Week 9: Sleepers
Needless to say, Kansas City's bread and butter is not the Smith-led passing game. His two-TD performance last week marked the first time he tossed any TDs since Week 4. If there's any opponent which could provide a much-needed spark to Smith's numbers, it has to be Buffalo. The Bills have already allowed 20 passing TDs in eight games, more than any other team in the league. It may come as a surprise, but Smith ranks as fantasy's No. 12 QB and that's on a points per game basis. It's not pretty and he obviously lacks a huge ceiling where he might throw for 400 yards and 5 TDs like some of the game's elites; however, as the Chiefs are showing, you can win games with "good enough." This obviously isn't the hottest or most-compelling recommendation. Smith is a low-risk player for fantasy owners who just need a one-week holdover.
In his Week 7 return, Locker fared very well against the San Francisco 49ers' formidable defense. He passed for 326 yards, two TDs and one INT. Going up against St. Louis in Week 9 isn't a great matchup; however, the Rams' defensive numbers are slightly inflated after facing Jacksonville, Houston, Carolina and Seattle in recent weeks. The Jags and Texans are having more than their fair share of QB issues while Carolina and Seattle didn't even bother to attempt more than 20 passes in either contest. With a bye week to rest and prepare for a mediocre defense, Locker provides fantasy owners with an above-average QB2 in case they're in need of a fill-in option. It also doesn't hurt that Locker can run it a bit and possibly bang it home around the goal-line.
Despite seeing double-digit carries in four of his last five games, Thomas has been unable to cross the goal-line which has limited his ability to be a quality RB2 from week-to-week. The Saints' offense always seems to have these issues though. Thomas just needs the TDs to come in his direction and they tend to come in bunches for New Orleans playmakers. The Jets are a difficult matchup, yet with that said, there aren't many backs who can run it, catch it and have little to no competition for playing time. Thomas is certainly one of those. Over his last two games, he's rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries (4.6 ypc). Add a few receptions and there is at least an opportunity to have a solid game. Thomas' involvement has been trending up in recent weeks, so don't sleep on him.
In his starting debut, James didn't do a whole lot. He rushed for 39 yards and added another four receptions for 25 yards. Without finding the end zone, most backs aren't producing many fantasy points at all. James at least provides some PPR upside to cushion the blow from low rushing totals. Facing Seattle's stiff run defense on the road won't do him any favors either. With the Bucs in full downward spiral mode, James should only find his way into your starting lineup if you're in need of a bye-week replacement. The Bucs only gave backup back Brian Leonard one carry last week and he added six receptions for 32 yards. Point being, James has the rushing responsibilities on lock down and he played 60-percent of snaps in Week 8. That's about as good as it gets on the waiver wire these days.
Of players named Nelson, David has more targets (19) over his last two games than Jordy (14). Now that doesn't mean a whole lot, but it does illustrate Nelson's growing presence in the Jets' offense. He's caught 12 passes for 160 yards and played in over 70-percent of snaps in those two games. Jeremy Kerley is the clear No. 1 and Nelson is pushing Stephen Hill for No. 2. With New York battling with consistency problems, there could continue to be a lot of garbage time for these receivers to pad stats. For a little background, Nelson struggled with injuries while formerly with the Buffalo Bills and could never crack a crowded/young depth chart. The Bills decided to go in a different direction, but that's not to say Nelson doesn't have appeal. He's 6'5" and 215 pounds, so he can be a huge target in the red zone or as a possession receiver. His fantasy value is restricted to deeper leagues (14 or more teams). With playing time finally in his favor for the first time, we have yet to see Nelson at his best. That's called potential.