Where we are in leagues with Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) or where we go to the bottom of the waiver priority list when we make claims, getting players as free agents are imperative. We have no idea who will emerge over the next week or two to become the hot waiver picks of those weeks, but we should be prepared in the case we lose on those claims or there is not much else out there worthy of the claims.
Stashing is usually used for high upside players with the "if they get the chance" tag, but during bye weeks, we should look at our benches for guys we just know we will never start because they're matchup-dependent and the matchups stink or just have no upside (I'm talking to you, Torrey Smith, Alfred Blue, Albert Wilson, and Doug Baldwin owners).
The bye weeks are tough and we are all already streaming some position in our leagues. Once you get past the treasure that is widely owned, you have to dive through the dumpsters to eat. And the only tiebreakers among the trash piles are matchups. Here are some players with nice matchups in Weeks 9 and 10 on whom you can try:
Hate stashing a QB more than a week in advance because it can be a bit of a wasted roster spot, but t really stinks to lose the best matchup to someone else on waivers. With great matchups like the Ravens, Chiefs, and Texans--along with Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, Brian Hoyer, and Russell Wilson--on bye in Week 9, the waiver competition will be tougher. Here are guys we can target as free agents right now:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
I have Carson Palmer as my starter in two leagues and have Ryan Fitzpatrick stashed in both for his Week 9 home game against the Jaguars. The Jets are running a lot and none of his three games of over 30 pass attempts were in blowouts, but he has thrown for multiple TDs in two of those blowouts.
This should be an atrocious game for the Jags, so Blake Bortles gunslinging should not threaten the Jets, but Fitzpatrick should be a safe 200-yards and two TDs for fantasy value which won't go below replacement level.
Marcus Mariota, Titans
I have always stayed reserved on Marcus Mariota this year because his volume is low and he isn't running. There is a chance he returns in Week 9 against the Saints. The game will be in New Orleans, so there is a lot of potential for the Saints to build an early lead on the Titans and Mariota to be forced to sling it around.
The Saints are allowing the third-worst net yards per pass attempt (7.5 NY/A), so he will have a legitimate shot to repeat something similar to his Week 3 line of 27-for-44 for 367 yards and multiple TDs. That was in a loss to the Colts, who are allowing 7.1 NY/A.
The floor seems fairly close to replacement level, but the ceiling of near 25 fantasy points is very tempting.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
The Dolphins will travel to Buffalo in Week 9. The Bills are allowing under 4.0 yards per carry (4.0), and the Dolphins are looking to exploit secondaries early for big leads. The Bills are allowing a decent 6.0 NY/A, but tied for the second-most TD passes allowed (15). Tannehll doesn't really get the ball downfield, but Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry are so strong after the catch that volume gives them the chance to make plays and pad Tanny's yards and TDs.
With Justin Forsett, Chris Johnson, and Marshawn Lynch among those on bye in Week 9 and Devonta Freeman, Frank Gore, Danny Woodhead, and Carlos Hyde in Week 10, and so many RB3s with questions attached, that there are a lot of tough decisions.
The problem is that RBs with volume carries are impossible to find in free agency. The number one play is to try buying low on Jeremy Hill or Eddie Lacy, or really cheap on Matt Jones. What can be found are luck-of-the-draw fliers on whom we can pray for volume in the passing game, such as:
C.J. Anderson, Broncos
The Broncos draw the Colts and Chiefs in Weeks 9 and 10. Ronnie Hillman should shine in these games, but Peyton Manning has to dropback some times and these snaps will still belong to C.J. Anderson. The defense is elevating the risk-aversion tactics of this offense and Manning hates to telegraph his passes, still giving Anderson double digit carries and his targets can go up to a range over five. In shallow leagues, Anderson is dangling out there.
C.J. Spiller, Saints
C.J. Spiller may not hit 100 yards again this season, but with the Titans and Washington on deck, it is worth a shot. The Tennessee game has so much blowout potential that Mark Ingram can take a seat, as Khiry Robinson would split the carries. The Saints really want to get Spiller involved heavily in the pass game, as he's seen at least five targets in three of the last four games, despite not playing being in the 16-to-21 snap range. If we accept the theory that when Spiller is on the field, there is a 25% chance he gets targeted, a blow out can be game he gets the snaps to create the role for himself Sean Payton wants for him.
Chris Thompson, Washington
Washington is in New England for Week 9 and host the Saints in Week 10. Playing from behind in Week 9 should result in a snap count in the 55-60% range. Kirk Cousins can't get the ball downfield, so in Weeks 3 through 6, Thompson was targeted on 31 of 170 pass attempts for nearly 20% of the share in the passing game. The risk is obviously that Thompson is only averaging 6.5 yards per catch.
Dexter McCluster, Titans
The Mariota logic above applies here. He's played over 40% of the snaps in every week but Week 1, including over 72% last week. in which he had 68 total yards and six catches. Dexter McCluster is the sole passing downs back, so we can expect him to lead the backfield in snaps, rest of season. The Panthers in Week 10 is a tough one, but the ball has to go somewhere on those passes.
Where we struggle too much to trust one of those RBs to flex, gambling on WR is the better upside option.
Ted Ginn, Jr., Panthers
Ted Ginn, Jr. should be owned, as the #1 WR in Carolina to be played as a TD-dependent matchup bye week replacement. He gets the Packers in Week 9 and the Titans in Week 10. The Titans could be a slow one to avoid, but the Packers are allowing over 85 yards per game to #1 WRs, which is eighth-worst, according to FootballOutsiders.com (FO). Ginn can be acquired very cheaply if he's owned.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Steelers
Darrius Heyward-Bey is the definition of a boom-bust guy, but he has graduated from all bust now that he has a great QB in Ben Roethlisberger. He gets the Raiders in Week 9 and the Browns in Week 10, who are 26th and 30th in DVOA against WRs who aren't the #1 or #2 on their teams, according to FO.
DHB has not seen a target in the last two weeks from Landry Jones. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell should dominate the targets in these games with Martavis Bryant as the guaranteed deep threat, but he should get 15-20 snaps, which will include Brown in the slot but also rest for Bryant, to give him default shots down the field. All it takes is one or two bombs from Ben.
Bryan Walters, Jaguars
The Jaguars cannot only throw to Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns all the time, as is being shown lately with Hurns over catching four balls over the last two weeks after 27 over the first five. Against the Jets in Week 9, this entire offense is going to hurt from Robinson to T.J. Yeldon to Hurns. But, Jacksonville should be playing from behind, and the ball has to go somewhere.
Bryan Walters is likely the fourth option after Julius Thomas, but Blake Bortles has a history of making these third WRs relevant with a lot of volume in blowouts when he gets shut down everywhere else. Walters only had one target in Week 6, playing 43% of snaps, but 12 in Week 5. Coming out of the bye, he can become a bailout blankie to be a PPR surprise. Week 10 against the Ravens should go back to being the Robinson-Hurns show once again.
Whomever plays the Raiders is always the streaming option. The Raiders will face Heath Miller and Kyle Rudolph in Weeks 9 and 10, so you want to grab them as free agents before they lock the previous week. Where you cannot land them, try:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Buccaneers
Rumor is that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is healthy and that is great news because he faces one of the only two teams allowing more yards per game (YPG) to TEs than the Raiders in Week 9: the Giants.
Vincent Jackson is banged up and Louis Murphy is on IR, so the Mike Evans show should get intermissions here and there, alone making Sef-Jenk a must-own in 12-team leagues. The Giants are allowing over 76 YPG and four TDs to TEs. Sef-Jenk is probably a top-8 play for next week with Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham on bye.
Jared Cook, Rams
I know, I know, Jared Cook is nothing more than a 50-yard, no score TE, but he has the Vikings in Week 9, who have allowed over 65 PG to TEs and a TD in each game they faced Eric Ebron. It's worth a shot in an offense where no passing option can be trusted.
Darren Fells, Cardinals
The Cardinals-Seahawks game in Week 10 will be a doozy where Bruce Arians will have to play all of his cards to get the passing game going. Darren Fells should play into this, as most TEs do when they play the Seahawks. Seattle is tied for the third-most TDs allowed to TEs (5) and are allowing the most YPG to TEs (77.0). When the Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown doors get shut, others will need to open.
Richard Rodgers, Packers
The Packers face the Lions in Week 10, who have allowed five TDs to TEs this year, tied for third-most with Seattle. Only Randall Cobb (9) and James Jones (5) have had more red zone targets on the Packers than Richard Rodgers (4). Detroit's defense is terrible and Aaron Rodgers loves to spread it around in situations like this. No one is touching Rodgers against the Broncos this week or the Panthers next week, so you can probably get him the Wednesday morning before Week 10 as a free agent. In leagues deeper than 12 teams, get him no later than the Sunday morning of Week 9.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.