As bye weeks and injuries take a toll on fantasy football rosters, the Jackson Fives get sneaky with the “sleeper” picks of the week
Jackson Prince, staff writer
For those of you who took my advice in Week Seven regarding Andrew Luck, Jordan Reed, Josh Freeman, Joseph Randle, Dwayne Bowe, Joseph Fauria, Robert Griffin III and the Bears defense: you’re welcome. My predictions about Justin Blackmon and the Dolphins Defense didn’t quite correlate with their actual performances, but football is able to throw a curveball once in a while.
Each year, there’s a week that proves to be especially brutal on fantasy football owners, for it places teams with many star players on bye weeks. Sometimes, this particular week will be found in the middle of the season, which adds injury to the pile of players already unavailable. My friends, this is Week Nine.
Here’s the breakdown of the players missing Week Nine because of bye weeks:
Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford, Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Maurice Jones-Drew, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Eli Manning, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick
In addition, here’s the unofficial list of players already deemed out for Week Nine (*out for season):
Doug Martin, Michael Vick, Julio Jones*, Randall Cobb, Reggie Wayne*, Mike Williams*,, Jermichael Finley*, Jay Cutler, Sidney Rice*, Miles Austin, Owen Daniels*, Sam Bradford*, etc.
So this week, I’m going to simply go with my gut instincts (which I didn’t do last week, deciding not to start Marvin Jones after hours of deliberation).
Before giving my “sleeper” picks of the week, I’d like you to watch this magnificent touchdown by Giovani Bernard. I said it before and I’ll say it now: the kid is going to be a superstar by year’s end.
Prince’s Pillowed Players (Get it? Like sleeping… pillows… whatever.)
Jason Campbell: Have the Cleveland Browns finally found their franchise quarterback? Well, no. But they did finally come to their senses and sit Brandon Weeden who disgraced the quarterback position after throwing one of the worst interceptions in the history of the sport. Jason Campbell is coach Rod Chudzinski’s guy against the Ravens this week. Campbell was impressive last week, throwing for 293 passing yards and two touchdowns. He was just one big play away from handing the Chiefs their first loss of the season. The Browns are confident in Campbell and, because the team didn’t trade wide receiver Josh Gordon at the deadline, he’ll have some weapons to work with. Expect solid numbers from Campbell in Week Nine, and pray that the Browns remain wise and continue to roll with him as the starter.
Bilal Powell: In Week Seven, Powell recorded zero fantasy points. Ouch. This week, however, he’s one of my “sleeper” picks. He’s established himself as the lead dog in the Jets backfield after a solid Week Eight performance, even though he will continue to split carries with Chris Ivory. Ivory has averaged 3.1 yards per carry which, compared to Powell’s 3.9 YPC, is not satisfactory. Ivory was also only on the field for 12 snaps last Sunday, suggesting the direction in which the team is moving. Powell is the better pass catcher, more agile runner and harder worker. Against the Saints, he’ll find a lot of running room and the end zone.
Denarius Moore: This man is not receiving the credit that he deserves. He has been a top-20 fantasy wide receiver, and has been consistent for the majority of the season. Moore has become Terrelle Pryor’s favorite target and, with defenses now focusing on Pryor’s ability to run after this 93-yard touchdown, the speedy receiver will wreak havoc on the weak Eagles secondary. Expect top-10 numbers this week from Moore and multiple scores.
Jared Cook: Remember Week One? Cook recorded two touchdowns and 141 receiving yards. Since then, he’s earned 234 total receiving yards and zero touchdowns. What makes me think that he’s going to break out once again this week? The Rams are playing his former team, the Tennessee Titans, with whom he had a rough breakup. Cook has always been a weapon for the Rams and, though my prediction is only a hunch, he does have something to prove to his ex-teammates. Sam Bradford’s fill-in, Kellen Clemens, will look in Cook’s direction for a touchdown this week.
Colts Defense: The Colts defense, only giving up an average of 18.7 points per game, will play the Houston Texans this week. The Texans are no longer the offensive juggernaut that they were in years past. With Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Ben Tate all hurting, the Colts have an opportunity to shut down their offense all together. Plus, Robert Mathis has officially entered “beast-mode.”
Before I bid you all adieu, a side note about the ever-frustrating Stevan Ridley, running back for the New England Patriots. Ridley has scored in both of his last two contests, posting double-digit fantasy points each time. Now, let’s not rush to the conclusion that these performances mark hisreturn to top-10 running-back status again. It’s a promising sign, however, and I sincerely believe that Ridley will ride this momentum for the rest of the season. He is the Patriots most talented running back.
Sophomore Justin Dubin, who prides himself on his immense knowledge of the Patriots organization, agrees with the notion of Ridley’s return to fantasy relevance.
“Our offensive line is having a tough time protecting [Brady], and we don’t have a very talented receiver core. Ridley’s role will grow in the coming weeks,” he said.
Let’s pray to Shivakamini Somakandarkram that he’s right.
Ring the bells! Alert the cavalry! Week Nine is coming! Week Nine is coming!
UPDATE: Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon is out for the season after being suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Hurry to the waiver-wire and pick up Mike Brown, who will see more targets as Blackmon’s fill-in. This is terrible news for any Blackmon owners (myself included).