By Jay Skurski
News Sports Reporter
A pair of Cincinnati Bengals are scorching hot heading into Week Nine of the fantasy football season.
Quarterback Andy Dalton – who was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month on Thursday – has thrown for 11 touchdowns in the past three weeks, to go along with 1,034 passing yards. That’s been good for an average of 27 points per week in standard-scoring ESPN leagues.
Not surprisingly, Dalton’s production has meant his receivers have benefited. But the biggest beneficiary is definitely a surprise.
While No. 1 receiver A.J. Green has put up points befitting his status as a first- or second-round fantasy pick, it’s been second-year receiver Marvin Jones who has come out of nowhere to be the most popular waiver-wire addition of the week.
Beginning with a Week Six victory at Buffalo in which he scored a touchdown and had 105 yards from scrimmage, Jones has scored six touchdowns the past three games. That was punctuated by a 122-yard, four-touchdown performance in a Week Eight blowout win against the Jets last Sunday. What’s most amazing is that he played only 19 offensive snaps – catching all eight of the passes he was targeted on.
Jones’ ownership has skyrocketed from less than 1 percent of ESPN leagues to nearly 55 percent.
The Bengals, who played Thursday night against Miami, have a late bye this season, coming in Week 12.
For the time being, Dalton has played his way into being an option to start, while Jones has become a viable flex player in fantasy lineups.
Double up on Bolts
It’s rare when an NFL backfield has two starting-caliber fantasy backs in the same week, but that’s true of the San Diego Chargers in Week Nine.
The Bolts have had a fantasy running back in the top 20 of weekly scoring in every game since Week Four, and could have two Sunday against Washington. The Redskins have allowed touchdowns in the same game to two running backs against a pair of teams (Dallas and Denver). San Diego’s Danny Woodhead has finished with double-digit fantasy points in three of the past four games in CBS leagues, while Ryan Mathews has rushed for 100 yards in back-to-back games.
Woodhead has been particularly strong in points-per-reception leagues, with 40 catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
It was a rough fantasy season for Buffalo native Mike Williams, the Tampa Bay receiver. Williams caught just two touchdowns for the Buccaneers and did not break 65 yards in a game before going on injured reserve this week because of a torn hamstring.
For those in ridiculously deep leagues, Tiquan Underwood should see a boost in targets with Williams out. But the Bucs’ change from Josh Freeman to Mike Glennon at quarterback has rendered any receiver outside of Vincent Jackson pretty much useless.
Jackson faces his most difficult matchup of the season this weekend against lockdown cornerback Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks.
Analyzing the Bills
Running back Fred Jackson has reached the end zone the past two weeks, helping salvage decent fantasy weeks despite rushing for 81 combined yards in those two games. Jackson faces a Kansas City rushing defense that has allowed 4.7 yards per carry, so he once again should be used as a No. 2 back.
C.J. Spiller is likely to return this week, but his usefulness is still very much up in the air. If you’re thin at the position because of the bye week, you can try Spiller as a flex player, but expectations should be low.
The uncertainty at quarterback for the Bills means receiver Stevie Johnson is the only wideout worth considering. Don’t start tight end Scott Chandler – the Chiefs are allowing just 3 points per game to opposing tight ends.
On the Kansas City side, don’t be worried about Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles missing practice Wednesday because of a knee injury. He’s expected to play, and has a great history against the Bills, averaging 6.7 yards per carry in five career games. Charles is my fantasy MVP this season in the non-Peyton Manning division.
With Manning and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford on the bye this week, the Chiefs’ Alex Smith should get some fantasy consideration. Smith ended a streak of four straight games without a touchdown pass by throwing for two last week. The Bills have allowed 863 passing yards and 11 touchdowns the past three weeks.
Buffalo has allowed an average of nearly 33 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, which means Dwayne Bowe could have some usefulness despite his hugely disappointing fantasy season. Bowe has yet to top 66 receiving yards in a game and has scored only two touchdowns.
Bye weeks: Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville.