It happens practically every week. There are players who virtually nobody owns in fantasy, yet they proceed to surprise everyone and finish at or near the top of their respective positions in points. Week 9 fantasy football is no different. So far, we’ve had a few repeat performances as players with low ownership rates who scored big still received no love on the waiver wire and subsequently scored big once again. This week, a certain veteran journeyman quarterback fulfills that role.
In fact, the game he played in figures prominently in this column despite it being a veritable pillow fight. Naturally, a contest between a team that many are accusing of tanking and another that’s just plain awful isn’t going to garner much action from a fantasy standpoint. But quite a few players put up impressive numbers. As a result, this week’s group of surprise sensations come almost exclusively from that rather meaningless matchup between AFC East foes that took place in South Florida on Sunday.
Note: all ownership rate numbers are based on data from Yahoo Sports leagues.
Week 9 Fantasy Football Surprise Sensations
Let’s be honest. Players don’t tank. We’re talking about uber-competitive professional athletes who don’t like to lose at anything. It’s ownership and management who make the decision to try and field an inferior product in order to improve their chances of getting the top overall pick in the following year’s draft. So on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins squelched the idea they were heading for an 0-16 season with a rather convincing victory over the New York Jets.
Fitzpatrick ostensibly played his part. The 36-year-old veteran made our list in Week 7 when he finished seventh among quarterbacks in fantasy points despite a three percent ownership rate. That number doubled to six percent heading into Week 9. But it’s still rather minuscule. So a 20+ point performance certainly qualifies him for inclusion here. He ended up totaling 23.72 points in Sunday’s 26-18 win over the Jets which was the sixth-best effort among signal-callers in Week 9. In the end, though, the perception of the Dolphins means that most fantasy owners will continue to be reticent to add Fitz to their roster.
On a side note, a big congrats to Brian Flores on winning his first game as an NFL head coach. His story on how he got to this point is really inspiring and it’s definitely worth exploring. But, obviously, it’s beyond the scope of this article to delve into it.
It probably didn’t come as a surprise that the Dolphins were going to rely heavily on their passing game given the thinness of the running back corps in the wake of trading Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals. Add in the Jets struggles defending the pass and there was much to suggest Flores’ game-plan would involve airing it out quite a bit. It led to a big game from Fitzpatrick and arguably a bigger one from Williams. The undrafted rookie out of Colorado State saw a team-high nine targets and finished with 72 receiving yards and two touchdowns. 14 percent of owners in Yahoo leagues had him on their roster, so some probably benefited from his 24.20 PPR points which were tied for sixth-best among wideouts. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s game so he won’t be able to build upon such a successful outing this year.
There are times when the players who come out of nowhere in fantasy siphon away production from the household names. That didn’t happen in the case of Hollister. It was a function of Russell Wilson having one of the best games of his career (and that’s saying something). He finished with five touchdown passes in the Seattle Seahawks 40-34 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two went to Tyler Lockett and another went to rookie D.K. Metcalf, both of whom are pretty widely owned in Yahoo leagues. But the other two went to Hollister whose ownership rate was a big fat zero percent. It led to him scoring 19.70 PPR points which were bested by only three tight ends this week.
He certainly stands to benefit from Will Dissly‘s season-ending Achilles injury. But he’s a risky add in Week 10 as the Seahawks face the undefeated San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. San Fran is allowing the fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Buyer beware.
For the second straight week, we’re not including running backs as most of the usual suspects did their thing (Christian McCaffrey, anyone?). We featured a tandem of wide receivers after Week 8’s games and this time around, the focus shifts to the bigger pass-catchers. Hollister obviously deserved mention considering nobody owned him in Yahoo Leagues. But Gesicki’s ownership rate wasn’t much higher at four percent. And though he didn’t find the end zone against the Jets, he caught a team-high six passes for 95 yards which gave him the fifth-most PPR fantasy points among tight ends in Week 9. The second-year man out of Penn State turned heads mightily at the 2018 Combine. But he had a relatively quiet rookie year. Though the tank fest is still on despite Sunday’s win, Dolphins fans are hoping Gesicki can build on this performance moving forward.
From one Penn State alum to another. 2019’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Ficken. He signed a reserve/futures contract with the Seahawks in January but was waived three months later. The Green Bay Packers subsequently claimed him off waivers but he didn’t survive final roster cuts at the conclusion of the preseason. Then the Jets came calling in the wake of them releasing Kaare Vedvik after he missed an extra point and a field goal in their 17-16 Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills. They ultimately signed him after working out multiple kickers ahead of their next game.
Since then, Ficken’s contributions have been relatively minimal. But that’s more a function of the Jets’ anemic offense. Coming into Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins, Ficken attempted just three field goals in five appearances. That number more than doubled in Week 9 as he saw four attempts, making three of them including a long of 52 yards. It resulted in him finishing with 13 fantasy points which were tied for fifth-best among kickers. It didn’t help anyone in Yahoo leagues given his ownership rate of zero percent. He might be worth considering in Week 10 if you’re feeling bold and looking to stream a kicker. The Jets take on their fellow MetLife Stadium tenant the New York Giants who are giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers.
Miami Dolphins Defense
For the most part, this column is a synopsis of Dolphins players with low ownership rates who surprised to the upside in fantasy. So it’s only fitting we close out with their defense. It really doesn’t come as a shock that only one percent of players in Yahoo leagues rostered them. Even if they were playing the tire fire that is the Jets, they did come into the game with an 0-7 record. That clearly doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence among fantasy owners. And though they finished the game with just eight points, that was tied for the sixth-best mark among defense/special teams in Week 9 fantasy football. It was also double their previous best of four against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Still, it’s safe to say there won’t be a feeding frenzy on the waiver wire given the perceptions surrounding the Fins in 2019.