the source of two popular adds thanks to Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Panthers rookie wideout D.J. Moore.
Fitzpatrick is back starting after taking over for a struggling Jameis Winston and nearly leading his team on an 18-point comeback at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. He's thrown 13 touchdown passes in five games while also posting back-to-back 400-yard efforts.
Moore saw further opportunities on Sunday with Torrey Smith (knee) sidelined and had 129 yards from scrimmage. He'll be hard to keep off the field, especially against a Bucs team that has allowed the most points per game in football.
Moore isn't the only rookie wideout who could have a great Week 9. Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith should benefit from a potential shootout between his team and the Los Angeles Rams. The Saints and Rams are second and third in the league in scoring, so that game could be a fantasy goldmine.
The Houston Texans wideout situation is one to monitor. Unfortunately, Will Fuller V is out for the year with a torn ACL, leaving a starting position opposite DeAndre Hopkins open.
Rookie Keke Coutee is the next man up, but he's battling a hamstring injury. Sarah Barshop of ESPN provided an update on him from head coach Bill O'Brien:
If he can't go Sunday at the Denver Broncos, rookie Vyncint Smith should see even more time, as noted by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. He only has one catch on the year (a 28-yarder vs. the New York Giants), but Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said he had an "impressive combination of size, speed, and explosive traits" in his write-up. Smith ran a 4.37 40-yard dash.
Week 9: Most Popular Monday Drops
Oakland Raiders WR Martavis Bryant: 15,640 (number indicates amount of Yahoo teams that dropped a player)
New England Patriots RB Kenjon Barner: 6,827
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones II: 6,049
Buffalo Bills RB Chris Ivory: 4,859
New Orleans TE Ben Watson: 3,417
Indianapolis Colts WR Chester Rogers: 2,807
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Keelan Cole: 2,670
Aside from the report, the assumed promotion made logical sense, as Bryant ranked third among Raider wideouts in receiving yards (and still does) even with Cooper.
Bryant proceeded to play just seven snaps as Brandon LaFell, who had been inactive for most of the year, got the start opposite Nelson.
At this point, Bryant can be safely dropped in all leagues, as one can't guess how much (or little) he'll play in a given week.
Elsewhere, New England Patriots running back Kenjon Barner is a clear drop. Even though rookie Sony Michel was out with a knee injury in a 25-6 Monday win over the Buffalo Bills, Barner saw just two carries as the Pats threw a curveball with wideout Cordarrelle Patterson getting 10 rushing attempts.
Michel also returned to practice on Saturday, so he could be back in time for the team's Sunday night game vs. the Green Bay Packers.
Other players on this list are receiving little to no playing time (e.g. Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II, Bills running back Chris Ivory and Jaguars wideout Keelan Cole), while two others (Indianapolis Colts wideout Chester Rogers and Saints tight end Ben Watson) see the field but have limited target opportunities due to teammates seeing more looks.
Future Running Back Handcuffs
Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (28 percent)
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde (82 percent)
Jacksonville Jaguars RB TJ Yeldon (87 percent)
Denver Broncos RB Royce Freeman (68 percent)
Bengals running back Giovani Bernard has sat four straight games with a knee injury, but the fact that he hasn't been placed on injured reserve indicates there's hope for a 2018 return.
Cincinnati has a Week 9 bye, which should buy Bernard some time. The ex-UNC star would be a sneaky flex add for Week 10 vs. the New Orleans Saints provided he's healthy enough to go. He's an adept pass-catcher who could be active in that potential shootout despite playing behind starter Joe Mixon.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will be back for the team's Week 10 game at the Colts. That pushes running backs Carlos Hyde and TJ Yeldon into handcuff status. Unless you roster Fournette and want a handcuff, Hyde and Yeldon can be safely dropped.
Broncos running back Royce Freeman missed his team's Week 8 game with an ankle injury, but the fact that Jeff Legwold of ESPN reported last Thursday that the rookie was "improving" is a good sign for his future status.
However, Freeman is clearly the No. 2 back on the team now behind the surging Phillip Lindsay, who has 667 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. Freeman is only an option in deeper leagues or for teams with Lindsay on the roster.