Week 9 is nearing its conclusion, and we still have three unbeaten teams in the NFL: The New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers. It’s crazy to think that we are at the half-way point of the regular season. We’re now entering crunch time in the fantasy season, as most standard leagues begin their playoffs in Week 14.
The injury bug is starting to really affect many of our fantasy teams. As a result, with many league trade deadlines coming to a close as well, we are forced to hit the waiver wire. Below I will outline five players that would be good additions to your teams this coming week.
QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (Owned in 37.5% of ESPN leagues)
After missing the last two games due to injury, Mariota led the Titans to a come-from-behind, overtime win in New Orleans against an under-performing Saints team. In the process, Mariota completed 28 of his 39 passes, throwing for 371 yards on the day, including four touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite this being only his second win in his young career, Mariota has put together a solid rookie season, especially in regards to numbers. He has completed 64% of his passes this season, while throwing nine touchdowns compared to five interceptions. The Titans play in the worst division in the NFL this season, so Mariota should have many favorable fantasy matchups moving forward, outside of a matchup in Week 10 against the Panthers. Still, after Week 10, the Titans play the Jaguars twice in the following three weeks, in addition to a game at home against the Raiders.
RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers (Owned in 40.3% of ESPN leagues)
Starks may be the go-to running back in Green Bay moving forward this season, as many in the Packers’ brass are beginning to grow frustrated with the poor season that has been put together thus far by Eddie Lacy. Starks is no stranger to seeing increase in playing time; he has filled in for many Packer starting running backs over the past several years. This season, Lacy has significantly under-performed, in a season in which the Packers really need to rely on their running game. Starks may continue to get substantial increases in carries, which is exactly what happened in Week 9. In the Week 9 loss to the Panthers, Lacy managed to rush for only 10 yards on five carries, including a key fumble. After the fumble, he did not see much of the field for the rest of the game. Starks has the ability to break away for big runs, as was demonstrated in Week 9. On the day, he rushed for 39 yards, while also catching six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. I expect Starks to be a key part to the Packers game plan in Week 10 in a game against the Lions.
RB James White, New England Patriots (Owned in 1.5% of ESPN leagues)
Although inactive in the Patriots’ Week 9 matchup against the Redskins, White will almost without a doubt see an increased role Week 10 with Dion Lewis suffering a serious knee injury. White, the second-year running back out of Wisconsin, is seen as a similar player to Lewis in terms of pass catching and as a change of pace back next to LeGarrette Blount. Don’t let his seven carries for 15 yards and seven catches for 52 yards scare you. It’s well known around the Patriots that White is the next man up to fill in for Lewis. Especially if you’ve been starting Lewis for the past several weeks, pick up White no matter if Lewis misses next week or more. We favor White over Brandon Bolden due to Bolden’s special teams play and White’s talent.
WR Corey Brown, Carolina Panthers (Owned in 1.0% of ESPN leagues)
Brown, now in his second season in the NFL after being a standout at Ohio State, put up a touchdown for the second straight week in Week 9. He, like fellow Panther wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess, is a valid deep threat for Cam Newton, who tried to throw down field on numerous occasions today, which included a 39-yard touchdown to Brown. The Panthers have a flurry of options at the wide receiver position, but for an 8-0 team, I expect them all to be heavily involved in the weeks moving forward. Brown is beginning to be one of Cam Newton’s favorite down field targets, and could be a valuable flex option in many leagues moving forward. He may also end up with rushing yards on reverse routes as well with his lightning speed. In Week 9, Brown caught two passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
WR Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (Owned in 6.7% of ESPN leagues)
Crowder, the Redskins 4th round pick in this past year’s draft out of Duke, has quietly become one of the most popular options in the Redskins’ passing game, outside of veteran receiver Pierre Garcon. Crowder received eight targets in the Redskins Week 9 loss to the Patriots, but has received nine targets twice this season, in addition to a game in which he received 12 targets. While he has yet to catch a touchdown pass this season, nor record a 100-yard receiving game, his catches pile up, and he could be a valuable pick-up in many PPR leagues. I expect his production to only increase as the season progresses even with DeSean Jackson back.