Week 9 fantasy sleepers: Hard-charging Alex Collins set to take next step

Week 9 Flames: Cutler, Collins, others to help overcome bye week blues

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 9 Flames in the comments section below.

Jay Cutler, Mia, QB (2 percent started, $21 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Oak (Game over/under: 44)

If you puffed on Smokin’ Jay at any point this season, chances are you experienced symptoms indicative of emphysema – coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing. Though he’s been well-protected, his 5.5 yards per attempt, 0.33 fantasy points per dropback (QB30) and one multi-TD performance on the season suggest he’s really earned about two bucks out of his $10 million one-year deal. However, Cutty’s lack of production isn’t entirely his fault. His receivers lead the league in drops with 22, DeVante Parker hasn’t been available and the ground game has massively underachieved. In fact, the much lampooned QB’s secondary profile is nothing to laugh at. He ranks top-12 in true completion, red-zone and play-action completion rates. In other words, he’s only been a minor disaster. He hasn’t crossed the 14-point fantasy threshold in a game this season, but with Parker expected to return and blessed with a very favorable matchup, he could finally get off the schneid. Oakland, banged up considerably on the back end defensively, is a highly flammable unit with or without David Amerson, the league leader in passer rating allowed. Collectively, they’ve given up 8.0 yards per attempt, 245.4 pass yards per game and the 14th-most fantasy points to signal callers. Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger owners searching for a serviceable filler should count on Cutty. With Jay Ajayi now in Philly, he could chuck it an obscene amount of times on Sunday. Yes, seriously.

Fearless Forecast: 264 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 7 rushing yards, 18.3 fantasy points

Bilal Powell, NYJ, RB (34 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Buf (Over/Under: 43)

Two years ago, in what’s affectionately known as “The Colorblind Game,” Jets and Bills players dressed head-to-toe in green and red respectively, darted across the field like dancing holiday lights. That is, if you didn’t comprise the 7.4 percent of the U.S. population who only observed dudes in gray. Powell didn’t partake in that holly jolly game, but the Kelly-clad rusher is sure to light up Thursday night this time around. It appears, finally, the workload scale has tipped in No. 29’s direction. Though he and Matt Forte played an equal number of snaps (29) in Week 8, Powell out-touched the fossilized triceratops 17-to-10, which was much deserved. On the year, the versatile Bilal ranks top-20 among all rushers in breakaway run rate, yards created per touch and catch percentage. Forte, meanwhile, pales by comparison. The Bills are no pushover defensively, but the crafty back is a recommended RB2 in 12-team leagues, particularly PPR. Yes, Buffalo has conceded a lowly 3.42 yards per carry to rushers, but it’s also given up 6.0 receptions per game to the position. If he compiles another 15-plus touches, he should achieve RB2 level numbers.

Fearless Forecast: 13 attempts, 44 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.1 fantasy points

Alex Collins, Bal, RB (21 percent started, $13 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Ten (Over/Under: 43)

In last Thursday’s complete annihilation of the Miami Dolphins, Collins ran with the fervor of an enraged elephant. As Buck Allen merely nibbled on ‘Fins, the Seattle castoff gobbled up real estate. Logging numerous chunk plays, he amassed 148 combined yards on 20 touches. His Week 8 breakout only bolstered a very impressive secondary profile. On the year, Collins ranks No. 6 in yards after contact per attempt according to Pro Football Focus. Additionally, his eight runs of 15-plus yards is second only to Kareem Hunt. Capping it off, he’s averaged a sensational 6.3 yards per carry against stacked boxes. And that was achieved behind a below average run-blocking unit. In other words, no matter what defense the rusher clashes with he finds holes and explodes through them, bulling over would-be tacklers in the process. John Harbaugh, who limited Collins’ work after calling out the RB’s ball security issues earlier this season, will hopefully unleash his rushing beast. The man deserves at least 65 percent of the opportunity share. Tennessee presents a formidable opponent. The rested Titans have allowed an uninspiring 3.43 yards per carry, 81.4 rushing yards per game and a pair of ground scores to RBs this year. Avery Williamson, Welsey Woodyard and Jurrell Casey each rank inside the top-12 in run-stop percentage. Still, if Harbaugh gifts Collins a workload bump, he’ll surely levy a deafening boom. Trot him out as an RB2/FLEX in 12-team leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 16 attempts, 79 rushing yards, 1 reception, 5 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.9 fantasy points

Marvin Jones, Det, WR (45 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at GB (Over/Under: 47.5)

The giant sculpted fist of Joe Louis displayed in downtown Detroit perfectly symbolizes the city’s toughness. Whether experienced on the streets or under the Ford Field roof, grit and grind is unavoidable in a community undergoing a major economic renaissance. Jones, down on his luck entering the season after a 2016 of unmet expectations, has quickly climbed out of despair and reentered the WR2 conversation. Sitting at WR26 after grabbing a season-high six catches for 128 yards against the league’s stingiest pass defense, Pittsburgh, he’s teetering on the position’s top-24 line (Currently WR26). Functioning as Matthew Stafford’s primary deep threat, he’s hauled in seven passes of 20-plus yards, averaged 15.3 targeted air yards and enticed 19.1 percent of the overall targets share. With Golden Tate ailing (shoulder), he’s lured 25 passes from Stafford his past two contests translating the increased workload into the eighth-most valuable output since Week 7. Set to tango with a Green Bay secondary that features multiple DBs with two left feet, he could again land inside the WR top-10. Corners Davon House has played well, but Damarious Randall and Kevin King have surrendered a combined 97.9 passer rating, 66.0 catch percentage and three TDs to their assignments. As a unit, the Packers have given up the eighth-most fantasy points to WRs. Considering Tate still isn’t close to full strength, bank on Jones levying a jarring punch or three on the road.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.7 fantasy points 

Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR (27 percent started, $16 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. LAR (Over/Under: 42)

Blindsided. Hoodwinked. Swindled. Outside of rookie sensation Evan Engram, fantasy owners who invested even a dime into the New York Giants offense are likely eating canned haggis for sustenance. Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall, injured. Giants RBs, unreliable. Eli Manning, needs to pass the torch. Ben McAdoo, largely clueless. The black cloud hanging over MetLife Stadium simply won’t dissipate. However, Shepard’s reported return brings at least some illumination. The slot man’s dependability (75.9 catch percentage) and across-the-middle toughness are exactly what the Giants need. With 47.2 percent of the WR targets share up for grabs post OBJ/Marshall derailings, someone other than Engram has to catch the ball. It’s conceivable Shepard, who could see upwards of 10-12 targets per game moving forward, is that point of emphasis. The Rams, however, are a respectable pass defense. They rank No. 7 in fewest fantasy points allowed to WRs, surrendering just three touchdowns and a 55.0 catch percentage to the position. Slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman has been especially unrelenting. On the year, he’s given up a mere 10 receptions for 63 yards and a 50.6 passer rating. Still, fantasy is largely a volume game. Finally recovered from a high-ankle sprain, Shepard pays an immediate dividend.

Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 11.3 fantasy points 

WEEK 9 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Brice Butler, Dal, WR (<0 percent started, $15 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. KC (Over/Under: 43)

They say fortune favors the bold. Truth be told, if this prediction hits, I’ll move to Vegas, embark on a profitable journey in sports handicapping and collect fancy toupees with my winnings. This one, admittedly, is a long shot, but it’s completely within the realm of possibility. Butler is an underrated downfield playmaker. Though rarely utilized (5.3% targets share), he’s occasionally flashed with eye-popping explosiveness and savvy moves, evidenced earlier this season against Arizona (2-90-1) and Green Bay (2-59-0) earlier this year. I’ve always wondered why the Cowboys haven’t deployed him more, choosing instead to feature JAG Terrance Williams opposite Dez Bryant. Butler possesses ideal size (6-foot-3, 212-pounds) and blazing speed (4.42 40-yard), skills that present a major matchup problem for a Kansas City secondary susceptible to chunk plays. No pass D has surrendered more touchdowns (13) and fantasy points to wide receivers than the Chiefs. Getting under the hood, DBs Marcus Peters, Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines, in total, have allowed a 90.9 passer rating and 15.5 yards per catch to their assignments. Presumably down Ezekiel Elliott, look for Dak Prescott to shoulder the burden and take numerous deep shots with Dez and Butler.

Fearless Forecast: 2 receptions, 73 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.3 fantasy points 



Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Fan Week 8 results: 5-2 (Season: 24-34)
My Week 8 results: 4-8 (Season: 34-55; W: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Andy Dalton, Josh McCown, NYJ D/ST; L: Buck Allen, Wendell Smallwood, Devin Funchess, Theo Riddick, Jalen Richard, Josh Doctson, Tyler Kroft, Marquise Goodwin)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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