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Fantasy Football Studs & Duds: Week 9

Here’s a look at the studs and duds of Week 9. We’ll look at one stud and one dud from each of the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to identify the best and worst at each position but to find players who had over- or underwhelming performances that warrant discussion.

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Stud: Drew Brees (NO)
25/36; 346 Yards; Four Touchdowns

This pick felt a little too obvious, but quarterbacks across the leagues didn’t provide many alternatives. The Rams defense is apparently lesser than the sum of its parts, where this amalgamation of big names has slowly morphed into one of the weaker units in the NFL. But that’s enough beating around the bush: Brees was fantastic, and showed just how lethal he can still by when passing is part of the game plan. There’s not much analysis to be found here: he’s a great QB on a team with elite offensive weapons and a mediocre defense. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will have weeks where they take all of the scoring duties, which is what keeps Brees out of the elite tier of fantasy quarterbacks, but he’ll get his due more often than not.

Dud: Matthew Stafford (DET)
25/36; 199 Yards

Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times in this game, which is almost unthinkable. Minnesota’s defense hasn’t been quite the same force this year in comparison to the previous couple of seasons, but they looked the part this week. Stafford undoubtedly misses Golden Tate, who was his most consistent weapon playing a position in the slot that the team isn’t capable of filling. Instead the Lions have two very good outside receivers, which is nice if the offensive line can buy them time to run those long routes, but alas we saw how that worked out. It seems ridiculous to wonder whether the loss of one receiver is the difference in viability for a quarterback, but for a player on the fringe like Stafford, it just might be the case. He’s matchup-dependent at best, but next week the team ventures into Soldier Field to play the Bears, which is not ideal.

Running Back

Stud: Jordan Howard (CHI)
14 Carries for 47 Yards; Two Touchdowns

If he couldn’t make it work in this one, he was never going to get it done. But he did, so there’s still hope for Jordan Howard. Coach Matt Nagy was heard promising Howard more involvement, and it looks like he followed through. He didn’t look all that impressive outside of a few spots here and there, and he looked most comfortable when running straight downhill. Chicago is presenting the best team they’ve had in years, but it’s not good enough that they’ll be in so many game like these where they can afford to take it easy and keep Howard happy. Sell high if at all possible.

Dud: Kenyan Drake (MIA)
Three Carries for Nine Yards; Four Receptions for 26 Yards

Drake hasn’t been getting the volume to justify the optimism surrounding his recent surge of fantasy production, but nobody’s expectations should have been this low. Maybe it’s wrong to question the team after walking away with the win, but the strategy of running Frank Gore 20 times for 53 yards seems questionable. Drake is infinitely more explosive than Gore, especially at this point in their respective careers, but there’s something about Drake that the Dolphins don’t feel comfortable with that’s keeping him off of the field. This is one those moments where, as fantasy players, even if we think we know better (and we might), we have to accept that the team is set in its ways and unlikely to make the change at this point.

Wide Receiver

Stud: Keenan Allen (LAC)
Six Receptions for 124 Yards; Two Rushes for 28 Yards

Allen didn’t win anybody their week, but this was an encouraging resurgence for one of the league’s premier talents at receiver. Remember last year that Allen was being called a bust until he exploded in the second half of the season. It’s too early to say whether the same is on the way for the 2018 season, but it really does look like Allen has resumed his place as the team’s undisputed top receiver. First Mike Williams and then Tyrell Williams had their moments through these first eight games, but both have regressed drastically while Allen has remained a consistent lock for at least 60 yards, and with so much volume the touchdowns are bound to come eventually.

Dud: Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Three Receptions for 57 Yards

It sucks to move a player like Demaryius Thomas, who has spent all nine seasons as a star for one team. But the Broncos were right to recognize that he wasn’t living up to his contract, and they think they have a guy who’s ready to step into that role. Courtland Sutton did what he could with the opportunity he was given, but five targets aren’t enough against a vulnerable secondary like this one. Case Keenum has been bad, sure, but the Texans are so blatantly weak against the pass that you have to second guess the Broncos handing the ball off 20 times for fewer than four yards per carry. Vance Joseph doesn’t have many fans, especially in Denver, and it’s difficult to say whether this staff is capable of making the proper adjustments to get Sutton more involved. With the Broncos heading into their bye week, this is a great time to make an offer for the rookie, who should at least have a strong floor going forward.

Tight End

Stud: Greg Olsen (CAR)
Six Receptions for 76 Yards; One Touchdown

Greg Olsen missed most of last year with a broken foot, so when he returned to the sideline earlier this year with an injury in the same spot one had to start speculating what his future would hold in this league. But as soon as he found the field once more he began to produce just like the old days, and Sunday capped off what’s been an eye-opening comeback season for Olsen. He’s found the end zone in three consecutive weeks, and posted no fewer than four receptions and 40 yards in three of the last four games since returning to action. He’s not going to be breaking any records, but Olsen is once again a reliable option in a barren wasteland.

Dud: Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
Two Receptions for 28 Yards

For those of us with no skin in the game, the absence of Stefon Diggs proved to be a fascinating case study into what exactly he contributes to this offense, and what it can look like without him. And for those of us who have felt that Diggs’ value to this team extends far beyond his stats, this was vindicating. The Lions defense hasn’t exactly been keeping play callers up at night, but they turned Cousins, one of the league’s leading passers, into an ultra-conservative shell of himself. Adam Thielen had his first bad game of the season, and Kyle Rudolph, who by all accounts should have been next in line for targets, barely did anything at all. Rudolph has fit the very definition of a high-floor, low-ceiling fantasy asset, but relative to Cousins’ success Rudolph has been disappointing.

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Shane McCormack is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @ShaneMcCormack_.