Week 9 Dynasty Targets for Competing and Rebuilding Teams
I’m seriously exhausted after Halloween weekend. I did so much… what’s the word… walking? That’s the one. Tiring! Anyhow, let’s not further beat around the bush here. From my experience, there may be ghosts in the bush, and it’s time to get to the trade targets before the trade deadline hits, at which point I’ll probably start doing rankings, which people admittedly like a lot more. It’s a big second-half adjustments column is what I’m saying. But we’re at the two-minute warning of this the first half of the year, so let’s continue before the clock runs out and you can make those sweet, sweet deal.
TRADE TARGETS FOR COMPETING TEAMS
The big one: Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)
The Eagles blew the doors off the Lions on Sunday by running on virtually every play—they had nine total passes. Boston Scott did most of the damage and Jordan Howard, the oldest 27-year-old in the league, did some solid work, both of them in front of Kenneth Gainwell, the would-be Sanders supplanter who has himself been leapfrogged. Despite Sanders’s scattershot usage so far, I’d expect him to be the clear No. 1 in this offense when he returns. With fantasy playoff games against the Giants and Washington Football Team (twice!), there’s a definite chance to have a sure starter for your title run if you can pry Sanders away from whomever, and they’re likely looking to sell.
The surprising one: David Montgomery (RB, CHI)
It’s not surprising to want a No. 1 running back, but I suspect there’s a lot of fear from Montgomery managers that he’s not the No. 1 back in Chicago anymore. I think he is. Change is hard for virtually every football team, let alone one run by a stick-in-the-mud like Matt Nagy, so I’d expect Monty to grab the 1A role upon his return. Justin Fields will vulture some touchdowns, as will Khalil Herbert, but a No. 1 running back is a No. 1 running back. You get them where you can. Here’s where you can get one. He’s probably worth the price.
The long-term play: Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)
Ridley surprised the football world by taking an indefinite leave of absence from the sport on Sunday, a move that only earns admiration around these parts. Good for him. It can be weird to talk about fantasy football in these cases, mostly because some people can’t talk about these things directly. Here’s my take: I love this game because it helps me identify and celebrate the best players in the sport, and I love the sport more and more each passing year. Ridley is an elite talent and it would be okay if he never returned, both his health and for your fantasy team. They’re both just games, but as I’ve said repeatedly in this space, the most important thing you can do in this particular game is hoard the truly elite talents. Ridley isn’t just worth your plaudits—he’s worth the risk, especially when he could return at any point, even this year. If he doesn’t, you lost betting on one of the best to do it. That’s the way to play.
TRADE TARGETS FOR REBUILDING TEAMS
The big one: Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)
They don’t get much bigger than this. There are a lot of surface-level reasons not to target Henry: He’s a year older, pushing him toward (gasp!) 30, and the next time he plays he’ll be coming off the injury that cost him half of 2021. None of them matter. When healthy, he is arguably the best player in fantasy football, not to mention the clear-cut coolest. Whoever has him in your league is probably riding high right now and not eager to come down mid-season, so this is a perfect opportunity to grab Henry and have a shot at living the dream in 2022. Having experienced in for a mere half season in my life, I can verify there’s really nothing like it. 10/10, would own again.
The surprising one: Mecole Hardman (WR, KC)
I will admit to being sort of stumped at this category until I was watching Monday Night Football and realized I’d meant to write about Hardman, so w as gonna be the guy. He definitely looks more involved in the Kansas City offense this year, by necessity (Tyreek Hill’s nagging injuries) and design (because teams are really focusing on Hill and Travis Kelce and almost nothing else). Sometimes rookies are great right out of the gate, but sometimes they incrementally improve so slowly, over a few years, we barely notice it’s happening. The important part is surviving, and Hardman has done that. He has a place in this league and the more he figures it out, the better value he has. I’d bet on that value increasing rather than decreasing, and that could be conventional wisdom sooner rather than later.
The long-term play: Van Jefferson (WR, LAR)
This might be the last chance to grab Jefferson at a decent price for a few years. The Rams are on a roll, and Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp are setting records together, yet Kupp is but one man. Now that DeSean Jackson has asked out of Los Angeles, that leaves Kupp, Robert Woods, Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee as Stafford’s main targets, and while I’d advise trading for both of the latter two in general, Jefferson has some real long-term upside and is probably going to have a couple big games before the end of the year, and that’s without an injury to either of the other to receivers. That happens, and the price is sky-high. Buy now and save yourself the premium.
WAIVER WIRE/FREE AGENT TARGET
The one I like this week: Jeremy McNichols (RB, TEN)
Yes, the Titans signed 36-year-old Adrian Peterson to ostensibly replace Derrick Henry, but McNichols, as the man already in the building and as necessarily a more versatile player than AP (all due respect to All Day, but he doesn’t catch passes or block; he just runs, runs and runs), will probably get way more of the work that is likely expected in the wake of the Peterson news. You rarely get the chance to get a starting running back on the waiver wire, but then again Henry is not supposed to get hurt, so it all dovetails nicely for you to swoop in on McNichols while everyone’s in shock. Worst case you trade him before the next game even starts. Best case, you’ve got a Dude.