Fantasy football owners have slept on Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr far too long this season, and that figures to change drastically in the second half of the 2015 season. Prior to his stellar four-touchdown performance in Week 8, Carr received a miniscule $100 bump to $6,800 on FanDuel and his DraftKings salary stayed flat at $5,300, according to FantasyPros.com.
But the 24-year-old Carr, who appears well his way to shatter his rookie numbers with 1,793 yards, and 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions in seven games this season, won’t be such a bargain for weekly fantasy league players from here on out as he makes his first appearance on our rankings ahead of Week 9.
There were early signs that Carr was about to take off this season when he torched Baltimore and Cleveland with back-to-back 300-plus yard games and five touchdowns to one pick, but neither of those defenses were a good enough litmus test for fantasy purposes.
However, in Week 8, Carr decimated the Jets loaded secondary for 333 yards and four scores, and if we sparse his matchups for the rest of the season the former second-round pick could be ready to join the upper echelon of fantasy quarterbacks.
Here’s what kind of coverage Carr will face in the final nine weeks of the regular season, including each squad’s pass defense and fantasy ranking against opposing quarterbacks: at Pittsburgh (No. 28 against the pass, No. 19 in fantasy), Minnesota (No. 7, No. 9), at Detroit (No. 23, No. 25), at Tennessee (No. 3, No. 12), Kansas City (No. 24, No. 20) at Denver (No. 1, No. 1), Green Bay (No. 14, No. 14 ), San Diego (No. 21, No. 16), and lastly at Kansas City.
Those rankings could of course shift around, but as of right now Carr has excellent matchups in six of his last nine games, including Week 9 against the Steelers.
As such Carr has made the short list of five quarterbacks to consider starting in your weekly fantasy leagues, and here’s our full breakdown of players to target in Week 9, broken down by position and their favorable matchups.
Week 9 byes: Arizona, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle
Key players on byes: Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals; Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals; Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals; Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens; Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens; Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions; DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans; Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs; Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks; Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks; Seattle D/ST, Arizona D/ST
1.Tom Brady, Patriots
2.Phillip Rivers, Chargers
3.Matt Ryan, Falcons
4.Derek Carr, Raiders
5.Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Have to feel bad for league-leading passer Rivers, but he moves up three spots to No. 2 due to an intriguing Monday night matchup with a Chicago secondary allowing the fifth-most points to quarterbacks. Ryan’s turnover woes, five picks and three fumbles lost in the last four games are draining, but Julio Jones’ presence keeps him high for now. Rodgers clings to the top five and isn't higher because the Panthers secondary is really that good and he looked mortal against Denver in Week 8.
1.Todd Gurley, Rams
2.Devonta Freeman, Falcons
3.Doug Martin, Buccaneers
4.LeGarrette Blount, Patriots
5.Jeremy Hill, Bengals
A new running back king has emerged as Gurley wipes Adrian Peterson off the rankings, and moves Freeman down one. Though Gurley draws a Vikings D that’s allowed 560 total rushing yards and only three scores, so owners should tread lightly and maybe go with Freeman. Martin and Blount will try to make up for the loss of Le’Veon Bell, but no one really can.
1.Julio Jones, Falcons
2.Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
3.Alshon Jeffery, Bears
4.Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
5.Antonio Brown, Steelers
Jeffery makes the rankings in consecutive weeks for the first time this season, and if Denver continues to run the ball like they did in Week 8 then Thomas should explode versus a Colts D that allowed the seventh-most points on average to opposing receivers prior to Week 8. Brown will move up in the coming weeks once Roethlisberger gets his legs back.
1.Greg Olsen, Panthers
2.Benjamin Watson, Saints
3.Delanie Walker, Titans
4.Martellus Bennett, Bears
5.Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Gronk slips to five, but only because he lines up against a Redskins D that’s allowed 5.1 points per week to tight ends. Watson’s a potentially clever play now that Drew Brees looks like himself again, and due to the matchup with a Titans D that’s allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season. Bennett, like Jeffrey, should benefit from more targets after Matt Forte’s injury.
1.Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
2.Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots
3.Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
4.Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
5.Jared Cooks, TE, Rams
Who better to have at the FLEX than Carr’s running mate Cooper? The Steelers have done better against receivers than quarterbacks this year, but the rookie’s quickly become one of the 10 to 15 best pass-catchers in the league. And it might seem impossible, but Bryant will overcome Matt Cassel and torch a poor Eagles secondary allowing 24.6 points per week to opposing receivers, according to ESPN.
When you stifle Rodgers the way the Broncos did, then you’ll probably stay No. 1 for at least the next few weeks. Meanwhile, the Jets should bounce back against Jacksonville, though Blake Bortles has made almost as many strides as Carr so consider getting on the Dolphins D bandwagon again. Miami gets the extremely limited Bills offense in Week 9. Also, St. Louis might have trouble against Adrian Peterson but it should still wrap up the rest of the Vikings offense.