As we head into week 9, many fantasy teams find themselves in must-win situations. If you’re in playoff position, congratulations and it’s time to make sure you have the roster to stay there and flourish once you make the fantasy postseason. With that in mind, there’s some nice upgrades on the waiver wire this week and with the Patriots, Jets, Rams, and 49ers headed into bye weeks make sure to get your replacements and finalize your lineup by adding some of these top 10 options.
1. Titus Young-Detroit Lions-WR: (49.7% Ownership in ESPN leagues) With Nate Burleson out for the rest of the season with a broken leg, young receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles are going to see plenty of opportunities the rest of the way. Young should be an every down player now for Detroit and a fantasy football starter the rest of the way. He looked great in the Lions comeback win over Seattle finishing with 100 yards even and a pair of touchdowns while hauling in all nine of his targets. As teams continue to commit to shutting down Calvin Johnson, Young will be a strong WR3 with huge upside the rest of the way. If he’s available in your league, he’s a must add. Young was the top wide receiver in standard scoring formats this week.
2. Mike Williams-Tampa Bay Bucs-WR: (82.9%) Another receiver worth owning in all leagues is Mike Williams. Williams has to share looks with Vincent Jackson but has been targeted at least six times in each of the Bucs last five games. He has a season-high six catches Thursday night adding his fourth touchdown of the year along with 68 yards. He’s the deep threat on a team that’s starting to move the ball well as they head to Oakland who allows the 12th most passing yards per game in the league. Williams is a WR3/flex option in all matchups going forward.
3. Josh Freeman-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-QB: (71.7%)One of the main reasons Mike Williams has thrived is the improved play of his QB Josh Freeman. Freeman is a solid option as a QB2 or a bye-week fill-in as Tampa heads to Oakland. Freeman has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his last three games while throwing just one pick during that same span. In this week’s win in Minnesota, Freeman threw for 262 yards after his eye-popping 420 last week against the Saints. Freeman is showing some growth and on his current hot streak could easily find his way into the top 10 again this week.
4. Andre Roberts- Arizona Cardinals-WR: (40.9%) Although he struggled against the 49ers (no surprise there), Roberts remains a good pickup despite the struggling Cardinals offense. Arizona has been unable to run the ball, so they’ve been forced to throw the ball leaving Jake Skelton with 52 pass attempts on Monday Night Football in week 8. 11 of those throws went to Roberts and he converted that into a team-high seven catches for a team-high 65 yards. Arizona plays the Packers this week and will again be playing from behind so Roberts should get plenty of throws his way. He’s emerged as a nice complement to Larry Fitzgerald and could be in for a bigger piece of the action if Fitz’s head injury proves more serious than initially thought. Feel confident using Roberts as a WR3 with upside going forward.
5. Cecil Shorts III-Jacksonville Jaguars-WR: (3.4%)The Jags passing game looked solid in Lambeau as they gave the Packers all they could handle in a 24-15 Green Bay win. Blaine Gabbert’s 303-yard performance is most likely a bit of an anomaly, but it’s worth noticing that Shorts led the team in targets, receptions, and yards finishing with a career-high 116 yards on eight catches. He’s had 195 yards and a touchdown in his two games as a starter and makes a great addition to deepen your receiver corps.
6. Vick Ballard-Indianapolis Colts-RB: (57.5%) The fact that we’re in the second half of this list before we get to our first running back isn’t good news for those scouring the wire for RB-filler. Ballard had a nice game though for the second week in a row as he rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries and added one of the highlight plays of the year when he caught his only pass of the day and took it 16 yards for the game-winning, walkoff, overtime touchdown complete with soaring over the pylon upside-down after getting corkscrewed around about four yards away. It was his first NFL score, but he should continue to see work in a timeshare with Donald Brown. Brown is working his way back from knee surgery so the time share will be fluid, but Ballard has shown he’s worth a roster spot in most leagues.
7. Logan Paulsen-Washington Redskins: (0.6%) Paulsen had four catches for the second week in a row and finished with 43 yards against the Steelers on Sunday. He’s continue to start and see a decent amount of throws his way after Fred Davis was placed on IR. Paulsen isn’t going to have the value of Davis to be sure, but is a borderline TE2 in an offense that throws to the tight end quite a bit.
8. Golden Tate-Seattle Seahawks: (4.0%) Tate’s value continues to fluctuate, but he led the ‘Hawks in receiving with 64 yards on seven catches on Sunday in Detroit. He’s another depth pickup and possible bye week fill-in. He’s a starting wide receiver, so there is some value here, but he did have zero catches just two weeks ago so he’s only a deep league option at this point.
9. Matt Moore-Miami Dolphins: Moore played well for Miami after coming on in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill. He threw for 131 yards and a touchdown while leading the Dolphins to a big win in New York. This week, he may be in line for a spot start against the Colts. He’s a QB2 option if he gets the start against a suspect Colts secondary, but monitor the situation closely as the week goes on if you decide to try and get a spot start from Moore.
10. Dexter McCluster-Kansas City Chiefs-RB/WR: With the shortage of running backs, McCluster is an interesting hybrid option. ESPN actually has him eligible both as a running back and a wide receiver making him a versatile option if nothing else. On Sunday against Oakland, he ran the ball twice for 15 yards, but his real value comes in PPR leagues as a receiver since he’s caught six passes in each of the Chiefs last two games and has a total of 93 yards and a touchdown. If you need a flex play or a bye week cover in a deep league, McCluster has the playmakers ability to pull in some points but his touches are a little uncertain since the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles ahead of him in the backfield and Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin ahead of him at wide out.
Honorable Mention: Daryl Richardson-St. Louis Rams (bye this week), Ronnie Hillman-Denver Broncos, Shane Vereen-New England Patriots (bye this week), Chris Givens-St. Louis Rams (bye this week), Jason Avant-Philadelphia Eagles, Anthony Fasano-Miami Dolphins.
Editor’s Note: This article is a weekly feature usual contributed by Steve Capps. He was dealing with the preparation for super storm Sandy, so I stepped in for him this week. He’ll return next week after his bye. For specific answers for your fantasy football questions ask them in the comments below or follow us on twitter @FantasyCPR . Good luck this week!