By Jack Thomason-
(CBS) Ah, the beauty of the waiver wire. So many players we can’t wait to run and grab, then so many letdowns. From Tre Mason’s seven carries for 32 yards in a three-headed attack for the Rams to Anthony Dixon outcarrying Bryce Brown, 22-7, for the Bills while both averaged two yards per rush, you just never know what you’ll get.
We can’t win them all, but we can keep trying to hit on the “right” guy. If you read this article last week, you’re smiling with additions from the middle of the list, such as Andrew Hawkins, Denard Robinson or Doug Baldwin, to name a few. If you did land Mason or Brown, don’t give up on them. There’s plenty of time for their talent to emerge.
Now, here are your top 10 waiver adds for Week 9 with an eye on 10- or 12- team leagues.
1. Brandon LaFell (WR, New England Patriots) — LaFell is in the perfect situation. The Patriots, namely Tom Brady, are on fire right now, and LaFell has emerged as the go-to option on the outside. Since Week 4, he has been the eighth-best receiver in standard leagues and the seventh-best in PPR leagues. LaFell’s coming off a game in which he saw 11 targets and caught every one of them for a whopping 124 yards and a score. With the way the Patriots offense is playing and LaFell’s recent production, he’s worth the No. 1 add this week.
2. Jonas Gray (RB, New England Patriots) — Last week, I listed Gray in the “just missed” category outside the top 10. Knowing the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick’s love for the running back-by-committee approach, I wasn’t sold that Shane Vereen would carry the load after Stevan Ridley’s season-ending injury. Due to game flow and the Jets’ stout run defense, Vereen was used a lot in Week 7, but Gray was waiting in the wings as the Patriots’ “big back” this past Sunday.
Given his chance, Gray didn’t disappoint, carrying the ball 17 times for 86 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The Bears defense is in tough shape, but their run defense had actually been respectable leading into the matchup. Be a little wary here, as there are trade rumors swirling around Doug Martin moving to New England. Still, so long as Gray is the “big back” for the Patriots, he has RB2 value.
3. Martavis Bryant (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers) — The former Clemson product was drafted in the fourth round and considered a raw prospect. It’s taken a little time, but in the last two weeks since Bryant has been promoted, he has recorded seven grabs on 12 targets for 123 yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers lack size in the red zone, and Bryant’s a 6-foot-4, 211-pound receiver who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. Look out! Bring him on as a WR3/WR4 with room to grow on your fantasy squad. If he continues to develop as the second option to Antonio Brown, there’s big value here.
4. Allen Robinson (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars) –– The arrow is pointing up for Robinson after scoring touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. In general, Jaguar receivers have been garbage time kings (see Cecil Shorts III) in the past, and it’s no different here. Points are points in fantasy football, so we take them however we can get them.
Robinson had 10 targets this past week and has reached nine in four of the last six games. The Jaguars are often playing from behind, and that leads to accumulation of targets, receptions and yards for the young receiver. With brutal byes upon us the next three weeks, he can be a great fill-in option.
5. Jonathan Stewart (RB, Carolina Panthers) – DeAngelo Williams will be back Thursday night, but Stewart has recently shown some of that game-breaking ability that deemed him a rising star just a few years back. Injuries have hampered his career, but the talent is still there. Against the Seahawks on Sunday, he carried the rock 16 times for 79 yards. That was good for 4.9 yards per clip against a team that was previously second in the NFL in allowing 3.3 yards per carry. It remains to be seen how carries will be divided going forward with Williams back, but Stewart should be owned as an RB3 with upside.
6. Bobby Rainey (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — As mentioned earlier, there are trade rumors about Doug Martin. Rainey has outplayed Martin regularly this season, and Martin is now suffering from an ankle injury (the severity is unknown at the moment). Rainey has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception, compared to Martin’s 2.9 and 6.0, respectively. This is still the Buccaneer’s lousy offense, but Rainey has produced when he’s had the opportunity, especially in PPR leagues. On Sunday, he totaled 66 yards on 14 total touches from scrimmage. One worry here would be whether the Bucs turn the reigns over to rookie Charles Sims, who is returning from ankle surgery.
7. Davante Adams (WR, Green Bay Packers) — He has made this list a couple times and is still available in 67 percent of CBS leagues and 86 percent of Yahoo leagues. Adams is entrenched as the third receiver and was tied for the most targets (nine) Sunday night. He has 23 targets over the last four games with at least 75 yards or a touchdown in that span. Can you say WR3?
8. Donte Moncrief (WR, Indianapolis Colts) — He is down here for only one reason. Reggie Wayne is day-to-day and may be back this week. Hakeem Nicks played 20 more snaps than Moncrief on Sunday, but it was Moncrief who dominated the box score, tallying seven catches on 12 targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. This is an extremely talented rookie who you need to keep an eye on. He could do some serious damage if he were to assume a larger role.
9. Theo Riddick (RB, Detroit Lions) — He had three carries for five yards, but where Riddick does his dirty work is in the passing game. He hauled in eight receptions on 12 targets, piling up 74 yards and scoring once. If you are following me on Twitter, you know one of my bold predictions was Riddick going for 80 and a score. Glad he made me look smart. In the two games in which Reggie Bush has been out, Riddick has 13 catches, 149 yards and two scores on 18 targets. One thing Bush can’t do is stay healthy, and Riddick, in these two games, has likely earned himself more playing time.
10. Charles Sims (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) — In this year’s draft, Sims was thought to be the best receiving prospect at the running back position. He drew numerous comparisons to Matt Forte, who was drafted during the Lovie Smith era in Chicago. The Buccaneers spent a top-70 pick on Sims for a reason, and they loved what they saw from him in the preseason before his ankle injury. Sims is back and practicing. If Tampa Bay continues to lose, we could see them go “young” to evaluate their future. Lovie’s regime has no allegiance to Martin or Rainey.
Just missed: Robert Griffin III, Kyle Orton, Terrance West, Roy Helu Jr., Travaris Cadet, Lorenzo Taliaferro, John Brown, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Stills, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Tim Wright.
Jack Thomason is the winner of the 2014 Bud Light Fantasy Expert Contest, co-host of Fantasy Streamers and co-host of the Nerd Herd. You can listen to Fantasy Streamers every Sunday from 8-9 a.m. CT at 670thescore.com/listen. The Nerd Herd is on every Friday, starting at 11 p.m. and lasting until 1 a.m. on 670 The Score and online here. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.