There is something about money that brings out the best in some players. Jeremy Maclin bet on this himself this offseason, signing a one-year prove-it deal for $5.5 million after missing all of the 2013 season courtesy of an ACL tear. In Week 9, he posted another monster performance in hauling in six passes for 158 yards and a pair of scores against Houston.
For the season, he now has 45 receptions for 790 yards and eight touchdowns. His 17.6 yard-per-reception average is 3.8 yards higher than any season in his career. He also has never had more than 70 receptions, 964 yards receiving or 10 touchdowns in a season. Barring catastrophe, it looks like he will eclipse all of those totals with ease this year.
DeSean Jackson‘s departure this offseason opened the door for Maclin to slide into the number one receiver role. The extra targets have made a world of difference. Heading into this season, Maclin’s career-high for targets in a season was 122. He currently has 83 targets through eight games, leaving him on pace to top that mark by 44.
If there was any doubt in your mind that this guy is a WR1, you should erase it immediately. Coach Chip Kelly knows precisely how to use him. It’s an easy formula – volume. Maclin has received nine or more targets in six of his eight games. Expect this to continue, as he has scored in six of eight games this season as well. His schedule isn’t kind to close out the season,, but don’t let that deter you from using him. He is too good to ride the pine.
Miami absolutely throttled San Diego 37-0 at home, and much of the credit needs to be handed to third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In just over three quarters of work, he completed 24-of-34 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. His 125.6 passer rating was the best of his career. Things are coming together for him this year. As a rookie, he completed 58.3 percent of his passes; last year, he completed 60.4 and this season he is currently completing 63.3 percent of his passes. His growth as a passer has been aided by his willingness to use his athleticism and the incorporation of the read option. His 245 yards rushing are already more than the career-high 238 yards he had last year. The tools are there, but the growth needs to continue for him to become a QB1. From what I have seen, he looks like a guy I will gamble on next season in an effort to catch lightning in a bottle late in my draft.
Nick Foles left Sunday’s victory over Houston early in the second quarter after a Whitney Mercilus (best name for a defensive player in football) sack and didn’t return. Prior to his departure, he completed 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Early indications are that Foles suffered a broken collarbone. Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in Week 9 last season and wasn’t able to return until Week 17. Everyone heals differently, but from perusing around the interwebs, it appears the discomfort could last for up to three months. Basically, it looks like Foles is out for the remainder of the Fantasy season, so Mark Sanchez will be handed the reins of this high-powered Philly attack. Seeing his first game-action since 2012, he completed 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He looked fully capable of handling the offense during the preseason and showed well in his first regular season action. From the looks of things, Chip Kelly won’t change a thing on offense, meaning the skill position players lose zero value and Sanchez immediately becomes a decent QB2 moving forward.
It’s time for some sell advice as we start heading into trading deadlines. One of my favorite sell-high options is Denver’s Julius Thomas. Last season, he had a monster year based on the fact that he scored 12 touchdowns. His 65 receptions for 788 yards were solid, but not spectacular. Through eight games he is on pace to score an unsustainable 20 touchdowns while catching 64 passes for 700 yards. Last year, he saw 89 targets; this year, he is on pace to see 84. In other words, in case you haven’t noticed, the best of Thomas is behind him based on the identical usage pattern. The name value is here, so trading him won’t be difficult. Doing so would be wise. In Week 1, Thomas caught seven passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Over his next seven games he has caught 25 passes for 256 yards and seven scores. Touchdowns are fluky; do you really want to rely on them for just about all of your scoring for the week? Deal him now for something you can use and fill the spot with a guy like the Raiders’ Mychal Rivera, who has really come on strong over the last two weeks.
St. Louis took down the 49ers at home by a score of 13-10. The game wasn’t friendly from a Fantasy standpoint. Anquan Boldin led all position players in standard scoring with 15 Fantasy points. Colin Kaepernick‘s 10 Fantasy points made him the only other individual player to score in double-digits. The story from this game was the pass rush generated by the Rams, which recorded eight sacks. Heading into Week 9 they ranked dead last in the league with six. Over their last three games they have logged 13 of their 14 sacks on the season. After ranking third in the league last year with 53 sacks, it looks like things are turning around for them. Big things were expected from Robert Quinn and the rest of their talented defensive front this year; it just took them six games to get their engines running. With just one rough matchup with Denver left on their schedule, this unit will likely be usable on Fantasy squads without a premium D/ST option.
In terms of injuries this week, the biggest Fantasy impact comes from the groin injury suffered by Arian Foster. The severity of his injury is still in question, as he won’t have a MRI until sometime on Monday. What we do know is how angry he was coming off the field, as he slammed his helmet to the turf. Reactions like that typically come from a guy that knows this isn’t going to be a ticky-tack injury. With a bye coming next week, Foster will have a full two weeks to get right before taking on Cleveland in Week 11. Rookie Alfred Blue is available in 93 percent of leagues on ESPN, 76 percent of leagues on CBS and 89 percent of leagues on Yahoo. He needs to be picked up immediately. Talent-wise he is average, but Houston’s run heavy approach means he should be good for 20 touches a game. That alone makes him a RB2 when filling in for Foster. Touch volume at running back is tough to come by nowadays.
The Bengals’ Giovanni Bernard missed his first game of the season on Sunday. It opened the door for promising rookie Jeremy Hill to get his first full taste of starting duty. He didn’t disappoint, rushing for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and adding a catch for another nine yards. His 163 yards from scrimmage were six yards fewer than Bernard’s best game of the season. Bernard was sidelined with a hip injury, but he has also dealt with rib and shoulder injuries this year. His status for Thursday night’s game against Cleveland is questionable. Even if he does play, Hill’s performance has likely earned him a bigger piece of the pie moving forward. In my eyes, Bernard should be downgraded to a RB2. The Bengals are going to want to do their best to keep him healthy and on the field; the best way to do that is to keep his touches in the 15-per-game range. Hill is a definite start with Bernard sidelined and a FLEX option moving forward when both are available.