The fantasy playoffs are on the horizon, and the NFL’s ever-changing landscape provided new information to dissect in Week 9. Running backs are always of interest to fantasy gamers, and an unheralded collection of backs exploded in a blowout win. In addition, a former overall RB1’s underlying data was tantalizing in a comfortable win. Quarterbacks were involved in the other notable happenings in Week 9.
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Fantasy Football Week 9 Takeaways, Surprises & Disappointments
Baltimore’s Backfield is a Wagon
The Ravens have a knack for unearthing undrafted free agent (UDFA) running backs. Gus Edwards is an effective, powerful, efficient bulldozer. The Gus Bus had five rushes for 52 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks, pushing his season total to seven rushing touchdowns. He’s averaging 53.1 rushing yards per game and is a load in the red zone.
Edwards has game-script risk since he’s not a receiving threat. However, the Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL, and he’ll have plenty of positive game scripts for the rest of the season. The veteran running back isn’t their only UDFA success story anymore, though.
Rookie Keaton Mitchell gashed the Seahawks for 138 rushing yards and one touchdown on nine attempts. The diminutive speedster also had one reception for negative four yards. Mitchell isn’t built for a bell-cow workload. Yet, his home-run ability doesn’t necessitate massive volume to help fantasy teams. He can succeed in a limited-application role, much like a smaller De’Von Achane, albeit with a risk of sharing touches with two running backs and a mobile quarterback, creating a low weekly floor.
Still, Mitchell is the priority waiver addition this week. Furthermore, Justice Hill‘s advantage in playing time and rush attempts should be taken with a grain of salt since he handled the team’s final six carries by a running back in the blowout victory. In fact, Hill’s garbage-time usage could indicate he’s already fallen behind Mitchell in the pecking order.
Washington’s Offense is Clicking
The Commanders were an occasionally fun fantasy offense early this season with blemishes, namely Sam Howell‘s propensity to take sacks. However, the second-year signal-caller took only four sacks in the last two games. Howell was sacked once by the Eagles in Week 8 and took three against the Patriots in New England in Week 9.
He avoided sacks last week by getting rid of the football faster than in any prior game in 2023. Howell was slower to get rid of the ball in Week 9 but took an entirely reasonable three sacks in a game he aired it out 45 times. The reduction of his sack rate was beneficial for the offense.
Commanders’ offense Weeks 8-9: pic.twitter.com/NWT3Ibgczl
– Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) November 6, 2023
Washington’s offensive strides were a boon for Jahan Dotson‘s value. The second-year pro has reached the endzone in back-to-back games. Since Week 8, Dotson has had 18 targets, 12 receptions, 177 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Curtis Samuel was limited in Week 8 and out in Week 9, narrowing the target tree. Regardless, Dotson is back in the fantasy world’s good graces. Even when Samuel returns, Washington’s offense can support multiple pass-catchers in fantasy leagues if Howell’s improvement sticks and the defense struggles without the edge rushers they dealt at the trade deadline.
Indianapolis’s Backfield Usage Was Encouraging for Their Stud RB
Sadly, Jonathan Taylor didn’t erupt against Carolina’s Charmin-soft run defense. He had only 47 rushing yards at 2.6 yards per carry but salvaged his day with five receptions, 22 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
Taylor’s underlying usage forbodes future eruptions, though. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Taylor played 45 snaps, ran 21 routes, toted the rock 18 times and had five targets versus 13, three, seven and zero for Zack Moss. In other words, Taylor had 72% of the backfield’s carries and dominated the backfield’s routes. Don’t overreact to the ho-hum showing in Week 9. Taylor’s stock is way up.
The Giants Are a Fantasy Football Non-Factor Going Forward
Daniel Jones‘s return from a neck injury was shortlived. The Giants fear he tore his ACL, which would sideline him for the rest of the season. The G-Men already placed Tyrod Taylor on Injured Reserve (IR) before their game against the Raiders, leaving Tommy DeVito to relieve Jones.
The Giants signed Matt Barkley to their practice squad last week, but while he’s an upgrade over DeVito, he can’t keep fantasy options afloat. Saquon Barkley is a low-end RB2 from now on since he’ll be force-fed the ball but lacks touchdown potential in New York’s potentially NFL-worst offense. Barkley is the only fantasy option for the Giants, and an unexciting one at that.
Quarterback Development isn’t Always Linear
Bryce Young couldn’t build on the best performance of his rookie season in Week 8. Instead, he had arguably the worst game of his professional career in Week 9. Young’s dreadful showing is a reminder that young quarterbacks don’t always make linear improvements.
Young is only the latest example of the hiccups a young quarterback often endures. For instance, Jordan Love ran hot on touchdown variance early in the season but crashed back to Earth. Will Levis torched the Falcons in his professional debut in Week 8 and passed for 262 scoreless yards with an interception against the Steelers in Week 9. Gamers shouldn’t completely avoid taking swings on young quarterbacks, evidenced by the payoff for gamers who took the plunge on C.J. Stroud. Still, it’s imperative to understand the risks and realize the volatility.
The Buccaneers Have a Pass-Funnel Defense That Can’t Defend the Pass
According to RotoViz’s pace app, from Week 1 through Week 8, Tampa Bay’s opponents passed on 61% of their 320 plays in a neutral game script. In a back-and-forth shootout in Week 9, the Texans attempted 17 rushes and 42 passes.
Stroud lit the Bucs up like a Christmas tree, completing 30 of 42 passes for 470 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. In Tampa Bay’s last four games, they’ve allowed 349.25 passing yards per game with nine passing touchdowns and only one interception. They’re a streaming target for QB-needy gamers until they show signs of turning their struggles around. The Buccaneers have the Titans, 49ers, Colts, Panthers, Falcons, Packers, Jaguars and Saints on the schedule for the remainder of the season.