Week 9 is wrapping up and chaos continues to roll on. Backfields continue to turn over and the new realities the NFL reveals constantly remind us not to cling to our conceived notions. It's a reminder that pain is always present in the joy that is fantasy football. Now we must look forward to options to assist in beefing up our fake teams to move forward, whether it be long-term replacements or a streamer just to get by.
It's just those sort of symptoms that the Deep Dive is prescribed to help alleviate. NFL Fantasy's editorial overlord Alex Gelhar dutifully attacks the waiver wire to give you the top adds for the coming week in hopes of bolstering your roster. However, in this arena, we'll look at options to help those of you looking to go a little bit further down the rabbit hole, whether you play in a deeper format or are at the mercy of your incredibly sharp league-mates who scour the waiver wire relentlessly. A player can only qualify for the deep dive if they're owned in less than 10 percent of NFL.com leagues. With that, here are 11 players you can consider adding before Week 10 either as deep FLEX plays or simply as bench stashes.
Don't look now but Blake Bortles has strung together back-to-back solid performances. After a 330-yard game against the Colts, Bortles threw a season-high 38 passes in a win over the Bengals on Sunday. He completed over 63 percent of his passes in both games and posted passer ratings of 124.7 and 91.9 with no turnovers. Bortles isn't likely to ever access the ceiling his garbage time gunslinging ways of 2015 brought as long as the Jaguars remain on their desired script, but he's stabilized his play. Adding to his fantasy appeal, Bortles has taken off and run four or more times in four games this season. He's at least on the QB2 and low-end streaming radar, at this point (read: we'd rather play Bortles than Brock Osweiler or something like that).
All indications are that Teddy Bridgewater will be activated this week and immediately step in as Case Keenum's backup. If the Vikings default back to the player they have a real investment in over the player who brought them here, they'll soon turn the job back over Bridgewater. He'll step back into an offense stacked with playmakers, most notably one of the NFL's top wide receiver duos. Players that need to employ multiple quarterbacks on their fantasy team should consider adding Bridgewater now.
The legal saga of the Cowboys starting running back rolls on after it looked like he was set to start his six-game ban last week. It's still worth stashing some of these Dallas backups in preparation for an Ezekiel Elliott suspension landing on our plates at any given moment. Rod Smith got some buzz leading up to Week 9 as a player to watch for in the backfield rotation, should Zeke miss any games.
In the Patriots Week 8 game before their bye, Rex Burkhead showed off his receiving chops by snaring all seven of his targets for 68 yards. Burkhead went out for a season-high 31.4 percent of the snaps against the Chargers. The Patriots have not shown an ability to consistently run power concepts on the ground but Burkhead's ability as a receiver alongside backfield-mate James White gives them a nice extension of the rushing game. Using Burkhead in this fashion could be a great recipe for the Patriots to take on the Broncos in Denver this coming week.
If most of the players on your rosters are starting to get clear of their bye weeks, now is the time to start stashing backup running backs just in case chaos hit the starter ahead of them. Todd Gurley has been one of the best backs in the NFL this year and no one wants to see harm befall him. However, we know misery befalls the running back position all the time. The Rams are a premier offense this year and have outscored their last two opponents by a combined 67 points. In those two blowout wins, Malcolm Brown garnered double-digit carries. It appears he is the primary handcuff to own in Los Angeles.
In the same vein, James Conner is worth owning in fantasy. The third-round rookie looks like the backup to Le'Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, and even if he's not all that good (we have no idea) he would inherit one of the most valuable roles of any backfield should something happen to Bell. Outside of Week 1, his first game coming off an offseason holdout, Bell has played at least 88 percent of the team's snaps in every game and cleared 92 percent in three of eight. Not many NFL offenses keep a back on the field at such a high rate but the Steelers have not only routinely done it with Bell but did so with DeAngelo Williams. If Conner gets a shot at that should Bell miss time, he'll be usable no matter what.
We're going to bring back Mack Hollins this week after he headlined last week's Deep Dive. He hauled in just one catch for eight yards but saw a season-high 43.5 percent of the team's snaps against Denver. The blowout game script may have boosted his time on the field but Hollins has been steadily taking work from Torrey Smith as the season wears on and went out for more plays than the veteran on Sunday. With Carson Wentz operating this Eagles offense at an MVP-type level, we should be interested in every piece of it.
Purely a stash, there's plenty of reason not to be interested in a Day 3 rookie wide receiver on the NFL's most run-heavy team. However, deep league players should at least monitor Dede Westbrook's status. The passing game in Jacksonville can always use some more juice and Westbrook was a big play machine college and flashed well in the preseason. Westbrook was not activated off IR in time for their Week 9 game but the Jaguars could elevate him soon. Odds are there's nothing here for this year but Westbrook should at least be on your radar.
In the first game without Pierre Garcon, both Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson both drew eight targets and recorded two catches. If forced to pick between the two of them, we ought to take the dangerously fast Goodwin. He's already converted on some big plays chances this season and did so with a 55-yard catch in Week 9. The 49ers get the Giants in Week 10 who got ripped up for big plays in the passing game by the Rams and Jared Goff last week.
If you snagged Tyler Higbee to stream him against the Giants in Week 9, you can hold on to him for another ride in Week 10. The Rams welcome the Houston Texans this coming week, who have allowed the third-most catches (48) to tight ends this season. In the two weeks since their bye, the Texans have given up a combined 12 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns to Jimmy Graham and Jack Doyle.
Hopefully the Browns did some self-scouting over their bye and realized playing David Njoku on minimal snaps (39.3 percent in his last three games) is not an optimal move for them. He's been one of the few bright spots on offense, flashing big-play ability on limited targets. Njoku will be a deep dart throw against the Lions team that has a rough history at defending the tight end position. Detroit ranks 31st in tight end defense, per Football Outsiders DVOA.