2021 Season: It's A Match! Three Matchups to Exploit in Week 9

(Photo Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)




Zach Crutcher (@ZackyNFL)
The Lateral Contributor

Whether it is bye week troubles, a late injury, or waiting on a rookie stash to finally get an opportunity, sometimes a warm body in the FLEX spot is all you need. Enter: It's A Match! These waiver recommendations are strictly to be considered plays for this week only. If they work out longer term than that, great. But that is not the expectation.

Also, all players are rostered in 50% or less of ESPN leagues. If there are better players still available in your leagues, go get them instead.

It's A Match! Three Matchups to Exploit in Week 9

Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens (1pm ET Sunday)

Who to add: Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver (Baltimore Ravens) [23% ESPN]

Things are changing in Baltimore, where the Ravens have placed a clear emphasis on passing. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is crushing his career average of pass attempts per game and ranks tenth in PFF passing grade. That is right, Jackson is passing more often and better than ever before, and rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman stands to benefit from this massively. Bateman was the Ravens' first-round selection and started the season on the injured reserve list. Since he debuted in Week 6 he has totaled 7 receptions for 109 yards in two starts, including an 80-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals. In Week 9 Bateman gets the Minnesota Vikings defense. The Vikings are no slouch, but they are not very good either. They are average in most categories, allowing teams to throw 35 times per game against them for seven yards per team pass attempt. This has caused opponents to pass on about 60% of their plays against the Vikings. With the Ravens coming off their bye and Bateman further removed from his injury, expect Baltimore to increase Bateman's usage against the Vikings. This may not be the week he explodes but that day is coming, and soon.

Arizona Cardinals at San Fransisco 49ers (4:25pm ET Sunday)

Who to add: Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver (San Fransisco 49ers) [46% ESPN]

Brandon Aiyuk came into the season with huge levels of hype and has failed to deliver so far. He is arguably one of the biggest busts of the season and has been droppable in redraft fantasy football leagues for some time. With that being said, Aiyuk looked promising last week against the Chicago Bears. He converted seven targets into four catches for 45 yards and had a beautiful connection with Jimmy Garoppolo for a two-point conversion. In Week 9, Aiyuk and the San Francisco 49ers take on the visiting Arizona Cardinals and look to continue their momentum after their victory in Chicago. Arizona allows 6.3 yards per team passing attempt on an average of 34 pass attempts per game, and opponents have thrown for 16 plays of 20+ yards  Aiyuk has all the talent he needs to succeed; his rookie season was absolutely incredible. If he uses that talent to capitalize on Week 8's performance and build some positive momentum, he is worth a stash at worst.

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams (8:20pm ET Sunday)

Who to add: Van Jefferson, Wide Receiver (Los Angeles Rams) [32% ESPN]

It is hard to not want exposure to the Rams offense. Luckily, for those not fortunate enough to draft Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson, or Matthew Stafford, there is now another opportunity.  Rostered in only 32% of ESPN leagues, Van Jefferson has put up four games of double-digit points this season and his opportunities could increase with the release of DeSean Jackson and the season-ending injury to Tutu Atwell. Jefferson is the clear third option on an explosive offense that loves to pass the ball, and in deeper formats, he is worth adding as a bye-week fill-in or bench stash. Expect Jefferson to get a lot of action on Sunday night, as the Tennesee Titans defense allows teams to throw 39.5 times per game for 6.8 yards per team pass attempt and 267.4 passing yards per game. Plus, with Tennessee losing Derrick Henry for the next 6-10 weeks, expect the Titans to throw more. This game could turn into a shootout and Van Jefferson could capitalize on that. He is averaging 13.8 PPR points per game in contests where he earns at least six targets.

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