Welcome to week 9! It’s receivers galore in this week’s risers and fallers column, with a couple struggling running backs added in for fun. This is timely since week 9 is a very bye-heavy week and a lot of big name WRs will be out. If you own Julio Jones, Roddy White, Sammy Watkins, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Randall Cobb, or Jordy Nelson, try snagging one of the rising WRs.
It’s important to remember though that risers and fallers does not necessarily equate to add/drop. A better way to look at might be sell high/buy low. Being more than halfway through the fantasy season is depressing. What’s not depressing is the play of these guys…
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans upside is no doubt limited because of the lack of talent the Buccaneers have behind center. With that said, Evans is still a riser even if he’s rising from buried on your bench to a reliable flex option. Last week against Minnesota, Evans led the team both in targets (7) and yards (78). The two games he played in before last week, Evans posted 65 yards and 55 yards respectively with a TD in each game.
Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots
After early season woes, the Pats offense is really humming now. Brady is looking like the god of old, coming off a monster 354 yard 5 TD game against the the Bears. I’m no mathematician, but this resurgence seems due to equal parts improved O-Line play, Gronk being Gronk again, and the emergence of Brandon LaFell on the outside. I predicted LaFell would have a big game against the Bears in last week’s sleeper column, and he did just that, blowing up for 124 yards and a score. This has catapulted LaFell into a bonafide riser. While his production has been up and down week-by-week, LaFell now has 30 catches for 461 yards and four touchdowns over the Pats’ past six games. I expect him to break the one week up, one week down trend this week against the Broncos and remain hot.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
While Patterson’s numbers haven’t been eye-popping all season, he finds himself on the risers list after being targeted 10 times Sunday in Tampa. With all the talent and potential in the world, fantasy owners have been waiting for Patterson to break out, and I’m taking a preemptive approach with this prediction. With the continued development of Teddy Bridgewater and the building chemistry between the two players, Patterson seems poised to be a bigger focal point in the Viking’s offense.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Hopkins in now the Texans best receiver, in stats at least. With 203 receiving yards in the past two games, Hopkins has moved ahead of Andre Johnson for the team lead in receiving yards with 569. While he hasn’t had a touchdown since week 4, he’s been seeing a rising dose of targets week by week, so the touchdowns are bound to come.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With the rise of Mike Evans comes the fall of his teammate, Vincent Jackson. Perhaps one of the reasons his production has been bogged down (besides the obvious: his team sucks) are the trade rumors that have been surrounding him all season. Well, the deadline has passed and V-Jax is still in Tampa (much to the dismay of both fantasy owners and V-Jax himself). Another reason for Jackson’s struggles that have nothing to do with his teammates or front office is his abysmal catch rate. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Jackson’s reception percentage is the second-worst in the NFL among all players who have at least 25 targets this season at just 41.9%. With only two TDs all season and only one game of over 66 yards receiving, Jackson has fallen to WR3 status.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
With no touchdowns since week 3 and Matty Ice struggling behind that terrible Atlanta O-line, Jones’ usually excellent numbers have suffered. Week 8 was his third really disappointing game in a row, having produced only 68, 56, and 58 receiving yards in weeks 6, 7, and 8 respectively. Remember at the beginning of this article I mentioned buying low on fallers? Jones is Exhibit A, the perfect player to illustrate that gameplan. He’s healthy, Matt Ryan is still a really good quarterback, and you’d have to assume the O-line will get it together eventually.
Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns
Tate made a big splash when he returned to the field from injury in week 5, racking up 202 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns. Since then, his carries per game have dropped significantly — by about 10 per game — and he has only produced 61 running yards in the past two games. That includes last week’s 26 yards on 15 carries performance against a soft Oakland defense that was ranked 26th in run defense.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Lynch has likewise struggled in the past few weeks, averaging only 59 yards per game. He hasn’t gotten into the endzone since week 5 and that was through the air, points that are very unreliable for fantasy owners. To find his last touchdown on the ground, you have to go all the way back to week 3. Beast Mode has been caged, and it’s unclear if he’ll break free anytime soon.