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It is going to take a little longer than usual to fill out a fantasy football lineup this week.

Unfortunately for fantasy football players, a half-dozen NFL teams are on bye this week. Fantasy footballers will not be able to plug Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, New York’s Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Arizona’s David Johnson, or Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and A.J. Green into their lineups in standard and DFS leagues this week. This means finding the under-the-radar booms and avoiding the under-the-radar busts is paramount!

Here are some under-the-radar booms and busts for the ninth week of NFL action to help you set a winning lineup. Good luck RotoBallers!

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Week 9 Under-the-Radar Booms

Marvin Jones Jr. (WR, DET) at MIN

Detroit’s passing attack is harder to figure out than the plot of Vanilla Sky. One week quarterback Matthew Stafford zones in on Golden Tate. The next week it is Kenny Golladay that is featured as Stafford’s top target. Then the week after that tight end Michael Roberts hauls in two touchdown tosses. This past weekend it was finally Jones Jr. who was the focus as he had his best game of the season with 117 receiving yards a pair of touchdowns.

Remember how things went for Jones Jr. last year? He did not have a 60-yard game during the first five weeks of the season, then suddenly flipped the switch and had a seven-game stretch where he had 637 yards and six scores. I think this streaky receiver is ready for an encore. Look for him to have another great game at Minnesota against a Vikings pass defense that allowed to have 109 yards and two touchdowns last time they tried to cover him in 2017, especially since he no longer needs to worry about Tate taking his targets now that the veteran slot receiver was traded at the deadline to the Philadelphia Eagles.     

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN) vs. HOU

Denver deciding to trade longtime No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas to their opponent this week was a slap in the face to Thomas and the Texans, but it was also the same as giving Sutton a nice warm hug – along with a fat promotion! Sutton has been scintillating as Denver's No. 3 receiver in his rookie campaign, averaging 19.1 yards per catch and showing the Broncos that he had the tools and talent to be their No. 2 WR.

Before you start fearing that Sutton will be stuffed by Houston’s 12th-ranked pass defense this weekend, delve deeper into the moribund passing attacks J.J. Watt has faced so far. Six of Houston’s eight games were against Tennessee, Dallas, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Miami, and the New York Giants. None of those passing attacks have struck much fear into defenses this season, so the Texans secondary is overrated with what they have done stats-wise. Sutton should be a smashing success in his first start. Expect 8-12 targets, 80-100 yards, and a touchdown.

Jamaal Williams (RB, GB) at NE

All the fantasy experts have been anointing Aaron Jones as the Packers running back that will benefit the most now that third-down specialist/kickoff return failure Ty Montgomery has been traded away. Yes, Jones will get even more touches, playing time, and scoring opportunities now that Montgomery has been shipped away, but the better buy this week might be Mr. Williams.

Williams is the better receiver out of the backfield and should see plenty of passes this week in what is shaping up to be a shootout with Tom Brady and Co. Williams might only get 30-45 yards rushing since Jones will dominate the early-down carries, but Williams could have a half-dozen catches for 50-80 receiving yards and find his way into the end zone once or twice.

 

Week 9 Under-the-Radar Busts

Peyton Barber (RB, TB) at CAR

Barber has been mismanaged and misused this season by Tampa Bay’s coaching staff. He has been the top tailback throughout the year and has more rushing attempts than the rest of the roster combined, yet he has only been averaging 14 touches per game. He has been doing better in recent weeks with touchdowns and 80-yard rushing efforts in two of his past three outings.

Barber will run smack into Carolina’s above-average defense this weekend, a unit ranked eighth against the run that has only allowed one 100-yard rusher in half a season. Another thing going against Barber is that he did more damage when Jameis Winston was Tampa Bay’s starting signal caller and has done diddly when Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick is running the offense. Barber’s mini hot streak will be stopped cold by Carolina.

Michael Crabtree (WR, BAL) vs. PIT

Crabtree has been okay with Baltimore and leads the team in targets, yet he has 146 fewer receiving yards than greyhound-like John Brown and has just as many receptions as Willie Snead. With first-round pick Hayden Hurst becoming more of a help at tight end with every passing week, Crabtree’s fantasy value might get pinched even tighter.

Pittsburgh’s secondary struggled during the opening month of action but has improved and has been one of the underrated reasons why the Steelers top the NFC North. When the Steelers have had trouble covering pass catchers, it has been speedsters (Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill for example) or tight ends who have given them problems, not possession receivers with average speed like Crabtree. Crabtree only managed three catches for 29 yards the first time he dealt with Pittsburgh this season, and he may only do slightly better in meeting No. 2. 

Brandon LaFell (WR, OAK) at SF (Thursday)

The fantasy football community probably assumed that Martavis Bryant was going to be the man slipping into Oakland’s starting receiver rotation when Amari Cooper was unceremoniously sent to Dallas. Fantasy football is harder to predict than a bipolar person’s mood swings, though. Against Indianapolis last Sunday, Bryant warmed up the bench while LaFell played in Cooper’s place and had 39 yards and a touchdown.

LaFell is a veteran role receiver at this stage of his career, so you should not get too excited when you see a cheap price tag attached to his name in DFS leagues this Thursday night. He could leave the Raiders receiver rotation as quickly as he entered it. San Francisco only has the 21st-best pass defense in the NFL, but in a winnable Thursday night home game, I’d expect the 49ers secondary to play to the best of their abilities. It is hard to trust LaFell until he gets a couple decent games under his belt.

 

That’s it for another week!  Follow me on Twitter @craigrondinone!

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