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Inside the Matchup

Week 9

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | HC Green



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

LV @ LAC | MIA @ ARI | PIT @ DAL | NO @ TB



- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Packers at 49ers - (Caron)
Line: GB - 7.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Aside from the one - admittedly ugly - blip on his radar this season, Aaron Rodgers has seemingly returned to the elite fantasy quarterback conversation here in 2020 and it’s time that we really start to recognize that he’s a weekly top five option at the position especially in strong matchups like the one he’ll face here in Week 9.

Rodgers is coming off of a three-touchdown performance against the Vikings in Week 8 which was actually a downtick from his four-touchdown performance against the Texans in Week 7 and now he faces a 49ers defense that is quite banged up on a week when the Packers are missing each of the top three running backs from their depth chart. In other words, this could easily be another 40-attempt day for Rodgers. The only real concern for Rodgers owners should be that the 49ers are so brutally affected by injuries right now that the Packers might just get out to a multi-score lead in the first half and implement a run-heavy approach throughout the second half.

Even if that does happen, though, the Packers will need to score multiple times early and by that point it’s likely that the passing game has done enough damage to make fantasy owners happy. The only real consistent pass catching weapon in this offense is Davante Adams who is a no-brainer top three starter at his position every week regardless of matchup, so the consolidation of fantasy point production has made it pretty easy to make decisions with this Packers passing game.

The only player in the Green Bay passing attack who we should really be on edge with is tight end Robert Tonyan. Tonyan started the season off extremely hot with five touchdowns through his first four games, but he’s yet to find the end zone since that point. He did produce a solid enough fantasy day this past week against the Vikings when he caught five of seven targets for 79 yards, but he’s still only a low-end borderline TE1 for fantasy. The 49ers have been good at shutting down opposing tight ends this season, but there are enough injuries and bye week issues at the position this week that Tonyan should probably be in most lineups.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: A strained calf has kept Aaron Jones limited in practice and it would be much more likely that he’d be ready to suit up if this game were being played on Sunday, but because it’s a Thursday night game it’s probably best to assume that the Packers will be without their star running back here in Week 9. If he does play, of course, Jones needs to be in your lineup, but we’ll go with the assumption that he’s going to be out for the purposes of this week’s article.

Backups Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon will also miss this week’s contest, which leaves the Packers scrambling a bit to find warm bodies that can carry the ball this week. It seems most likely that we’ll see some sort of a backfield split between Dexter Williams and Tyler Ervin, neither of whom are exceptionally talented, and that will likely lead to this being a mediocre fantasy situation. If you’ve been left scrambling, though, prevailing wisdom seems to indicate that Williams would be the more likely player to handle early down work while Ervin is better suited for passing down situations. Given that the Packers are a full touchdown favorites, there’s a good chance that the team will be utilizing their backs more often as runners than as pass catchers in this particular contest. Neither Williams nor Ervin are particularly strong plays, but both are Flex options this week if you’re in a tough spot.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
WR1: Davante Adams (high-end)
TE1: Robert Tonyan (high-end)
Flex: Dexter Williams, Tyler Ervin (PPR only)
Bench: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darrius Shepherd

Passing Game Thoughts: The NFL’s most injury-riddled team, the San Francisco 49ers, have an extraordinarily tough situation on their hands here in Week 9 as they’re playing on a Thursday night game just a day after learning that each of their top three wide receivers - Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne - will miss the game after they hit the COVID-19 list. This devastating bit of news just piggybacks onto an already ugly situation in the San Francisco passing game as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and superstar tight end George Kittle also hit the IR this week.

With all of these players out, this is likely a situation to avoid in general if at all possible, but the landscape appears to be that Nick Mullens will get the start at quarterback. That doesn’t sound great, but Mullens actually hasn’t been terrible in the opportunities he’s had so far this season. He certainly outplayed Garoppolo in Week 8 when he stepped in against Seattle and he had a 343-yard day earlier this season against the Giants. The upside is low in this offense given the lack of weapons, so don’t expect much from Mullens, but it could be worse if you’re in a two-QB league and have to start him this week.

From a receiver standpoint, we’re likely looking at Trent Taylor and Richie James being the starters. There’s also a chance that tight end Jordan Reed could be activated prior to the game, so keep an eye on that. Reed is still a player who has some upside at an ugly position, so he could find his way into lineups in deeper leagues. Other than that, though, this passing game should be avoided for fantasy purposes.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers will again be without Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson yet somehow their running back room looks less banged up than their quarterbacks and pass catchers. Needless to say, this is not a great situation for an offense. Nevertheless, JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon have proven to be viable fantasy options in other games when the players ahead of them on the depth chart have been out, so look for the 49ers to lean heavily again on them here in Week 9.

Hasty saw 12 carries this past week in San Francisco’s loss to Seattle, which he took for just 29 yards, but he did score a touchdown. That was a substantially higher share of the carries than McKinnon saw, as he carried the ball just three times, although he also was able to get into the end zone on the ground. McKinnon is, however, the better pass catching weapon as he caught four passes for 40 yards on the day and has caught multiple passes in six of the 49ers’ eight games, including a seven-catch performance back in Week 4.

This looks like a game that could get away from San Francisco early, so betting on the pass catching back would seem to be a smart decision if you’re choosing between these players. Neither one is a particularly strong play, though, so it’s probably best to consider them no more than low-end Flex plays and start them accordingly with your league’s scoring format.

Value Meter:
TE1: Jordan Reed (low-end)
Flex: Jerick McKinnon (PPR only), JaMycal Hasty (non-PPR only)
Bench: Nick Mullens, Trent Taylor, Richie James

Prediction: Packers 30, 49ers 13 ^ Top

Panthers at Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -10.5
Total: 52.5

Passing Game Thoughts: With two poor performances in his past three games, the shine is beginning to wear off a bit on Teddy Brigdewater and this Carolina Panthers passing game. This week he’ll face a tough matchup against an improved Kansas City defense that’s given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. Bridgewater is a mid-level QB2.

Wide receiver Robby Anderson has been operating as the Panthers’ WR1 this season and that’s been a huge blow to budding star receiver D.J. Moore who enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 but has disappointed a bit thus far in 2020. Moore is still getting targeted between five to eight times per game typically and he’s been productive with those targets, but he’s more of a WR2 at the moment. Meanwhile Anderson is probably closer to a low-end WR1 right now given his higher target share.

Another player to keep an eye on is fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel who has been quietly sneaking up the fantasy rankings. He’s been targeted at least four times in all but one game this season and he’s also seeing a few carries each week, especially near the goal line as of late, where he’s scored a pair of touchdowns over the past two weeks. Samuel isn’t strong enough to be considered more than a WR3/Flex, but he’s someone who could benefit significantly if the team does fall behind on the scoreboard as they might in this game.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: The day we’ve been waiting for has finally come...or so we think? Running back Christian McCaffrey is expected to be back in action this weekend and could be pushed back right into a nearly full workload as the team is practically in must-win mode if they want to make a run at the playoffs this season. While backup Mike Davis has filled in admirably, there’s no question that McCaffrey is the more talented player and won’t find himself sitting on the bench much unless the Panthers decide that he’s just not fully healthy.

It’s hard to know exactly what will happen, but if he’s active, CMC needs to be in all fantasy lineups. He’s a superstar, league-winning talent with gigantic upside and he’s game script independent, so he will be contributing regardless of the scoreboard.

As for Davis, it’s probably wise to leave him on your bench this week assuming McCaffrey is healthy. He’s been a great fill-in, but it’s likely that his time for fantasy contribution has come to pass here in 2020.

Value Meter:
QB2: Teddy Bridgewater
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
WR1: Robby Anderson (low-end)
WR2: D.J. Moore
WR3: Curtis Samuel
Bench: Mike Davis, Ian Thomas

Passing Game Thoughts: On the Kansas City side, we pretty much know what the deal is at this point. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are must-starts in basically any matchup and the other players in this passing attack are borderline Flex plays at best. Sure, someone else is probably going to contribute something, but there’s seemingly been no rhyme or reason behind which depth piece will go off each week so it’s kind of a crapshoot.

This week the Chiefs face a surprisingly good Panthers secondary that has given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season. They held Matt Ryan to zero passing touchdowns in two games, along with holding Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert and Nick Foles to single passing touchdown days. The only QBs who’ve hit the Panthers for multiple passing scores were Kyler Murray who somehow threw three touchdowns on just 133 passing yards against the Panthers and Drew Brees who tossed a pair of scores to go with 287 passing yards. This isn’t a particularly great matchup for the Chiefs, but this offense is good enough that we shouldn’t be too worried about the core pieces.

One thing to keep an eye on is that second-year receiver Mecole Hardman saw a significant bump in playing time this past week and may finally have ascended the depth chart above Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. Hardman played the second-most snaps of all Chiefs wideouts in Week 8 and saw a season high nine targets, which he converted for seven receptions, 96 yards and a touchdown. With Sammy Watkins possibly missing another game with an injury, Hardman has to be on the radar as a Flex option this week.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: It’s tough to know whether or not the Chiefs backfield is a full on split or if the game script against the Jets this past week just made it so. Either way, fantasy owners of Clyde Edwards-Helaire have to be worried right now that their perceived stud RB1 might have just fallen down into the mid-to-low-end RB2 conversation given the addition of veteran Le’Veon Bell.

This week the duo will face a Panthers defense that has been absolutely destroyed by opposing running games so far this season, so there’s actually a potential for both players to have some fantasy value in this one. The Panthers have already given up nine running back rushing touchdowns this season and there’s a very strong possibility that they’ll give up more this week against this powerful Kansas City offense.

We’ll likely get a better idea of neutral game script usage this week, but for now we’ll consider Edwards-Helaire a high-end RB2 and Bell a low-end RB2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (high-end), Le’Veon Bell (low-end)
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Mecole Hardman (only if Watkins is out)
Bench: Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle

Prediction: Chiefs 30, Panthers 20 ^ Top

Broncos @ Falcons - (Swanson)
Line: ATL -4.0
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Broncos head into this Week 9 contest against the Falcons riding high on an improbable comeback win against the Chargers. Denver scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to shock the Chargers on a last-second touchdown pass from Drew Lock to KJ Hamler.

Lock was impressive last week with three passing touchdowns and 248 yards on 26 of 41 passing. But on the season, the former second-round pick of the 2019 draft has not been great for fantasy owners, and he has not taken that next step the Broncos would had hoped. Lock’s completion percentage is down from 64% in 2019 to 58% in 2020, and he has five interceptions to just four passing touchdowns.

From a matchup perspective, things do not get much better for Lock and the Broncos receiving threats than a game against the Falcons. Only the Seahawks have given up more points to quarterbacks than the Falcons, although Atlanta did limit both Matthew Stafford and Teddy Bridgwater to just one passing touchdown each.

You may not want to risk playing Lock in anything other than two-quarterback leagues. The receiving options on Denver, however, and certainly in play. Ten different wide receivers have posted double-digit fantasy points this season against the Falcons. The latest of whom was Curtis Samuel, with two touchdowns last week in the rain in Charlotte.

A fun matchup to watch will be a pair of rookies going outside. A.J. Terrell will likely match up against Jerry Jeudy, a rematch of the 2019 National Championship game. Terrell currently ranks as the No.23 corner according to and while Jeudy has not been as impressive as the No. 66-ranked WR.

Another interesting matchup will be Noah Fant against the Falcons linebackers. Atlanta has given by far the most points to opposing touchdowns, with eight receiving touchdowns in eight games. Fant should have a field day this week and is one of our favorite DFS plays at tight end.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: The Falcons have been pretty tough against the run this season. They ranked 22nd against fantasy running backs and have only given up one rushing touchdown since week 2. No opponent has rushed for more than 89 yards. However, the Falcons can be beaten with passes to running back out of the backfield.

The trio of Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, and Royce Freeman have combined to rank 23rd in the league. Not a great number for a team that would like to be a run-heavy team and play solid defense under defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio.

Gordon ranks 17 at the position with 12.6 fantasy points per game. He has just one 100-yard game on the season, but he continues to provide fantasy points for his owners with at least one touchdown in four of his six games.

Lindsay ranks 32 overall and should only be considered a low-end flex play. He is dealing with jammed toes and could be limited.

An interesting development to watch is this game is the pending team suspension of defensive end Takk McKinley, who aired some grievances on Twitter the dismay of head coach Raheem Morris. Should McKinley not play, his absence on outside runs and the pass rush would help the Broncos.

Value Meter:
QB2: Drew Lock (Low-End)
RB2: Melvin Gordon (High-End)
RB3: Phillip Lindsay (High-End)
WR3: Tim Patrick (High-End)
WR4: DaeSean Hamilton (High-End)
WR4: KJ Hamler (High-End)
TE1: Noah Fant (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan continues to disappoint for fantasy owners are starting the season red-hot against Seattle and Dallas. Ryan now has three games out of eight played without a passing touchdown, a number that is astounding when you consider he has some of the best receiving options in the league.

Ryan somewhat salvaged his game last week with an improbable rushing touchdown. Without that, he would have given his managers a dreadful performance in what could have been a nice matchup against the Panthers.

Calvin Ridley suffered a foot injury against the Panthers. The good news is the injury does not appear to be serious and not a season-ending Jones fracture. The bad news is he is questionable for this week and may not suit up.

Fellow wide receiver Russell Gage is also questionable with shoulder and knee ailments. He logged a limited practice on Wednesday.

Over the past three weeks the Broncos rank 14th in point allowed to quarterbacks. Denver did a solid Job limiting both the Jets and the Patriots to no passing touchdowns, although rookie sensation Justin Herbert continued to stay hot with 278 yards and three passing touchdowns last week.

Two injuries to watch are cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and A.J. Bouye. The former suffer an ankle sprain, and the latter suffered a concussion against the Chargers. Both were non-participants Wednesday, and both are questionable for Sunday.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Veteran Todd Gurley currently ranks 12th in fantasy points per game. His eight rushing touchdowns in eight games is tied for second behind Dalvin Cook, and he has been one of the more consistent performers this season with double-digit fantasy points in six of eight games.

The bad news on Gurley is he has been incredibly inefficient and too touchdown reliant for his fantasy managers. Sure, if Gurley scores, he comes through for his owners. If he does not hit pay dirt, his 2.5 yard per carry average will kill a week, and he is not used at all in the passing game.

To make matters worse, the Falcons continue to use Brian Hill for about 10 carries a game. Hill looks more energetic and faster than Gurley and could eat into more carries if that trend continues.

This is not a great matchup for either player. Denver is tied with the Ravens for the fewest rushing touchdowns given up on the season (2), and no single running back has topped 89 yards on the ground since James Conner logged 106 yards back in Week 2.

On the bright spot, the Chargers did put up over 200 total yards by their running backs last week, perhaps signaling that Denver’s run defense is starting to break.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan (Low-End)
RB2: Todd Gurley (High-End)
WR1: Julio Jones (High-End)
WR2: Calvin Ridley (High-End)
WR3: Russell Gage High-End)
TE1: Hayden Hurst (Low-End)

Prediction: Atlanta 30, Denver 21 ^ Top

Seahawks at Bills - (Katz)
Line: SEA -2.5
Total: 55.0

Passing Game Thoughts: We’re at the midway point of the 2020 season and it’s pretty clear Russell Wilson will be the MVP. Thus far, he has one game with two touchdown passes and two games each with three, four, and five touchdown passes. He’s the best quarterback in fantasy football. As such, it should come as no surprise that both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are high end WR1s. This week should be more of the same.

The Bills have been stingy against wide receivers, but a lot of that has to do with their soft early season schedule, which included two games against the Jets. Metcalf and Lockett will be just fine. One area where the Bills struggle is in defending the tight end. 27% of the receiving yards they’ve allowed has gone to tight ends. Unfortunately, there’s no way to benefit from this in fantasy football as Greg Olsen and Will Dissly split snaps, making both unstartable.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Once again, we have tremendous uncertainty surrounding the Seahawks’ running game. DeeJay Dallas was a three-down back with Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde missing last week’s game due to injury. Travis Homer played through an injury of his own, but was nothing more than a backup. Dallas played 79% of the snaps and should be viewed as a legitimate RB2 in the event Carson and Hyde are out again. If Carson returns, he will be at risk of aggravating his injury, but you have to start him.

The Bills allow 23.5 fantasy points per game to running backs, but are very effective at stopping running backs in the passing game, limiting the ceilings of Carson or Dallas. Regardless, you want the Seahawks’ primary back in your lineup.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (high end)
RB2: DeeJay Dallas (mid-range)
WR1: DK Metcalf (high end)
WR1: Tyler Lockett (low end)
Bench: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Greg Olsen, Travis Homer

Passing Game Thoughts: It has now been two full games since Josh Allen has thrown a touchdown pass. This was supposed to be a battle between MVP candidates, but there’s only one remaining in this game. Allen is coming off his worst game of the season where he threw for just 154 yards plus an interception. If he can’t get back on track this week, then it’s time to seriously panic.

Opponents don’t get much easier than the Seahawks, who allow 24.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Stefon Diggs is a must start against a team that sees 74% of its receiving yards allowed to go wide receivers. The Seahwaks can’t stop outside wide receivers or slot receivers, allowing 37.4 fantasy points per game to the outside and 21.1 to the slot. John Brown returned from injury last week, but only saw two targets. Expect that number to increase considerably this week. Cole Beasley had his worst game of the season as well last week, but he’s been extremely consistent and will bounce back this week. One area where the Seahawks are alright is defending the tight end, but that’s more due to their inability to stop wide receivers. No Bills tight end is in play this week.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: We saw the balance of power start to shift in the Bills backfield last week with Zack Moss playing 53% of the snaps and commanding 14 carries against Devin Singletary’s 48% snap share and also 14 carries. Both were extremely effective running the ball so expect a similar split, but Moss had been running clearly behind Singletary up until last week. It’s clear the Bills want Moss to be more involved and he may have given them a reason to increase his workload last week. Singletary is the preferred back on passing downs and this projects to be a high scoring game with a lot of passing so he remains the better option. With that being said, Moss is the preferred goal line back so if the Bills end up inside the 10 yard line, Moss can certainly punch in a touchdown or two like he did last week. They are much more vulnerable through the air, but they still allow 26.8 fantasy points per game to running backs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen (high end)
RB2: Zack Moss (low end)
RB2: Devin Singletary (low end)
WR1: Stefon Diggs (high end)
WR3: John Brown
WR3: Cole Beasley
Bench: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Gabriel Davis

Prediction: Bills 34, Seahawks 31 ^ Top

Ravens @ Colts - (Swanson)
Line: BAL -2.0
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Lamar Jackson took the fantasy world by storm last season with 36 passing touchdowns and an NFL-record 1206 rushing yards for QB. The shared narrative in the fantasy industry was a projected negative regression for Jackson. Unfortunately for Jackson's fantasy managers, that narrative has come to fruition and then some.

Jackson enters Week 9 tied with Carson Wentz for the 11th at the position and is on pace for just 27 passing touchdowns and 939 rushing yards. Still great numbers, but not the game-changing production he provided last year.

At face value, this week’s game against the Colts is not a great matchup for Jackson and the Ravens passing offense, as only the Bears have given up fewer points to opposing quarterbacks than Indy. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals a possible big game for Jackson.

Both Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow threw for over 300 yards against the Colts, with the former posting an impressive 336/3 line. Kirk Cousins, Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, and Baker Mayfield skewed the numbers in favor of the Colts. The Colts have done a solid job limiting bad passing offenses, but potent passing attacks have had their way with Matt Eberflus’ defense.

A matchup to watch will be Marquise “Hollywood” Brown vs. veteran corner Xavier Rhodes. The veteran corner has had a resurgence in his career now that he is a Colt and currently ranks 11th overall according to Rhodes will have his hands full with the speedy Brown on deep routes. The Colts may counter with the younger Rock Ya-Sin and have Rhodes match up against Miles Boykin.

No team has given up fewer points to opposing tight ends than the Colts. In fact, the Colts are the only team in the NFL that has yet to give up a touchdown to a tight end. Mark Andrews is the No.4 ranked tight end in fantasy and a focal point of the Ravens passing game. The matchup between Andrews and the linebacking corps of the Colts, led by Darius Leonard, will be a decisive factor in the outcome of this game.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: We all think of the Ravens as a powerhouse running team led by Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson. The Ravens backfield combined to finish with the 8th-most fantasy points in 2019, yet they are the 16-ranked unit this season, and no Baltimore running back ranks in the top 30 at the position.

As a unit, the Ravens average just over five yards per carry. Unfortunately, the trio of Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards have a combined seven touchdowns in seven games, with the trio effectively killing each other’s fantasy value.

The good news for Dobbins and Edwards owners is it looks like Ingram will not play. The bad news is the Colts are the second-best run defense in the league. It is far easier to throw on the Colts than to run on them, as no player has topped 80 yards rushing in a game.

Neither Edwards nor Dobbins is a strong start this week, but both will likely see over 12 touches, and both have a chance to score. Just don’t expect monster numbers.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson (Low-End)
RB2: J.K. Dobbins (Low-End)
RB3: Gus Edwards (High-End)
WR3: Marquise Brown (High-End)
WR4: Miles Boykin (Low-End)
TE1: Mark Andrews (Mid-Range)

Passing Game Thoughts: Philip Rivers has quietly put together two impressive fantasy performances over his last two games. The veteran QB ranks 6th in average points per game since Week 6, and his 27.7 points per game is better than Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Lamar Jackson, and even Patrick Mahomes.

No, we are not advising you to play Rivers this week against Baltimore. What we are saying is the passing game for the Colts has been much better as of late and could surprise some this weekend against a Ravens defense that ranks in the middle of the pack in points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

To make matters worse for the Ravens, starting all-pro corner Marlon Humphrey and seven other defensive players have been played on the COVID-19 list. The eight players will be isolated for five days and must pass a test before they can be eligible to play. If Humphrey and linebackers Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, and Patrick Queen cannot play, the Ravens defense will be at a huge disadvantage.

The Colts' wide receiver corps has been nothing short of a disaster for fantasy owners this season. T.Y. Hilton (groin), Marcus Johnson, Michael Pittman Jr., and Zach Pascal have a combined two receiving touchdowns this season. By comparison, DK Metcalf has just one fewer fantasy point this year than all of the wide receivers on the Colts combined.

The preferred receiving options for Rivers are the tight ends and running backs for the Colts. Only the Titans and Chiefs have more fantasy points scored by tight ends, with Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, and Mo Allie-Cox combining to score five receiving touchdowns.

Doyle has a touchdown in each of the past two games, while Burton led the trio with 58 yards on four catches and a score against the Bengals back in Week 6.

Chances are there will be a touchdown scored by a Colt tight end this week, as the Ravens rank 12th in points allowed to TEs. The question is which tight end will score, making it somewhat risky to play any of them this week.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Taylor was widely considered the best running back prospect to enter the league since Saquon Barkley. Taylor boasts a size and speed combination rarely seen at the position, and his college production at Wisconsin was beyond impressive.

With a 3.9 yard per carry average and three touchdowns in seven games, Taylor has not delivered on his hype or draft cost. Taylor managed a disappointing 22 yards on 11 carries last week against the Lions, a team not known to be a tough run defense.

Head coach Frank Reich turned to Jordan Wilkins to carry the load, with the third-string back logging a career-high 89 yards and a score on 20 carries. We learned after the game that Taylor is dealing with an ankle injury - whether that is a coach bailing out a player for poor play or the truth is unknown.

What we do know is Taylor is not a strong start this week based on his poor performance, possible ankle injury, added snaps and receiving targets for Nyheim Hines, and a Ravens defense that gives up the third-fewest points to running backs.

Value Meter:
QB2: Philip Rivers (Low-End)
RB2: Jonathan Taylor (Low-End)
RB3: Jordan Wilkins (Low-End)
WR3: Michael Pittman Jr. (Low-End)
WR4: T.Y. Hilton (High-End)
TE1: Trey Burton (Low-End)

Prediction: Baltimore 28, Indianapolis 21 ^ Top

Texans @ Jaguars - (Swanson)
Line: HOU -7.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Houston Texans are greeted with a plus matchup off of their bye week, with a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and a rookie QB making his first NFL start.

Only the Seahawks and Falcons give up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Jaguars, a team that Deshaun Watson torched for 359-yards and three touchdowns in a lopsided 30-14 victory back in Week 5.

Watson,’s No.5 ranked quarterback this season, has been on a tear since the team moved on from former head coach Bill O’Brien. Watson has nine touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last three games while topping 300 passing yards in every game dating back to Week 4.

Wide receiver Will Fuller has been arguably the most consistent fantasy wide receiver since Week 2 when he dropped a goose egg again the Ravens. Fuller has a touchdown in each of the last five games and topped 100 receiving yards in two of those matchups. Fire up Fuller with great confidence this week.

If you are looking for a deep flex play at wide receiver, give veteran Randall Cobb a look this week against Jacksonville. Cobb has a touchdown or 95 yards in each of the last two games and was on the field for 72% of snaps against Tennessee before the bye.

Tight end Jordan Akins continues to be limited with an ankle injury. With Akins sidelined, Darren Fells has a touchdown in each of the last two games and a season-high 85 yards receiving against the Titans in Week 6. Only the Falcons have given up more points to opposing tight ends than the Jaguars, a team that has averaged a tight end score in all seven games this year. If Akins is out and Fells is the lone starter at TE, he could be an excellent option this week.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: If you polled 100 fantasy football fans and asked them who has averaged more fantasy points this season, David Johnson or Clyde Edwards-Helaire, chances are you would get a 98% response in favor of CEH. Johnson is boring. Johnson is a shell of who he was back in the day with the Cardinals. But Johnson still has fantasy value as the No.19 ranked RB in fantasy, with 11.3 fantasy points per game.

Fresh off the bye, Johnson gets to take on the Jaguars, a team that he torched for 103 yards on 19 touches back in Week 5. Jacksonville is the only team to rank in the bottom ten in points allowed to all skill position players, including the 5th-most to opposing running backs.

Fire up Johnson with confidence. He may not look like the same guy, but he should get you close to 100 total yards and a score on Sunday.

Value Meter:
QB1: Deshaun Watson (High-End)
RB2 David Johnson (High-End)
WR2: Will Fuller (High-End)
WR3: Brandin Cooks (Low-End)
WR3: Randall Cobb (Low-End)
TE1: Darren Fells (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: A hand injury to Gardner Minshew will force the Jaguars to start Jake Luton at quarterback this week against the Texans. According to, the team plans on giving Luton the start to see what they have in their sixth-round pick from Oregon State.

Luton completed 62% of his passes for the Beavers in 2019, with 2714 passing yards and 28 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior. At 6-6, 224 pounds, Luton has the prototypical size of a QB, but he is not a threat to run like Minshew.

It is hard to see how a move to Luton is good for any of the skill portion players on the Jags. But you could also argue that Minshew was pretty terrible for D.J. Chark and the other wideouts, and Luton could not be much worse.

From a matchup perspective, it looks promising for Luton and the receiving options. Houston ranks 11th in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks. Minshew threw for a pair of scores, and Kellan Cole and Collin Johnson each reached pay dirt while Laviska Shenault posted 79 yards on seven catches.

Chark was a no-show in that game, which has been a trend for most of the season. Hopefully, for his managers, Luton and Chark will have a strong rapport, and the rookie will lean on his big-bodied receiver.

You are starting Chark because of his touchdown upside, but it is hard to get excited about him. However, he could get the squeaky wheel treatment after his complaints following their Week 7 loss.

A COVID-19 outbreak on the Texans has drastically changed the defensive outlook for Houston in this matchup and could make things much easier for Luton. Starting SAM linebacker Whitney Mercilous and backup linebackers Dylan Cole and Jacob Martin will miss the game.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: The lone bright spot for the Jaguars in an otherwise dreadful 2020 season has been the play of undrafted rookie James Robinson. Robinson ranks 6th overall at the position in fantasy points per game and is on pace for over 1200 total yards and ten touchdowns.

Robinson did not have a great showing against the Texans in the first meeting, but he will be a huge part of the offensive attack on Sunday. As the old adage goes, a running game is the best friend of a young quarterback making their first start.

Look for the team to give at least 20 touches to Robinson, with 100 total yards and a score in the realm of possibility.

From an injury standpoint, there are no injuries on the Texans that would improve the outlook for Robinson and the running game. All four starting linebackers are relatively healthy for head coach Romeo Crennell, and veteran defensive end JJ Watt is coming off a bye week of rest and recovery. This could be a very ugly game for the Jags.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jake Luton (Low-End)
RB1 James Robinson (Low-End)
WR3: D.J. Chark (High-End)
WR3: Laviska Shenault (Low-End)
TE2: James O’Shaughnessy (Low-End)

Prediction: Houston 31, Jacksonville 14 ^ Top

Lions @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: MIN -4.5
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Offensive balance had become an encouraging storyline for the Lions recently, but all of that went out the window last Sunday. With the Colts completely locking down Detroit's running game, Matthew Stafford attempted a season-high 42 passes, completing 24 for 336 yards, 3 TDs and an INT in a blowout loss. Of course, the big story is Stafford's status for Week 9 after he was placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. It's believed to be contact related -- in other words, he hasn't tested positive -- and if that is indeed the case he would be eligible to be activated prior to Sunday's game.

Whatever happens with Stafford will have a trickledown effect on the receiver corps with the likely exception of Kenny Golladay (hip), who suffered a hip injury in Week 8 and is not expected to play against Minnesota. Without him, the burden should primarily fall to Marvin Jones (3-39-2 last week) and T.J. Hockenson (7-65-0). Jones had been relegated to roster depth for most of 2020, but if he's functioning as the de facto No. 1 receiver he holds WR3 value. Hockenson has been on the rise for a while now and is firmly entrenched as a TE1.

Only two teams have allowed more passing yards per game than Minnesota (287.3), and even last week when windy conditions condensed the field they still allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw for 291 yards and three TDs. The Vikings secondary has also been thinned by injuries, including Mike Hughes (COVID-19), Holton Hill (foot) and Cameron Dantzler (concussion). There's upside, but Stafford's status creates uncertainty.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: It was a tough day at the office for Adrian Peterson (five carries, seven yards) and D'Andre Swift (six carries, one yard) last Sunday as the Colts dominated the line of scrimmage. After some promising performances in recent games, the Lions have struggled badly on the ground over the last two. Minnesota sits 19th in rushing yards allowed per game (124.4) and 11th in yards per carry (4.2). There are some pathways to value here, though I'd give Swift more upside given his skills as a receiver as opposed to AD's ground-heavy role.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matthew Stafford (COVID-19)
RB3: D'Andre Swift
Flex: Adrian Peterson (low-end)
WR3: Marvin Jones
TE1: T.J. Hockenson
Bench: Kenny Golladay (inj)

Passing Game Thoughts: Given a week off to self scout, the Vikings apparently came away with the belief that the best way for them to win is to ask Kirk Cousins to do as little as possible. Sure, windy conditions and sustained ground success played roles, but it was clear that the gameplan to was to run, run and then run some more. When the final whistle blew, Cousins had completed 11 of 14 passes for 160 yards and a TD; other than a 50-yard screen pass to Dalvin Cook that went to the house, Cousins' longest completion of the day was 16 yards. Woof.

As you'd suspect, Adam Thielen (3-27-0 in Wk 8) and Justin Jefferson (3-26-0) were marginalized in the win. While production that low may prove to be an outlier, don't expect to see many 100-plus-yard performances unless Minnesota is forced to play catch up -- something they did a fair amount of over their first six games. I'm not ready to fully downgrade them based on one game; that being said, I don't think you can count on them to consistently produce the type of numbers their talent suggests. For now let's split the difference and call Thielen a WR2 and Jefferson a WR3.

Detroit has problems with their pass rush (10 sacks; 27th) and secondary, which is a bad combination. They sit 19th in the NFL against the pass (248.4 yards per game), but as I've pointed out before some of that is simply teams having enough success running the ball to minimize their own passing game. Rest assured, if the Vikings are pressed into playing catch-up they're well equipped to exploit the Lions via the air.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Dalvin Cook returned from a one-game absence to lay the smack down on Green Bay's defense last week, amassing 163 yards and three TDs on 30 carries -- he added 63 yards receiving, meaning he accounted for 70 percent of the Vikings' total offense in Week 9. While Cook is a surefire RB1, Alexander Mattison looks like he'll function as a backup going forward and not something closer to a complement. The Lions rank 23rd in rush defense this season (130 YPG), though they held up well a week ago, limiting the Colts to 3.1 yards per carry.

Value Meter:
RB1: Dalvin Cook
WR2: Adam Thielen
WR3: Justin Jefferson
Bench: Kirk Cousins, Alexander Mattison, Irv Smith

Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 24 ^ Top

Bears @ Titans - (Swanson)
Line: TEN -6.5
Total: 46.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Nick Foles led the Bears to impressive wins over the Bucs, Falcons, and the Panthers after taking over the starting role in Week 3. The last two weeks have not been as impressive for Foles, with losses to the Rams and Saints in which the Bears scored a combined 33 points.

With eight touchdowns and seven interceptions to go along with 1411 passing yards, Foles is not a quarterback who should be played in anything other than deep super-flex leagues. The value Foles brings to fantasy football is the fact that he helps make Allen Robinson fantasy viable, which cannot always be said for Mitchell Trubisky.

Another player in the passing game who is starting to have value is rookie Darnell Mooney, a fifth-rounder from Tulane. Mooney is the speed threat in the passing game and the player who Foles uses to stretch the field. Mooney scored a touchdown last week and caught a nice post route from Foles against the Saints. He carries a boom or bust label but could boom again this week against the Titans.

You can pass on the Titans, a team that has given up the third-most points to opposing wide receivers and the ninth-most to quarterbacks. Rookie Joe Burrow managed a modest 249 passing yards and two touchdowns, while three quarterbacks have thrown three or more touchdowns against Mike Vrabel’s defense.

Again, chances are you are not going to start Foles. But you should have confidence starting Robinson, and Mooney is in play as a flex as well.

The Titans rank in the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Darren Fells, Noah Fant, and Eric Ebron had good games vs. Tennessee, but it will take a bit of a leap of faith to start Jimmy Graham. After showing great promise to start the season, Graham has cooled off to the tune of 3.4, 3.1, and 1.3 fantasy points in his last three games.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: It’s hard to find a running back who has been more disappointing than David Montgomery over the past two years. The third-round running back from Iowa State failed to reach 900 rushing yards last season despite earning 242 carries with the Bears. His 3.7 yard per carry average was far below the league average, and he managed just seven total touchdowns with almost 300 combined touches.

2020 has not been much better for Montgomery. He is on pace for 884 rushing yards and two touchdowns - not exactly what you would want from an RB2.

From a matchup perspective, the Titans are an attractive matchup. Davin Cook, James Robinson, Melvin Gordon, and James Conner played well against Tennessee. Heck, even David Johnson, another disappointing player like Montgomery, managed to post 12 fantasy points against the Titans.

You would think that if Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine (yes, that Samaje Perine) can combine to score two touchdowns and rush for 94 yards, David Montgomery could have a decent day.

An injury to keep an eye on is center Cody Whitehair. The veteran offensive lineman missed the first game of his career last week against the Saints due to a calf injury. If he can return to action, it would give a boost to both the running and passing game.

Update: Cody Whitehair was added to the COVID-19 reserve list and will not play.

Value Meter:
QB2: Nick Foles (Low-End)
RB2: David Montgomery (Low-End)
WR1: Allen Robinson (Low-End)
WR3: Darnell Mooney (Low-End)
TE1: Jimmy Graham (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill ranks 8th overall at the quarterback position according to His 25 fantasy points per game place him 10th at the position ahead of other more popular draft options like Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, and even Lamar Jackson.

If you waited on quarterback and drafted or added Tannehill from the waiver wire, you found a diamond in the rough. Aside from a Week 3 performance against the Vikings in which he threw for 321 yards but failed to throw a TD pass, Tannehill has been a consistent performer who managed at least two passing touchdowns every week.

Look for that to continue this week against Chicago, although Chicago is the most stingy team for opposing quarterbacks. The Bears have given up just eight passing touchdowns in eight games and only two passing touchdowns to wide receivers.

The two ways Tannehill will reach two or more passing touchdowns will be by using his tight ends and continuing to keep Corey Davis involved. Five of the eight passing touchdowns given up by Chicago have gone to tight ends, which could mean a bounce-back week for Jonnu Smith.

By keeping Davis involved, Tannehill is not reliant on just A.J. Brown, and defenses cannot key on the second-year WR. Brown is still the No.1 WR, but Davis has touchdowns in three of his last four games while enjoying 20 total targets in Weeks 7 and 8.

A matchup to watch in this game will be the pass rush of the Bears going against backup left tackle Ty Sambrailo and right tackle Dennis Kelly. The pass rush of the Bengals last week did not present much of a fight for the two tackles. Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack are one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league and will make Tannehill’s life difficult if the tackles cannot hold in protection.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Derrick Henry managers are starting their stud back against these Bears, or any team for that matter. If there is a matchup-proof running back in the game, it is the bruising back for the Titans, who is a threat to score a touchdown against any team in the league.

From a matchup perspective, the Bears fall in the middle of the pack in points allowed. Akiem Nicks and Bilal Nichols have done a solid job clogging the middle of the field and limiting runs in the A gap, while speedy linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan are excellent in run support.

The Bears limited Alvin Kamara to just 67 yards on 12 carries, but were thrashed for nine catches for 96 yards on receptions out of the backfield. Henry is not going to put up receiving numbers like that, but you can expect around 25 carries for around 100 yards and a possible score.

Not a plus matchup for Henry, but certainly a game in which the King can still give you excellent production.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill (Low-End)
RB1: Derrick Henry (High-End)
WR2: A.J. Brown (High-End)
WR2: Corey Davis (Low-End)
TE1: Jonnu Smith (Low-End)

Prediction: Tennessee 21, Chicago 17 ^ Top

Giants at Football Team - (Katz)
Line: WAS -3.0
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Daniel Jones is coming off a very respectable fantasy performance despite another disastrous real life game. His 256 yards passing were his second most on the season and he threw two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he still displayed his patented lack of pocket awareness and inability to read a defense. Things are not going to be much easier against a team with a ferocious pass rush that allows just 17.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

This could be a good week for Evan Engram. The Football Team allows just 0.43 touchdowns per game to wide receivers, but 0.71 touchdowns per game to tight ends. 28% of the receiving yards allowed by the Football Team go to tight ends. This puts a damper on Sterling Shepard, who has looked fantastic since his return from turf toe. Shepard is the undisputed WR1 in New York with 18 targets in the two games since his return. Darius Slayton saw nine targets last week, so he’s still a part of the offense even with Shepard returning. Golden Tate has six targets total over his last three games. He’s not fantasy viable.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: With Devonta Freeman out, Wayne Gallman was expected to be the primary back for the Giants. That didn’t happen as he played just 43% of the snaps. He did touch the ball 13 times and at least gave fantasy managers a passable performance, but there’s nothing to get excited about here. Even if Freeman returns, this is a situation to avoid. Washington is allowing about a touchdown per game on the ground. The Giants ran the ball well in their last meeting, but most of that was Daniel Jones. Freeman managed just 3.4 yards per carry. Alfred Morris got involved last week, which speaks to the state of the Giants running game. No one here is startable, but if Freeman is active, he could be a desperation play.

Value Meter:
WR3: Sterling Shepard
Flex: Darius Slayton
TE1: Evan Engram (low end)
Bench: Daniel Jones, Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman, Golden Tate

Passing Game Thoughts: I must admit I expected Alex Smith to be the starting quarterback by now but Kyle Allen has been good enough in his last two games. He didn’t have to do much against the Cowboys, but he threw for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Giants in Week 6.

The Giants are middle of the road at defending receivers so there’s no reason to be concerned about Terry McLaurin, who has seen at least seven targets in every game this season. The only other pass catcher of note would be Logan Thomas. The Giants allow just 10.1 fantasy points per game to the tight end position and Thomas has scored in two straight games, but he’s still seen just four targets in each of his past four games. Thomas is a touchdown or bust option, which is good enough this season.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Antonio Gibson is coming off his best game of the season, but anything that happens against the Cowboys must be taken with a grain of salt. Gibson had just 30 yards on nine carries against the Giants and played only 37% of the snaps in that game. Gibson has found the end zone in four of his seven games this season and with game script not getting away from the Football Team, he should maintain his split with J.D. McKissic. 22% of targets against the Giants go to running backs, which favors McKissic, who remains the primary passing down back. The Giants allow just 3.7 yards per carry and have allowed seven rushing touchdowns on the season. This isn’t a smash spot for Gibson or McKissic, but don’t fear putting them in lineups.

Value Meter:
RB2: Antonio Gibson (mid-range)
WR2: Terry McLaurin (high end)
TE2: Logan Thomas
Flex: J.D. McKissic
Bench: Kyle Allen

Prediction: Football Team 23, Giants 17 ^ Top

Raiders at Chargers - (Caron)
Line: LAC -1.0
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: A 111-yard game in a win over the Browns isn’t exactly what we had hoped for from Derek Carr in Week 8, but it’s worth considering that the weather in the Raiders-Browns game was completely terrible, as it was in quite a few of the games played in the north-east this past week. Carr has been a decent low-end QB1 or high-end QB2 most weeks so we’ll chalk that one up as a forgivable performance.

This week, though, we’ll be expecting significantly more from the Raiders QB as he’ll be facing a Chargers defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season. It’s gotten bad enough that over the past two weeks, they’ve given up a combined five passing touchdowns to Gardner Minshew and Drew Lock - two players that are being rumored to be considered for replacement by their own franchises. Needless to say, this is a great matchup for Carr who could sneak into some lineups as a low-end QB1 this week, but is probably more of a high-end QB2 in most leagues.

The wide receivers in Las Vegas are still spread too thin right now for anyone to really be trusted in normal leagues. The team is rolling out Henry Ruggs III, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow, and it sounds like they’ll have rookie Bryan Edwards back this week as well. The only pass catcher who is a locked-in fantasy starter right now is tight end Darren Waller whose target share continues to dwarf everyone else’s in this passing game. Waller had a bit of a down week in Week 8, but again, it was a weird situation weather-wise and he’s been excellent in just about every other game. Continue to trust him as the second-best TE currently active in fantasy football, behind only Travis Kelce.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: A late-week addition to the injury report, running back Josh Jacobs’ status is now in question for this Week 9 contest against the Chargers. Jacobs was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, but then appeared on the injury report on Thursday with a knee issue, although reports also indicate that he’s dealing with some sort of non-COVID-related illness. We’ll need to pay attention to his status on Friday to see if he’s back on the practice field and then verify on Sunday prior to kickoff.

Assuming Jacobs is healthy and active, he’ll be up against a Chargers run defense that’s given up over 100 rushing yards to opposing running backs in back-to-back contests after a very strong start to the season. Jacobs has been a bit of a disappointment this season given his strong touch share, but he’s had a few “boom” weeks and he saw a season-high 31 carries this past week, although it was the first time this season that he failed to catch a pass. Jacobs has actually been quite productive as a pass catcher this season, but the passing game continues to get more crowded in Las Vegas each week, so there’s a possibility that he’ll end up seeing less pass catching work as the season goes on. Nevertheless, he’s practically a lock for 15 touches and he’s one of the few backs who has 25-touch upside on a weekly basis, so consider him a low-end RB1 even though he’s barely holding on to that status.

If Jacobs is out, look for the team to turn to veterans Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker. Booker is more likely to see the rushing down work although both players are known as fairly decent passing down weapons. Booker has taken 25 carries so far this season to Richard’s 13, so a two-to-one rushing share would seem to be pretty likely, while they’d probably split the passing down work. Booker could be Flexed if need be in PPR formats.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr (high-end)
RB1: Josh Jacobs (low-end)
TE1: Darren Waller (high-end)
Flex: Devontae Booker (PPR only, if Jacobs is out)
Bench: Booker (if Jacobs is in), Jalen Richard, Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Jason Witten

Passing Game Thoughts: The breakout season for rookie Justin Herbert just continues to grow each week as the Chargers QB has continued to prove himself to be a fantasy QB1. He’s thrown for at least three touchdowns in four straight contests now and he’s even making contributions on the ground. He may not be Lamar Jackson or even his teammate Tyrod Taylor as a runner, but he’s not immobile back there and he’s capable of running for scores near the goal line as well.

Herbert’s had moments with tight end Hunter Henry who continues to be a low-end TE1 most weeks as well as the team’s WR1 Mike Williams who he’s connected with for three scores over the past three weeks, but the real story is the chemistry he’s developing with Keenan Allen. Allen was being all but forgotten by fantasy drafters this offseason, but he’s reminding everyone that he’s still a target monster this season. Allen has now been targeted at least eight times in all but one game this season and the only exception was his Week 5 contest when he was knocked out of the game early and that came after he had already scored a touchdown. Allen has produced double-digit PPR fantasy points in every single game this season and he’s exceeded 20 points three times. The Chargers offense appears to be skewing more heavily toward the passing game by the week and Allen is becoming a weekly must-start WR1 once again.

The Raiders aren’t a particularly strong pass defense but they did get torched for back-to-back 340-plus passing yard games prior to their Week 8 performance against Baker Mayfield and the Browns where they - and some ugly weather - held Mayfield to just 122 passing yards. Allen is the stud we’re really excited about in this one, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have Henry and even Williams in your lineup if you’re looking for some upside here in Week 9.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler continues to be sidelined and the split backfield between veteran Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley isn’t doing anyone any favors at the moment. While Jackson did get 17 carries in Week 8, that came after just a five-carry performance in Week 7 against the Jaguars, a 15-carry game against the Saints in Week 5, and a six-carry game against the Buccaneers in Week 4. Needless to say, it’s been a rollercoaster for fantasy owners and oftentimes an extremely frustrating one.

Jackson seems to be the player we should be more interested in, especially in PPR formats, as he’s been by far the better pass catcher of the two. We’ll look at him as a mid-level RB2 this week, while Kelley is more of a touchdown-dependent Flex option and probably one that you’d be wiser to bench for someone with a higher touch upside.

Value Meter:
QB1: Justin Herbert
RB2: Justin Jackson
WR1: Keenan Allen
TE1: Hunter Henry (low-end)
Flex: Mike Williams
Bench: Joshua Kelley, Jalen Guyton, Donald Parham

Prediction: Chargers 31, Raiders 23 ^ Top

Dolphins at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: ARI -4.5
Total: 48.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Tua Tagovailoa era began in Miami this past week and while the Dolphins were able to walk away with a victory, fantasy owners can’t be too excited to see the rookie QB operate as a low volume game manager. It was just his first start, of course, so we can’t necessarily draw definitive conclusions from what we saw, but the fact that the Dolphins were unwilling to let Tua uncork the ball down the field is certainly disappointing for this passing game, especially wide receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki who have already been struggling to find consistency here in 2020.

Parker has now failed to exceed three catches in three straight games, but his scoring has been buoyed a bit by scoring two touchdowns on his six total receptions over that stretch. He’s a talented player, but a low target volume just isn’t going to be fantasy friendly for him or any player, and this week he will likely be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, so this is not a great situation. Parker has to be looked at as a WR3/Flex play this week at best and he’s someone who could be on quite a few benches.

Gesicki started the 2020 season off hot, but he’s cooled down substantially as of late. Gesicki has been held to one or zero catches in four of his past five games, including a one-catch for eight yards performance in Tua’s debut this past week. Gesicki has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s simply not a consistent enough contributor to be trusted for fantasy purposes right now.

Similarly, the other pass catching weapons in this passing game, including Preston Williams, need to be on fantasy benches until we see them start to establish some connection with Tagovailoa.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Myles Gaskin had been operating as one of the league’s under-the-radar bell cow backs to start the 2020 season, but there’s significantly less optimism about this running game now that he’s been added to the IR with a knee injury.

Backup running back Matt Breida (hamstring) didn’t practice on Thursday and looks iffy at best to play on Sunday. If he is active, Breida is a sneaky Flex play against a below-average Cardinals run defense, but there’s a good chance that we’ll be looking at some sort of combination of Patrick Laird, Jordan Howard and possibly even rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. this week. None of these players have been active in the Miami offense as of late so it’s extremely difficult to know what this coaching staff will choose to do and this is probably a situation to avoid if at all possible.

Value Meter:
Flex: DeVante Parker, Matt Breida
Bench: Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Laird, Jordan Howard, Lynn Bowden Jr., Preston Williams, Mike Gesicki

Passing Game Thoughts: A bye week is seemingly the only thing that could slow down the red hot 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray, as the Cardinals QB has scored at least 20 fantasy points in every game so far this season. His passing work has been shaky at times, but Murray has produced four 270-plus yard passing days in his seven starts. Better yet, his rushing numbers are off the charts as he’s currently on pace to approach 1,000 rushing yards along with a ridiculous 16 rushing scores. Certainly we can’t expect that type of pace to continue, but these are the exact same conversations we were having with Lamar Jackson just a year ago at this time, and he went on to run away as the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback.

Murray is an unquestioned QB1 right now and he’s been absolutely locked in with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who is coming off of a 10-catch, 103-yard, one touchdown performance against the Seahawks. Hopkins has been targeted at least seven times in every game this season and he’s right back to being one of the matchup-proof super-stud receivers that we’ve come to know him as.

Unfortunately, the other pass catching weapons in this Arizona offense just haven’t been nearly as consistent. Larry Fitzgerald is making a few catches per game, but nothing worthy of fantasy consideration. Meanwhile Christian Kirk has stepped up with four straight double-digit PPR fantasy games, but he’s doing it on such little volume that it’s tough to believe that it’ll continue. Kirk has the talent and explosiveness to be a WR3 even on five-or-so targets, but we’d like to see more before we consider him to be anything more than that WR/3Flex play.

The Dolphins defense isn’t a great matchup as they’ve given up the 11th-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs so far this season. It’s worth diving a bit deeper into, though, as a glance at the game log will show that while they’ve done a great job against QBs like Jimmy Garoppolo, Gardner Minshew, Joe Flacco and Jared Goff, the ones they’ve struggled against have been the three mobile QBs they’ve faced - Russell Wilson, Josh Allen and Cam Newton. Look for that trend to continue this week.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: It appears as though Kenyan Drake is unlikely to suit up this week against the Dolphins so we’re finally going to get the chance to see what Chase Edmonds can do as a starter. Edmonds has been by far and away the more productive player between he and Drake this season, showing off skills as both a runner and a pass catcher, so it’ll be exciting to see him touch the ball more than 10 times this week.

A matchup against the Dolphins, who have given up the 10th-most fantasy points per game thus far to opposing running backs, looks like just the type of game for Edmonds to really break out in. The Dolphins have only allowed three running backs to rush for more than 50 yards against them in a game this season, but they’ve faced a bunch of committee backfields, so those numbers are extremely skewed. It’s always scary to call a player an RB1 when he hasn’t been given RB1 touches, but this is exactly the type of game when we should be doing that. Lock Edmonds in as a low-end RB1 in this one. He’s got high-end RB1 upside and could be a league-winner down the stretch if he can perform while Drake is out.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray (high-end)
RB1: Chase Edmonds (low-end)
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins (high-end)
Flex: Christian Kirk
Bench: Eno Benjamin, Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson

Prediction: Cardinals 27, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Steelers at Cowboys - (Katz)
Line: PIT -14.0
Total: 42.0

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s been a lackluster couple weeks for Ben Roethlisberger between poor yardage totals and interceptions. However, he is set to smash this week against a terrible Cowboys defense. The Cowboys allow 19.2 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, but they’re much worse than that number would suggest. The Steelers are undefeated and the Cowboys allow 33.25 points per game.

Last week was a disaster for anyone who started Diontae Johnson. It was the first game he played fully where he didn’t reach double digit targets. He caught just one pass. I implore you not to overreact and bench him this week. He is still the clearly WR1 in Pittsburgh and will feast on a Cowboys secondary allowing 72.4% of the receiving yards against it to wide receivers. They especially struggle against outside receivers, allowing 27.3 fantasy points per game to the outside. Where they actually perform well is defending the slot, allowing just 10.9 fantasy points per game there. I wouldn’t dare suggest you sit any relevant Steeler, but JuJu Smith-Schuster has run 80% of his snaps from the slot. Chase Claypool is the clear WR3, easily surpassing James Washington. He was the primary producer against the Ravens, but has been inconsistent since Johnson returned. Against the Cowboys, everyone is in play. That includes Eric Ebron, who has posted back to back TE1 performances while commanding an 85% snap share. The Cowboys allow a respectable 11.9 fantasy points per game to tight ends.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: In a back and forth game against the Ravens, James Conner played a season low 58% of the snaps. That may seem concerning, but Conner wasn’t being replaced by anyone – the Steelers just ran a lot of plays without any running backs on the field. Jaylen Samuels played 15% of the snaps and Anthony McFarland played one snap. Conner is still the lead back and the goal line back, which is great news against a deplorable Cowboys run defense allowing 170 rushing yards per game. Conner is also seeing consistent usage in the passing game, averaging 3.3 targets per game. Cowboys opponents don’t typically throw to running backs because it’s just not necessarily with receivers constantly open, but Conner’s rushing upside and touchdown upside makes him a must start.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger (mid-range)
RB1: James Conner (high end)
WR1: Diontae Johnson (low end)
WR2: Chase Claypool
WR3: JuJu Smith-Schuster
TE1: Eric Ebron (low end)

Passing Game Thoughts: It is completely fair to say that Ben DiNucci has already thrown his last career NFL pass. It would be a major upset if he was even active for another game. With Andy Dalton on the Covid list, the Cowboys will be starting a quarterback that wasn’t on the roster as recently as two weeks ago. Their choices are Garrett Gilbert, who last played in the AAF, or Cooper Rush, who was Dak Prescott’s backup between Tony Romo’s retirement and the arrival of Dalton. Rush and Gilbert have a combined nine NFL pass attempts. The only actionable intel we have on Gilbert is that he completed 60% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in eight AAF games.

The matchup could not possibly be worse against a stifling Steelers defense. The Steelers are a pass funnel defense, but they are going to rush the passer and force the starter to make quick decisions. That is not ideal for someone making their first career start with just a couple weeks of time to learn a playbook (although if it’s Rush, he should have a better grasp having been on the team for three years prior). The only certainty is that Rush or Gilbert can’t possibly be worse than DiNucci. That does not mean you can trust any Cowboys player, though. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb did absolutely nothing last week. Michael Gallup was the recipient of a handful of quick passes, making him the best option, but that is by no means indicative of what will happen this week. Dalton Schultz is a no go against a defense allowing just 8.2 fantasy points per game to tight ends. All in all, I would not start anyone on what was once the best offense in the league for fantasy.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Included on the list of players I’m not starting if I can avoid it is Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke hasn’t reached double digit fantasy points for two consecutive games and there’s no reason to be optimistic this week. The Steelers allow just 17.9 fantasy points per game to running backs and the best running back on the Cowboys isn’t even the starter. Tony Pollard has looked noticeably better than Elliott this season. He’s earned himself some increased usage, but not enough to be remotely fantasy viable. Zeke has seen just two targets in each of the last two games. I thought that backup and third string quarterbacks might check it down a lot or that Kellen Moore would draw up more screens to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quicker, but that hasn’t materialized.

Value Meter:
Bench: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Dalton Schultz, Tony Pollard, Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert

Prediction: Steelers 31, Cowboys 0 ^ Top

Saints @ Buccaneers - (Swanson)
Line: TB -4.5
Total: 51.5

Passing Game Thoughts: The Sunday Night Football game between the Saints and the Bucs is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week, with the lead in the NFC South up for grabs and a ton of fantasy football players to play.

The passing attack of the Saints should get a massive shot in the arm with the return of Michael Thomas to the starting roster. Joining him is veteran Emmanuel Sanders, who missed the last two games on the COIVD-19 reserve list.

With three starting wide receivers out for various reasons last week against the Bears, Drew Brees relied on a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook. Backup quarterback and Swiss Army knife offensive weapon Taysom Hill also got into the mix with a receiving touchdown.

Look for Brees to go back to his more conventional receiving threats in Thomas as Sanders, with the former garnering at least ten targets. Sanders, if he returns, should also be heavily involved.

The young but talented pass defense for the Bucs did an excellent job limiting Thomas in the first meeting between the two teams at the Super Dome. Thomas caught just three passes for 17 yards on five targets before leaving with a high ankle sprain.

Sanders also was limited in that game, but some of that could be a result of playing on a new team and learning a new system. Sanders was far more efficient in his final two games before joining the COVID-19 list, with 18 catches for 215 yards against the Lions and Chargers.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Alvin Kamara sacred two touchdowns when the Saints hosted the Bucs in Week 1. It was the lowest yardage total for the season for Kamara, including just 16 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Even if Kamara does not do well with rushing yards again this week, he is a consistent threat to score in both the ground and passing game, and his receiving output continually makes him a stud option.

You should expect around ten total touches from Latavius Murray, but he is not a great start against a Bucs team that has given up just six rushing TDs all year. Murray averaged just over three yards per carry back in Week 1, and he is not likely to see much work in the passing game.

Kamara is listed as questionable on the injury report with a foot injury. According to multiple reports, the injury is not thought to be serious, and Kamara should be active.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees (Low-End)
RB1: Alvin Kamara (Elite)
WR1: Michael Thomas (High-End)
WR3: Emmanuel Sanders (High-End)
TE1: Jared Cook (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts:
The ageless Tom Brady continues to impress as the No.9 quarterback with 25.3 fantasy points per game. Brady is on pace to throw for 4,378 yards and 40 touchdowns, as he is the beneficiary of playing with the best receiving corps in the league.

Antonio Brown is set to make his debut, joining Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in the receiving corps. Godwin was a full participant in a walkthrough on Wednesday, but he is still a question based on the fact that he has a cast on his finger.

I would imagine that Brady will make a point to get Brown involved early in the game, and what better team to do it against than the Saints. New Orleans has been surprisingly terrible this season against wide receivers. The Saints rank 7th in points allowed to wideouts, with seven wide receivers in seven games points double-digit weeks. MVS, Mike Williams, and D.J. Moore each posted 20 or more points.

Rob Gronkowski owners should stay in the flames and continue to play their resurgent tight end. The Saints rank 5th in points allowed to tight ends, and Gronk has scored the third-most points at the position over the past five weeks.

The formula for teams who have beaten the Saints this year is to attack in the air. Derek Carr, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford each posted three or more touchdown passes against the Saints this season. Even Nick Foles managed 272 and a pair of scores. Look for Brady to have at least two scores this week with the possibility of four.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Ronald Jones would be a great running back for the Bucs if he could just hold onto the ball and not drop passes. Jones fumbled last week against the Giants and saw a season-low seven carries on the day. Will head coach Bruce Arians give Jones another shot, or will Arians go with Leonard Fournette for the majority of carries this week against the Saints.

The way to beat the Saints is through the air and not the ground, as New Orleans gives up the fourth-fewest points to running backs and the seventh-most to quarterbacks. This bodes well for the Bucs with Brady slinging the ball around to his multitude of weapons, not so much for Jones or Fournette.

At this point, I would rank Fournette over Jones based on his apparent role in the passing game and Jones’ recent benching.

An injury to watch that could improve the outlook for Fournette and Jones is a knee sprain to run-stopping defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. With Rankins out for this game and beyond, the Saints might be more susceptible to the run.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (High-End)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (Low-End)
RB2: Ronald Jones (Low-End)
WR1: Mike Evans (High-End)
WR2: Antonio Brown (High-End)
WR3: Chris Godwin (High-End)
TE1: Rob Gronkowski (High-End)

Prediction: Tampa Bay 34, New Orleans 28 ^ Top

Patriots at Jets - (Katz)
Line: NE -7.5
Total: 42.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Cam Newton had a respectable outing last week, but it’s hard to be overly encouraged about anything on this Patriots offense. Newton hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 3 and has done so just twice all season. It is Week 9 and Cam Newton has two passing touchdowns. The Jets could be a get right spot as they’re allowing 21.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, but there’s a legitimate fear that the Patriots get a lead and try and run the ball 40 times. Why would they do this? Because Newton has no one to throw to. His WR1 is Jakobi Meyers. The other receivers are Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, and Isaiah Zuber. The Jets allow 26.3 fantasy points per game to outside receivers so Meyers is at least a consideration, but this is a team to complete avoid for fantasy purposes.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: Was last week the breakout for Damien Harris? Not really. Harris did carry the ball 16 times for an impressive 102 yards and a touchdown, but he still played just 31% of the snaps, behind both James White and Rex Burkhead. Harris has just two targets all season so unless he finds the end zone, he’s probably not getting to double digits. The Jets have allowed nine rushing touchdowns this season and with the Patriots touchdown favorites, Harris could have an opportunity to pound away on the ground. You could certainly do worse. As for White, he’s touched the ball five times in his past two games. There is simply no way you are starting him, especially against a Jets defense that has only seen 15% of receiving yards against it go to running backs. Burkhead, despite seeing the most reliable snap share, does not touch the ball enough to be relevant.

Value Meter:
QB2: Cam Newton
Flex: Damien Harris
Bench: Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, James White, Rex Burkhead

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Darnold aggravated his shoulder injury last week and underwent more tests. He seems poised to start, which is at least better than Joe Flacco, but it’s not a guarantee. If Darnold can’t go, just consider everything you’re about to read with Flacco under center. Despite extreme negative game script, Darnold managed just 133 yards against the Chiefs last week.

With Jamison Crowder still hurt, we were hoping to see more from Denzel Mims. He saw just three targets while Braxton Berrios led the team with 11. He caught eight balls for a putrid 34 yards. That’s PPR viable, but you certainly are not about to trust Braxton Berriors. With Breshad Perriman also out this week, no Jets pass catcher is fantasy viable even against a Patriots defense surrendering 71% of the receiving yards it allows to wide receivers. I like Mims as a player, but this is not the week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: With the Chiefs so vulnerable on the ground, La’Mical Perine was thought to be a sneaky play last week after seemingly taking over the Jets backfield. Adam Gase put a stop to that real quick, restoring Frank Gore to his throne. Perine did play more snaps than Gore, but Gore out-carried Perine 10-8. Neither was effective, but this is another good matchup against a defense allowing 140 rushing yards per game and 25.5 fantasy points per game to running backs. Gore is completely useless so if you take a shot on anyone, let it be Perine, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Value Meter:
Bench: Sam Darnold, La’Mical Perine, Frank Gore, Denzel Mims

Prediction: Patriots 20, Jets 16 ^ Top