It’s week nine in the NFL and some teams are just getting started, some are finally starting to hit their stride, and some are spiraling out of control. Now that we’re hitting the midway point of the year, we can start to find out who is the real deal and who has been nothing short of a bust. With that in mind, there are going to be some good players out there worthy of a seat on your bench and some pleasant surprises who can finally crack into your starting lineup.
*Statistics provided are using 0.5 PPR settings.
Josh McCown (QB): Despite being the quarterback of the New York Jets, a job title that has been a train wreck since Mark Sanchez somehow led the team to back-to-back AFC Championship games, McCown has had a quietly good year. His stats this year were dragged down by a bleak start, but McCown has started to hit a groove these last few weeks. I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting him over anyone you might already own, but if you’re being plagued by injuries or bye weeks, McCown is a reasonable stopgap. The sight of McCown in your starting lineup isn’t the prettiest, but you can’t argue with the production.
Jared Cook (TE): Tight end is one of the hardest positions in fantasy to find a replacement for, and with players like Kyle Rudolph, Hunter Henry and Gronk on a bye, the position becomes even thinner. Cook should benefit from the team’s resurgence as he showed in his six catch, 106-yard performance in the thriller in Kansas City just two weeks ago. The Dolphins are tied for sixth-worst in the league against opposing fantasy tight-ends and Cook could be a nice play to get you through the week.
Jay Ajayi (RB): Ajayi has been one of fantasy’s biggest busts this year due to his inability to get into the end zone and his overall inconsistency. In a match-up against Oakland, most running backs have an advantage as the Raiders are allowing 21.5 fantasy points to opposing rushers. However, given that Ajayi has not gotten into the end zone yet and the Raiders have yet to allow a touchdown to opposing running backs, you will be relying a lot on Ajayi to get his fantasy points through pure rushing yards. With either Matt Moore or an injured Jay Cutler manning the Dolphins’ quarterback position this week, defenses can stack the box and take away Ajayi even more than they already have this year. This isn’t a good week to hope for Ajayi to break out, I would stay away.
Demaryius Thomas (WR): When Thomas is doing well, he’s doing really well. When he’s doing bad though, it’s awful. Thomas went from 10 catches for 133 yards against the Giants to just two catches for nine yards against a depleted Chargers secondary the following week, which is a fair microcosm of his season. Not to mention, Thomas has had trouble finding the end zone dating all the way back to November of last season, making him another player you’re relying heavily on yards for. Denver is tied for sixth in the league in sacks allowed with 22 and a fearsome Eagles front seven and surprisingly stout secondary could make QB Trevor Siemian’s day miserable. The match-up suggests you might want to avoid Thomas if you have a decent replacement stashed on your bench.
Eric Rose is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at ER827957@wcupa.edu.