The 2014 Fantasy Football campaign is entering Week 9, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com all season. Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from fantasy perspectives with his in-depth game previews every week.
Not only did a return home equal a win for the New Orleans Saints, it was a big one over the red-hot Green Bay Packers. The Saints have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game, and a victory would move them into first place and in control of the NFC South.
Quarterback Drew Brees was a major factor in the win over the Packers. Brees threw for 311 yards on 27 of 32 passing with three touchdowns and no picks. The good news is that the Panthers are even more forgiving against the pass than the Packers are. Even after last week, the Packers allow just 16.80 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) on NFL.com, while the Panthers give up 18.53 per game. The Panthers are also tied for the third most passing touchdowns allowed at 16. Brees may not throw for 350 yards and four touchdowns, but he is still a Top Five option.
Mark Ingram lit up fantasy boxscores in Week 8. A week after his first game back, Ingram rattled off 172 yards on 24 carries while registering a touchdown. That gave Ingram 23.50 FP on NFL.com, and he's now fourth on the year in FPPG with a 15.20 mark. The Panthers are equally vulnerable against the run, allowing 22.46 FPPG to running backs. Look for Ingram to post another good fantasy line, as there are questions about Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas being available. Travaris Cadet sees a nice PPR boost again if Robinson and Thomas do miss another game. Only Brandin Cooks and Jimmy Graham saw more targets against the Packers, and Cadet caught four of his five targets for 40 yards.
As is the theme this week, the Panthers' defense presents plenty of opportunities for solid fantasy outputs from Saints players. The Panthers allow the fourth-most FPPG to receivers on NFL.com at 25.64 per game, and they actually lead the league with 12 receiving touchdowns surrendered. Cooks led the way against the Packers with six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown and is a great WR3 option this week. Marques Colston had five targets and four catches (49 yards) even with Jimmy Graham back in the mix. He has WR3 appeal and potential for more, especially in such a heavy bye week (six teams off). Given the byes, Kenny Stills makes for a high-upside fill-in, especially with nine catches, 160 yards and a touchdown over the past two games.
As mentioned, Graham was certainly not a decoy against the Packers with 59 yards and a touchdown. There is no question Graham needs to be starting in all lineups. Graham had 11 catches, 131 yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers last year.
The Saints' defense/special teams had a Top 10 finish last week, even in a matchup that would normally concern owners, given Aaron Rodgers' ability. Thanks to four sacks, a fumble recovery and two interceptions, the unit finished with 10.00 Fantasy Points. Cam Newton has an interception in four straight games, which gives the Saints unit upside again in Week 9. Shayne Graham is the fifth-best kicker over the last four weeks, even though he's the only one with three games. In fact, Graham is second only to Stephen Gostkowski in FPPG during that span, so make sure he's owned and/or in your lineup.
With Week 9 being a heavy bye week, many fantasy teams need deeper options. Carson Palmer is a Top 10 quarterback on a FPPG basis, and he's a great replacement against the Cowboys. Ryan Tannehill's recent run of rushing yardage gives him a high floor. Alex Smith faces a Jets defense that just gave up 26.12 FP to Kyle Orton. Lastly, Michael Vick has a ton of upside given his legs but still carries high risk, especially in Kansas City.
The Browns' running backs are sharing touches, which is a frustrating situation. However, they face the Buccaneers' defense this week, and it gives Ben Tate a good chance to get on track, as the Bucs have given up 20.84 FPPG to running backs. As proven again, the Patriots backfield is always tough to predict, but Shane Vereen is used enough to warrant RB2 play in a thin week and against the Broncos. Keep an eye on Rashad Jennings. If he is unable to return, owners will get another week of value out of Andre Williams. Denard Robinson impressed again last week and has moved into RB2 territory even against stronger defenses.
Since the Percy Harvin trade, Doug Baldwin is the 12th-best receiver with 12.2 FPPG. There is no question that Baldwin should be in all lineups at this point. Mohamed Sanu proved enough in A.J. Green's absence, which makes him at least a WR3 with Green on the field. Owners may have forgotten about Odell Beckham with the Giants on a bye last week. Make sure he is owned, and make sure you plug him in as OBJ has shown great polish for having started the season so late. Andrew Hawkins brings upside against a Bucs DST allowing 28.95 FPPG to receivers, and as always, Hawkins has WR2 potential in PPR leagues.
No matter who starts for the Redskins at quarterback, Jordan Reed is once again proving that he's a TE1. The Bengals DST allows the second most FPPG to tight ends behind the Bears (thanks in large part to Rob Gronkowski), which gives Clay Harbor high-end TE2 value with the possibility for more. The Jets also allow a high amount of FPPG to tight ends at 11.23 on NFL.com. Keep Travis Kelce plugged in, as he could have one of his best games of 2014.
The Jaguars have been better of late but still let opposing defenses average 14.38 FPPG, making the Bengals a DST1. The Chiefs DST is one of the top plays given the Jets six turnovers last week. Check to see if the 49ers unit was dropped in your league, as they are a Top Five option against the Rams at home.