5 Burning Questions: Week 9 (2019 Fantasy Football)
Last week the 49ers dropped 51 on the Panthers and outscored them by 38, but Christian McCaffrey is still on pace to score more fantasy points than anyone ever outside of Ladanian Tomlinson’s 2006 season. The Saints picked up right where they left off with Drew Brees back in the lineup and Michael Thomas is on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season reception record. And then the Dolphins won a first half for the first time this season. Here are my five burning questions going into Week 9.
Who is the back to own on the Chargers?
Since Melvin Gordon’s holdout ended and he played his first game in Week 5, he sits as the RB34 in half PPR in those four games. Austin Ekeler, on the other hand, is the RB14 in the same span of games. Gordon has simply not gotten anything going on the ground. After his first two games back, he said it was a matter of volume, and that if he got a larger workload he’d be able to get into a groove, but after those comments, he received 16 carries and three targets and totaled just 29 yards on them against the Titans.
Gordon is averaging a 53.7% snap share since his return, as it’s clear the Chargers still want to lean largely on Ekeler for passing downs. Ekeler’s work as a receiver has not taken a hit since Gordon’s return. In four games without Gordon, he had 24 catches on 25 targets for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and in the four games since Gordon’s return, he’s had 27 catches on 31 targets for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon hasn’t surpassed 32 rushing yards in any game since he’s been back, and the Chargers clearly favor Ekeler in the passing game so, at this point, I believe Ekeler to be the safer play going forward.
Can you start anyone on the Ravens against the Patriots defense?
The Patriots defense has given up exactly zero top-12 quarterback performances and zero top-24 running back performances in fantasy this season. Now, they’ve played the Steelers, Browns, Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Redskins, and Giants, but that’s still a daunting stat to see if Lamar Jackson and/or Mark Ingram are part of your weekly starting lineup.
The Ravens will be by far the toughest offense the Patriots have faced as they rank second in both yards and points scored, while the seven other teams the Patriots have faced don’t rank in the top-18 in either category. Lamar Jackson as of late hasn’t been the passer he was to start the season though, he’s only thrown one touchdown and three interceptions over his last three games He’s still been lethal on the ground with 338 rushing yards and two scores, and no team has been able to shut him down completely. Jackson’s dual-threat gives me enough confidence to leave him in my lineup, but I would only start Ingram in an emergency.
Is Jameis Winston’s job on the line?
Since they came into the league together as the first two picks of the 2015 NFL draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have been compared to one another. Two weeks again, Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill, could a similar fate be in store for Winston if he doesn’t pick things up?
Winston’s quarterback play has been all over the place this season. His quarterback rating has either been higher than 103.4 or lower than 68.1. Over his past two games though, both losses, he’s thrown seven interceptions and only three touchdowns, and you need to figure that if he puts up another multi-interception game in a losing effort, the Bucs may send him to the bench. Seattle’s defense only ranks 20th and 22nd in points and yards given up and then he gets the Cardinals next week. If he can’t produce against those teams, his season may end early.
Where is the Eagles passing game? And can they find it against the Bears?
Going into the season, the Eagles looked like they had a top-5 receiving corps. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert, not to mention the electric dual-threat rookie running back, Miles Sanders, who they took in the second round. Things haven’t gone as planned. Jackson got injured in Week 1 and hasn’t played since, and the rest of the offense just isn’t as potent as we expected them to be. Carson Wentz has only topped 200 passing yards one time in his last five games, though he has thrown at least one touchdown in each of them, he’s only had four multi-touchdown games this season.
The Bears’ defense is not who you want to face when your offense is already slumping, though they have been a bit more vulnerable lately. Despite the Raiders and the Saints running all over them for 169 and 151 rushing yards respectively, the Bears have not allowed a 300+ yard passer this season and have only given up seven passing touchdowns, sixth-fewest in the league. I don’t see Carson Wentz breaking out this Sunday with a huge performance.
Does Davante Adams’ return give the Packers the edge in the NFC?
The last time we saw Davante Adams, he was putting up 180 receiving yards on 10 catches against the Eagles, and finally having his breakout game of the season. He’s been out for the past four weeks with turf toe, but the Packers have really heated up despite him not being in the lineup. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 10 touchdowns to just one interception over the past three games and now he gets his favorite weapon back?
The NFC is an extremely strong conference this season, and we can’t just put the Packers on top of the 49ers and the Saints, but they’ve put up an average of 32.5 points over the past four weeks and they haven’t even been healthy. The defense is also a big part of the Packers’ success. They rank inside the top-12 in terms of points given up, and that’s a boost that the Packers haven’t had since at least 2015. While they’re clearly in the top tier of NFC teams, I think it would be disrespectful to list them above the 49ers just yet, despite the return of Adams. We’ll get to see them go head to head in Week 12, however, and that should give us a better understanding of which team is stronger.