By Bobby McMann
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It is safe to say that Calvin Johnson’s arrow is pointing upward after Sunday’s ridiculous 14-catch, 329 yard, 1 TD outburst What about the other big receiving day? Marvin Jones managed a breakout game with 8 receptions for 122 yards and 4 TDs against the Jets. While quietly producing for the Bengals, this performance is sure to send owners sprinting to the waiver wire, though his stock may never be higher this season than it is today. He has enough talent to be considered a FLEX option, just don’t go overboard trying to acquire him. There are plenty of other fluctuating values heading into Week 9, including the guy who throws Jones the football.
Andy Dalton, Bengals QB
After an inconsistent start that saw him throw just 5 TDs along with 5 INTs in his first five games, Andy Dalton has turned things around in a big way. The Red Rifle has put up three straight 300-yard performances and at least 3 TDs in each of the past three games. He has one of the most dangerous weapons in the game with A.J. Green and a developing supporting cast that includes Marvin Jones and Giovani Bernard. The knocks on him are well documented and his arm strength caps his upside, but the results over the past three games cannot be dismissed, especially the 5 TD passes versus the Jets on Sunday. Can you trust Andy Dalton moving forward? Not yet as QB1, though he has to be considered a high-upside backup that is knocking on the door of every week starter material.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals RB
The Cardinals have repeatedly stated that they do not view Andre Ellington as a bellcow running back. That is all well and good because the rookie out of Clemson has the upside to make the most of limited touches. It does not take an advanced scout to tell you that Ellington is a superior RB option to Rashard Mendenhall at this point and that was cemented further on Sunday. With Mendy out Ellington saw his biggest workload of the season, gaining 154 yards on 15 carries, which included an 80-yard TD run. He is going to have more upside in PPR leagues moving forward, but has forced a full-blown timeshare in Arizona. Consider Ellington a viable RB3/FLEX play that will continue to get double-digit touches even when Mendenhall returns.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys WR
While Miles Austin’s hamstrings have deteriorated his Fantasy value once again, it has also provided an opening for Terrance Williams to emerge. And the young receiver has seized that opportunity and ran it all the way to the end zone. He has racked up at least 64 receiving yards in four of the past five games while scoring a TD in four straight. There is no question who the No. 1 target is in Dallas, but Williams is certainly making a strong push for that second option. Williams’ explosiveness and playmaking potential have offset the rookie mistakes he has made and likely will continue to make as he adjusts to playing in the NFL. He is here to stay as a WR3/4 option with upside as long as you can tolerate inconsistent week-to-week performances.
Timothy Wright, Bucs TE
Greg Schiano has not done much right this season, but give him credit for signing undrafted free agent WR Timothy Wright and converting him to TE. Schiano is very familiar with Wright and his skillset, having coached him at Rutgers. Bucs QB Mike Glennon has been looking in his direction often, as he has racked up 19 catches for 195 yards in the past four games. With Mike Williams having a torn hamstring, there could be even more opportunity for him to make an impact in the passing game. As the Bucs “move” TE, Wright has fantasy appeal as a solid backup with the potential to develop into a deep league starter.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders QB
The Fantasy appeal of Terrelle Pryor is obvious, but so are the frustrations and lack of polish as a passer. Both sides were on full display Sunday, as Pryor took the first carry of the game 93 yards for a TD, but completed just 10 of 19 passes for 88 yards and 2 INTs after that. What started out as a potentially massive Fantasy day ended in almost the exact same spot points wise. He has managed just 5 passing TDs along with 7 INTs this season. Pryor will continue to get a chance to start for the Raiders and his running ability gives him plenty of upside. His inefficiencies as a pocket passer make him tough to rely on as anything more than a matchup-based Fantasy QB.
Darren Sproles, Saints RB
It is officially time to be concerned if you are a Darren Sproles owner. One or maybe even two games where he loses touches to Pierre Thomas could be explained as simply part of that weeks “game plan”. Three weeks running and a massive disparity in offensive touches (57 for Thomas, 21 for Sproles over the last three) is a problem. Sproles had a huge performance on Monday Night against Miami, scoring his only two TDs of the season and racking up 142 total yards. Since then, he has 25 yards rushing and another 89 receiving in three games. Maybe it changes next week and Sproles is back to being heavily utilized, but he is a risky starter as the Saints continue to spread the ball around the field. If you need RB help in a PPR league, now is the time to roll the dice and acquire him on the cheap.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins WR
There is potential for Pierre Garcon to be a No. 1 Fantasy receiver, but thus far in 2013 he has not delivered as expected. Yes, he does have at least 5 catches and 46 yards in every game this year, but has just 2 TDs and only one 100-yard receiving game. The week-to-week consistency is nice, but the lack of elite performances is a disappointment. He is still on pace for career highs in catches and yardage, but raised expectations have caused his stock to dip recently. Robert Griffin III is still working his way back and Jordan Reed has emerged as a dependable option in the passing game, which should help Garcon in the second half of the season. In PPR leagues, he is still a WR2 because of his position as a heavily targeted pass catcher in a potentially high-scoring offense.
Jason Witten, Cowboys TE
The model of consistency, Jason Witten has reeled in at least 64 passes for 754 yards in every single season since 2004. That is nine straight seasons of TE1 production, including last years impressive 110 catch, 1,039-yard campaign. The only knock on his game was the lack of TDs, but that is just nitpicking. This year, Witten has been just average outside of two major performances in Weeks 1 and 5. The aforementioned Terrance Williams is gaining the trust of Tony Romo and slot receiver Cole Beasley is also taking looks away from Witten. He is still a TE1 option, just not quite as reliable or safe as he has been in the past.