Fantasy Football Recap and Takeaways: Week 9
Not hindered enough by six teams – including the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers – having a Week 9 bye? The slate suffered deeper cuts with Zach Ertz and Leonard Fournette labeled last-minute scratches on Sunday morning, two days after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice.
Most gamers were forced to dive deep into the waiver wire for a desperate spot start. It worked out well for those who turned to the likes of Jared Goff, Jacoby Brissett, Matt Forte, Damien Williams, Marqise Lee, and Robert Woods.
Although a busy trade deadline changed the fantasy landscape, everyone must wait to witness those alterations’ full impact. Let’s break down every Week 9 game and analyze the most notable outcomes.
New York Jets 34, Buffalo Bills 21
- Like everyone expected, LeSean McCoy was the game’s fifth-leading rusher. His 25 yards finished behind Forte (77), Bilal Powell (74), Tyrod Taylor (35), and Elijah McGuire (30). It was an unfortunate dud, but not a cause for panic following two sensational performances. Forte scored his first two touchdowns of 2017, and Powell broke off a 51-yard run to maximize his 15 snaps. A larger workload makes Forte a stronger flex option, especially in PPR leagues after securing 22 receptions in his last four games.
- McCoy’s struggles led Taylor to attempt 40 passes, his highest clip since Oct. 4, 2015. As a result, Deonte Thompson (seven), Jordan Matthews (six) and Zay Jones (six) all set season highs in catches. The best showing of his rookie season ended early when Jones suffered a knee injury. Buffalo will look entirely different in Week 10 with Kelvin Benjamin slated to make his team debut and Charles Clay aiming to return from a knee injury that has taken him out of commission since Week 5. Those additions boost Taylor’s stock but don’t count on many more pass-heavy game scripts.
- For the second time this season, Austin-Seferian Jenkins had a touchdown taken away by the officials. This time the tight end was called for offensive pass interference on the type of push-off that rarely draws a flag. He remains a borderline top-12 play despite averaging 31.6 yards per game. Having now found the end zone in each of the last three games, Robby Anderson belongs in Week 10 starting lineups when Gang Green faces the reeling Buccaneers.
Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Cincinnati Bengals 7
- At least managers weakened by injuries or byes had a chance to replace their starting stalwarts. Ejected for fighting Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Green set a season-low in receiving yards (six) for the third straight week. The star wideout’s actions should spur a Week 10 suspension. No Bengals pass catcher recorded more than four targets or two catches, but Tyler Kroft merits starting consideration against the Titans after hauling in a 59-yard pass from Andy Dalton.
- Lee instead highlighted this game with eight catches on 12 targets – no other Jaguars wide receiver had more than three catches or four targets – for 75 yards and Jacksonville’s only offensive touchdown. With 28 targets and 230 receiving yards over the last three games, Lee merits a starting nod in most leagues as Blake Bortles‘s go-to wideout in place of Allen Robinson.
- With Fournette a surprise scratch for violating team rules, Chris Ivory tallied 104 total yards (70 rushing, 34 receiving) on 23 touches. After scoring a 58-yard touchdown in his last game, T.J. Yeldon recorded 52 yards and lost a fumble. The rookie should return for an advantageous Week 10 matchup against the Chargers.
- Joe Mixon did not muster a run of over seven yards against a Jaguars defense that entered the game allowing 5.2 yards per carry. He did, however, take that longest rush into the end zone for his second career touchdown. Although the Titans are more vulnerable against the pass, Dalton could again struggle to move the ball without Green. The rookie is nothing more than an unexciting flex play while averaging a putrid 3.0 yards per run.
New Orleans Saints 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
- For the second time in four games, Jameis Winston left early due to a shoulder injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick was far less effective this time around, going 8-of-16 for 68 yards and a garbage-time touchdown to Luke Stocker. Mike Evans and Cameron Brate were not among the five Buccaneers who tied for a team-high two receptions. Evans, who had at least 60 yards in six of seven games with 49 yards in the holdover, finished with a 13-yard catch. Brate’s grab went for nine yards, and Doug Martin ran for seven yards in a blowout loss. The offense faltered with Winston last week, but it’s in big trouble if the 2-6 Buccaneers give him time to heal.
- Alvin Kamara seized the spotlight with 68 rushing yards, 84 receiving yards, and a touchdown on each front. The rookie has registered 518 total yards and four touchdowns over the last five games while averaging 13.8 touches. With plays like these, he has earned even more reps to give New Orleans another elite fantasy running back. Mark Ingram fell short of 100 yards for the first time since Week 4, but still converted 16 carries into 77 yards. He’s a worthwhile No. 1 RB if that represents his new floor.
- Willie Snead didn’t receive a single target, but he did muff a punt return. Ted Ginn Jr. remains New Orleans’s No. 2 wideout to Michael Thomas after securing four of five passes from Drew Brees for 59 yards and a touchdown. Traditionally a boom-or-bust dart throw with unsteady hands, he has a 77.8 percent catch rate (28-of-36) in 2017 and is averaging 83.5 receiving yards over the last four games. He’s earning trust as a viable weekly start.
Philadelphia Eagles 51, Denver Broncos 23
- Facing Denver’s NFL-best defense without Ertz, Carson Wentz notched four passing touchdowns for the third time in five games. The MVP candidate is finding a rhythm with Alshon Jeffery, who scored twice with his most receptions (six) and targets (11) since Week 2. The second-year passer should see some regression on his league-leading 23 touchdowns through the air, but he’s a top-five quarterback on a sizzling offense yet to score fewer than 20 points in a game this season. Lock Wentz and Jeffery into the starting lineup and never look back once they return from a Week 10 bye.
- Corey Clement spoiled Jay Ajayi‘s welcoming party by completing three of his 13 touches for touchdowns. The undrafted rookie accrued 105 of his career 182 yards in the last two games and has at least leapfrogged Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount on the totem pole. Yet Ajayi still celebrated his debut with a 46-yard touchdown run behind Philadelphia’s stellar offensive line. His role should increase after getting two weeks of preparation, but it’s not a bad idea to grab Clement as insurance. If he becomes the unquestioned top running back, the former Dolphin will quickly return to his preseason valuation of a low-end No. 1 RB.
- Denver’s offense has a problem. Brock Osweiler is not the answer. Filling in for Trevor Siemian, Peyton Manning’s old understudy completed half of his 38 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. At least Demaryius Thomas‘s investors enjoyed the transition, as he recorded eight catches for 70 yards and a touchdown on a dozen targets. New England has yielded 295.5 passing yards per game despite a recent resurgence, so keep Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the starting lineup. After all, poor quarterback play is nothing new for the duo.
- C.J. Anderson, on the other hand, is having a tougher time overcoming a sinking offense. Finishing with just 13 yards, he is averaging 55.2 yards per game without a single touchdown since Week 2. He’s also losing work to Devontae Booker, who accrued eight touches to the starter’s nine. Anderson is now a spotty matchup play.
Carolina Panthers 20, Atlanta Falcons 17
- In addition to extending his streak of games with at least five receptions to five, Christian McCaffrey ran for 66 yards on 15 carries. He had not exceeded 16 rushing yards or cradled more than eight handoffs in a game since Week 1’s 13-47 line. A stronger running presence was likely the result of Jonathan Stewart – who is averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season – losing two fumbles. Embodying a similar role throughout the second half would cement the rookie as a top-20 fantasy back in all formats. Dropping Stewart is probably overdue at this point.
- Playing without Benjamin, Cam Newton completed 13 passes to three different players. As expected, Devin Funchess proved the main benefactor with five catches for 86 yards on a team-high seven targets. Curtis Samuel‘s three catches and 23 yards both mark season bests, so monitor the unpolished rookie’s progress from the waiver wire. Newton threw for just 137 yards in his fourth 2017 game without a passing touchdown, but he submitted a season-high 86 rushing yards and dunked in his fourth score as a runner. While investors would appreciate a greater pocket impact, they’ll live with the tradeoff.
- Although Julio Jones delivered a season-high 118 yards, he also dropped a wide-open touchdown opportunity. This especially stings since the Falcons star remains stuck at one score this season and three in his last 16 regular-season games. Teammate Mohamed Sanu, meanwhile, fortified his value by scoring for the second straight week. There’s not much gamers can do but count on Jones catching the next deep pass with nobody in sight.
Los Angeles Rams 51, New York Giants 17
- This game pitted two quarterbacks on completely opposite trajectories. Goff needed just 22 pass attempts to accumulate 311 yards and four touchdowns, including a 67-yard bomb to Sammy Watkins and 52-yard pass to Woods on 3rd-and-33. He’s unlikely available, but anybody stashing him as a second quarterback should start him against the Texans unless he is backing up a stud. While Watkins finally offered proof of life, the deep score represented his only catch on two targets. Wielding 265 receiving yards and Sunday’s two scores over the last four games, Woods remains the superior option and a strong one at that for Week 10.
- Eli Manning, on the other hand, overthrew Sterling Shepard on a potential 75-yard touchdown and twice missed Tavarres King for what should have been the young wideout’s second touchdown of the game (and his career). He finished with 220 passing yards, two turnovers, and two touchdowns, one of which Manning can credit to a terrific catch in coverage by Evan Engram. Despite erratic quarterback play, Engram has blossomed into an elite fantasy tight end with 15 catches, 214 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. Shepard watched a major play sail beyond his reach, but he still caught five of nine targets for 70 yards. Both young pass catchers will continue to thrive with heavy targets shares without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Manning only merits streaming appeal because of a Week 10 matchup with the 49ers.
- Todd Gurley garnered 104 total yards and was tackled inches shy of his third touchdown. New York’s ineptitude ended his day early; Malcolm Brown ran for 57 yards on 15 garbage-time carries with the game well out of hand. The Rams rusher is still in the mix for fantasy MVP consideration. Orleans Darkwa started the day with a 24-yard run, but the Giants had to halt their run-heavy plan on the wrong side of a rout. Having registered 130 yards in Big Blue’s only win, he should have a huge Week 10 against San Francisco.
- The Giants have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in each of their last nine games. Keep George Kittle in mind as a Week 10 streamer.
Tennessee Titans 23, Baltimore Ravens 20
- Few players have short-circuited fantasy expectations more than Marcus Mariota. While he amounted two passing touchdowns – a big deal since he had just four on the season before Week 9 – the breakout candidate threw for just 218 passing yards. Even more concerning, he has 14 rushing yards over the last three games after tallying six against Baltimore. The third-year quarterback has not levied a top-12 position finish since Week 1. Mariota is a dicey play in upcoming AFC North matchups against the Bengals and Steelers, but the schedule then presents an opportunity for late-season redemption.
- DeMarco Murray played in 37 snaps to Derrick Henry‘s 19, per Pro Football Focus’s Nathan Jahnke. Yet he compiled just five more yards (41) than his younger counterpart on one more touch. Henry also fielded the carry that mattered most when punctuating a one-yard touchdown. For all the consternation over which Titans rusher has more value, the duo combined for 45 rushing yards against the NFL’s third-worst rushing defense entering Sunday.
- Here comes the Alex Collins breakout … nevermind. Javorius Allen played six more snaps and tied Benjamin Watson for a team-high seven catches. For just the second time this season, Collins averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per run with 43 yards on 13 carries. Danny Woodhead is nearing return, but he figures to sap Allen’s value while keeping Collins in the same timeshare that will only lead to occasional worthwhile weeks. A healthy Woodhead would make for a PPR stud in a Ravens offense dependent on check downs.
Indianapolis Colts 20, Houston Texans 14
- To nobody’s surprise, Houston’s offense collapsed without Watson. Tom Savage completed just 19 of 44 passes for 219 yards and the first passing touchdown of his career. Yet DeAndre Hopkins did not suffer without the star rookie quarterback, catching eight of 16 targets for 86 yards and a score. It remains to be seen how he fares against a difficult opponent – Houston faces Jacksonville and Pittsburgh during the pivotal Weeks 15 and 16 – with a subpar passer, but the receiver has not lost his superstar billing just yet.
- The same can’t be said for Will Fuller, who finished with two catches and 32 yards in his first 2017 game without a touchdown. There’s no margin of error for someone who feasts entirely on big shots downfield, and Savage certainly does not possess Watson’s arm strength. Don’t feel obligated to start him against the Rams.
- Given a great matchup, Brissett validated his streamer appeal with 308 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to T.Y. Hilton. Thank him for capitalizing on the matchup. Then drop him. Starting with the Steelers in Week 10, four of Indianapolis’s next six games come against top-six passing defenses through Week 8. Hilton has cleared 150 yards three times but totaled 197 yards in the other six contests. His sky-high ceiling should keep him in starting lineups despite inconsistency concerns.
Arizona Cardinals 20, San Francisco 49ers 10
- No David Johnson and no Carson Palmer meant 37 rushes from Adrian Peterson, who converted the overflowing volume into a week-high 159 rushing yards. Nobody else reached 100. Having given him 77 touches in three games, the Cardinals clearly plan on giving Peterson a full workload when able. That’s feasible when playing the winless 49ers, but Drew Stanton won’t sustain such a profitable game script against the Seahawks. As apparent by his 33 yards in a 33-0 Week 7 loss to the Rams, Peterson’s stock will tumble when Arizona has to play from behind, which will occur often down the stretch. He’s more of a decent No. 2 RB in any other matchup.
- Larry Fitzgerald also maintained respectability with five catches for 70 yards – moving to six on the all-time receiving yards leaderboard – in his first full game of 2017 without Palmer. While the same concerns apply for Stanton moving the ball against a decent defense, the veteran wideout could conversely benefit from garbage-time stats in upcoming weeks. Jaron Brown scored on his only catch while John Brown‘s lone grab went for 52 yards, but they were hit-and-miss options before losing Palmer. Fitzgerald remains a solid choice but is no longer a locked-in starter.
- With Pierre Garcon out for the season, C.J. Beathard attempted 51 passes. No wide receiver reeled in more than two catches. Carlos Hyde instead controlled nine of 11 targets for 84 yards, an encouraging sign after Matt Breida had a busier Week 8 as a pass catcher. One of Marquise Goodwin‘s two grabs went for 55 yards, so he’s a lottery ticket Week 10 play against the disastrous Giants. Hyde, however, is the only 49ers player to start with confidence.
Dallas Cowboys 28, Kansas City Chiefs 17
- After amassing fewer than 100 yards for the first time last Monday night, Kareem Hunt set a new career low with 61 yards on 13 touches. He has 49 touches in Kansas City’s last three losses, which is particularly frustrating since none were blowouts. The rookie wasn’t going to play like peak Priest Holmes forever, but he should return recharged from a Week 10 bye with a golden rebound opportunity against the Giants.
- The entire Chiefs offense outside of Travis Kelce (7-73 and a TD) would have disappointed if not for Tyreek Hill turning a last-second dump-off into an improbable 56-yard touchdown. Finishing with two catches for the second straight week on a season-low four targets, he looked more like last year’s rookie who relied on big plays. Alex Smith, who coughed up his first interception of the season, needed that break to avoid another boring game that has typified the quarterback’s career. Perhaps regression to the mean was inevitable, but Hill and Smith also must stay in starting lineups when Kansas City returns from its off week.
- From Weeks 2-8, Terrance Williams had 15 catches for 148 yards. Against the Chiefs, he corralled all nine targets for 141 yards. Those looks came at the expense of Jason Witten, whose only catch (and target) went for five yards. Williams hasn’t scored a touchdown this season and has topped 100 yards two more times in 71 games, so treat his breakout as a one-off outlier unless he strings together more results. Witten has now disappeared with one catch below 10 yards in three games this season, so starting the rocksteady tight end is now a remarkably risky endeavor.
Washington Redskins 17, Seattle Seahawks 14
- Kirk Cousins led Washington to victory with a strong fourth-quarter drive. Fantasy investors can’t relate, as Rob Kelley absorbed both of the team’s touchdowns despite compiling 18 yards on 14 carries. It was Cousins’s first game without a touchdown this season and his third since the start of 2015, but he still averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt against the Legion of Boom without Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed. Kelley, meanwhile, has 76 yards (with no rush greater than 12 yards) on 36 carries in his last four games. He’s nothing more than a goal-line vulture while Cousins remains a viable starter in a difficult Week 10 bout against Minnesota.
- Some fantasy investors would prefer Week 8’s one catch for a one-yard touchdown, but it’s far more encouraging to see Josh Doctson deliver a season-high 59 yards on three catches. Vernon Davis once again shined with Reed inactive, posting a team-high six catches, nine targets, and 72 yards. Washington’s second tight end is a top-10 play when Reed doesn’t play. Doctson still carries interesting upside, even if it would have been nice to see him fully exploit the opportunity as Washington’s top healthy wideout.
- Buoyed by left tackle Duane Brown’s arrival, the Seahawks ran for 149 yards. Russell Wilson produced 77 of them. Still, Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy combining for 104 yards (45 receiving) marks a demonstrative improvement from Week 8’s minus-one yard. Yet it’s not enough to trust any Seattle running back. Wilson surpassed 40 pass attempts for the second straight week, yielding the No. 5 QB finish despite tossing two picks. He’s a fantasy star alongside Doug Baldwin, who now boasts double-digit targets in three consecutive contests.
- Not a great week for any fantasy teams named “The Blair Walsh Project.” The Seahawks kicker missed three field goals – all wide left – in a three-point loss. He previously had missed just one attempt all season. Kickers are weird.
Oakland Raiders 27, Miami Dolphins 24
- Back from a one-game suspension, Marshawn Lynch enjoyed his first two-touchdown game since Dec. 21, 2014. He also broke off a 22-yard run, his first rush over 15 yards since coming out of retirement. One big game doesn’t erase weeks of mediocrity, but it creates breathing room from Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. A Week 10 bye gives the 31-year-old another weekend to recharge before facing the Patriots in Mexico City, where he’ll make a low-end No. 2 RB or flex play.
- Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree combined for seven catches and 98 yards. Jared Cook deposited eight catches for 126 yards. No other tight end hit the century mark in Week 9. Cook has done it twice in the last three weeks, a stretch during which he has 290 yards but no touchdowns. Derek Carr, who has reached 300 passing yards in all three of those bouts, is leaning on his tight end while the wideouts struggle with drops. He has teased fantasy players in the past, but Cook finally looks like a stable starting tight end.
- Miami’s offense operated much differently without Ajayi. A returning Jay Cutler completed six passes each to Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, who respectively recorded 104 and 61 total yards. The Dolphins quarterback went 34 of 42 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, but he seldom looked deep until a last-ditch drive late in the fourth quarter. Although Williams scored an impressive touchdown and Drake fumbled, the latter is the better add – but both should be owned – and a flex play with more opportunity and ability as a rusher.
- A dink-and-dunk offense appeared less fruitful for DeVante Parker, who played his first game since Week 5. Then a spectacular one-hand grab padded his line to 76 yards on five receptions and eight targets. After successfully resuming his breakout bid on Sunday night, the third-year receiver has 18 catches, 28 targets, and 306 receiving yards in the four games he has completed. Even if gamers must wait until the fourth quarter, a healthy Parker will keep making big plays and emerge as a top-20 wideout with a higher ceiling.