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Target Analysis: Week 9 (2020 Fantasy Football)

Nov 11, 2020

We’ve seen it time and time again. Volume is the clearest indicator of fantasy success, as it’s rare for a player to be a fantasy football stud without the opportunity to convert touches into points. Pass-catching opportunities, especially in PPR leagues, are often a bigger determinant of fantasy success than a player’s talent or circumstances.

So, every week of this fantasy season, I will diagnose the target landscape in the NFL. Who’s seeing the highest share on a team? Who’s trending downward? And most importantly, what takeaways can we draw from this data to ultimately help you make better fantasy lineup and roster decisions?

Here is your Week 9 Target Analysis:

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Arizona Cardinals

Christian Kirk 8 16 5.33 40 5.71 ⬆️
Larry Fitzgerald 5 13 4.33 42 5.25 ⬆️
DeAndre Hopkins 3 15 5.00 76 9.50 ⬆️
Chase Edmonds 3 10 3.33 35 4.38 ⬆️
Andy Isabella 3 6 2.00 20 2.50 ⬆️
Dan Arnold 1 4 1.33 16 2.00 ⬆️

DeAndre Hopkins had his first bad game of the season, and it came in a matchup where both teams combined for 65 points and Kyler Murray threw the ball 26 times for 283 yards. Obviously, you shouldn’t panic. Hopkins is still a clear WR1 and will likely get back on track next week in another potential shootout with the Buffalo Bills. With Hopkins only seeing three targets, Christian Kirk took the brunt of the workload; the young wideout converted his eight targets into five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Christian Kirk is still very touchdown-dependent, but he’s worth a start next week against a Bills secondary that can be susceptible to the deep ball. Larry Fitzgerald, on the other hand, should be on your waiver wire despite his 9.4-point performance in Week 9. Hopkins may have a tougher time against Bills’ cornerback Tre’Davious White, as the all-star defensive back held Hopkins in check during the first half of last year’s Bills-Texans playoff game until Hopkins finally broke loose in the second-half. Nonetheless, he’s an auto-start every week.

Atlanta Falcons

Hayden Hurst 8 22 7.33 54 6.00 ⬆️
Julio Jones 7 26 8.67 56 8.00 ⬇️
Russell Gage 6 16 5.33 52 5.78 ⬆️
Olamide Zaccheaus 6 6 2.00 28 3.11 ⬆️
Christian Blake 3 5 1.67 12 1.33 ⬆️
Todd Gurley 2 5 1.67 22 2.44 ⬆️

Without Calvin Ridley in the ball game, it was expected that Julio Jones, Hayden Hurst, and Russell Gage would all see a nice uptick in targets. Hurst and Jones had solid fantasy days, but Gage was a major disappointment, as he only caught two of his six targets for 11 yards. Jones wasn’t a week-winner, but he still managed five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Hurst had yet another solid game and was the favorite target of Matt Ryan on the day; he caught seven of his eight looks for 62 yards. Unfortunately, most of the big plays went to Olamide Zaccheaus, who should not have been on your fantasy radar entering Sunday.

Gage has fallen off of a serious cliff since his impressive start to the season. Olamide Zaccheaus and Christian Blake are receiving the more valuable targets that should be going to Gage; you can safely drop Gage without repercussion. Hayden Hurst has become a reliable fantasy tight end over the past several weeks, so I would feel comfortable putting him in your starting lineup. He’s still volatile, but he’s likely better than any tight end you could get on the waiver wire. With the Falcons entering their bye week, we should expect to see Calvin Ridley back on the field in Week 11 and distort this target distribution.

Baltimore Ravens

Mark Andrews 5 11 3.67 44 5.50 ⬇️
Marquise Brown 5 7 2.33 49 6.13 ⬆️
Willie Snead V 4 11 3.67 26 3.25 ⬇️
Nick Boyle 4 5 1.67 16 2.00 ⬆️
J.K. Dobbins 2 4 1.33 18 2.25
Gus Edwards 2 3 1.00 6 0.75 ⬆️

Aside from Mark Andrews, you shouldn’t be starting any Baltimore pass-catchers. This offense is not nearly as explosive as they were this time last year, as they have become purely a ground-and-pound running team. Lamar Jackson’s accuracy has dipped, and he’s not throwing deep nearly as often. You shouldn’t be excited about starting Andrews, but given the fantasy tight end landscape, you really don’t have any other choice.

As the Ravens will continue to have tough matchups over the next few weeks, you shouldn’t expect any improvement in the Ravens passing attack. Marquise Brown’s speed isn’t being utilized in Greg Roman’s scheme, and he’s basically been a decoy downfield to keep the box on the lighter side. I wouldn’t say he’s droppable, but he’s certainly not playable. I’d rather take my chances with the volatile Mecole Hardman each week than I would with Brown.

Buffalo Bills

Stefon Diggs 12 32 10.67 91 10.11 ⬆️
John Brown 11 13 4.33 40 5.00 ⬆️
Gabe Davis 5 10 3.33 28 3.11 ⬆️
Cole Beasley 3 17 5.67 54 6.00 ⬆️
Devin Singletary 3 9 3.00 33 3.67 ⬆️
Zack Moss 2 6 2.00 10 1.67 ⬆️

This is the Buffalo Bills offense that we haven’t seen since September. Josh Allen passed for 415 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 44-34 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. With John Brown finally back to full strength, he and Stefon Diggs were able to carve up the depleted Seahawks secondary to the tune of 23 targets, 17 catches, and 217 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley saw very little involvement, managing only three catches for 39 yards. The rookie Gabriel Davis saw more work than Beasley, as he caught four balls for 70 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t supplanted Beasley for the WR3 job, but he’s certainly more explosive.

Stefon Diggs was already an auto-start every week, but John Brown is proving to be a viable WR2 in the right matchup. In Week 10 against Arizona, both receivers should be primed to repeat their success from this past week. Cole Beasley is a desperate start, but if Josh Allen continues his pass-happy tendencies, Beasley is bound to get more involved. Davis is nothing more than a deep bench stash for those who have the room.

Carolina Panthers

Robby Anderson 13 29 9.67 82 9.11 ⬆️
Christian McCaffery 10 10 3.33 19 6.33 ⬆️
Curtis Samuel 9 20 6.67 43 5.38 ⬆️
Mike Davis 6 13 4.33 49 5.44 ⬆️
D.J. Moore 3 14 4.67 62 6.89 ⬇️
Ian Thomas 2 6 2.00 17 1.89 ⬇️

Welcome back, Mr. First Overall. After a lengthy absence, fantasy managers rejoiced to see the consensus 1.01 pick return to live-action. And boy, he did not disappoint. Christian McCaffery saw double-digit targets in his matchup with Kansas City, catching all ten of his looks for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also saw 18 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Robby Anderson caught nine of his 13 targets for 63 yards, as he was once again Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target. Curtis Samuel continues to show increased utilization in this Carolina offense, catching all nine of his targets for 105 yards and a touchdown; he also received three carries for 13 yards.

D.J. Moore has fallen to the No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart. How else can you explain his continued lack of involvement in the offense and his poor fantasy performance over the course of the season? I would bench Moore until we see consecutive games of at least six or more targets. I know you likely drafted him with a third-round pick and he’s a “big name.” However, he’s hurting your lineup, and you need to pivot. Curtis Samuel has become an interesting FLEX option, but I need one more week of sizable involvement to feel confident recommending him as a start-worthy fantasy asset.

Chicago Bears

Darnell Mooney 11 24 8.00 54 6.00 ⬆️
Allen Robinson 9 20 6.67 86 9.56 ⬆️
Anthony Miller 8 24 8.00 50 5.56 ⬇️
Jimmy Graham 6 19 6.33 55 6.11 ⬇️
Cordarrelle Patterson 4 10 3.33 19 2.11 ⬆️
Ryan Nall 4 5 1.67 6 0.67 ⬆️

For those who have been watching the Bears offense closely this season, I am sorry you’ve had to endure this tragedy. However, you have likely been ahead of the curve on rookie Darnell Mooney compared to the average fantasy football player. Mooney had supplanted Anthony Miller as the WR2 over the course of the season, but this was his first game with double-digit targets. He didn’t convert his opportunity into many points, as he only caught five balls for 43 yards. Still, his involvement in the offense was encouraging for those who have been stashing him.

Unfortunately, despite how explosive Mooney looks, I would not feel comfortable starting him unless I was desperate. The quarterback situation is too volatile to recommend starting more than one Chicago pass-catcher. The only Bears wideout you should be trotting out with confidence is Allen Robinson, who scored 15.1 PPR points against Tennessee and has a tremendous fantasy schedule to finish the season. If you’ve been hesitant to acquire Allen Robinson up to this point, I hope you’ve been convinced by his consistency through the first half of the season and look to grab him for the stretch run.

Dallas Cowboys

Michael Gallup 7 21 7.00 55 6.11 ⬇️
Dalton Schultz 7 19 6.33 55 6.11 ⬇️
CeeDee Lamb 7 17 5.67 66 7.33 ⬆️
Amari Cooper 6 18 6.00 83 9.22 ⬆️
Ezekiel Elliot 3 7 2.33 51 5.67 ⬆️
Cedrick Wilson 3 5 1.67 25 2.78 ⬆️

Can Garrett Gilbert save the Cowboys’ season? For real-life playoff hopes, it’s doubtful. For fantasy-relevance, on the other hand, it seems like a distinct possibility that you may be able to start Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup again without feeling disgusted with your life choices. Against one of the best defenses in the NFL, Gilbert passed the ball 38 times for 243 yards and a touchdown. That isn’t spectacular by any means, but it was enough to allow Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb to score double-digit PPR points. All three of these wideouts won’t be startable in the same week until Dak Prescott makes his triumphant return, but there’s some hope that one or two can be playable.

It still doesn’t feel great to say, but I believe Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are both startable with Garrett Gilbert under center. Your expectations should be at the lowest level possible, but they are capable of sustaining a 10-point floor on a weekly basis. Michael Gallup could end up being the WR2 in this offense on any given Sunday, but he’s the most volatile of this group. These Dallas wideouts should only be started if you are choosing between them and guys on the waiver wire; don’t play them if you have any decent options available on your bench.

Denver Broncos

Jerry Jeudy 14 28 9.33 61 7.63 ⬆️
KJ Hamler 10 16 5.33 28 4.00 ⬆️
Tim Patrick 9 13 4.33 42 5.25 ⬆️
Noah Fant 3 19 6.33 46 6.57 ⬇️
Phillip Lindsay 3 6 2.00 7 1.40
DaeSean Hamilton 2 10 3.33 20 2.50 ⬇️

Finally, after we’ve witnessed early breakouts of other rookie wideouts like CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, and Tee Higgins, we were gifted a Jerry Jeudy breakout game in Week 9. Jeudy hasn’t been all that noticeable this year outside of a game or two, despite averaging nearly six targets per game over his previous eight contests. However, against Atlanta, Drew Lock targeted his rookie wide receiver 14 times; Jeudy was able to convert his opportunity into seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, fellow rookie K.J. Hamler followed up his game-winning touchdown catch from the prior week with six catches for 75 yards off ten targets.

I need to see more from Jeudy before I crown him as an every-week start. This performance was definitely promising, but the Broncos were trailing a porous Atlanta defense for most of the game. We were bound to see inflated stats from all of the wideouts on this team given the game-script. K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick are desperate starts for those who have been ravaged by injuries, while Noah Fant is merely a streaming tight end.

Detroit Lions

Danny Amendola 10 18 6.00 41 5.13 ⬆️
T.J. Hockenson 8 24 8.00 49 6.13 ⬇️
Marvin Hall 5 13 4.33 20 2.50 ⬇️
D’Andre Swift 5 14 4.67 34 4.25 ⬆️
Adrian Peterson 5 7 2.33 14 1.75 ⬆️
Marvin Jones 4 17 5.67 41 5.13 ⬇️

Fantasy managers were tilting all week with their Detroit Lions players. First, star wide receiver Kenny Golladay was ruled out. Then, Matthew Stafford was placed on the COVID-reserve list and marked as questionable to play on Sunday in a great matchup. Finally, less than 24 hours before kickoff, Stafford was cleared to play. You must’ve taken Marvin Jones, DeAndre Swift, and T.J. Hockenson in and out of your lineup countless times. Well, it appears it was all for naught. Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson barely had fantasy-viable performances, as they both salvaged their day with a touchdown. Swift caught three balls for 33 yards and scored 12.7 PPR points. Still, given how miserable the Minnesota defense has been this season, this was a missed opportunity for Detroit fantasy players.

If Golladay continues to miss more time, Marvin Jones is still a decent FLEX-play. He’s more touchdown-dependent than one would like, but he will be a big-play threat for Matthew Stafford that can go for 20+ points in any given game. T.J. Hockenson is also an every-week tight end start, as he’s been remarkably consistent over the past several weeks. I wouldn’t read too much in Danny Amendola’s performance, as he had only averaged approximately four targets per game prior to this Week 9 game. You can leave him on the waiver wire in favor of higher upside options.

Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams 12 37 12.33 67 11.17
Tyler Ervin 5 8 2.67 14 1.75 ⬆️
Aaron Jones 5 5 1.67 33 5.50 ⬆️
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 4 9 3.00 39 4.88 ⬆️
Robert Tonyan 1 10 3.33 28 3.50 ⬇️
Jace Sternberger 1 6 2.00 11 1.38 ⬇️

I honestly don’t understand it. If I am a defensive coordinator, wouldn’t I be double-covering Davante Adams every play? Heck, I’d even be willing to put three defenders on him at this point. Adams continued his remarkable target pace in Week 9 versus San Francisco and shredded the 49ers defense last Thursday night. The Packers No. 1 (and only) wideout caught 10 of his 12 targets for 173 yards and one touchdown, finishing the week as amongst the elite fantasy football players. Marquez Valdes-Scantling also had a solid fantasy output, but that was due more to touchdowns than volume. Valdes-Scantling only caught two passes for 53 yards, but both of his plays ended with him in the end zone.

Davante Adams and Aaron Jones are the only Green Bay Packers you want to start in fantasy. Valdes-Scantling has rarely been involved this season, seeing less than five targets per game despite Davante Adams and Aaron Jones missing multiple weeks. He’s touchdown dependent and a non-factor in this offense on most occasions. Robert Tonyan is a similar case, but I understand starting him most weeks given the poor tight end landscape. Still, as you can tell, his floor is extremely low. He only caught one pass for 13 yards on Thursday night, making him a very risky streamer.

Houston Texans

Brandin Cooks 9 18 6.00 60 7.50 ⬆️
Will Fuller 5 11 3.67 52 6.50 ⬆️
Duke Johnson 4 9 3.00 15 2.50 ⬆️
Jordan Akins 4 4 1.33 19 2.38 ⬆️
Randall Cobb 3 13 4.33 41 5.13 ⬆️
Darren Fells 3 3 1.00 22 2.75 ⬆️

The last time the Houston Texans played the Jacksonville Jaguars, both Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller finished inside the top-24 at wide receivers. This past week, it was much of the same. Cooks led the team in targets, but he only caught three of them for 83 yards and a score. Will Fuller, on the other hand, caught all five of his targets for 100 yards and a touchdown. Aside from those two, no other Houston pass-catcher scored more than eight fantasy points.

Cooks and Fuller are viable starts every week, although the latter is much more consistent than the former. Nonetheless, they both have incredibly high ceilings and could surpass 20 fantasy points in the right matchup. No one else on this team holds enough of a floor to consider putting in your starting lineup. So long as Cooks and Fuller stay healthy, you should leave Randall Cobb, Jordan Akins, and Darren Fells on the waiver wire.

Indianapolis Colts

Marcus Johnson 7 11 3.67 23 2.88 ⬆️
Michael Pittman 7 8 2.67 20 4.00 ⬆️
Zach Pascal 6 12 4.00 40 5.00
Trey Burton 4 8 2.67 24 4.80
DeMichael Harris 4 4 1.33 5 0.63 ⬆️
Nyheim Hines 3 8 2.67 35 4.38 ⬆️

All Philip Rivers does is spread the wealth. You won’t be able to find a consistent No. 1 target for Rivers week-to-week, and that makes diagnosing the target landscape for Indianapolis incredibly difficult. Marcus Johnson and Michael Pittman each led their team in targets in Week 9, although neither was very impressive. In fact, no pass-catcher caught more than five passes or gained more than 60 receiving yards. Zach Pascal scored the most fantasy points on the day with 10.5 PPR points.

Start any Indianapolis pass-catcher at your own risk. No Colt has any semblance of consistency or upside on this power-running team. It’s unfortunate, as the Colts have one of the easiest remaining schedules for fantasy wide receivers. Still, you can’t start any wideout or tight end on this team with confidence. I’d avoid this team for the foreseeable future unless we see someone is able to assert their dominance and command a large share of targets.

Jacksonville Jaguars

D.J. Chark 12 19 6.33 53 7.57 ⬆️
Chris Conley 8 10 3.33 34 4.25 ⬆️
Tyler Eifert 5 5 1.67 28 4.00 ⬆️
Chris Thompson 4 4 1.33 23 3.29 ⬆️
James Robinson 2 8 2.67 34 4.25 ⬆️
Keelan Cole 2 4 1.33 41 5.13 ⬆️

Jake Luton started his first game for the Jacksonville Jaguars this past week, and honestly, he wasn’t half bad. Luton passed for over 300 yards and threw a touchdown. His performance was good enough to support at least one fantasy wideout, as D.J. Chark had his best game of the season with seven catches for 146 yards and a touchdown off 12 targets. Chris Conley was also startable for fantasy with Laviska Shenault missing nearly the entire game, as he caught seven of eight passes for 52 yards.

Luton proved to be competent enough to support D.J. Chark. Chark likely won’t have this good of a matchup or these solid of a performance every week, but he’s a WR3 you can put into your lineup with the expectation of a solid baseline of points. I would still bench Laviska Shenault until we can confirm that his fantasy floor is safe with Luton at quarterback, but do not drop the impressive rookie prematurely. Conley doesn’t have enough of a ceiling to keep on your roster, so feel free to send him to the waiver wire.

Kansas City Chiefs

Tyreek Hill 18 34 11.33 72 8.00 ⬆️
Travis Kelce 12 27 9.00 79 8.78
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 5 12 4.00 43 4.78 ⬆️
Mecole Hardman 4 15 5.00 33 3.67 ⬇️
Demarcus Robinson 3 9 3.00 30 3.33 ⬇️
Le’Veon Bell 1 4 1.33 7 1.75 ⬇️

If you have read any of my previous editions of “Target Analysis,” you’ll see a common trend when I discuss the Chiefs. I always say that Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are auto-starts, while you are pressing your luck with every other option. The point was driven home this past Sunday, as Hill and Kelce combined for 30 targets, 19 receptions, 272 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. The rest of the Kansas City Chiefs combined for 14 targets, 11 receptions, 100 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.

While Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson could have a decent week every now and again, they are merely dart throws for the struggling fantasy managers. If you are going to take a chance on a player, picking one of Patrick Mahomes pass-catchers isn’t a bad bet. Still, Kelce and Hill are the only startable pass-catchers for Kansas City, and that will continue to be true over the course of the season (barring injury).

Las Vegas Raiders

Darren Waller 10 25 8.33 72 9.00 ⬆️
Hunter Renfrow 3 13 4.33 36 4.50 ⬇️
Henry Ruggs 3 10 3.33 21 3.50 ⬇️
Nelson Agholor 3 14 4.67 25 3.13 ⬆️
Jason Witten 1 4 1.33 10 1.25 ⬇️
Josh Jacobs 1 6 2.00 26 3.25

This target distribution is a perfect picture of what the Raiders passing offense likes to do. Derek Carr wants to throw it as much as he can to Darren Waller, and then he will distribute a few targets to the remainder of his pass-catching corps. Waller has clearly been Carr’s favorite target this season, as he’s gotten double the amount of opportunities of the next-highest targeted player (Hunter Renfrow). Waller is averaging nine opportunities per game, which is top-three among all tight ends. The remainder of the receiving corps, however, is fighting for scraps. Nelson Agholor caught a deep touchdown, Hunter Renfrow caught two passes for 60 yards, and Henry Ruggs failed to make a catch.

Henry Ruggs and Nelson Agholor always have the potential to catch one of the few deep ball attempts that Carr will toss, but their floor is as low as it can possibly be. Even Hunter Renfrow, the shifty slot receiver, averages just 4.5 targets per game. This Las Vegas offense runs through the ground game and Darren Waller. There’s not much other fantasy opportunity to be had among these Raiders pass-catchers.

Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen 11 35 11.67 86 10.75
Mike Williams 7 18 6.00 40 5.71 ⬇️
Hunter Henry 7 18 6.00 52 6.50 ⬆️
Joshua Kelley 5 11 3.67 20 2.50 ⬆️
Donald Parham 3 4 1.33 6 0.75 ⬆️
Kalen Ballage 3 3 1.00 3 3.00 ⬆️

Justin Hebert is just incredible. Despite only having one win to his name through seven starts, the rookie quarterback is averaging 38 attempts per game, 306 passing yards per contest, and approximately 2.5 touchdowns per game. With the rookie’s historic accession into NFL stardom comes fantasy success for his receiving corps. Keenan Allen continued his WR1 campaign on Sunday, catching nine of his eleven targets for 103 yards and a touchdown. Mike Williams, meanwhile, put up a decent 13-point performance with five catches for 80 yards. Hunter Henry continues to suffer in this offense, as he only caught four of his seven targets for 33 scoreless yards.

Credit the Chargers coaching staff for taking the reins off of their rookie quarterback and allowing him to throw the ball with reckless abandon. Herbert can easily support two fantasy-relevant wideouts the rest of the way, as Keenan Allen is well on his way to finishing as a top-five fantasy wideout and Mike Williams continues to be a viable FLEX-play each week. Henry is startable due to the barren tight end landscape, but he does not have nearly as much upside as he showed to begin the season.

Miami Dolphins

DeVante Parker 7 9 3.00 49 6.13 ⬆️
Preston Williams 5 10 3.33 35 4.38
Jakeem Grant 5 7 2.33 23 2.88 ⬆️
Mike Gesicki 4 6 2.00 36 4.50 ⬆️
Durham Smythe 1 3 1.00 9 1.13 ⬇️
Adam Shaheen 1 2 0.67 9 1.13

Tua Tagovailoa has officially arrived. After only passing for 93 yards in his career start, the Dolphins rookie passer went 20/28 for 248 yards and a touchdown in a shootout versus Arizona. I said last week that I wanted to wait a week to see how Tagovailoa would distribute his passes amongst his receiving corps, and it seems like he tends to favor his wideouts. DeVante Parker led the Dolphins in catches and yards, converting his seven targets into six receptions for 64 yards. Preston Williams, meanwhile, caught four of five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Mike Gesicki had a mediocre three catches for 42 yards, but he clearly wasn’t as involved as many had hoped.

Given the Dolphins have a cakewalk of a schedule over the next four weeks, I would be inclined to start DeVante Parker, especially with Preston Williams hurt. The Dolphins have shown that they are willing to let Tagovailoa sling the rock, so he won’t typically be a game-manager like he was in Week 8 versus the Rams. Parker is a safe WR3, and you can expect him to produce a solid baseline of points.

Minnesota Vikings

Adam Thielen 5 9 3.00 58 7.25 ⬆️
Justin Jefferson 4 8 2.67 44 5.50
Irv Smith Jr 4 5 1.67 21 2.63 ⬆️
Kyle Rudolph 4 5 1.67 19 2.38 ⬆️
Dalvin Cook 2 5 1.67 21 3.00 ⬇️
Ameer Abdullah 1 1 0.33 3 0.38 ⬆️

I hate to say that these Vikings receivers are now touchdown-dependent, but that’s the sad reality for this 2020 unit. This offense is squarely centered around getting Dalvin Cook the ball, and Kirk Cousins is merely a game manager. Cousins did end up throwing for three touchdowns in this game, but one of them was on a screen pass to the running back, and the other two were goal-line tosses to Irv Smith Jr. Adam Thielen caught just two of his five targets for 19 yards, while Justin Jefferson caught three of his four looks for 64 yards. Cousins has now thrown 20 or fewer passes in back-to-back games, which spells doom for the prospects of all Minnesota pass-catchers.

Despite the run-centric philosophy in Minnesota, I am still willing to start Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson on a weekly basis. I know their floors are extremely low, but their ceilings are so high that I just can’t leave them on my bench. We’ve seen each of these wideouts have top-12 performance on multiple occasions in 2020, so the potential for repeat performances from both is not out of the question. You won’t appreciate their inconsistency, but you’ll be kicking yourself when you bench them during one of their blow-up games.

New England Patriots

Jakobi Meyers 14 30 10.00 31 3.88 ⬆️
Damiere Byrd 9 15 5.00 41 5.13 ⬆️
James White 5 10 3.33 30 5.00 ⬆️
Rex Burkhead 3 8 2.67 25 3.13 ⬆️
Jakob Johnson 2 3 1.00 5 0.63 ⬆️
Gunner Olszewski 1 1 0.33 2 0.25 ⬆️

Despite the win on Monday night, the Patriots passing offense looked abysmal. It seems as though Josh McDaniels is trying to force Cam Newton to play like Tom Brady, as the former Carolina Panther completed 77 percent of his passes at an abysmal 7.8 yards per attempt. The only one who stood to benefit from these throws was second-year wideout Jakobi Myers, who put up his second consecutive game with double-digit targets. He caught 12 of them for 169 yards. Damiere Byrd was playable for fantasy, as he caught five of nine targets for 65 yards, but he was hardly a worthwhile start. 

The reality of this Patriots offense is they are unlikely to throw it down the field or into the end zone. Through eight weeks, the Patriots have only scored three touchdowns through the air, and just one of them has gone to a wideout or tight end (N’Keal Harry). Without end zone opportunities, you are relying on pure volume to sustain fantasy success in New England. Myers may be FLEX-worthy given his spike in target share over the past few weeks, but even he has a low ceiling. He’s a strong bench candidate next week against Baltimore.

New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara 6 27 9.00 72 9.00 ⬇️
Michael Thomas 6 6 2.00 11 5.50 ⬆️
Emmanuel Sanders 5 5 1.67 41 6.83 ⬆️
Jared Cook 3 14 4.67 32 4.57 ⬇️
Adam Trautman 3 4 1.33 7 0.88 ⬆️
Tre’Quan Smith 2 13 4.33 34 4.25 ⬇️

Michael Thomas started his first game since his Week 1 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he ended up leading the team in receptions and receiving yards. Unfortunately, that didn’t do much for his fantasy output in Week 9. Thomas put up a modest five catches for 51 yards on six targets, as he wasn’t really needed in this rematch with the Buccaneers. Drew Brees spread the ball around to twelve different receivers en route to a 38-3 win over his division rival. Thomas was the only New Orleans player to score double-digit points without scoring a touchdown, but nonetheless, it was an underwhelming performance for 2019’s WR1.

Thomas will obviously be an every-week start going forward, but Emmanuel Sanders is the trickiest player on this team to diagnose. He had a decent 13.8-point output last Sunday night, but he did so off of just five targets and a touchdown catch. He’s FLEX-worthy in the right matchup, but Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are likely to soak up the majority of the targets for this offense. Jared Cook, meanwhile, was extremely disappointing in Week 9 and may lose playing time due to his ineffectiveness.

New York Giants

Evan Engram 10 29 9.67 64 8.00
Sterling Shepard 8 26 8.67 36 7.20 ⬇️
Austin Mack 5 5 1.67 6 0.67 ⬆️
Dion Lewis 2 5 1.67 22 2.44 ⬇️
Wayne Gallman 2 8 2.67 14 1.56 ⬆️
Darius Slayton 1 14 4.67 58 6.44 ⬇️

Evan Engram is starting to live up to his potential, and it’s about time. The Giants have not been able to properly utilize Engram for most of his young career, but he’s now become heavily involved in the offense. Over the past three weeks, Engram is averaging nearly ten targets per game and 12 fantasy points per contest. He’s not a top-three tight end by any means, but his display of consistency at the most inconsistent position in fantasy football is extremely promising for his fantasy prospects going forward.

Given the scarcity at the position, you should be starting Evan Engram every week. Meanwhile, Sterling Shepard is a mid-tier WR4 who will give you a solid baseline of points each week; his ceiling, however, is extremely limited. Darius Slayton has been incredibly mediocre over the past three weeks, only scoring more than five fantasy points once in that span. He has a good matchup against Philadelphia next week, but he only managed 4.3 PPR points in his last outing against the Eagles. Keep him on the end of your bench for at least one more week and hope he can turn it around.

New York Jets

Denzel Mims 8 18 6.00 18 2.00 ⬆️
Breshad Perriman 7 9 3.00 24 4.80 ⬆️
La’Mical Perine 2 7 2.33 12 1.33
Jamison Crowder 2 2 0.67 48 9.60 ⬆️
Frank Gore 2 2 0.67 11 1.22 ⬆️
Ryan Griffin 2 2 0.67 10 1.11 ⬆️

This is the first time this season that I have seen the Jets offense show any signs of competence. This is only the second game this season in which the Jets have scored 18 or more points, and it was largely due to the stellar performance (well, stellar for him) of Joe Flacco. The former Super Bowl MVP threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns against a solid New England defense. Rookie Denzel Mims and veteran Breshad Perriman saw the most opportunities on the night, as the former caught four of eight targets for 62 yards while the latter caught fire with five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

Luckily for those who enjoy watching football, the Jets are on a bye next week. I am still not inclined to hold Breshad Perriman or Denzel Mims unless I am playing in deeper formats. Aside from Jamison Crowder, the other pass-catchers in this offense are extremely inconsistent and can easily provide you with a goose-egg on any given Sunday. Crowder, despite the two-target game in Week 9, still came through with a touchdown to salvage his fantasy day. Feel free to clear some roster space and let your Jets fall to the waiver wire for some speculative adds this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Chase Claypool 13 23 7.67 47 5.88 ⬆️
Diontae Johnson 10 28 9.33 54 7.71 ⬆️
JuJu Smith-Schuster 7 29 9.67 57 7.13 ⬇️
Eric Ebron 6 19 6.33 43 5.38 ⬆️
James Conner 2 10 3.33 25 3.13 ⬇️
Ray-Ray McCloud 2 5 1.67 9 1.13 ⬆️

If any of you are in NFL Survivor/Elimination pools, you were likely on the edge of your seat the entire afternoon as Pittsburgh almost lost to the 14.5-point underdog Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers started out very slow on offense, only scoring nine points in the first half and failing to push the ball down the field. Eventually, however, Ben Roethlisberger got it going and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game. Chase Claypool was the Steelers’ leader in targets on the day, seeing 13 looks and securing eight catches for 69 yards. Dionate Johnson was also heavily involved, catching six of his ten targets for 77 yards. JuJu Smith-Schuster, however, was the highest fantasy scorer on the day, scoring 21.3 PPR points off of a 6-93-1 stat-line.

This was a matchup where most fantasy analysts encouraged you to fire up all of your Pittsburgh wide receivers, and in a round-about way, they were right. Smith-Schuster and Johnson are still the safest starts week-to-week, but Claypool has enough upside to put together a great fantasy performance any given week. However, there are only so many targets to go around, and Claypool will often need a touchdown to give him a viable fantasy day. With James Washington, Eric Ebron, and Vance McDonald also competing for end zone targets, Claypool is just not safe enough to consider a solid start. If you are short on bench players, however, they are much worse options out there.

San Francisco 49ers

Richie James 13 13 4.33 13 13.00 ⬆️
River Cracraft 5 5 1.67 5 5.00 ⬆️
Jerick McKinnon 4 8 2.67 33 3.67
Trent Taylor 4 8 2.67 20 2.22
Ross Dwelley 3 7 2.33 12 1.33 ⬇️
JaMycal Hasty 2 4 1.33 6 1.00 ⬆️

The following 49ers offensive players were inactive in Week 9: Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, and George Kittle. This San Francisco offense is entirely different than anything they have fielded this year, even though they’ve already been brutalized by injuries all season. You can draw some takeaways from this target distribution if you want, but I don’t even think diving into this game is even worth it. Despite the incredible performance from Richie James, you don’t want to risk starting any 49er that played last Thursday night.

Samuel and Kittle are expected to have prolonged absences, but Aiyuk and Bourne should be back in the starting lineup next week. I fully expect them to receive a majority of the targets and become heavily involved in the offense. Aiyuk was in a smash-spot this past week before he was a late inactive, and I expect he’ll make up for his missed time with a huge performance this coming week against New Orleans. Still, I would avoid every other San Francisco fantasy option until we see these injured players get back on the field.

Seattle Seahawks

D.K. Metcalf 9 29 9.67 68 8.50 ⬇️
Tyler Lockett 7 32 10.67 70 8.75 ⬆️
Jacob Hollister 7 12 4.00 15 1.88 ⬆️
David Moore 6 12 4.00 26 3.25 ⬆️
Greg Olsen 3 10 3.33 29 3.63 ⬇️
Travis Homer 3 3 1.00 8 1.00 ⬆️

Despite scoring 34 points in a shootout with the Buffalo Bills, there were not many fantasy-viable pieces for the Seattle Seahawks this past week. D.K. Metcalf is unstoppable, so he was going to make his mark regardless of the matchup; the sophomore wide receiver caught seven of his nine targets for 108 yards and a late touchdown. David Moore caught a 55-yard touchdown on a broken play in the second half, and he finished with 17 PPR points. Aside from those two wideouts, however, no other pass-catcher finished with more than 11 PPR points. Tyler Lockett was held in check, only catching four passes for 40 yards, and Greg Olsen was held to two catches for 13 yards. The Seahawks turned the ball over four times, causing them to lose valuable possessions and opportunities to put up more fantasy points.

The Seahawks are in store for another shootout next week against the Los Angeles Rams, so you should be firing up D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett with confidence in Week 10. Each wideout has the potential to put up over 30 fantasy points in any given week, so don’t fade Tyler Lockett despite his underwhelming outputs over the past two weeks. As usual, Lockett and Metcalf are the only Seattle pass-catchers you should be rostering.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans 6 15 5.00 52 5.78 ⬇️
Leonard Fournette 6 19 6.33 27 3.86
Rob Gronkowski 6 18 6.00 46 5.11 ⬆️
Chris Godwin 6 15 5.00 35 7.00 ⬆️
Antonio Brown 5 5 1.67 5 5.00 ⬆️
Ronald Jones 4 10 3.33 35 3.89

The game was over for Tampa Bay before the end of the first quarter. The Buccaneers did not gain a first down until five minutes into the first quarter, and they never seemed to gather momentum despite their tremendous receiving core of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. Evans ended up with the best fantasy day among all pass-catchers, catching four of his six targets for 64 yards. Chris Godwin caught three passes for 41 yards, while Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards. Overall, it was a game to forget for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

There will be much better days ahead for this offense, and you should be able to start all of their receiving weapons with confidence. It is yet to be seen how well these players perform in a normal game-script, but it appears Evans and Godwin will maintain their roles as the starting wideouts while Antonio Brown splits repetitions with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson in three-wide receiver sets. I expect Brown to see more playing time as he becomes more accustomed to the playbook, but we may not see him at full capacity until later in the season. Nevertheless, you should be starting Evans, Godwin, Brown, and Gronkowski every single week.

Tennessee Titans

A.J. Brown 9 24 8.00 48 8.00 ⬆️
Anthony Firkser 6 11 3.67 31 3.88 ⬆️
Corey Davis 3 23 7.67 42 7.00 ⬇️
Jonnu Smith 2 8 2.67 37 4.63
Cameron Baston 1 1 0.33 3 0.38 ⬆️
Adam Humphries 0 5 1.67 31 4.43 ⬇️

The Titans really didn’t need to throw to beat the Chicago Bears. Ryan Tannehill only threw 21 passes, and 40 percent of them went A.J. Brown’s way. Brown caught four of his nine targets for 101 yards and a touchdown,  making this his fifth consecutive game with at least seven targets and four receptions. Brown has also scored 20 or more fantasy points in four of his past five contests. The remainder of the Tennessee receiving core was extremely quiet, as Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, and Cameron Batson combined for six catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. No other Titan caught a pass.

Brown has had such a high floor since returning from injury, and he should continue to put up WR1 performances over the remainder of the season. He’s an auto-start every week. Aside from Brown, I am not willing to start any other Titan. Jonnu Smith used to be a viable top-five tight end before his injury, but he has been remarkably inconsistent over the past few games. His fantasy day was salvaged with a late touchdown, but he’s averaging 2.7 targets over the last three games. Corey Davis should also be benched going forward unless you are absolutely desperate.

Washington Football Team

J.D. McKissic 14 16 5.33 47 5.88 ⬆️
Terry McLaurin 8 19 6.33 77 9.63 ⬆️
Logan Thomas 6 10 3.33 46 5.75 ⬆️
Cam Sims 4 5 1.67 8 1.00 ⬆️
Antonio Gibson 3 4 1.33 26 3.25 ⬆️
Isaiah Wright 3 3 1.00 20 2.50 ⬆️

J.D. McKissic is rostered in only 24 percent of Yahoo leagues and 34 percent of ESPN leagues — yet he’s currently second on the Football Team in targets and has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games. He’s not flashy and has a relatively low ceiling, but since playable running backs are extremely hard to come by, his rostership should be much higher. Terry McLaurin once again proved he doesn’t need consistency at quarterback to perform, as he caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown despite catching passes from Kyle Allen and Alex Smith in this game.

McLaurin should be an auto-start each and every week. He won’t have a great stat-line every week, but he performs even when the quarterback play around him suffers. If his quarterback is somehow able to have a good game, McLaurin will have a week-winning game. McKissic is a playable RB3 given his involvement in the passing game, especially since it is likely Alex Smith will be the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

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Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.

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