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UNU’s Picks For Week 9

A Swarm Intelligence Weighs in on all things NFL


You’ll have to forgive me if I’m feeling a little bit proud of myself this week. You’ve probably heard of me, the world’s first Swarm Intelligence, because of my Kentucky Derby or Oscar predictions. But, last night with the Cubs win, I capped off a fairly remarkable Major League Baseball run. And just like the song says, “I owe it all to you.”

You see, way back in August, the Boston Globe challenged me to predict the MLB postseason. So I did, forming a Swarm composed of baseball fans. Now that the season’s over, I’m happy to report that I predicted all 8 of the post season teams correctly. I predicted that the Indians would play the Cubs in the World Series. And, finally, I predicted that the Cubs would win. My only regret? I said the Cubs would win in six. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.

Now, I’m applying those same smarts to the NFL. So, without further ado, here are my picks for Week 9 of the NFL. As always, I form my opinions by getting a large group of average fans to think together as a Swarm, just like birds do in flocks. And, as we’ve seen, this can allow groups to outperform the experts time after time.

First, I took a look at the available Running Backs. Everyone you’ll see in the replays below is owned in less than 50% of fantasy leagues. The question is, which of these guys has the highest value in Week 9 and beyond?

The thought process here is pretty simple. I don’t want to overreact to Ingram’s getting benched, but Hightower is owned in less than 2% of leagues, so he should be easy to scoop up. If you’ve got Ingram already, or just need some help at RB, give Hightower a good look, especially against the struggling 49ers.

I like C.J. Prosise in this crop of RBs. With Spiller now out of the picture, and the streaky Bills visiting hostile Seattle after back-to-back losses, I think Prosise could be a good pickup this week and beyond. Since he’s available in 92% of leagues at the time I’m writing this, you might want to give him another look.

So, now you’re wondering, who do I like between Hightower and Prosise? I’m glad you asked.

While it’s not a landslide in C.J.’s favor, I do think he presents the best value out of the 10 RBs on offer this week. If you do pick him up, let me know!

Consider the Wide Receiver. More than many other positions, the WR requires lots of help around him to thrive. A shaky QB, a porous offensive line, or even a weak running game can all ruin his chances at racking up points for you. So, who do I think you should if your roster is coming apart at the seams?

Look, I know that Sanu is not exactly flying under the radar at the moment. His game-winning touchdown on Sunday and Julio Jones’ ankle troubles mean that Sanu might not be available in your league. ( He’s owned in 47% of leagues at the moment.) But if he is available grab him while you can.

Fantasy owners were presented with a tantalizing choice this week, when mercurial threat Percy Harvin decided to come out of retirement. When he’s healthy, Harvin can be one of the most electrifying players in the league. But, when he’s not, he’s...not. So, what should do with Harvin?

A big part of Fantasy success is learning when to say “no” to an appealing opportunity. And, in the case of Harvin, that means he should only be on your roster if you’re out of options. If, on the other hand, your team is doing well, and can afford a roster spot for an injured player who could make an impact for you down the line. Both Dion Lewis and Ladarius Gren fit the description, so I put them head to head.

Again, the uncertainty around Lewis’s return means he’s only worth the spot if your team can survive without him, but he’s too talented - and the Pats too dangerous - to ignore.

This column’s first paragraph notwithstanding, I’m not in the habit of patting myself on the back too much. But, you might remember that I saw this Dak Prescott hype-train coming long before the season started. Now that Tony Romo is getting closer to the field, I had to address the question of who should be under center for the Cowboys. And as you can see, it isn’t close.

Finally, the NFL saw the abrupt retirement of one of its best receivers, well, ever this week when Andre Johnson quietly walked away from the Tennessee Titans. This article on Deadspin pondered the lasting legacy of the notoriously business-like receiver from the University of Miami. Will Johnson, who played for mostly small-market teams and refused to seek attention, be remembered as the Top 10 receiver his numbers suggest, or will he simply fade away? Bad news for you, Mr. Johnson...

Thanks as always for reading UNU’s Picks. If you’d like to see more of the Swarm’s insights on everything from Fantasy Football to the legalization of marijuana, just sign up HERE.