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Published: Oct. 31, 2014 at 12:38 p.m.

Week 9 fantasy stock watch

The NFL changes in an instant, which is why it's important to stay abreast of how your players are looking prior to Sundays. This is especially true this week as we have six teams on a bye, and a number of marquee players dealing with, or returning from injuries. Below is a look at whose stock is rising, and whose is falling, as we approach Week 9. Keep an eye on these players heading into Sunday to help make the right choices for your fantasy lineup, as their stock could be on the move again before kickoff.

25 Photos Total

  • <p>NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000419912/article/jay-gruden-on-rgiii-all-systems-look-like-theyre-a-go" target="new">RGIII will start</a> for Washington on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. This is perfect timing with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler on their bye week. RGIII could help spark this offense and makes for a nice spot start against the Vikings, even though their defense isn't conceding a ton of points to fantasy quarterbacks. </p> 25

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

    NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that RGIII will start for Washington on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. This is perfect timing with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler on their bye week. RGIII could help spark this offense and makes for a nice spot start against the Vikings, even though their defense isn't conceding a ton of points to fantasy quarterbacks.

  • <p>Crabtree was drafted by many to be a WR2 or WR3 at worst in fantasy, but he's been anything but this year. Crabtree has been entirely touchdown-dependent, and even when he finds the end zone it's not like he's lighting up the fantasy scoreboard (14.40 is his highest fantasy total of the year). At this point there are far more consistent options to look to at wideout, including emerging rookies like Davante Adams, Odell Beckham and Martavis Bryant. Crab isn't quite droppable just yet, but it's getting close.</p> 24

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press

    Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    Crabtree was drafted by many to be a WR2 or WR3 at worst in fantasy, but he's been anything but this year. Crabtree has been entirely touchdown-dependent, and even when he finds the end zone it's not like he's lighting up the fantasy scoreboard (14.40 is his highest fantasy total of the year). At this point there are far more consistent options to look to at wideout, including emerging rookies like Davante Adams, Odell Beckham and Martavis Bryant. Crab isn't quite droppable just yet, but it's getting close.

  • <p>Green has been seen <a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000419693/article/injury-roundup-vontaze-burfict-undergoes-knee-surgery" target="new">practicing this week</a>, even participating in position drills and is questionable for this weekend. That's great news for his fantasy owners who have been waiting patiently for him to return to the field. If Green starts on Sunday against the Jaguars he should be starting for your fantasy teams as well.</p> 23

    Paul Jasienski/Associated Press

    A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    Green has been seen practicing this week, even participating in position drills and is questionable for this weekend. That's great news for his fantasy owners who have been waiting patiently for him to return to the field. If Green starts on Sunday against the Jaguars he should be starting for your fantasy teams as well.

  • <p>The Rams backfield trio of Tre Mason, Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham split their touches last week like this: Mason (eight), Stacy (eight), Cunningham (five). This backfield should be avoided even more than that week old Chinese takeout sitting in your fridge (or maybe that's just mine).</p> 22

    Associated Press

    St. Louis Rams RBs

    The Rams backfield trio of Tre Mason, Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham split their touches last week like this: Mason (eight), Stacy (eight), Cunningham (five). This backfield should be avoided even more than that week old Chinese takeout sitting in your fridge (or maybe that's just mine).

  • <p>Moncrief made it into my <a href="http://www.nfl.com/fantasyfootball/story/0ap3000000418920/article/deep-dive-grab-these-young-wrs-rbs-off-waivers" target="new">deep dive waiver wire</a> piece this week, and for good reason -- he's finally getting used by the Colts. My hope is that he soon overtakes the ineffective and uninspiring Hakeem Nicks as Andrew Luck's third wideout, but we'll have to wait and see. For now, the stock is on the rise for this athletically-gifted wideout from Mississippi.</p> 21

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

    Moncrief made it into my deep dive waiver wire piece this week, and for good reason -- he's finally getting used by the Colts. My hope is that he soon overtakes the ineffective and uninspiring Hakeem Nicks as Andrew Luck's third wideout, but we'll have to wait and see. For now, the stock is on the rise for this athletically-gifted wideout from Mississippi.

  • <p>What a bummer Markus Wheaton has been this year. I was all set for him to assume the WR2 role for the Steelers, after drafting him in the 12th round or later in most fantasy drafts. Welp, that really didn't pan out. Wheaton vacillated between brilliant and bone-headed plays all season, and it now appears he's been surpassed by the next player on this list.</p> 20

    Scott A. Miller/Associated Press

    Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

    What a bummer Markus Wheaton has been this year. I was all set for him to assume the WR2 role for the Steelers, after drafting him in the 12th round or later in most fantasy drafts. Welp, that really didn't pan out. Wheaton vacillated between brilliant and bone-headed plays all season, and it now appears he's been surpassed by the next player on this list.

  • <p>The Steelers drafted the speedy 6-foot-4 Bryant to be their deep threat of the future, but it turns out he might be the deep threat of the present after he's played very well in his first two NFL games. Bryant was a hot waiver-wire add this week, but if for some reason he's still available (and you have the roster space) swoop in and grab him now. He could pay dividends down the stretch in the fantasy playoffs.</p> 19

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Steelers drafted the speedy 6-foot-4 Bryant to be their deep threat of the future, but it turns out he might be the deep threat of the present after he's played very well in his first two NFL games. Bryant was a hot waiver-wire add this week, but if for some reason he's still available (and you have the roster space) swoop in and grab him now. He could pay dividends down the stretch in the fantasy playoffs.

  • <p>Shoot, I was really hoping Davis would play out as a legit fantasy starter, but I knew his schedule could turn into a big road block. He does play in one of the best defensive divisions (the NFC West) after all. At this point if you picked up Davis for depth or were hoping he'd morph into a matchup-based play, he's just wasting space on your roster. It's OK to cut him loose. </p> 18

    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Austin Davis, QB, St. Louis Rams

    Shoot, I was really hoping Davis would play out as a legit fantasy starter, but I knew his schedule could turn into a big road block. He does play in one of the best defensive divisions (the NFC West) after all. At this point if you picked up Davis for depth or were hoping he'd morph into a matchup-based play, he's just wasting space on your roster. It's OK to cut him loose.

  • <p>As the owner of Jimmy Graham in my League of Record, let me just say that it was great to see him return to real action last week against the Packers and again versus the Panthers on Thursday night. Graham finally has gotten more involved in the passing attack and appears to be well on his way to a full recovery from his shoulder injury. Just in time for the final push before the fantasy playoffs, too. Just cool it with the <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-orleans-saints/0ap3000000420432/Graham-s-new-celebration" target="new">bench headbutts</a>, Jimmy.</p> 17

    Rogelio Solis/Associated Press

    Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

    As the owner of Jimmy Graham in my League of Record, let me just say that it was great to see him return to real action last week against the Packers and again versus the Panthers on Thursday night. Graham finally has gotten more involved in the passing attack and appears to be well on his way to a full recovery from his shoulder injury. Just in time for the final push before the fantasy playoffs, too. Just cool it with the bench headbutts, Jimmy.

  • <p>I was among several fantasy analysts who pegged Geno Smith as an offseason sleeper. Sigh. Apologies. Smith has now been benched, and can't seem to play a game without coughing up the football in any number of ways. His fantasy stock is crashing like a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t0X8cRPOjA" target="new">Lego tower kicked by a toddler</a>. It's time to disembark from the Geno-coaster, folks (as if you hadn't already).</p> 16

    Evan Pinkus/Associated Press

    Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets

    I was among several fantasy analysts who pegged Geno Smith as an offseason sleeper. Sigh. Apologies. Smith has now been benched, and can't seem to play a game without coughing up the football in any number of ways. His fantasy stock is crashing like a Lego tower kicked by a toddler. It's time to disembark from the Geno-coaster, folks (as if you hadn't already).

  • <p>Sims was a hot name on the waiver-wire this week as well with Doug Martin missing practice time and the Bucs backfield in a general state of disarray. Sims, a third-round pick out of West Virginia, figures to get every opportunity to take over this beleaguered backfield. He'll still need someone to block for him, though, which hasn't been the case for Martin so far as he's constantly hit in the backfield.</p> 15

    Marc Serota/Panini/AP Images

    Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Sims was a hot name on the waiver-wire this week as well with Doug Martin missing practice time and the Bucs backfield in a general state of disarray. Sims, a third-round pick out of West Virginia, figures to get every opportunity to take over this beleaguered backfield. He'll still need someone to block for him, though, which hasn't been the case for Martin so far as he's constantly hit in the backfield.

  • <p>Speaking of Martin, he might be on a long, lonely walk to the fantasy pasture, where once beloved fantasy stars go to graze together in irrelevance. Which is sad, too. Martin seemed to have a bright fantasy future ahead of him. Perhaps there's hope with a new team on the horizon, but for now, his fantasy value is next to none. </p> 14

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press

    Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Speaking of Martin, he might be on a long, lonely walk to the fantasy pasture, where once beloved fantasy stars go to graze together in irrelevance. Which is sad, too. Martin seemed to have a bright fantasy future ahead of him. Perhaps there's hope with a new team on the horizon, but for now, his fantasy value is next to none.

  • <p>Forgetting the fact that his team lost and he made a handful of poor decisions, Foles had a solid fantasy outing, posting 21.84 points -- his second-highest total of the season. He and Jeremy Maclin were in sync all afternoon, which could bode well for the rest of the season. Furthermore, he has the backing of his head coach, so even if the turnovers continue Foles will still be slinging it. That's a good sign for those who are hoping to ride Foles into the fantasy playoffs.</p> 13

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

    Forgetting the fact that his team lost and he made a handful of poor decisions, Foles had a solid fantasy outing, posting 21.84 points -- his second-highest total of the season. He and Jeremy Maclin were in sync all afternoon, which could bode well for the rest of the season. Furthermore, he has the backing of his head coach, so even if the turnovers continue Foles will still be slinging it. That's a good sign for those who are hoping to ride Foles into the fantasy playoffs.

  • <p>Bernard suffered a hip pointer injury last Sunday and after missing multiple practices this week has officially been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Jaguars. Given that the Bengals play on Thursday Night Football the following week, some are speculating that Gio could <a href="http://www.cincyjungle.com/2014-bengals-jaguars-week-9/2014/10/30/7135313/bengals-rb-giovani-bernard-could-miss-two-games/in/6896862" target="new">miss the next two games</a> as he recovers. His owners should look to grab Jeremy Hill (in the off chance he's available) or Cedric Peerman as an insurance policy just in case.</p> 12

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    Bernard suffered a hip pointer injury last Sunday and after missing multiple practices this week has officially been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Jaguars. Given that the Bengals play on Thursday Night Football the following week, some are speculating that Gio could miss the next two games as he recovers. His owners should look to grab Jeremy Hill (in the off chance he's available) or Cedric Peerman as an insurance policy just in case.

  • <p>I said all last week that if Patterson couldn't get it going against the Buccaneers, his fantasy season was effectively over. Well, he responded by leading the Vikings in catches (six) targets (12) and receiving yards (86) in a win over the Bucs. He has another plus matchup this weekend against the Redskins, so his stock is on the rise if he can take this modicum of momentum and deliver on his potential -- even if it's just for one more week.</p> 11

    Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

    Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    I said all last week that if Patterson couldn't get it going against the Buccaneers, his fantasy season was effectively over. Well, he responded by leading the Vikings in catches (six) targets (12) and receiving yards (86) in a win over the Bucs. He has another plus matchup this weekend against the Redskins, so his stock is on the rise if he can take this modicum of momentum and deliver on his potential -- even if it's just for one more week.

  • <p>Early-season injuries aside, Gerhart has not looked like a dangerous or game-breaking running back on a team desperately in need of a spark. With the continued ascent of Denard Robinson, Gerhart's not even worth having on a roster in standard leagues any more.</p> 10

    Al Messerschmidt/Associated Press

    Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Early-season injuries aside, Gerhart has not looked like a dangerous or game-breaking running back on a team desperately in need of a spark. With the continued ascent of Denard Robinson, Gerhart's not even worth having on a roster in standard leagues any more.

  • <p>Look who finally decided to show up! Allen has now been targeted 23 times over the last two weeks and he's hauled in 15 of those for 131 yards and one touchdown. He's still a distant third in fantasy scoring among Chargers wideouts (behind Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd) but Allen's stock is finally on the rise. It might be worth trying to flip a trade for Allen, as he was a slow-starter last season, too.</p> 9

    G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press

    Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

    Look who finally decided to show up! Allen has now been targeted 23 times over the last two weeks and he's hauled in 15 of those for 131 yards and one touchdown. He's still a distant third in fantasy scoring among Chargers wideouts (behind Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd) but Allen's stock is finally on the rise. It might be worth trying to flip a trade for Allen, as he was a slow-starter last season, too.

  • <p>After taking the fantasy world by storm for two weeks, Oliver has come back down to Earth. Yes, he's faced two tough match ups in the Chiefs and Broncos, but things aren't going to get much easier this week against the Dolphins. After that, the Chargers are on their bye and then Oliver could be joined by Ryan Mathews in the backfield for Week 11. It's been fun while it lasted, but Oliver's stock is starting to drop.</p> 8

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Branden Oliver, RB, San Diego Chargers

    After taking the fantasy world by storm for two weeks, Oliver has come back down to Earth. Yes, he's faced two tough match ups in the Chiefs and Broncos, but things aren't going to get much easier this week against the Dolphins. After that, the Chargers are on their bye and then Oliver could be joined by Ryan Mathews in the backfield for Week 11. It's been fun while it lasted, but Oliver's stock is starting to drop.

  • <p>I normally don't include players on their bye week in this column, but it appears we'd have to have some sort of epic disaster to prevent Megatron from suiting up in Week 10 after the Lions' bye. All of his owners can breathe a collective sigh of relief.</p> 7

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

    I normally don't include players on their bye week in this column, but it appears we'd have to have some sort of epic disaster to prevent Megatron from suiting up in Week 10 after the Lions' bye. All of his owners can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

  • <p>So much hullabaloo was made on the waiver wire last week for Dixon and Brown, yet so little fantasy production came as a result. I guess it's clear why one of these players barely saw carries, and the other barely saw the field prior to the injuries to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The bye week could help them get the needed practice reps to put up better numbers next week, but those hoping for an immediate and potent fix for their running back woes from either of these players may need to look elsewhere.</p> 6

    Associated Press

    Anthony Dixon/Bryce Brown, RBs, Buffalo Bills

    So much hullabaloo was made on the waiver wire last week for Dixon and Brown, yet so little fantasy production came as a result. I guess it's clear why one of these players barely saw carries, and the other barely saw the field prior to the injuries to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The bye week could help them get the needed practice reps to put up better numbers next week, but those hoping for an immediate and potent fix for their running back woes from either of these players may need to look elsewhere.

  • <p>After a painfully slow start to the season, McCoy has now had three straight games with 80-plus rushing yards. His offensive line is getting healthy again, and with Foles in the midst of an inconsistent funk, it wouldn't surprise me if head coach Chip Kelly started putting the coming games more in the hands of his spectacularly talented running back.</p> 5

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

    After a painfully slow start to the season, McCoy has now had three straight games with 80-plus rushing yards. His offensive line is getting healthy again, and with Foles in the midst of an inconsistent funk, it wouldn't surprise me if head coach Chip Kelly started putting the coming games more in the hands of his spectacularly talented running back.

  • <p>This looks like the beginning of the end for Colston and the Saints. The veteran out of Hofstra used to be a model of consistency, but now is anything but. His targets are all over the place, and the Saints have been using Kenny Stills more and more over recent weeks on the type of intermediate routes that used to be Colston's bread and butter. It's hard to cut ties with a big name like Colston, but if you're gearing up for the fantasy playoffs look elsewhere for depth and production.</p> 4

    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

    This looks like the beginning of the end for Colston and the Saints. The veteran out of Hofstra used to be a model of consistency, but now is anything but. His targets are all over the place, and the Saints have been using Kenny Stills more and more over recent weeks on the type of intermediate routes that used to be Colston's bread and butter. It's hard to cut ties with a big name like Colston, but if you're gearing up for the fantasy playoffs look elsewhere for depth and production.

  • <p>Justin Forsett returned to practice on Thursday as he recovers from an ankle injury. He should start, but the Ravens could give a few more carries to Taliaferro to keep their best rusher from getting overused. Taliaferro plowed into the end zone twice last week on short-yardage scores, but could get some more work between the 20s this week. It'll be worth monitoring Forsett's status heading into Sunday just in case, but Taliaferro could be worth a flex play regardless in deeper leagues if you're hurting at running back.</p> 3

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    Justin Forsett returned to practice on Thursday as he recovers from an ankle injury. He should start, but the Ravens could give a few more carries to Taliaferro to keep their best rusher from getting overused. Taliaferro plowed into the end zone twice last week on short-yardage scores, but could get some more work between the 20s this week. It'll be worth monitoring Forsett's status heading into Sunday just in case, but Taliaferro could be worth a flex play regardless in deeper leagues if you're hurting at running back.

  • <p>Look, this isn't to say that you should sit Thomas, because that'd be ludicrous. I only wish to highlight that despite his prodigious physical talent, Thomas appears to still be relatively touchdown-dependent in the Broncos' vaunted passing attack. He's had less that 50 receiving yards four times in seven games this season, and has only had more than 70 once (Week 1). He's now posted four games with single digit points this season, despite only failing to catch a touchdown in his last two. You're starting him regardless, but it's worth noting how Thomas is earning those fantasy points as we look to the fantasy playoffs and beyond.</p> 2

    Paul Jasienski/Associated Press

    Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos

    Look, this isn't to say that you should sit Thomas, because that'd be ludicrous. I only wish to highlight that despite his prodigious physical talent, Thomas appears to still be relatively touchdown-dependent in the Broncos' vaunted passing attack. He's had less that 50 receiving yards four times in seven games this season, and has only had more than 70 once (Week 1). He's now posted four games with single digit points this season, despite only failing to catch a touchdown in his last two. You're starting him regardless, but it's worth noting how Thomas is earning those fantasy points as we look to the fantasy playoffs and beyond.

  • <p>It's not sounding too good for Romo to start this weekend, but there's still time for that to change. Head coach Jason Garrett had said he wanted to see Romo do "something" in practice on Thursday, but then told reporters on Friday that Romo "did not do a whole lot" on Thursday. For now, Romo remains in question, so if you're hoping to start him keep a very close eye on his status .</p> 1

    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

    It's not sounding too good for Romo to start this weekend, but there's still time for that to change. Head coach Jason Garrett had said he wanted to see Romo do "something" in practice on Thursday, but then told reporters on Friday that Romo "did not do a whole lot" on Thursday. For now, Romo remains in question, so if you're hoping to start him keep a very close eye on his status .