Brandon LaFell, WR New England Patriots: Ever since their blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 4, the Patriots’ have been on a four game win streak. Coincidentally, it was Week 4 when first-year Patriot Brandon LaFell became a factor in their offense and since then, he’s become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets. In their 51-23 destruction of the Bears, LaFell caught all 11 passes thrown his way for 124 yards and a touchdown. Not only did he have career-high 11 receptions, but he also led all Patriots receivers by playing on 61-of-74 offensive snaps on Sunday. After a slow start to the season, LaFell has really turned his game around and so has the Patriots’ offense. What’s been strange about Lafeel, although it may be somewhat of a fluke, LaFell has only played well on even numbered weeks since Week 4. On Weeks 4, 6 and 8, LaFell has had at least one receiving touchdown and 90+ receiving yards. On all other weeks he hasn’t been able to strum up more than 60 yards. While it may just be a statistical anomaly, LaFell has a chance to break that streak in Week 9 against the Broncos. Albeit a tough matchup, most of the Broncos’ secondary will be focused more on Gronk. LaFell is available in over 60 percent of fantasy leagues.
Charles Sims, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With only one win on the season, the Buccaneers don’t really have much going for them and it doesn’t look like things will be changing any time soon. As of late, there have been trade rumors flying about that seem more like probable scenarios rather than just football gossip. Running back Doug Martin has essentially been deemed as “expendable” and is likely sitting atop their trading block. With so much young talent, it seems like the Bucs are just going to let them run wild and that’s where Charles Sims comes into play. After spending the first eight weeks on the IR with an injured ankle, Sims has been activated to play in Week 9 against the Browns. While it may be a tough matchup for his first game in the NFL, Sims is expected to get a lot of touches and with Martin most likely on his way out; things are only looking up for Sims. A third round pick out of West Virginia, Sims finished his senior season with 1095 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and an average of 5.3 yards per carry. There hasn’t been much to cheer for in Tampa Bay, but Sims could add a little life to that team. Sims is available in just over 90 percent of fantasy leagues.
Donte Moncrief, WR Indianapolis Colts: It was a shoot out in Pittsburg on Sunday night and while the Colts came up short, they did find something special in the way of a rookie wide receiver. With a hobbled Hakeem Nicks highly ineffective, Donte Moncrief stepped up in a big way. Playing on 40-of-66 offensive snaps, Moncrief caught seven passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. With Reggie Wayne out and Nicks virtually invisible as far as production goes, Andrew Luck targeted Moncrief 12 times as the rookie had a chance to show off his incredible athletic ability. Moncrief was likely given this chance due to Wayne being injured, however, he took his opportunity and seized the moment. Although Wayne will likely be back for Week 9 against the Giants, there is no reason why Moncrief should not be the No. 3 receiver in Indianapolis. With Luck playing as well as he is and a few nagging injuries in that receiving corps, Moncrief should be a solid WR3 moving forward and will likely see an increase in both playing time and output. Moncrief is available in virtually all fantasy leagues.
Martavis Bryant, WR Pittsburg Steelers: The Obvious headline from the Sunday night game was Big Ben’s record-breaking performance, but as for fantasy football purists, it was all about the emergence of rookie wide receivers. Martavis Bryant, the fourth round pick out of Clemson, came up huge in the win over the Colts with five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Having only played in Weeks 7 and 8, Bryant now has caught seven catches on 12 targets for 123 yards and three touchdowns. At 6’4’’ and weighing in at 211lbs, Bryant is a problem in the red zone and will likely be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, which is a good sign for the Steelers and anyone in fantasy football looking to take a flier on a new receiver. While expectations should be slightly tempered with Bryant, his red zone ability makes him a threat, as he may not put up big yardage, but has a good chance to pull in a touchdown. Bryant is available in over 90 percent of fantasy leagues.
Allen Robinson, WR Jacksonville Jaguars: Even bad teams have good players, right? Despite being 1-7, rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson has been a star in the dim light that is the Jaguars franchise. Surrounded by young talent, Robinson seems to be a leader amongst his peers as he has been the one consistent part of their offense. In their 27-13 loss to the Dolphins, Robinson had five catches on 10 targets for 82 yards and a touchdown. Not only was it Robinson’s second straight game with a touchdown, but also since Week 2, he has caught a minimum of four passes per game. Robinson has put up decent numbers as a rookie with 39 receptions, 453 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In his last four games, Robinson has seen an average of 9.25 passes thrown his way and although he plays on a very shaky offense, with that many opportunities, he’s likely to have some big games down the stretch and will be a steal in PPR leagues. Robinson is available in about 75 percent of fantasy leagues.