Crystal Ball Week 9 2018

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

Ever heard the phrase “I’ve got good news and bad news”?

The good news is that this week’s waiver wire options are plentiful, and (for the most part) widely available. There are a number of impact players who will at minimum make worthy FLEX options for the remainder of the 2018 season, providing hope to owners who are struggling through bye weeks or dealing with injuries.

The bad news? The season is already halfway over! It seems like just yesterday we were watching Baker Mayfield go with the first overall selection to the Cleveland Browns, before appearing on Hard Knocks with now-released coaches Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. Ah, those were the days.

In many ways, this season has mirrored 2017 from a Fantasy perspective. The tight end position is still widely a mess, and outside of two or three options, owners are relying upon a red zone target or two for relevance. Quarterback is still incredibly deep, and despite the “old guard” of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers holding their own, a younger stable has provided plenty of optimism, mainly in Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky and Jared Goff. Receiver and running back are still the “meat and potatoes” of any team. Though the positions are currently riddled with underperforming players and nagging injuries to superstars, owners who have been savvy enough to bid appropriately on upside have been well rewarded with filler talent. Defenses and kickers remain as streamable options.

Given the fact that a number of teams with many Fantasy superstars are on bye this week (Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants most notably), owners should give plenty of thought to spending a dollar or two to snatch up supplemental support. As the vast majority of questions that I’ve received both on Twitter and my most recent “Diehards After Dark” Q&A segment have revolved around pickups, this week’s column will be a recap on my thoughts pertaining to these new options.


Ryan Fitzpatrick - Realistically, Fitzpatrick is the only quarterback worth mentioning as a speculative add here. I’ve read other columns with suggestions pertaining to Derek Carr or Dak Prescott, but both of those options shouldn’t be rostered outside of two-quarterback leagues or extremely deep formats. Fitzmagic has the most talented supporting cast of the three by far, and even though his proverbial “leash” won’t be as long, I expect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to keep him on the field for at least a few games. Fitzpatrick’s pros and cons are fairly straightforward. When playing from behind the Bucs will need to rely upon his arm early and often, leading to a large number of pass attempts. Fitzpatrick has good chemistry with multiple pass catchers on the team, most notably Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. He’s worth a spot start in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers, but does face several difficult matchups immediately afterwards, including a brutal back-to-back gauntlet of the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Co
wboys in Weeks 15-16. Is he worth an add? Sure. Would I break the bank for him? No. Do I think that he will be the starter for the remainder of the season? I’d say no.



Running Backs

Ito Smith – By now, Smith should have already been added in your Fantasy league, as he was one of the top options after Devonta Freeman was placed on I.R. prior to Week 7. If somehow still available, he is my top recommendation at the position, especially in PPR formats. In a timeshare with Tevin Coleman for the meantime, Smith’s volume will make him an immediate FLEX option in 12-team formats, with a high ceiling. Smith is the Atlanta Falcons red zone running back, and the coaching staff has made it a point to keep him in on drives close to the goal line. There is a strong chance that he supplants Coleman by the end of the season, especially as the team continues to pile up losses. Coleman is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and will be a free agent in 2019. It makes sense for them to provide him with a feature role down the stretch, especially considering Freeman’s injury history. Smith is a capable receiver out of the backfield and is a definite add.

Josh Adams – The Philadelphia Eagles backfield has been a major mess since Jay Ajayi tore his ACL several weeks ago, and both Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood have underwhelmed with their touches. Adams is a UDFA out of Notre Dame and the most physically imposing option remaining, at 6’2 225 lbs. Though not the natural pass catcher that Smallwood is, Adams brings the thunder and is a downhill runner that will run over smaller defensive backs and linebackers. His 10 touches last week were a significant step forward, and he received the praise from the Eagles coaching staff on his performance against the very stout Jacksonville Jaguars front. In more savvy leagues it will take a significant portion of FAAB to acquire him, and I would strongly recommend a bid of at least 25-30 percent of your total budget at a minimum. Even though this appears to still be a time share for the immediate future, Adams is a long-term investment with major upside.

Elijah McGuire/Trenton Cannon – Neither New York Jets running back option is particularly exciting to me and represents a “must add” option, seeing as how they are splitting one role behind Isaiah Crowell. The Bilal Powell third-down and pass-catching duties can be accomplished by either player, though neither are enticing. McGuire was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 draft out of Louisiana, and Cannon was taken in the sixth round this year out of Virginia State. Seeing as how the New York Jets rank 29th in total yards per game (314), there isn’t a lot to cover here. Pass.





Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton – This is the most obvious choice to discuss right away, with Sutton being thrust into the role previously occupied by Demaryius Thomas. The biggest beneficiary of the trading deadline, Sutton will see a significant increase in snaps and targets, and immediately slots in as a high-end WR3 with upside. I’d continue to expect Case Keenum to utilize Emmanuel Sanders as the chain-moving option with Sutton being the bigger red zone and deep threat target. More valuable on paper in standard formats instead of PPR, Sutton has a number of stellar matchups to close out the season, including a very nice stretch against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. Undoubtedly, Sutton will be the most discussed player on radio and articles, and the hype train will likely result in overspending. Make no mistake, Sutton still has tremendous upside, but owners need to keep in mind that the Denver Broncos offensive attack is still based primarily on the run. Keenum has only broken the 300 passing yard mark three times all season, and not since Week 6.

D.J. Moore – FINALLY Ron Rivera chose to unleash the Carolina Panthers first-round selection out of Maryland. The most physically gifted receiver on the roster, Moore played over 70 percent of the snaps in Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens, catching five passes for 90 yards, and generating nearly 40 yards on two jet-sweep rushes. To put it simply, it would be pure idiocy for the team to play him behind Torrey Smith ever again, and he makes the entire offense much more dangerous. Unlike Sutton above, Moore will be more of a volume-based play for owners. The Panthers will still rely upon the combination of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffery around the goal line, with targets going to Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess. Moore should be peppered up and down the field with looks though, and his role will continue to expand. He is an instant FLEX play with WR2 upside.

DeVante Parker – Do we really need to go down this road again? Ugh. It is obvious that Parker and the Miami Dolphins coaching staff have a tenuous relationship at best currently, and his “breakout” game in Week 8 was more as a result of attrition at the position than anything else. Injuries to Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills opened up a massive amount of playing time, and the team was forced to hold onto him at the trading deadline, much to their chagrin. A significant chunk of Parker’s yards in Week 8 came on a fluke play, and Kenny Stills has already returned to practice this week. Is the talent still there? Sure. But I don’t trust the team one iota to get him on the field enough to use it. He’s worth throwing a few dollars on in FAAB, but I wouldn’t put much faith in this panning out.

Keke Coutee – I still want to endorse Coutee as a long-term waiver add, but the Houston Texans acquisition of Demaryius Thomas does cut down on the number of targets he will see each week. Coutee is still recovering from the hamstring injury that sidelined him in Week 8, and coach Bill O’Brien stated that he remains “questionable” to play in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos. When on the field, Coutee is a dangerous option out of the slot, and is a favorite target of Deshaun Watson. As the Texans don’t have a threat at the tight end position, Coutee has a floor of a FLEX in PPR formats, with the potential ceiling of a WR3 or so in most formats. Careful bidding on him though, since hamstring injuries have the nasty tendency to linger.

David Moore – Moore joined the Football Diehards show on Sirius XM yesterday, and discussed his role on the team with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey. The Seattle Seahawks seem very keen on making him a major part of their offense, going so far as to waive veteran Brandon Marshall. With Doug Baldwin continuing to nurse a knee injury that has hampered his 2018 season and Tyler Lockett only seeing limited snaps, there is definitely something here with Moore. He won’t be a volume-based threat at all, but Russell Wilson does have a connection with him in the red zone, even with lower volume than in seasons past. Moore will continue to benefit from squaring off against second or third string cornerbacks, and is the largest bodied receiver on the team. He has the speed to take things downfield and height to contest jump balls. Be optimistic but realistic on his expectations. He has a low floor and shouldn’t be counted on yet as a plug-and-play pickup.