Week 9 of the NFL and fantasy football season was headlined by a handful of really disappointing performances from players fantasy managers invested early draft picks on. Some players offer legitimate concern going forward, while others aren’t really raising any red flags, at least not in my eyes.
Kansas City Chiefs 33, Carolina Panthers 31
If Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on your fantasy team, you need to be worried. I already had some concerns before the Chiefs added Le'Veon Bell to the mix. Remember back in Week 1 when CEH had 25 carries against the Texans? He also had six carries from inside the 5-yard line in that game. However, since then, he has just one such carry, as the Chiefs have completely abandoned the run, especially when in the red zone. The Chiefs are passing the football 63% of the time in the red zone this year, as they continue to run more shovel passes and other creative pass plays. Meanwhile, Bell’s presence certainly hasn’t helped Edwards-Helaire, as the rookie is averaging just 8.6 touches per game in the three weeks since the Chiefs added Bell. But Sunday, Darrel Williams returned to his role as the third-down back, logging 18 snaps and 13-of-14 third down snaps. So Edwards-Helaire isn’t getting goal-line work, isn’t seeing massive volume and isn’t catching many passes? Yikes.
In his first game back from injury, Christian McCaffrey logged 71% of the offensive snaps and touched the football 28 times. He outcarried Mike Davis 18-1, while out-touching him 28-6. McCaffrey found the end zone twice but did suffer a shoulder injury late in this game that could impact his Week 10 status. If he were to miss time again, Davis would return to that workhorse role. He averaged 18.8 touches per game and saw an average snap share of 79.1% in his six starts this season.
There aren’t many things more tilting than rostering D.J. Moore, only to watch Teddy Bridgewater stare down Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel and the running backs. After seeing little involvement last Thursday night, Moore was targeted just three times Sunday, giving him just nine targets over the last two weeks. Moore continues to run the deeper routes, while Anderson and Samuel are operating in the intermediate areas of the field. So far this season, 19.9% of Bridgewater’s pass attempts are behind the line of scrimmage, while Samuel’s 6.48-yard average depth of target is the eighth-lowest mark among all receivers. Until Joe Brady and company start to use Moore closer to the line of scrimmage, he will remain a boom-or-bust WR3 in fantasy.
Not only did Tyreek Hill see a season-high 18 targets Sunday, but he also saw three end zone looks, the most by any player in Week 9. He also received a red-zone carry. Hill has already scored 10 total touchdowns this season and could finish the year as the WR1 in fantasy.
Baltimore Ravens 24, Indianapolis Colts 10
The Indianapolis backfield continues to be a mess. Jonathan Taylor got the start and impressed early on, touching the ball three times on the Colts opening drive (five plays). He also scored a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter. But later, he lost a fumble after catching a pass. After that fumble, Jordan Wilkins outcarried Taylor 9-1, ultimately finishing the game with 34% of the snaps and 13 touches. After the game, head coach Frank Reich stated that the game flow had more to do with Taylor’s lack of second half touches but at the end of the day, all three Colts running backs are going to play.
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s backfield remained a split with Mark Ingram (ankle) once again sidelined. J.K. Dobbins paced the running backs in snaps (36), while touching the ball four times. Gus Edwards, meanwhile, played 24 snaps and had 13 touches, though he saw the more valuable looks. Edwards started the game and got the goal-line work for the second consecutive week. In two games without Ingram, this Baltimore backfield is basically a full-on split, as Dobbins has 30 touches to Edwards’ 29 during that span, though it is worth pointing out that Edwards missed most of the second quarter in Week 8.
Mark Andrews’ slump continues. He hauled in just three balls for 22 yards Sunday and has now failed to find the end zone in three straight outings, while having yet to reach 60 receiving yards in a game this season. And in Week 9, Nick Boyle actually ran two more pass routes (18) than Andrews (16), while leading the Ravens in receiving on the day. If you have Andrews on your fantasy team, you are likely stuck because there aren’t tight ends on waivers with more touchdown equity, while no one is likely looking to trade for him either.
Edwards remained the goal-line back for the Ravens Sunday, as his four carries from inside the 5-yard line led all running backs in Week 9. He converted one of them into a touchdown and over the last two weeks, only Dalvin Cook has more carries from inside the five-yard line than Edwards (5). If Ingram remains sidelined, Edwards (and Dobbins) set up as solid RB2/flex options, especially against a struggling Patriots run defense.
Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 25
David Johnson left this game in the first quarter with a head injury and is now in the concussion protocol. Duke Johnson stepped in and logged 81% of the snaps, while touching the football 20 times. He handled all of the running back touches after Johnson left and should be a popular waiver wire add heading into Week 10. In the past, we have seen Houston do everything possible to not give Duke a ton of work. But that was in the Bill O’Brien era and the Texans have nothing else at running back if David is forced to miss time.
James Robinson is the RB4 in all of fantasy. It is both beautiful and absurd at the same time. Robinson saw a season-high 25 carries on Sunday, turning them into 99 yards and a touchdown. He handled 25 of the 30 running back touches, as he still leads the NFL in opportunity share.
I was very encouraged by what we saw from D.J. Chark in his first game alongside Jake Luton. He torched the defense for a 73-yard touchdown on the opening drive, ultimately finishing with seven catches for 146 yards and a score on a team-high 12 targets. Prior to this game, Chark had seen just four catchable deep targets all season long. However, in his first start alongside Luton, three of his five deep targets were deemed catchable. Chark saw a 31.5% target share in Luton’s first start and while he’ll likely still have plenty of boom-or-bust weeks, it appears the boom outings won’t be as inconsistent. It was just one game, but I’m encouraged from what I saw from Chark and Luton.
It was another great game from Brandin Cooks (3-83-1), who is now the WR8 in fantasy since the Texans fired Bill O’Brien. Cooks leads Houston in targets and has seen at least nine looks in each of his last four contests. Meanwhile, Will Fuller did his thing again, hauling in five balls for 100 yards and a score, giving him 100 yards or a touchdown in all but one game this season, while now finding the end zone in six straight contests.
Buffalo Bills 44, Seattle Seahawks 34
Zack Moss outsnapped Devin Singletary for the second consecutive game, though the Bills really had no interest in running the football. Moss did see nine of the 11 running back carries and scored the short-yardage touchdown, making him the preferred Buffalo running back to start in fantasy. But just know that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is clearly implementing a game plan that is dependent on the opposition’s weakness. Some weeks Buffalo will establish the run, while other weeks they will abandon it.
With Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde out again, DeeJay Dallas got another start against Buffalo. He ran well in this game but only carried the ball seven times since Seattle fell behind early. Travis Homer was healthier this week and paced the Seahawks backfield with a 48% snap share, while touching the ball nine times. Even recently signed Alex Collins logged 13 offensive snaps.
Stefon Diggs had another very productive day, hauling in nine-of-12 targets for 112 yards. He now leads the NFL in receiving yards (813), receptions (63) and targets (91), while recording 90 yards or a touchdown in seven of nine games this season. Diggs has been fantastic in his first season with the Bills and while he’s been an elite wide receiver, I think he’s been better than we all imagined in 2020.
Meanwhile, DK Metcalf has recorded at least 90 receiving yards in all but one game this season, as he remains perhaps the most unguardable player in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans 24, Chicago Bears 17
This game was pretty gross and there really weren’t many massive fantasy takeaways. David Montgomery did leave this game and is now in the concussion protocol, which would open up more carries for Ryan Nall and Cordarrelle Patterson. It’s gross, but carries might be available in Week 10. Meanwhile, it was nice to see Anthony Miller continue to play plenty of snaps (68%), while remaining in the slot. Over the last two weeks, Miller has lined up in the slot around 92% of the time, while seeing a healthy 19 targets. Nick Foles has attempted 40 or more passes in all but one of his starts this season and now Chicago’s rushing attack could get even worse than it already was.
New York Giants 23, Washington Football Team 20
Wayne Gallman scored again Sunday, as he continued to operate as the Giants lead back with Devonta Freeman out. Gallman logged 57% of the snaps and handled 15 touches, though it is worth pointing out that the combination of Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis touched the football a healthy 15 times. If Freeman can’t play again in Week 10, Gallman would remain a low-upside flex in a tough matchup with the Eagles.
J.D. McKissic needs to be rostered in every single fantasy league, especially PPR formats. He was targeted a whopping 14 times Sunday (35.8% target share) and ran 31 pass routes, the most by any running back in Week 9. McKissic will continue to see the most playing time when Washington is chasing points, which should be often, and now the team is starting Alex Smith at quarterback, who loves to check down. 36.7% of Smith’s pass attempts this season have been behind the line of scrimmage, while McKissic has at least six catches in four of his last five games. Over the last four weeks, he’s averaging right around 23 pass routes per game.
Sterling Shepard continues to be a solid floor play each week. Since Daniel Jones took over as the Giants starter last year, Shepard is averaging eight targets per game and saw another eight looks Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings 34, Detroit Lions 20
Once again, not much here. Dalvin Cook continues to demolish each slate and after another huge outing, he now has 480 total yards and six touchdowns over the last two weeks. Cook’s dominance has really hurt the production of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, as the Vikings have had zero reason to air it out. Kirk Cousins has attempted just 34 passes over the last two weeks but there will be games coming up where Cook won’t be able to dominate. I’d look to buy-low on both Minnesota wideouts.
Atlanta Falcons 34, Denver Broncos 27
Jerry Jeudy continues to emerge as the Broncos top wideout. The rookie wideout exploded for a career afternoon Sunday against the Falcons, hauling in seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 14 times, giving him double-digit targets in each of the last two weeks. Jeudy is now fourth among all wide receivers in routes run over the last two weeks (89), while averaging a healthy 2.2 yards per route run. His route-running has been on full display as of late and it was encouraging to see him still lead the Broncos in targets with Tim Patrick back in the lineup Sunday. Jeudy appears to be establishing himself as the top pass-catcher in this offense and he has some favorable matchups on the horizon, getting the Raiders, Dolphins and Saints over the next three weeks.
Las Vegas Raiders 31, Los Angeles Chargers 26
Justin Jackson suffered a knee injury on the first play of the game and could only muster three snaps the entire afternoon. As a result, recently signed Kalen Ballage logged 39% of the snaps and led the Chargers with 17 touches. Joshua Kelley played 54% of the snaps and touched the football 14 times, with five of those touches being receptions. The Chargers could get Troymaine Pope back this week, who was a big part of their offense in Week 8, but it appears that Anthony Lynn will continue to use multiple backs until Austin Ekeler returns.
For the second straight week, the Raiders relied on their ground game, as Derek Carr attempted just 23 passes. Still, tight end Darren Waller saw 43.4% of the team targets, as he leads all tight ends in target share on the season at around 28 percent. He’s the best and safest tight end in fantasy behind that guy in Kansas City.
Meanwhile, Keenan Allen once again saw double-digit targets, giving him at least 10 looks in every full game alongside Justin Herbert. His DraftKings price tag is slowly starting to climb but it still isn’t close to where it should be. Mike Williams also saw a healthy seven targets in this game, including two end zone looks.
Miami Dolphins 34, Arizona Cardinals 31
With Kenyan Drake sidelined, Chase Edmonds was the absolute workhorse Sunday. He logged 96% of the snaps and handled 28 of the 30 running back touches. The production, however, wasn’t great, as he totaled just 88 scrimmage yards and failed to find the end zone. It was a disappointing result, but the workload was encouraging and if Drake can’t get healthy in time for Sunday’s game against Buffalo, Edmonds will remain a top-12 fantasy option.
The Dolphins were also missing running backs, as both Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida were out for this game. Jordan Howard got the start and did Jordan Howard things, carrying the football 10 times for 19 yards, though he did find the end zone. Salvon Ahmed looked much more explosive, rushing for 38 yards on just seven carries, while playing more snaps than Howard. Miami appeared to turn the backfield over to Ahmed during the second half and could be a name to watch if Breida can’t suit up this week.
Preston Williams saw a healthy five targets early in this game but suffered a foot injury after scoring a touchdown. He did not return. DeVante Parker then became the top target in this offense, seeing nearly 27% of the Dolphins targets. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looked much better in his second start and with Williams sidelined, Parker should remain the clear top option in this passing game.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Dallas Cowboys 19
This game didn’t go as planned, as it was the Cowboys who were in the lead for the majority of the afternoon. That led to a very disappointing game from James Conner, but brighter days are certainly ahead. Diontae Johnson stayed healthy for the full game and as a result, once again saw double-digit targets, giving him at least 10 looks in every full game this season. Chase Claypool led the team with 13 targets, as he continues to be the Steelers main option when taking shots down the field. His 11.6-yard aDOT easily paces all Pittsburgh wideouts.
New Orleans Saints 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
The Saints dominated this game from the kickoff, but because it was such a blowout, it is hard to analyze everything fully. Michael Thomas finally returned for New Orleans and wasn’t limited until the second half when New Orleans began to rest their starters. He hauled in five of a team-high six targets for 51 yards and should be a top-five wideout the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, got Chris Godwin back for this game, while also debuting new receiver Antonio Brown. Godwin and Mike Evans both saw six targets, while Brown was right behind them with five. I noticed that the Buccaneers have started to move Evans inside a bit more over the last two weeks and on Sunday night, he lined up in the slot 44.7% of the time, which could be helpful for his fantasy production going forward. Brown played just five snaps in the slot Sunday night, so it appears he will primarily be on the perimeter going forward.
New England Patriots 30, New York Jets 27
Jakobi Meyers continues to soak up all the targets in New England. After seeing 10 targets in Week 8 against the Bills, Meyers was targeted 14 times Monday night, hauling in 12 of them for 169 yards. He is sixth in the NFL in targets over the last three weeks, sporting a massive 38% target share during that stretch.
As for the backfield, things might be a bit more interesting. Rex Burkhead was splitting work with Damien Harris in this game, as he carried the ball 12 times to Harris’ 14. He also got the goal-line work over Harris, converting a short touchdown. Harris left the game late with a chest injury and with Sony Michel also currently banged up, there is a path to Burkhead being the lead running back on a Patriots offense that is running the football 50.6% of the time this season, the third-highest rate in football.