Fantasy Football: Trust or Bust Week 9

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright
Oct 6 2013 Nashville TN USA Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright 13 rushes against Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Quintin Demps 35 during the second half at LP Field Kansas City won 26 17 Jim Brown USA TODAY Sports

In Fantasy Football Trust or Bust, we will focus on who we deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.


Kendall Wright @ STL

Wright is quietly having a rock steady, productive PPR season. From weeks two through seven (Tennessee was on bye last week) he was fourth in the league in receptions (38), twelfth in targets (54) and 16th in yards (422) out of all receivers. He’s had five or more catches and 50 yards in six straight with at least eight targets in five of those six games. He’s currently ranked as the 30th best PPR receiver, ahead of Steve Smith, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Wallace and Hakeem Nicks, amongst others who are started over him regularly.

Coming off of the bye week, Wright will get to face a Rams secondary that has had a hard time covering receivers from the slot this season. Six of the 14 receiving scores allowed by the Rams have come from the slot this year. The slot is where Wright does the bulk of his damage, running 74 percent of his routes (per Pro Football Focus) from the inside this season. Even with Cortland Finnegan returning, don’t be scared away. Finnegan has allowed 11 of the 13 targets in his slot coverage to be completed for 173 yards and two touchdowns (a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating allowed).

Alex Smith @ BUF

For the first time in his career, Smith has attempted at least 30 passes in a game for seven consecutive weeks. Maintaining his 36 attempts per game pace would put him nearly 130 pass attempts over his career high of 445 attempts in 2011. He’s completed at least 20 passes in six games already this season, something he had done only seven times over his past 24 full games. Despite all of that volume per week, he’s still failed to reach 300 yards passing in a game this season, extending that streak to ten consecutive weeks.

He’s also already eclipsed his career high for yardage on the ground, rushing for at least 25 yards in every game but one on his way to 258 yards on the season (179 yards in 2011 was his previous high). Although he has four games this season without a touchdown pass, he still ranks tenth in standard quarterback scoring for the season.

This week the Chiefs put their undefeated streak on the line in Buffalo, a team that has been fruitful for fantasy signal callers. The Bills have allowed a touchdown pass in every game this season; with seven of the eight quarterbacks they’ve faced throwing two or more scores. Despite getting healthier on defense, every quarterback other than Brandon Weeden has reached 16 fantasy points versus them this season.

Danny Woodhead @WAS

Woodhead still doesn’t get the fantasy respect he deserves. He’s already tied his career high with 40 receptions through seven games (45 targets) and is currently averaging a career high 6.6 rush attempts per game.

He will get to face a soft Washington defense this week that has been extremely generous to fantasy running backs in 2013. Through seven games, Washington has allowed six backs to finish in the top 10 in weekly scoring, with five finishing inside the top four.  This bodes well for backfield mate Ryan Mathews as well, but with his role being game flow dependent, Woodhead is the player to trust.

Steve Smith vs ATL

The 35-year-old receiver has been a disappointment through eight weeks, entering week nine as the 36th ranked PPR wideout. The targets (seven plus in six contests) and catches (five plus in four) have remained steady, but Smith has failed to reach 70 yards receiving in any game this season. In his first eight career starts with Cam Newton, Smith averaged 5.8 receptions for 115 yards per game. In the 31 games since, he’s been reduced to a lowly 4.5 receptions for 64 yards per game.

This is a week where he can break out of that funk, facing a putrid Atlanta secondary at home. The Falcons have surrendered at least two passing touchdowns in every game this season so far, with four 100 yard receiving games. Smith is also no stranger to torching Atlanta at home. In his two home games versus Atlanta with Cam, he’s had six catches for 125 yards and seven for 109 (his last 100 yard game).


Mike Wallace vs CIN

Wallace has been extremely underwhelming over the past two and half seasons. In his past 36 games played, he’s reached 100 yards receiving only five times, with six or more receptions in only nine of those games. He’s also been held under 50 receiving yards in 15 of those games.  The one saving grace from the ending of his Steeler days was that he was reaching the end zone still, but in Miami he’s gotten there only once in seven games.

His rapport with Ryan Tannehill has yet to get on track as well. Wallace has the lowest catch rate out of all the Miami receivers and tight ends, catching only 30 of his 64 targets (47 percent) on the season.

In a short week, he’ll draw a tough Mike Zimmer led defense. The Bengals have allowed only two wide receivers to reach the century mark receiving this year (Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson) and only three touchdowns to wide outs over the past five weeks (two from Megatron).

Andy Dalton @ MIA

There isn’t another quarterback in the league as hot as Dalton has been over the past three Sundays. The top scoring fantasy option at the position over that time combined, Dalton has finished third, second and second each week while throwing 11 touchdowns to two interceptions. Only Matthew Stafford (1,093 yards) and Peyton Manning (1,035 yards) have thrown for more than the 1,034 yards he has the past three games.

Dalton finished as the 12th highest scoring quarterback in 2012 and has put together these types of hot streaks before. He had two separate similar three game stretches of fantasy output like this last season. In weeks two thru four, he had 8 touchdowns and three picks, scoring 20 plus points in every game. Then in weeks 10-12 he threw nine scores with zero interceptions and three weeks of 20 plus scoring.

Miami has been stingy to fantasy quarterbacks not named Drew Brees this season. Outside of that game in the Superdome, the Dolphins have held five of the six other quarterbacks they’ve faced under 16 points of scoring. Matt Ryan was the only quarterback other than Brees to throw at least two scores, and  Andrew Luck was the only other quarterback that reached 300 yards passing. Over their past three games, they’ve allowed only 196 passing yards per game and only one passing touchdown and three interceptions.

Tony Gonzalez @ CAR

The second coming of the Tony Gonzalez retirement tour hasn’t gone quite as planned. The Falcons are a team that has been snake bitten by injuries and inept on field performance so far in 2013. Gonzalez is part of the latter, with two monster games in weeks four and five (22 receptions for 246 yards and two scores) weighing down his overall production. Outside of those two weeks, he has had no more than four catches or more than 36 yards receiving in any of the other five games (totaling 16 catches for 149 yards and one touchdown).

The 17 year veteran and future Hall of Famer just can’t separate from defenders at all anymore. That lack of explosion has resulted in only three receptions of his 38 to go for at least 20 yards and his 6.7 yards per target are only better than Kyle Rudolph and Owen Daniels of all tight ends with at least 40 targets.

This week he’ll have a hard time finding room on Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly in coverage. Carolina has held every tight end except Rudolph under 50 yards receiving. They’ve allowed three touchdowns to tight ends, but two have come in the final minute of a game they were leading by double digits.

Ray Rice @ CLE

Rice has been part of that first round running back group that has disappointed so greatly to start the season. His poor offensive play, coupled with a hip injury that seemingly sapped all of his lateral movement has led to him posting a measly 2.8 yards per rushing attempt, dead last out of all backs with at least 80 carries.

That hip injury has destroyed his elusiveness in avoiding defenders. Per Pro Football Focus, Rice is tied for last out of qualifying backs in missed tackles forced (7) out of his 110 touches, alongside slugs Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Willis McGahee. That lack of explosion is evident in the passing game as well. Although Rice is still catching passes at a similar pace of his career totals (four catches per game), his yards per reception have plummeted to a pedestrian 4.8 yards per catch (he holds a 8.4 yards per reception for his career).

This week he faces a Cleveland defense that is better against the run than their season totals suggest. Cleveland is constantly getting the clock killed on the ground versus them recently while trailing late and still only Eddie Lacy and Adrian Peterson have reached 80 rushing yards versus them this season. They have allowed seven rushing scores, which has skewed their fantasy numbers a tad, but four of those were one yard scores and only one was over from over five yards out. They aren’t giving up long runs, tied for third fourth fewest in the league with only three runs over 20 yards allowed. With a healthy Jabaal Sheard back in fold, Cleveland can give the underperforming Ravens line fits at home.


Full Disclosure From Week 8




Carson Palmer



Le’Veon Bell



Jacquizz Rodgers



Terrance Williams



Jeff Cumberland




LeSean McCoy



Alfred Morris



Denarius Moore



Jordan Cameron














*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference,


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Rich Hribar Fantasy Football Analyst
Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. Follow @LordReebs