Week 9 Fantasy Flames: Williams, Langford immediate must-starts in expanded roles



Every Wednesday the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 13 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts). If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 9 Flames in the comments section below.

Derek Carr, Oak, QB (15 percent started, $34 in Yahoo Daily)
Matchup: at Pit
Unlike his GQ brother, David, younger Carr A) Possesses a functional internal clock, B) Throws the ball accurately and on time and C) Is a generally more competent NFL quarterback. Budding before owner eyes, the Raiders signal caller has exhibited a fiery hand. Week 8's 333-yard, 4-TD thrashing of the Jets included, he's tossed at least two touchdowns in five of his last six games. Remove his injury-shortened Week 1 and he ranks No. 8 among passers in per game average, ahead of such marquee names as Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. Well-protected behind a better-than-advertised Oakland offensive line, he's been sacked just 13.1 percent the time. He's also posted the fifth-best QB rating in play-action scenarios. Blessed with a pair of excellent receivers, Amari Cooper and a reborn Michael Crabtree, and reliable ground game spearheaded by Latavius Murray, he should continue to deliver top-level lines, particularly this week. A shootout of fantastical proportions is brewing in Pittsburgh. Count on Oakland's overly generous secondary being bombarded early and often by Ben Roethlisberger. That happens and Carr is sure to chuck it some 40-plus times. Considering the Steelers' very average secondary – Antwon Blake and William Gay combined have allowed a 68.2 catch percentage – he's sure to crack the QB top-10 once again. Whether DFS or season-long, bet on black.

Fearless Forecast: 288 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 22.5 fantasy points

DeAngelo Williams, Pit, RB (25 percent started, $23)
Matchup: vs. Oak
Reeling from the Le'Veon Bell loss, owners across Fantasyland are scurrying to find suitable replacements. If you were lucky enough to score Williams off waivers, plug him in immediately. The veteran was nothing short of magnificent while Bell served his two-game suspension earlier this year. Against the Pats and Niners he averaged 4.98 yards per carry, totaled 224 yards and scored three touchdowns. His secondary numbers are equally spectacular. He's forced missed tackles on 14.2 percent of his rush attempts and gained 58.3 percent of his yards after initial contact. Expected to shoulder a vigorous workload, Williams will exude the multidimensional rusher he once was during his collegiate days at Memphis operating as a heavily featured rusher/receiver. Roughly 20-25 touches per game moving forward are entirely likely. The Raiders' defense has tightened considerably under Jack Del Rio's direction. No longer patsies in the trenches, Oakland has conceded just 3.56 yards per carry to RBs this year. In fact only Danny Woodhead, Matt Forte and Jeremy Hill have notched 'Flame' worthy numbers against it. Still, Pittsburgh's big bellies rank No. 7 in run-blocking and should control the line of scrimmage. In a game that likely surpasses 50 combined points, Williams is a top-10 play, at a minimum, and another reason why 2015 is The Year of the Old Dude.

Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 98 rushing yards, three receptions, 15 receiving yards, 1 touchdowns, 19.3 fantasy points

Melvin Gordon, SD, RB (37 percent started, $15)
Matchup: vs. Chi
Not long ago, numerous superlatives were attached to the rookie. His speed-skater glide, burst and deceptive power were expected to yield bountiful fantasy fruits. Sadly, though, the Wisconsin product, like so many former Badger backs before him, has failed to ripen. In eight games he's yet to reach 90-yards on the ground and, most disappointingly, hasn't found the end-zone. Woodhead, who continues to be featured inside the red-zone, has crushed Gordon's net worth. But the scale may finally tilt in the youngster's favor on Monday. The Mice of the Midway are once again a punchline defensively. To be fair, they've improved measurably in run defense compared to last year, but remain largely vulnerable. RBs are averaging 102.3 rush yards per game against them, the 10th-highest mark in the league. Gordon, off a season-best 23 touches in Baltimore, is about to break through. The San Diego offensive line is being held together with Bubble YUM! and duct tape, but the rusher's underlying stats paint a rosy picture. Keep in mind he's gained 61.8 percent of his yards after contact and is seeing more opportunities at the goal-line and in the pass game. Because Philip Rivers is bound to set him up with several light fronts and goal-to-go situations, this is the week it all comes together.

Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 78 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.2 fantasy points

Jeremy Langford, Chi, RB (10 percent started, $14)
Matchup: at SD
Substitute one former Michigan St. star for another. That's what millions of owners will do in Week 9. Now that Le'Veon's 2015 value has faded to black and with Matt Forte out for at least the next two weeks with a MCL injury of unknown severity, the rookie is the ideal consolation prize for owners who swung and missed on acquiring DeAngelo off waivers. Unlike his Spartan predecessor, Langford isn't a defender-dragging monster. His balance and lateral agility are plus qualities, but as his 50.0 YAC% and 3.0 yards per carry indicate, he rarely moves the pile on 'gut' runs. Still, he shredded defenses in two years as the starer in college totaling 2,944 combined yards, 40 TDs and 5.1 yards per carry. He's flashed some potential this year (12 carries, 46 yards Week 8 vs. Min) and has displayed a nose for the goal-line cashing in on two of four goal-line opportunities. He's also performed decently as a receiver/pass-blocker, which bodes well for him carrying the mail even if the Bears decide to kick the tires on rumored acquisition Montee Ball or work Ka'Deem Carey into the flow. At this point, it's likely Langford grips the pigskin at least 15-20 times in an ultra-friendly matchup at San Diego. The Chargers, overly hospitable to rushers, have allowed an opposing rusher to finish top-10 in seven of eight games. Overall, they've given up 5.17 yards per carry, 172.5 total yards per game and 10 touchdowns to the position, good for the second-most fantasy points surrendered. Possibly down top run defender Corey Liuget, they're even more vulnerable. With so many backfields brutalized, the rookie has to be considered a borderline RB1 on the road.

Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 74 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.0 fantasy points

[Week 9 rankings: Quarterback | Running Back | Receiver | Flex | Tight End | All Positions]

Brandon LaFell, NE, WR (23 percent started, $18)
Matchup: vs. Was
Six drops in two games. LaFell is in desperate need of a hands transplant. If only he could find a suitable donor. Steve Smith? All jabs aside, his extended layoff is presumably responsible for the lapses in concentration. On IR for the season's first several weeks, he accumulated a thick layer of rust. However with two games under his belt, now is the time to again trust LaFell. Recall last year he was the No. 27 wide receiver in Yahoo leagues chipping in nearly nine fantasy points per game. Enticing 15 targets over the past two weeks, he certainly has the faith of Tom Brady despite the mistakes. Likely to see plenty of favorable coverages with defenses focused on Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, his value will only rise. Washington ranks inside the top-third in fantasy points yielded to WRs. In total, eight receivers have eclipsed 10 fantasy points against it. Unless Darrell Green comes out of retirement to assist Bashaud Breeland, LaFell tortures Will Blackmon (19.3 yards per catch allowed). Don't fret about the slow start. LaFell is a trustworthy WR2 in 12-teamers this week.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.1 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10 percent started)

Kirk Cousins, Wash, QB (1 percent started, $30)
Matchup: at NE
Every time Cousins dunks on a NERF hoop I can only imagine he's overly enthusiastic. Presumably still riding high from Washington's improbable comeback in Tampa two weeks ago, Captain Kirk and his Redskins are about to do battle with the Lizard Men of the NFL. Except this enemy is a bit more nimble, fast-moving. Evidenced in the 14-point spread, New England is about to lay waste to Washington. The tough home environment and Washington's largely marginal secondary arrows to a massive deficit, roughly 5,000 points, by halftime. Even the loyalest fan will voluntarily choose to clean out the cat's litter box than watch another minute, but, those with fantasy interests better stay glued. Cousins will clean up in garbage time. Five passers in seven games have scored at least 20 fantasy points against the Pats. Overall, they've surrendered 275.1 passing yards and 1.6 pass TDs per game. Yes, watching Cousins doesn't scream 'excitement.' After all, he's completed only five passes beyond 20 yards the entire year. But because of the matchup, he's a strong Garbage-Time All-Star candidate, especially with DeSean Jackson slated to return. Ryan Fitzpatrick or bye-week impacted owners desperately seeking a QB should give him a long look.  

Fearless Forecast: 286 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 18.4 fantasy points




Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader Record: 23-36

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