9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Championship Week
I like big backs and I can not lie.
If you’re like me and Sir Mix-a-lot, you’re going to love the offerings on fantasy’s championship week waiver wire, where you can add a round thing in your lineup and get sprung.
The average weight of the six (!) backs in this year’s final ‘9 route,’ our guide to help you maximize your success on the Week 16 waiver wire, is 221 pounds.
Baby got back, back, back, indeed.
But before we get to the top nine waiver targets this week (and perhaps another bad, old-school hip hop reference or two), one last reminder: only players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues are eligible for the ‘9 route.’ Players who barely missed the cut: WRs Dante Pettis, Josh Reynolds and Mike Williams (a shame because we like big-bodied pass catchers too).
9. Bills WR Robert Foster
With at least 94 receiving yards and/or a touchdown in four of his past five games, and with strong-armed Josh Allen at the helm in the past four of them, Foster is WR19 overall in that span. It’s unclear whether Foster will draw star treatment from Bill Belichick and Stephon Gilmore — Zay Jones was shadowed by Belichick disciple Matt Patricia’s best cover man Darius Slay last week — but the speedy undrafted Alabama product absolutely deserves FLEX consideration, if not a WR3 look Sunday. The Bills and their banged-up RB stable are 12 ½-point dogs in Foxboro, and in what feels like a get-right-situation for Tom Brady, his old pal, Buffalo OC Brian Daboll, likely needs another big performance from his big deep threat to have a chance.
8. Texans RB Alfred Blue
Lamar Miller didn’t return after leaving Saturday’s game against the Jets with a first-half foot injury. Although Blue’s relief effort raised a few red flags (six yards on nine carries, lowering his season rush clip to 3.3) and he has a tough matchup with the Kelly green Eagles, potential lead backs don’t typically appear on the championship week waiver wire. But Philly’s 20th-ranked ‘D’ against fantasy backs is inflated in a division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, who have four combined 100-yard games. Moreover, the likelihood of fellow big back D’Onta Foreman making his 2018 debut could create the blues for owners hoping to latch onto Alfred.
7. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
By now you should know the story of the former Heisman winner. He improved to 4-1 Sunday as the Ravens’ new franchise guy, becoming the first-ever quarterback to eclipse 70 rushing yards in five straight starts. He’s QB8 overall in that span, so how he’s still eligible for this space is curious. It hasn’t always been pretty as a passer but Jackson has been mostly majestic as a runner. And although the Chargers in primetime on Saturday pose perhaps his toughest challenge yet, Jackson’s rushing ability gives him a relatively safe floor you won’t find from more familiar stalwarts, even including the quarterback Jackson battles Saturday in Philip Rivers.
6. Vikings RB Latavius Murray
The firing of John DeFilippo and promotion of Kevin Stefanski benefited Murray in addition to helping catalyze Dalvin Cook’s career day vs. the Dolphins. Murray chipped in 68 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries during Minnesota’s best rushing day of the season and his best day ever in tandem with Cook. He logged 27 snaps and four red-zone carries compared to one by Cook. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it will be the message this week from Mike Zimmer to Stefanski, whose offense next visits Detroit in a potential blowout spot.
5. Seahawks RB Mike Davis
After snaring all eight of his targets for 63 yards (and adding 5-21 on the ground), Seattle’s receiving specialist increased his catch rate as a Seahawk to 82.1. That’s dependability Seattle can can count on. And with the club signing Bo Scarbough off Jacksonville’s practice squad Tuesday, likely signaling Rashaad Penny’s knee injury will sideline him another week, Davis has a FLEX role you can count on. His 13 touches Sunday, Penny’s first missed game in the NFL, marked his second-highest total this season. And the Chiefs bring to town Monday night a defense giving Atlanta a run for its money for the worst defending receiving backs (league-high 831 yards surrendered).
4. Jets WR Robby Anderson
Gang green’s talented deep threat is coming off a season-high 11 targets and career-high 7 catches Saturday vs. Houston, which he parlayed into 96 receiving yards and a touchdown, his second in as many weeks. Moreover, Anderson, who’s eligible for a new contract in the offseason, seems to be building a rapport with Sam Darnold, having commanded 25 combined targets over his past three games. With the ability to be a WR1 on merely one target, Anderson is the kind of talent worth gambling on with a championship on the line, boom-or-bust potential and all. With Green Bay’s injury-riddled secondary coming to town Sunday, we tend to think another boom is the more likely outcome.
3. Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage
The rookie out of Arizona State earned eight combined carries, with a long run of eight yards, in the first 14 weeks of his NFL career prior to exploding for 12-123-1 rushing Sunday in Minnesota. Ballage was the first runner out of the chute following Frank Gore’s season-ending knee injury, but even at 6-2 and nearly 230 pounds, he’s much faster than the ageless Gore. Ballage reached a NFL-best 21.87 miles per hour on his 75-yard scoring burst vs. the Vikings, per Next Gen Stats. He also out-touched Kenyan Drake 13-4, and his Dolphins now welcome the Jaguars, whose apathetic ‘D’ wanted no part of 6-3, 247-pound Derrick Henry (17-238-4) or 6-3, 219-pound dual-threat QB Josh Johnson (9-49) in their past two humiliating defeats.
2. Packers RB Jamaal Williams
Aaron Jones went on I.R. Tuesday, two days after the pinch-hitting Williams racked up 97 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches vs. the Bears’ sensational ‘D.’ There’s nothing exciting about Williams — colleague Eric Edholm tweeted Sunday from the Soldier Field press box that Williams has the wiggle of an old Cadillac — but he is a determined runner who should be in line for another 15-plus touches against the Jets Sunday. The Packers still have something to play for — avoiding a win-less road record. Plus, Williams handled both of the Packers’ red-zone totes in Chicago, and the Jets had permitted at least one rushing touchdown in six of their past seven games prior to last week.
1. Jets RB Elijah McGuire
Our lone exception to this week’s big back theme, the 5-10, 214-pound McGuire brings some juice to this space, where he belongs not because of his stature but workload. He’s averaged 20 touches for 125 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in two games mostly without Isaiah Crowell, who was sent to I.R. last week. The second-year back out of Louisiana Lafayette could be auditioning to become Sam Darnold’s future full-time backfield running mate, and the Packers touch down at MetLife with two Week 1 starting D-linemen on I.R. and likely their defensive MVP, Kenny Clark, dicey after missing only the second game of his career last week with an elbow injury.
1. Elijah McGuire
2. Jamaal Williams
3. Kalen Ballage
4. Mike Davis
5. Latavius Murray
6. Alfred Blue
7. John Kelly
8. Zach Zenner
9. Keith Ford
1. Robby Anderson
2. Robert Foster
3. DaeSean Hamilton
4. Taylor Gabriel
5. Kenny Stills
6. Tre’Quan Smith
7. Antonio Callaway
8. Keith Kirkwood
9. Tim Patrick