The bye weeks have been brutal and the receiving stats prove it. Factor in the loss of several top quarterbacks (Rodgers, Luck, Watson, Palmer, etc.) and it makes choosing the perfect lineup feel like grabbing for straws.
All was not lost in week nine though. Backup quarterback Tom Savage stepped in for Deshaun Watson and continued to spread the love around. Surprisingly, Savage kept his team in the game against the Colts until the last play. Indy quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, locked-in and looked like he halfway belonged, while Matt Stafford returned from the bye week appearing refreshed. There were several 100-yard receivers, with a couple of them being fresh faces.
We’ll take a look at some of the top fantasy Target Monsters throughout the NFL during week nine. To be considered a ‘Target Monster,’ a player needs to be targeted more than seven times within the given week. Hopefully this breakdown will give you insight as to which players to gravitate toward while assembling or tweaking your own roster.
DeAndre Hopkins didn’t hurt for targets in the absence of Deshaun Watson. Tom Savage chucked the rock to Hopkins 16 times, connecting on six of them for 86-yards and a touchdown. Savage also attempted to get Will Fuller the ball eight times, but only connected twice for a paltry 32-yards. As expected, without Watson under center, Fuller has become a touchdown dependent receiver and a hit-or-miss start.
Dez Bryant (6-73-0) took a spill against the Chiefs and sprained his ankle. In his absence, Terrence Williams stepped up and caught all nine of his targets for a whopping 141-yards. While Bryant’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious, both Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley could become fantasy relevant if he were to miss any time. Even more so should Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension (finally) go into effect this week. Travis Kelce continued to serve as Alex Smith’s most reliable target, catching 78% of the passes thrown his way for a total of 73-yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles were simply too much for the Broncos, as Carson Wentz found Alshon Jeffery for two touchdowns on 6-of-11 targets for 84-yards. In the same game, Demaryius Thomas scored his first touchdown since who-knows-when, on 8-of-12 targets for 70-yards. At this point, if you’re starting Thomas, it’s on name recognition alone. There’s simply no one to get him the ball. Hopefully Thomas can find the end zone more frequently going forward.
With both the Chiefs and Broncos taking losses in week nine, it opened the door, ever-so-slightly, for the Oakland Raiders to inch forward. Amari Cooper (4-58-0) continues to be a bust outside of his monster game against Kansas City, while Michael Crabtree was surprisingly quiet in the recent matchup against the Dolphins. Tight end Jared Cook emerged as the savior for the Oakland receivers by logging 126-yards on 8-of-9 targets. Though Cook didn’t get into the end zone, he set the table for running back Marshawn Lynch twice.
Marvin Jones was the man of the evening in a Monday night tilt against the Packers. Jones caught 7-of-11 targets for 107-yards and two touchdowns. Matt Stafford looked his way a third time, but they couldn’t connect. In week eight, Jones also saw 11-targets and topped 100-yards. He seems to be heating up and is a good trade target if you can get him. Golden Tate also chipped in nicely with 113-yards on the day. The targets should continue for both receivers as the Detroit running game is nowhere to be found.
T.Y. Hilton was the top dog of the week. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett found him early and often throughout the game, to the tune of 175-yards and two touchdowns. It’s been hard to trust T.Y. of late, but it’s even harder to sit him because he has these monster games. As far as receivers go, outside of tight end Jack Doyle, T.Y. is essentially the only game in town in Indy. Wideout Donte Moncrief has been M.I.A all season and Kamar Aiken seems to be the number two, if you want to call him that. However, this may be a prime opportunity to sell high on T.Y. Hilton given both his game-to-game inconsistency and rest of season schedule.
The Rams, as a team, had a splashy day behind the arm of Jared Goff. Ex-Bills receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods combined for three touchdowns against the wretched Giants. Surprisingly, the Bills receivers themselves had a very productive day too. Deonte Thompson caught 70% of his targets for 81-yards and a touchdown, while Zay Jones chipped in with 53-yards and touchdown on seven targets. This could be a very productive receiving core going forward, especially once newly acquired Kelvin Benjamin takes the field next game for the Bills. Deonte Thompson could also prove to be a nice WR3 addition, given the history between he and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (same team in the 2007 U.S. Army All-American game, high school).
As expected before the bye, the two receivers to own on the Giants are Sterling Shepard (5-70-0) and Evan Engram (4-70-1). During garbage time, Engram made a nice grab over the Rams cornerback in an effort to make the score look halfway palatable. Though you certainly won’t find Engram on any waiver wires, if you need to shore up the position, then he might be one to go all-in on before the trade deadline. This may be the last week to grab hold of Sterling Shepard if he’s hanging around in your league.
Saints’ Alvin Kamara has been trending up all season and finally had his monster breakout game. Kamara caught 6-of-7 passes for 84-yards and a touchdown. That doesn’t include the additional 68-yards and a touchdown he rolled up rushing. Even with Mark Ingram cemented as the between-the-tackles guy, Kamara is a RB1, and every week start going forward. This dude is shifty!
Though Rishard Matthews was the main target for Marcus Mariota in week nine, keep an eye on Corey Davis now that he’s back from injury. The rookie made a nice catch on the sidelines and could lead the team in targets for the rest of the season.
The bye week situation isn’t as bad as last week. Key receivers that will be sidelined in week ten include Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Amari Cooper, to a lesser extent. For now, Bucs’ Mike Evans is suspended unless an appeal occurs.