Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 9
Dan Malin recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw.
Tua Time? Tua Clock? QB-TUA!
Insert whatever clever nickname you want to associate with this kid. It’s hard to believe Miami only let him attempt 22 passes last week. By all accounts this should have been a rough game for Miami. They were without five assistant coaches for Sunday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols, I believe they also travelled on shorter notice, and they didn’t get a regular schedule of practice in over the last couple days. Alas, he only attempted 28 passes on Sunday against Arizona but he tallied 248 passing yards, two touchdowns and added 36 yards on the ground as well. What was even more impressive was this nifty little play…
I don’t know how he wasn’t sacked on this play but it goes to show the Cardinals sorely miss Chandler Jones . If he’s playing this well in his second game of the year with a screwed up schedule, I can’t even begin to think of what he’ll be doing when this offense is clicking even more. Tua is available in a healthy amount of leagues so if you’re a Matt Ryan or Patrick Mahomes owner you could probably get some use out of this kid as a streamer next week. If the Dolphins are playing in competitive games on a weekly basis going forward he has high-end QB2 upside.
I’m Done With The Ravens
We’ve previously touched on the concerns of the Ravens and Sunday was no different. And mind you, we had the squeaky wheel narrative with Marquise Brown and in general this seemed like a game Lamar Jackson would take control of. The Ravens actually owned time of possession and posted just 266 yards of offense? I don’t know if it’s looking at the box score or these hard seltzers (and lack of food), but this is really hurting my brain at the moment. Remember how much fun it was one year ago owning pieces of the Ravens offense? That’s a thing of the past. Jackson is now at seven straight games throwing for under 210 yards. And he only has nine touchdowns in that span. Luckily he’s still providing a little value with his legs and he’s hit double-digit rushing attempts in back-to-back games now. But that’s only serving himself.
What about his teammates? We need to seriously consider benching them going forward. Marquise Brown started the year with at least six targets in each of the team’s first six games. Over the last two games he has seven total targets. AND HE WAS THE SQUEAKY WHEEL! And despite that, there was NO OIL to be found! Andrews hasn’t found the end zone in almost a month and he has just eight catches on 15 targets over his last three games. He’s on pace to finish with under 600 receiving yards. These are two guys not living up to their ADP and Jackson is simply killing them. Fortunately, they get the Patriots in primetime next week (as a Patriots fan, I truly don’t know why the Pats are in primetime back-to-back weeks) and I don’t even know if I want to play them in this matchup. The defense for New England is complete crap and New England will be coming off a short week. Starting Brown and Andrews should be accompanied with a shot of tequila. Regarding Andrews, he’s the one we’re more likely to start simply because of the lack of options at tight end. But this is a guy that’s no longer a “lock” by any means every week. We try to preach patience and discipline in fantasy football. But we’re nine weeks into the season and we’re getting nothing from Baltimore. I’m done with them.
Do Not Panic Over Antonio Gibson
Sunday’s game wasn’t Antonio Gibson’s best. He only touched the ball nine times and he lost a fumble on what was looking like a pretty promising run-after-catch until hilarity ensued in trying to recover the ball.
After Kyle Allen left with a gruesome lowe leg injury, it seemed like Gibson was phased out. I don’t genuinely believe it was more of a connection between Alex Smith and J.D. McKissic . Rather, the game script called for Washington to throw more. If you started McKissic, congratulations because you reaped the benefits of 14 targets. Gibson needs a positive game script to maintain usage. Luckily the upcoming schedule for Gibson shapes up in his favor. Washington has Detroit, Cincinnati, and Dallas coming up. These are games we should expect more usage and snaps to be handed to Gibson. After those three games it gets a little dicey. Washington finishes their season against Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia. So perhaps we let Gibson build his stock back up over the next couple games and we look to deal him before a more difficult portion of the schedule that could see McKissic more involved.
The Broncos Are A DFS Goldmine
As is the case with DFS I should add the caveat of “for now…” because prices vary each and every week and we’ll likely see Jerry Jeudy’s price tick up after a breakout performance. And while we’ll likely see DFS players chase points with Jeudy into next week we shouldn’t sleep on KJ Hamler and Noah Fant. Kudos to Howard for writing up all three players this week, including Hamler who was listed as a dart throw and he finished with ten targets. These three were priced under $5,000 on DraftKings on Sunday which led to Jeudy and Hamler returning pretty good value. In Noah Fant’s case, he was on his way to being a smash play. He caught a pass for 32 yards early on but left briefly with an injury. When he returned later in the game he was barely involved in the passing attack and was used mostly as a blocker. I’m very curious as to where they’ll be priced next week. Drew Lock has been a very frustrating player for fantasy, but he turns it on late in the game when Denver’s trailing. This could be a team stack to target next week in DFS especially if the prices don’t budge on Hamler and Fant.
Writer’s note: As of Monday morning, the prices for next week’s slate have become available here’s what we’re looking at for Denver:
- Drew Lock : $5,500 ($300 increase)
- Jerry Jeudy: $5,600 ($900 increase)
- KJ Hamler: $3,800 ($400 increase)
- Noah Fant: $4,900 ($300 increase)
The prices for Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay actually dropped a bit as well. But the prices for a Denver stack are still very reasonable and if the injury to Albert Okwuegbunam is serious and he misses Sunday’s game then this is a fantastic spot for Fant to bounce back from an otherwise disappointing Week 9 performance. This will likely be a fairly popular value stack on DraftKings next week.
Jared Goff Is A Top 8 Quarterback in Week 10
Goff hasn’t had a stellar season by any means. But he gets the Seahawks next week and we’ve seen opposing quarterbacks put up video game numbers against this defense. In four-point per passing touchdown leagues quarterbacks facing the Seahawks are averaging 26.72 fantasy points per game. Obviously that number goes up even more in six-point per passing touchdown leagues. They’ve allowed multiple touchdowns to six opposing quarterbacks and they’ve allowed 350+ passing yards to five opposing QB’s as well. The Rams are also hosting Seattle and they’re coming off a bye week so they’ll certainly be well rested against a team that has really logged the frequent flyer miles lately. Robert Woods , Cooper Kupp , Gerald Everett , and whoever the hell is starting at running back are all fantastic plays next week in association with Goff. This is a fantastic streaming option if you’re without Patrick Mahomes or Matt Ryan next week.
Christian Kirk Is A Must-Start WR2 Without Question
The volume of targets hasn’t always been there but it just feels like Kyler Murray is taking a deep shot on him once or twice every game. He now has five touchdowns in his last three games and six scores in his last five contests. He’s also coming off back-to-back games with eight targets so we might see a consistent Top 24 wide receiver if he can find the end zone. Should we expect a little regression? Possibly because five touchdowns in your last 12 catches is clearly unsustainable. But the Cardinals host the Buffalo Bills next week and if DeAndre Hopkins gets Tre’Davious White treatment then we could be looking at another game where Kirk gets eight targets.
James Conner : Good or Bad?
No player sums up the reactionary nature of fantasy football more than James Conner . Coming into Sunday he had found the end zone in five of his last six games. And Sunday’s game should’ve been his day. The matchup was there, but the Steelers had a rough time against Dallas of all teams. Nobody on Pittsburgh had a worse day than James Conner and Steelers fans/fantasy owners were none too pleased…
My redacting skills are on par with Conner’s performance against the Cowboys. But imagine being a fan of the Steelers and being this upset. They’re off to their best start as an organization in franchise history and while Sunday’s game was ugly, a win’s a win. Conner touched the ball just 11 times for a total of 20 yards. My favorite part is the one guy saying stats lie. Stats can be a little misleading at times, but overall MATH doesn’t lie buddy. Despite Sunday’s rough performance Conner’s averaging 4.23 yards per carry and while he isn’t used exclusively in the passing game, if he’s getting roughly three catches every week that’s serviceable in PPR formats. The problem with Conner is that people like to prop him up and expect more from him. This was a round three running back and so far, it feels like he’s returning round three value. He’s a RB2 and in 2020, with all the injuries and COVID nonsense, he really hasn’t been bad. Part of fantasy football is just hoping those players you’re undecided on manage to fall into the end zone. And Conner’s done that and been a fine RB2. He’s still on pace for over 1,000 rushing yards and ten touchdowns with 40-50 catches. He simply had a bad game Sunday following a tough matchup against Baltimore in Week 8. Next week the Steelers face the Bengals who are allowing over 140 rushing yards per game. Conner will never be Le’Veon Bell, Dalvin Cook , Alvin Kamara , or Christ McCaffrey. But he gets a decent amount of volume and will pop off for a 100-yard game every so often.
Teams Are Figuring Out The Buccaneers
Reactionary? Maybe. But over their last two games the Buccaneers haven’t looked the same. As a lobbyist for their defense I’ll even admit they were played like a fiddle on Sunday night. Tom Brady looked awful barely eclipsing 200 passing yards with three interceptions. They finished with eight total rushing yards as a team and only Mike Evans finished with more than 50 receiving yards. For those who want to chalk it up as a bad game, then how do you explain last Monday’s game against the Giants? That game resulted in a win, but that was a closer contest than it should’ve been after the Giants entered the fourth quarter with the lead.
For fantasy? This stinks on ice. Tom Brady may still be the only player you start with some semblance of confidence. You almost have to start Mike Evans and Chris Godwin , but how good do you feel about that? Mike Evans ’ lack of usage when Chris Godwin is in the offense is well documented, as are his short yardage touchdowns. Godwin’s had issues staying on the field. Gronk had just one catch for two yards last night. And once Antonio Brown gets going he’ll have some good weeks that cut into the workload of others. I’m starting to get the sense that nobody among Tampa Bay’s pass catchers is better than a WR2. The backfield is a tough read every single week. Between Ronald Jones dropping passes and Leonard Fournette ’s lack of touchdowns lately, both are becoming difficult to start. Next week is an easy bounce back performance against Carolina. But both teams are a bit different than they were when they first met. The Panthers put up a competitive game against the Chiefs on Sunday and the Bucs haven’t clicked lately. Perhaps there are too many cooks in the kitchen? This is a “get right” game if there ever was one. If they can’t put up points on Sunday the fantasy community will likely implode.
The Week 13 Conundrum
Here’s what is outlandishly stupid about the NFL’s schedule. There are two teams on bye in Week 13. And not just two slouchy teams that hold minimal fantasy relevance. Nay, in Week 13 in one of the most crucial weeks for fantasy football we’re without the Panthers and Buccaneers. That’s right there will be no Christian McCaffrey , Robby Anderson , D.J. Moore , Tom Brady , Mike Evans , Chris Godwin , Antonio Brown , Rob Gronkowski , Bucs D/ST, etc. A do-or-die week for fantasy managers and we could be without some studs. If you’re a fringe playoff team right now, what is your plan? Do you ride these players the next few weeks and hope you aren’t sweating it out in Week 13? If you were offered Dalvin Cook for your Christian McCaffrey , would you take it? It’s possible and maybe probably with what Cook has done the last two weeks. Both players have returned from injury and have looked perfectly fine. The biggest concern will be McCaffrey because when healthy he’s a top three play at his position. But even in a year where the tight end position once again sucks, it’s not ideal to be without Gronk. You can survive by streaming a D/ST if you own the Bucs but we’re without notable pass catchers to finish the fantasy regular season.
During August when we prep for our fantasy drafts we try not to overreact to bye weeks or having too many guys on the same bye week. And we also try not to downgrade players with the dreaded bye in Week 13. But 2020 has served up a disgusting eight-course meal and we’re only halfway through it. If you’re sitting at 3-6, 4-5, or 5-4 and you have this problem looming, you might be facing some tough decisions if your fantasy fate hangs in the balance. And remember, most trade deadlines are before Week 13 so it’s time to take a good, long look in the mirror and assess future plans.
Update: So about three hours after publishing this article it was revealed that McCaffrey may miss some time with a shoulder injury. So now you have to deal with CMC likely missing Week 10 (and possibly more) and the team still has their bye week to contend with. If you're a fringe playoff team you should definitely look to move him.