Jon Gruden loves everyone. Even Dane Sanzenbacher.
If you’ve never watched Monday Night Football, or if you refuse to turn up the volume to listen to Gruden get excited about third-string running backs, you may not be aware about his love for everyone. Everything. All of the players – he loves them.
While I can probably skew data and make a case for almost any non-Blaine Gabbert NFL player, my job isn’t to love everyone. It’s to be objective, giving you, the fantasy owner, vital information to help bring home the trophy. If I loved everyone, you’d be in a dark fantasy football place.
So without further ado, I bring you some key add, drops, sells and buys for Week 9 of the 2013 NFL season.
Add Andre Ellington
Five weeks ago, guys. That’s when I mentioned Andre Ellington needed to be rostered. And relentlessly, week after week, I kept bringing the rookie’s name up. Finally this situation is coming to a rational ending.
The fact that head coach Bruce Arians stuck with Mendenhall this long is a little alarming, especially considering it took a Shard injury for Ellington to finally get double-digit touches. But don’t let Arians’ stubborn coaching fool you: Ellington is the more efficient back, and even entering last week, he was one of the best on a per touch basis in the league.
Now, Ellington leads the entire NFL in rushing net expected points per rush. This metric aims to discover how many points a player is adding for his team on the ground above or below expectation (that’s where net expected points comes into play) on a per rush basis. Nobody is doing more for his squad running the ball than Andre Ellington.
Clearly much of this has to do with the fact that he’s an explosive back that hasn’t seen a ton of volume. When he begins running between the tackles more, this value will surely drop. However, when compared to his teammate, Ellington is far and away the superior runner. That’s why he needs to be added this week in fantasy.
Add Marvin Jones
Plain and simple, Marvin Jones was efficient in the red zone this week. That’s an obvious statement considering his four (!!!) touchdowns, but the sentiment is even more apparent when you see he played fewer than 33 percent of his team’s snaps.
All he did was score.
Though we won’t see that again, Jones could “officially” be the one filling that second wide receiver spot in the Bengals offense, beating out Mohamed Sanu. Don’t be surprised if you see things change up each week with Jay Gruden’s (Jon’s brother) game plan though. Regardless, Jones is worth a flier if he can get more playing time opposite of one of the best receivers in the game.
Sell Saints Wide Receivers
Drew Brees throws five touchdowns, and Marques Colston doesn’t see any of them? It’s true, but the touchdown aspect of things doesn’t bother me nearly as much as his putrid three-reception, 18-yard stat line. The worst part is that Colston’s game on Sunday is the best one he’s had since Week 4.
Darren Sproles isn’t getting as involved as we’re used to, Kenny Stills is an up-and-down play, and Lance Moore decided he wants to get the ball now too coming off an injury. In other words, this passing game is sort of like my desk: organized chaos.
If you own Colston or Sproles, chances are you’re not going to get a lot for them. I’m not against trying to trade one of them if you can get a good value in return, but keep in mind that this isn’t abnormal, at least for Colston. He usually finishes the season with good numbers, but the path is, at times, a brutal one.
Stills is worth a flier, but overall, I’d sell this wide receiver group because they’re going to be boom or bust throughout the season.
Hold Tom Brady
I wrote in depth about Tom Brady yesterday, so I’ll kindly point you in that direction to see why I believe he’s not droppable just yet. In essence, the constant moving parts and lack of tight end play have killed Brady, and we’ve probably understated the impact Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen have had on that offense. With Gronk now healthy and Vereen returning in Week 11, Brady could be a decent play as you gear up for your fantasy playoffs.
Add Kendall Wright
I mentioned last week that Jake Locker’s fantasy point average since Week 2 (in games he actually played) is third-best among fantasy quarterbacks. It’s not a large sample, but don’t underestimate what he’s doing for the Titans this season. His passing net expected points, too, is on par with Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson through eight NFL weeks.
All of this leads me to a player who’s somehow available in over 65 percent of ESPN.com leagues: Kendall Wright. Since Week 2, Wright has averaged over six receptions per game, hitting at least 55 yards in each of those contests. And for some reason, people own Wright’s teammate and fellow wide receiver Nate Washington more. Perspective: Washington has hit Wright’s reception average per game since Week 2, six, just once this season.
There’s no doubt that the second-year receiver is the best option in the Titans passing game, and it’s a crime if he’s available in any PPR league. Get him now, especially before the Titans schedule starts getting soft.
Drop Eli Manning
I was wrong about this offense turning it around with easy matchups. I figured with their upcoming schedule, they’d be able to at least get something going offensively. Instead, we’ve seen a whole lot of Josh Brown and not a whole lot of Salsa dances.
Eli’s shown me enough. He faced Minnesota two weeks ago, a team that ranks third to last in our pass defense metric, and posted a measly 12 fantasy points. Last week against the Eagles, who rank just two spots ahead of the Vikings within the same metric, he gave you fewer than 10 points.
Even if David Wilson and Andre Brown are healthy, I’m not sure Eli is worth a roster spot, even in 14-team leagues.
Add Keenan Allen
Why is he still only owned in 34 percent of ESPN.com leagues? Why? Perhaps some of your league mates aren’t aware he’s out there after the Chargers Week 8 bye, so if he is, scoop him up. This is about the 34th time I’ve mentioned Allen in this column, so I’ll let his numbers since Week 4 do the talking.
Drop Carson Palmer
Just like Eli, Carson Palmer hasn’t made the most of his soft matchups. The Falcons were the worst team defending the pass entering Week 8, and Palmer still just posted a little over 13 fantasy points. It was the first time he threw more touchdowns than interceptions in a game since Week 1, but his 172 yards through the air with one of the best receivers in the game isn’t going to cut it.
Sell Andy Dalton
Over the last three weeks, the best fantasy football quarterback hasn’t been Peyton Manning, and it hasn’t been Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford. It’s been The Red Rifle, Andy Dalton.
As a result, Dalton’s ranking in passing net expected points has shot up from 25th-best in the league after Week 5 (-4.55) to seventh in the league post-Week 8 (54.99).
I say selling is the best route for a couple of reasons. First, Dalton’s been a streaky quarterback in the past. He had a three-game streak last year with eight touchdown passes, and another one five weeks later with nine. Outside of those two groupings of three – six contests – Dalton had exactly one game with more than a single touchdown pass.
Second, this type of production is very difficult to maintain. His near 60-point passing net expected points increase over the last three weeks puts him at a pace that’s better than Peyton Manning this season. Good luck buying into that.
I think Dalton is a solid high-end QB2 in fantasy, but he still usually benefits from solid matchups. His game against the Jets was phenomenal, but let’s wait and see him perform for another week or two before we dub him a plug-and-play starter.
If you pick him up this week or already own him and find a team willing to buy, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of him at this potential peak.
Sell Steven Jackson
It may not make a whole lot of sense to sell a player coming off of an 11-carry, six-yard performance, but in Jackson’s case, this may just be the beginning of a downward spiral. His upcoming three games aren’t a walk in the park, and you could even make the argument that things won’t get better until about Week 14.
If I’m a Jackson owner, I’d look to bail as soon as I could, even if that means getting rid of him for a low-end RB2.
Hold Robert Griffin III
RGIII seems healthy after his Week 8 injury, which is great news. His game against the Broncos was an obvious disappointment though, as he became just the second quarterback to not post at least 18 fantasy points against Denver. The only other one? Chad Henne.
But moving forward, Griffin gets three cake matchups against the Chargers, Vikings and Eagles secondary. I’d expect him to slowly get things going. It’s not time to sell.
Add or Buy Jordan Reed
Like Andre Ellington, Jordan Reed’s been part of this column many times in the past. He’s finally become the full-blown TE1 fantasy hopefuls have been waiting for, catching 17 passes for well over 200 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks.
He could be available in your league (owned in just 62 percent of ESPN.com leagues), and if he is, you have to pick him up.
But I’m also not opposed to trading for the kid if you need tight end help. There’s nobody in Washington competing for his targets, and the Redskins defense keeps the team passing in games. They get San Diego, Minnesota and Philadelphia over the next three weeks, too – three teams ranking in the bottom seven of our pass defense metrics. Get Reed as soon as you can.
Add Tim Wright
In deeper leagues, you may want to take a look at Tampa Bay tight end Tim Wright. He scored a late, meaningless touchdown against the Panthers on Thursday night, but he’s been a favorite of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon so far this year.
Since Glennon took over in Week 4 (four games), Wright has three contests with five or more receptions, including a 91-yard game versus the Eagles. When you factor in Mike Williams' season-ending injury, there’s a chance Wright starts seeing even more targets in the Bucs middling offense.
With tight end being so inherently unpredictable, Wright could end up providing a nice floor for fantasy owners each week.
Add Andre Brown
Brown is available in 80 percent of leagues, though he’s set to return in Week 10 against the Raiders. Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jacobs haven’t been bad in the G-Men’s offense – all things considered – so having Brown, clearly the best back of the three, as a waiver wire flier would be great. There’s a good chance he comes into a situation full of touches.
Add the Raiders Defense
Need a defensive streamer this week? Look no further than the Raiders. Our own Nik Bonaddio pointed them out in his six waiver wire adds column, and I couldn’t agree more. Any defense against the Eagles right now is going to be a serviceable in fantasy given the amount of turnovers Philly's offense produces. Not only that, but the Raiders rank in the top half in both rush and pass defense according to our analytics.