Here is fantasy football advice for Week 9 of the NFL season as we take a close look at Alex Collins, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Matt Ryan.
Collins the Clear Lead Back in Baltimore
Quick, who leads all qualified rushers in yards per carry? It's not Kareem Hunt, it's not Le'Veon Bell...it's Alex Collins. The former Seahawk is currently averaging 6.0 yards per tote, and is coming off a monster game against the Dolphins in which he busted out 113 yards on 18 carries while tacking on another 30 yards on two receptions. Terrance West and Danny Woodhead are both still trying to work their way back from injury, which opened the door for Collins to lock down the RB1 role in the struggling Ravens offense. The return of West and Woodhead will likely eat into Javorius Allen's touches, but it'll be extremely hard to justify taking touches away from the red-hot Collins. Breakouts this late in the season are very rare, and Collins should be one of if not the top waiver wire claim in a majority of leagues. He merits a healthy amount of any remaining free agent acquisition budget as well.
Speedy Youngster Making Moves
JuJu Smith-Schuster broke out in a huge way against the Lions on Sunday night, ripping off 193 yards and a score on seven catches. With Martavis Bryant plummeting down the depth chart (and possibly heading elsewhere soon), Smith-Schuster has seemingly solidified himself as the number two option in the prolific Pittsburgh passing game, which is a highly valuable spot from a fantasy perspective.
His game-changing speed should pay dividends as opposing defenses continue to key in on Antonio Brown, and he's certainly got a nose for the end zone as well (four touchdowns on the season). With the Steelers on bye this week, a great many teams won't want to add a player who they can't immediately use, which could be your opening to snag him while there is still time. Assuming his health, he could be a great asset down the stretch, particularly in the fantasy playoffs.
Move on From Matt Ryan
The reigning NFC champion Falcons look nothing like the well-oiled offensive machine they were in 2016. The main culprit may be under center--Matt Ryan is producing at nowhere near the level he played at last year. He has only one game of 300+ passing yards, and has not yet thrown for three touchdowns in a game. In fact, he's thrown for just one touchdown in five out of seven games so far. Ryan simply isn't slinging the ball around enough to merit starting in fantasy anymore, and nobody would blame you for dropping him outright at this point. While there is a chance he turns it around (he does still have Julio Jones to throw to), that's simply not something you can wait around for with the fantasy season more than halfway finished.
NFL Pickups of the Week
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins - With Jay Ajayi now in Philadelphia, Drake and Damien Williams will share backfield duties in Miami. Drake has more upside in the passing game, making him the better option as the Dolphins trail in most ballgames.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons - Hooper tied Julio Jones for the team lead in targets in Week 8, and while he's tough to rely on his red zone ability provides upside for those seeking a bye week fill-in.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets - Anderson has scored in back-to-back contests, and is coming off a career high in yardage. With Josh McCown playing decent ball, Anderson merits flex play in most fantasy formats.