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Inside the Matchup
Week 9
11/2/17; Updated: 11/3/17

By: Andy Swanson | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon





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

Bills at Jets - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Bills’ pass catchers were all completely irrelevant in fantasy – at least until Tuesday. We’ll get to that in a bit. As for Tyrod Taylor, he had his best fantasy outing of the season against these same Jets in Week 1. In that game, Taylor threw for 224 yards, which is second highest total on the season, and two touchdowns while adding 38 rushing yards. I generally hate advocating streaming players on Thursdays, especially low ceiling QBs, but Taylor is going to be a borderline QB1 option on a week where Rivers, Brady, and Roethlisberger are on bye and Dalton is facing Jacksonville. I’d gladly sign for a repeat of his Week 1 performance.

Who Taylor will throw to is anyone’s guess. Last week, Andre Holmes caught a touchdown, but he only saw four targets, equal to Jordan Matthews. Zay Jones saw five targets, which was the most out of the pass catchers. Taylor completed 20 passes to a total of nine different receivers. There is one receiver he has that he didn’t throw a pass to last week. That’s Kelvin Benjamin, whom the Bills acquired in a deadline deal Tuesday afternoon. It is impossible to know how quickly the Bills will be able to integrate him into the offense. I expect him to play Thursday, but with just two days to study and one real day of practice, at best, there’s no way he will be anywhere near up to speed. Those with Benjamin need to severely temper expectations in his Bills debut, but his raw athletic ability could be enough to at least generate passable numbers.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy is fresh off another monster performance. McCoy led the team with 27 carries, seven targets, six receptions, and 151 rushing yards. It was McCoy’s first truly transcendent performance where he merged volume with efficiency. McCoy touched the ball a total of 33 times and while he only amassed 22 yards on his six receptions, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry. In addition to being anti-Thursday games in general, I am not enamored with the fact that McCoy is playing on a Thursday after such a heavy workload, but as a heavy McCoy owner myself, we will just have to hope he can avoid injury and then take his 10 day break to rest up. Prior to Week 7, McCoy’s best game of the season was Week 1 against the Jets (22-110-0, 5-49). My only concern for Shady this week is what I perceive to be an increased injury risk. If he can make it through the game, an elite performance is a near certainty.

Value Meter:
QB2: Tyrod Taylor (high end)
RB1: LeSean McCoy (high end)
WR3: Kelvin Benjamin
Bench: Jordan Matthews, Andre Holmes, Zay Jones, Mike Tolbert

Passing Game Thoughts: Another week, another multi-touchdown game for Josh McCown. It’s just what he does. McCown should be considered an every week starting option at this point. He’s usually good for a turnover or two (although he was clean last week), but we take the good with the bad with a guy who has been startable in every game except the one against the best defense in the league (Jacksonville). McCown once again did it with Robby Anderson, who caught his second touchdown in as many weeks. Anderson caught all six of his targets for 104 yards and the aforementioned score. He’s become a viable flex option. Jermaine Kearse is just too inconsistent to rely on while Austin Seferian-Jenkins continues to do the pass catcher version of plod his way to fantasy numbers. ASJ only managed 28 yards last week, but he caught all five of his targets, which is passable in PPR formats.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: I’ll be honest – I have no idea what the Jets are doing at running back. Elijah McGuire doesn’t play much anymore, but Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are still forming an incredibly undesirable committee. Powell dominated carries last week 14-4. Neither he nor Forte was particularly effective as the two combined for just 40 rushing yards. Forte led the team in targets with seven, catching six for 45 yards. Powell caught all three of his targets for 28 yards. I still think Powell has RB2 upside if Forte would ever go away, but the latter seems less and less likely to happen. Both backs completely face-planted in Week 1 against the Bills, combining for 13 carries for 38 yards. I see no reason to be optimistic about either one. On a short week, look elsewhere if you can.

Value Meter:
QB2: Josh McCown (high end)
TE1: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (low end)
Flex: Robby Anderson, Matt Forte
Bench: Bilal Powell, Jermaine Kearse

Prediction: Bills 24, Jets 20 ^ Top

Rams at Giants - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: When we last saw Jared Goff, he was dismantling the Cardinals in a 33-0 shutout two weeks ago. The NFL’s best offense is rested and refreshed following the bye and now visits the Giants in their lost season. Goff is a legitimate starting option this week and the prospects of his top receiver, Robert Woods, only improved Tuesday when Janoris Jenkins was suspended indefinitely. The Giants have problems that run deep and this is probably Ben McAdoo’s last season. The Rams are poised to take advantage. Woods has caught five passes in each of his last three games although he doesn’t yet have a touchdown on the season. Those have been reserved for Cooper Kupp, who saw a season high 10 targets against Arizona. Kupp has three touchdowns on the year and is a worthy flex play as the de facto number two receiver for Goff. Sammy Watkins has been an afterthought in this offense and is droppable in all formats.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Todd Gurley is the top scoring non-quarterback in fantasy thus far. He has been one of the best values of 2017. He comes with a very high weekly floor and the only thing standing between him and RB1 overall honors is durability, which he has shown plenty of during his NFL career. Gurley has four 100-yard rushing games this year and has rushed for five touchdowns while adding three receiving scores as well. He’s a true three-down all purpose back and is no match for the Giants. This is a game the Rams should control, making it a near certainty that Gurley touches the ball 25+ times. You start Gurley with confidence.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jared Goff (low end)
RB1: Todd Gurley (high end)
WR3: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp
Bench: Tyler Higbee, Sammy Watkins

Passing Game Thoughts: The Giants offense will revolve around Sterling Shepard, who should be close to 100% recovered from his ankle sprain, and Evan Engram, the Giants elite rookie TE1. Engram is uncoverable by linebackers and a challenge for cornerbacks. He had 12 targets in his last game and has been on the precipice of a monster game for weeks. This could be it. The Giants can’t run the ball so Eli Manning should be tossing up the rock a bunch of times. He’s averaged 41 pass attempts in the Giants’ six losses and half of those passes could easily go to Engram and Shepard, who is now the Giants’ number one receiver. Manning’s volume stemming from projected negative game script could push him to QB1 numbers this week. Aside from his two faceplants against Denver and Seattle, Manning has actually been serviceable. He threw multiple scores in the three games before those two and could do it again this week.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Orleans Darkwa is technically the Giants’ lead back, but he has pretty much split snaps with Wayne Gallman. The two have formed an undesirable committee with Shane Vereen on passing downs. Ideally, Paul Perkins is inactive and one of Darkwa or Gallman claims the role with the former being likely. Darkwa is the best bet for a touchdown, but I would not consider that an endeavor worth pursuing. He is averaging 5.4 yards per carry, but outside of the Denver game, he hasn’t seen the volume to make you feel confident having him in your starting lineup. Gallman is only averaging 3.9 ypc making both RBs undesirable options this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Eli Manning (low end)
WR3: Sterling Shepard
TE1: Evan Engram (high end)
Bench: Roger Lewis, all Giants RBs

Prediction: Rams 30, Giants 20 ^ Top

Broncos at Eagles - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Great job cutting Kyle Sloter before the season Denver. Your team definitely didn’t need to gamble and see if he has anything. Instead, you now get the pleasure of starting Brock Osweiler. Enjoy! What a disaster this is going to be. It is hard to imagine anyone not named DeShone Kizer can really be worse than Trevor Siemian has played, but if there is one man up for the task, it’s Osweiler. Brocksteady has been anything but over the course of his six year career. He has a career completion percentage under 60% and when we last saw him starting in Houston, he was throwing more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15). This is a lateral move, at best for Denver.

Demaryius Thomas will continue to a middling WR3 for as long as he is not catching touchdowns, which has been for the entire season. Thomas is on pace for just 80 catches, which would be the lowest of his career since he was having balls thrown to him by Tim Tebow. Thomas was an elite WR1 with elite Peyton Manning. I’m not saying he’s a product of his QB, but his elite play certainly was. With the medley of Osweiler, Seimian, and a little Paxton Lynch, Thomas has been more of a WR2 and has barely been a WR3 in 2017.

Emmanuel Sanders missed his last two games with his lingering ankle injury, but looks poised to return this week, albeit certainly at less than 100%. He has been more of a WR2 and has always been the better value as his numbers are close to, if not better than Thomas at a cheaper cost. Sanders was averaging 8.4 targets with Siemian, which is right around his career average since he came to Denver. Bennie Fowler is a truly horrendous football player and has no business being on a football field, let alone starting. If Sanders can’t go, you don’t want Fowler anyway. A.J. Derby is nothing more than a last gasp TE stream.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Jamaal Charles is clearly the best RB on this team right now and Vance Joseph is also clearly in over his head as an NFL head coach. Charles is never going to get a chance, which is almost unfathomable given that he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry and, oh by the way, he’s Jamaal Charles. C.J. Anderson had 78 yards on 15 carries last week, which was more than his last two games combined. Devontae Booker continues to eat into Anderson’s snaps and apparently Joseph said that Booker would have been the starter heading into the season if healthy. Booker could be a surprise value over the second half of the season if he can usurp Anderson. The Eagles have the league’s top rushing defense so this one is not easy, especially in a game where the Broncos will be trailing and throwing a lot. If you’re starting a Broncos’ RB, you’re hoping for receptions.

Value Meter:
WR2: Emmanuel Sanders (if he plays)
WR3: Demaryius Thomas
Flex: C.J. Anderson
Bench: Brock Osweiler, Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles, Bennie Fowler

Passing Game Thoughts: Week 4 was the last time Carson Wentz didn’t throw multiple touchdowns in a game. Week 3 was the only other time he threw just a single score. Even in a rain soaked blowout where he only threw for 211 yards, Wentz still managed two touchdown passes. The matchup against Denver is less than ideal and Wentz has not yet reached matchup proof status, but unless your other option is really good, you’re not sitting a QB as hot as Wentz.

As for his receivers, you can certainly consider benching them. Alshon Jeffery got lucky and caught a long touchdown pass last week. I say lucky because there is no way he should have scored on that play. It was embarrassing by San Francisco. The touchdown salvaged his day, but this is now two games in a row with just two receptions. Jeffery has caught three balls or fewer in five games this season and just isn’t a big part of the passing attack. That’s reserved for superstar Zach Ertz, who caught another touchdown last week. He’s only not caught a touchdown in three games this season. The TE is how to beat Denver as Travis Kelce demonstrated last week making Ertz locked in as an elite TE1 play. I’d say Nelson Agholor came back to reality last week, but the truth is he never really left. Agholor’s touchdown streak was unsustainable and he caught three passes for 26 yards on just three targets last week. You are not using him against Denver.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: Trying to predict the Eagles backfield on a weekly basis has been impossible all season. No one left the picture this week, but instead, Jay Ajayi has been added to it. Ajayi is a mediocre talent that can’t catch passes which sounds a lot like LeGarrette Blount. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement are mediocre talents that can catch passes. There is no way to know what kind of role Ajayi will find for himself in Philly having just joined the team. With Denver possessing one of the league’s best run defenses, it is best to avoid all Eagles running backs this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Wentz (low end)
TE1: Zach Ertz (high end)
Flex: Alshon Jeffery
Bench: Nelson Agholor, All Eagles RBs

Prediction: Eagles 23, Denver 6 ^ Top

Chiefs at Cowboys - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Alex Smith was merely mortal last week against Denver as the Chiefs stalled out drive after drive, settling for field goals. He also missed a number of throws he’s been making all season. I would consider last week a blip on the radar and nothing more. The Cowboys can be thrown on and this is a game where the Chiefs will have to score points. Travis Kelce will be a tough cover for the Cowboys. He’s caught at least four passes in all but one game this season and has three 100-yard receiving games. He’s an every week elite TE1 option. As for Tyreek Hill, you know what the deal is. He’s a WR1 or he’s a WR4. You just have to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately, Andy Reid does not consider getting the ball to Hill high priority. Hill is mostly a decoy with the occasional deep ball that he either catches and has a great fantasy day or doesn’t and, well, we saw what happened on Monday night. Hill is going to finish the season as a WR2, but you won’t necessarily like how he gets there. Last week was the first game all season where Hill failed to reach four receptions. With the Cowboys vulnerable over the top, this could be more of a boom week for Hill. You’re not sitting him if you have him.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: Kareem Hunt is not an elite RB1, but he very well might be this week. He is not matchup proof and he’s not the second coming of LaDainian Tomlinson but he is a very good RB that is seeing high volume in a good offense. Hunt hasn’t scored a touchdown in five weeks and hasn’t rushed for 100 yards in three. He has caught three passes in all but one game this season and last week against Denver was the first time he failed to reach 100 yards from scrimmage. With that being said, Hunt should touch the ball at least 20 times against Dallas and is an elite option this week against a suspect run defense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Alex Smith (mid-range)
WR2: Tyreek Hill (high end)
TE1: Travis Kelce (high end)
Bench: Charcandrick West, Albert Wilson, Demarcus Robinson

Passing Game Thoughts: Similar to the Chiefs last week, the Cowboys also stalled out on many drives which led to field goals and Dak Prescott’s worst fantasy line of the season (14-22, 143-0-0). Prescott played fine, but Ezekiel Elliott stole all the touchdowns. It broke Prescott’s streak of four consecutive three touchdown games. His 16 rushing yards were tied for his lowest total on the season. Prescott needs more help from Dez Bryant, who continues to underwhelm. Bryant caught four balls for 39 yards last week. He still doesn’t have a 100 yard game. This week, he will face off with Marcus Peters, who is fresh off basically ending Trevor Siemian’s career. Bryant’s struggles against elite corners are well documented so Prescott may rely on Jason Witten and others more in this game. Cole Beasley still needs to clear the concussion protocol to play. He practiced Thursday, but if he can’t get the full okay by Sunday, that opens the door for better version of Cole Beasley – Ryan Switzer – to make an impact. He’s not a fantasy option, but he’s someone to keep an eye on.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: My entire analysis for this game had to be torn up. It started with: “It’s finally over.” Oh how wrong that statement was. Apparently, it’s never over. Just to recap, Ezekiel Elliott has now been officially suspended and unsuspended at least five times this season. The latest temporary stay is the simplest, yet most confounding of all. Elliott’s legal team specifically asked for a stay to allow him to play this week against Kansas City. As of now, he is still suspended next week. If the 2nd Circuit does not issue a final ruling on the merits on the injunction by next week, Elliott will undoubtedly ask for yet another temporary stay pending their decision. This could be a weekly thing until a final ruling comes down.

For fantasy purposes, this is both fantastic and terrible. It’s great that Zeke is playing this week, but now we are one more week away from any suspension rendering Zeke completely useless the rest of the fantasy season. As for this week, the Chiefs have been gashed on the ground and Elliott is coming off a 33 carry, 150-yard, two touchdown performance. It was his third consecutive 100-yard game. He’s scored five touchdowns and rushed for 297 yards in his last two games. Zeke is on fire and Sunday’s game should feature a lot of points. You can put your Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, and Darren McFadden arrows back in the quiver.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (mid-range)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (high end)
WR2: Dez Bryant
TE1: Jason Witten (low end)
Bench: Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, Rod Smith, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Chiefs 23 ^ Top

Raiders at Dolphins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: To quote the late great Dennis Green, “they are who we thought they were.” One week after the Raiders’ offensive explosion against Kansas City, they came back to reality against the Bills. Derek Carr did throw for 313 yards and a touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions. Amari Cooper’s return to relevance lasted all of one week. He saw 10 targets, which is encouraging, but caught only half of them for 48 yards. He still hasn’t matched his Week 7 yardage total in his other seven games combined and hasn’t caught more than five passes in any other game. Cooper has proven his ceiling knows no bounds, but he’s also proven how rarely he will reach it.

This is a very favorable spot for the Raiders offense, but matchup hasn’t mattered for Cooper yet. Michael Crabtree also caught five out of 10 targets last week, but he managed 83 yards. That’s the difference between Cooper and Crabtree. Even on down weeks, Crabtree’s floor is significantly higher. He is the better bet for a touchdown this week and every week. Jared Cook will never be the player he was projected to be years ago but that doesn’t mean he can’t help fantasy teams. Cook only has one touchdown on the season, but he’s averaging just under four receptions per game, which is good enough for me in 2017 at the TE position.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Marshawn Lynch returns from his one-game suspension this week, which is bad news for the Raiders rushing attack for fantasy purposes. Lynch offers no value to the Raiders or fantasy owners. The one thing he does do is make DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, both of whom had usable games last week, unplayable. Washington caught eight passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. Richard caught five passes for 35 yards. The two added minimal yardage on the ground as the Raiders were in pass mode for much of the game. Lynch will not be catching many passes and the Raiders should not experience as much negative game script, if any this week. With so many viable fantasy options on bye, you may be forced into using one of these three RBs. It’s nothing more than a plug and pray move.

Value Meter:
QB1: Derek Carr (low end)
WR2: Michael Crabtree (mid-range)
WR3: Amari Cooper
TE1: Jared Cook (low end)
Bench: Cordarrelle Patterson, Raiders RBs

Passing Game Thoughts: I thought Matt Moore was an upgrade over Jay Cutler. I was very, very wrong. Cutler returns this week to remind everyone that although he’s better than Moore, it’s not by much. Cutler has proven to be incapable of taking advantage of even the softest of matchups. The Raiders defense gets more of a boost from facing Cutler than Cutler does against the Raiders defense. DeVante Parker is set to make his return from an ankle injury. He was off to a strong start this season with 69 yards or more in each of his first three games and has a high ceiling for this week’s matchup. Jarvis Landry always comes with a high floor. He’s caught at least five passes in every game this season and although he’s been held under 50 yards four times and hasn’t hit 100 yards yet (despite having a 13 reception game), Landry is locked in as a strong WR2 play. With Parker and Landry around, there isn’t much left for the likes of Kenny Stills, who had been serviceable during Parker’s absence, and Leonte Carroo, who showed signs of life last week, albeit during a blowout loss.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: The Dolphins just traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, which is interesting for a 4-3 team. I know they’re a fraud. They know they’re a fraud. But even so, as Herman Edwards said, “you play to win the game! Hello!” Trading Ajayi doesn’t really hurt the Dolphins because Ajayi isn’t all that good to begin with, but it’s still a curious move unless they’re smarter than I’m giving them credit for. For fantasy, it creates a guessing game between Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams. Drake has never been a feature back in his career even going back to college. He is the quintessential satellite back. Williams is far more suited for a bigger workload. However, Drake is ahead of Williams on the depth chart and has seen more touches on the season. Both will play, but how this shakes out is anyone’s guess. On a week full of byes, both are worth owning. Hopefully, you don’t have to start either, but if you do, you could do worse.

Value Meter:
WR2: Jarvis Landry (high end)
WR2: DeVante Parker (mid-range)
Bench: Jay Cutler, Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams, Kenny Stills, Leonte Carroo, Julius Thomas

Prediction: Raiders 28, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Lions @ Packers - (Swanson)

Passing Game Thoughts: In a disappointing 20-15 loss at home last week to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions epitomized what it means to struggle in the red zone, with five Matt Prater field goals and zero touchdowns. To put their ineptitude in context, only five quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have managed to throw for over 420 yards and fail to record a touchdown, with Mark Brunell, Joe Montana, and Warren Moon joining Stafford on the list (Stafford achieved the feat in 2012 vs. the Falcons). But of those five 420-plus passing performances without a passing TD, only Montana and the 49ers and Stafford and the Lions managed to fail to score an offensive touchdown of any kind in their respective games.

Look for Stafford and the passing game to get back on track this week against a Packers team that ranks 16th in points allowed on the season to opposing quarterbacks. All seven quarterbacks who have faced the Packers this season have managed to score at least 11 fantasy points, with Dak Prescott and Drew Brees each scoring over 25 points. Two of Stafford’s three most significant games in 2016 came against the Packers, including a 385/3 game for 32.4 points in Lambeau last year.

The surprise return of Golden Tate from a shoulder injury was a boost for Stafford last week against the Steelers. Although the two did not hook up for a touchdown, Tate’s presence in the slot gave Stafford a much-needed outlet against the league’s No.1 ranked pass defense.

Somewhat surprisingly, one area in which the Lions have struggled in the passing game are throws out of the backfield. With accomplished pass-catching weapons in Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah, the Lions rank 16th as a team in receptions by running backs, with only one passing touchdown out of the backfield in Week 1 for Theo Riddick.

If there were ever a week for Lions running backs to get some action in the passing game, it would be this week against Green Bay. The Packers are tied for second in receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing backs, with Tevin Coleman, Giovani Bernard, and Jerick McKinnon all reaching the end zone this season through the air.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: The offseason additions of offensive linemen TJ Lang and Ricky Wagner were made to help a struggling run game that ranked 30th in rushing yards per game in 2016. Through seven games in 2017, not much has changed for the anemic ground game of the Lions, as Detroit ranks 29th among 32 teams, with 488 yards on 148 carries (3.29 YPC).

The offseason hype of Ameer Abdullah taking over as the bellow running back has not materialized, with head coach Jim Caldwell using a stable of running backs, including Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner for short yardage work, while Theo Riddick continues to be the primary third-down back. Due to the specialization of duties and the overall struggles of the offense to run the ball, none of the Lions RBs have been good for fantasy owners in 2017.

Abdullah owners snake bitten by the offseason hype might be able to cash in on their disappointing draft pick this week against a Packers defense that has allowed the fourth-most points to opposing backs. Green Bay has allowed a touchdown or 100-yard rusher in all seven games this season, with Mark Ingram joining the list of players to torch the Packers last week when he rushed for 105 yards and a score on 22 carries.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (Low-End)
RB2: Ameer Abdullah (Low-End)
RB3: Theo Riddick (Low-End)
WR2: Golden Tate (High-End)
WR2: Marvin Jones (Low-End)
TE2: Eric Ebron (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Brett Hundley’s first career NFL start was a disappointment on every level, as the former UCLA Bruin completed just 12-of-25 passes for 87 yards and zero touchdowns in Green Bay’s 26-17 loss at home to the Saints. Owners who started Hundley in the game were bailed out with a rushing touchdown and 44 rushing yards on three attempts, but the 87 yards of passing offense killed the value of all Packers receivers. Jordy Nelson registered is lowest point total in nearly two seasons, while Davante Adams caught just two balls for 12 yards.

On a positive note, the bye week came at a perfect time for the Packers, as Hundley and head coach Mike McCarthy certainly could use the extra week of preparation for the Lions, a team the 18th most points to opposing quarterbacks. Of the seven quarterbacks who have faced Detroit this season, only Cam Newton has thrown for three touchdowns in a game, and only two QB’s have scored more than 20 fantasy points.

The way to beat the Lions this season is on the ground, as Detroit has allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns and the 15th most rushing yards. This bodes well for Aaron Jones owners, but those unfortunate owners (myself included) who invested early draft capital in Nelson and Adams are likely poised for another disappointing day. The touchdown upside, especially for Nelson, make them viable plays in that one touchdown off of play action in the red zone can make them worthy starts. But relying solely on touchdown upside from a struggling quarterback making his second career start is not exactly comforting.

The Lions ability to confuse quarterbacks and force interceptions is the most concerning factor in this game, as Detroit ranks third in interceptions on the season and Hundley has thrown four picks in 58 pass attempts. With little or no downfield threat (Hundley ranks dead last in completion percentage on passes 15-yards or more), the Lions will likely focus on jumping short and intermediary routes, opening the door for another lousy performance by Hundley and the Packers passing game.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: The ground attack for the Packers proved to be the only successful aspect of the offense Week 7 against the Saints, and will likely once again be the best way for Mike McCarthy’s team to move the ball this week against the Lions. The Lions enter Week 9 allowing just under 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, with an opposing running back scoring either a rushing or receiving touchdown in all but one of the team’s seven games.

Rookie Aaron Jones took advantage of his opportunity when incumbent starter Ty Montgomery suffered multiple broken ribs earlier in the year. Jones has been impressive with two 19-point performances in his last three games, including a 17/131/1 game two weeks ago against the Saints. McCarthy continues to say that Montgomery will continue to be a part of the offense going forward, but it seems highly unlikely that Jones will be benched after two impressive games.

Look for the Pack to lean heavily on Jones with Monty working in as a change of pace and receiving weapon. McCarthy will need to establish the run to give Hundley easy reads off of play action, and the Packers want to keep the ball out of Matthew Stafford’s hands by winning time of possession. Unfortunately, a negative game script of the Lions defense forcing turnovers is in play here and Jones may not get the 17 carries he received two weeks ago with the Packers chasing points.

Value Meter:
QB2: Brett Hundley (Low-End)
RB1: Aaron Jones (Mid-Range)
WR2: Jordy Nelson (Low-End)
WR3: Davante Adams (Low-End)
TE2: Martellus Bennett (Low-End)

Prediction: Lions 24, Packers 17 ^ Top

Falcons @ Panthers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Believe it or not, Week 9 will be the first divisional game of the year for Atlanta. Matt Ryan has fared pretty well against the Panthers in his career. He dropped nearly 800 passing yards and six touchdowns on them last year alone so he should be confident despite being on the road. If the running game struggles, the Falcons would be wise to put the game into Ryan’s hands. Doing so would certainly help Julio Jones’ chances of finding the end zone. The perennial All-Pro has only one touchdown on the year making him a disappointment for those who invested a first round pick on him in redraft leagues. He’s too good to bench when healthy and two of his best performances this year came on the road. Mohamed Sanu has taken advantage of the defensive focus on Jones. Six games in and the former Bengal is already halfway to his 2016 totals. His role in the offense has clearly shifted as he is more involved, however he doesn’t see many balls down the field and isn’t involved near the goaline. He should be a decent PPR flex this week but his ceiling remains too low to plug him into traditional scoring leagues. Atlanta has refrained from using the tight end much in 2017.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: Devonta Freeman was limited in practice this week with shoulder and/or neck issues. He is expected to play but his owners may want to consider going in another direction anyway. Freeman’s sore shoulder will likely limit his involvement in the passing game and he has carried the ball 13 or fewer times in five of six career games against the Panthers. Even the staunchest of supporters should not overlook the fact that Carolina has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs over the past three weeks. Add it all up and there is a recipe for Tevin Coleman to garner more of the spotlight in Week 9. The former third round pick in 2015 is averaging a robust 5.4 yards per carry on the season and has proved himself capable of handling more carries in the past. Even if Freeman is able to maintain his typical role in the offense Coleman has a good shot at being a factor in the passing game. The boost in value this week puts him on the edge of the RB2 ranks and makes him a decent choice for your flex slot in deeper formats.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB2: Devonta Freeman (if active)
WR1: Julio Jones
TE2: Austin Hooper
Flex: Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu
Bench: Taylor Gabriel

Passing Game Thoughts: Kelvin Benjamin’s trade to the Bills was a bit unexpected but at least it shows that fantasy owners were not the only folks frustrated with the talented receiver. Benjamin’s departure was helped by the improvements of Devin Funchess this season. He becomes the top receiving threat for Carolina this weekend. The Falcons pass defense has been good this year but they have fallen off over the past few games. Given the lack of options in the passing game and inability to get the chains moving on the ground, he’s set to see a fair amount of work. However, that also means he will draw more attention from the defense, making it tougher on Cam Newton. Russell Shepard moves up a rung on the receiver depth chart. He offers deep speed to the offense but until Newton becomes a better passer it will be tough for Shepard to make a big impact in the fantasy realm. Curtis Samuel should also see a few more snaps this weekend. The Panthers are the only team in the league to not register a touchdown from their tight ends. Ed Dickson is in line for another start with Greg Olsen slowly making progress towards a return in Week 11. The veteran backup may get a few more looks in the evolving passing game but he’s a risky play nonetheless.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: The Panthers’ struggling running game could barely muster up a solid performance against one of the worst defenses in the NFL last week. At this point, fantasy owners shouldn’t trust any of the Panthers’ backs in standard starting lineups. Jonathan Stewart did find the end zone a week ago but his work load has dwindled in a fizzling offense. Christian McCaffrey has been excellent as a receiver out of the backfield but has been even worse than Stewart when asked to rush the football. The rookie has failed to average 3.0 yards per carry over the past five weeks. I think the Panthers will be forced to try and get the ball into McCaffery’s hands more often if they have any chance at winning this game. I’d prefer to keep him benched outside of PPR leagues, but he is arguably the team’s best playmaker on offense this week and worthy of flex consideration.

Value Meter:
QB1: Cam Newton
WR2: Devin Funchess
TE2: Ed Dickson
Flex: Christian McCaffrey (PPR only)
Bench: Jonathan Stewart, Russell Shepard, Curtis Samuel

Prediction: Falcons 26, Panthers 16 ^ Top

Bengals @ Jaguars - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Bengals passing game has been pretty tame this season. Andy Dalton continues to be more average than above average for fantasy purposes with touchdown passes in five straight games (good) with an average of only 241.8 passing yards during that span (meh). He’s not horrible at covering a bye but his fantasy stock is about to take a hit as the team embarks on the first of three straight road games this weekend in Jacksonville. The unfavorable matchup is a bad omen for A.J. Green. Cincinnati’s All-Pro receiver enters the week as the third best fantasy wideout (standard scoring) but he won’t have an easy time getting open against the Jacksonville secondary. With Tyler Boyd out and Brandon LaFell nursing a hamstring injury, Joe Ross could be in store for more playing time. Ross will have an opportunity to take advantage of the double teams Green will draw but I remain skeptical that Dalton will have success throwing to an inexperienced rookie receiver or tight end. Fantasy owners would be wise to stay away from everyone in the passing game for Week 9.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Cincy hasn’t made it easy for fantasy owners to figure out what to do with their running backs. Rookie Joe Mixon seems to be the best option this weekend but the offensive line has not always been able to open up holes for the youngster casting storm clouds on his fantasy potential each week. Mixon has seen more work in the passing game of late so maybe that is a sign that they are starting to believe in him as their primary rusher within a RBBC that also includes Giovani Bernard and the corpse of Jeremy Hill. Neither of Mixon’s counterparts should take away much work as the team squares off against a Jags defensive front that has yielded 848 rushing yards in only seven games. Mixon represents the team’s best option near the goal this week so I’m bullish on his chances to find the end zone.

Value Meter:
RB2: Joe Mixon
WR3: A.J. Green
Bench: Everyone else

Passing Game Thoughts: It took a game without their star running back for Blake Bortles to remind everyone that he can still throw the ball. His Week 7 showing produced his first (and possibly last) game with over 300 passing yards on the year but he still failed to throw for more than one touchdown. That limited ceiling continues to hamper Jacksonville’s pass catchers. Allen Hurns may be worthy of a spot start if Marqise Lee continues to be slowed by a knee injury. Lee has been dealing with the injury for a couple of weeks now and has been limited in practice. Dede Westbrook got healthy over the team’s bye week and could start to see more snaps in the offense-especially if Lee is on a snap count. It may be a week early, but there is an opportunity for Westbrook to contribute to the passing attack before the end of the season. Westbrook, a rookie fourth-rounder, could add a spark to the passing attack and much needed depth to the roster.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: After a week of rest Leonard Fournette returned to practice this week. He quickly returns to must start status going up against a Bengals defense that has been one of the ten friendliest to opposing running backs over the past three weeks. The Jaguars’ rookie running back continues to be a force for his fantasy owners. He has averaged 21 carries, 99 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first six games as a pro. Chris Ivory carried the ball 17 times for 47 yards and a score while filling in as the starter. The former Saint and Jet should continue to see about ten touches a game in the Jags’ rush offense but that might not be enough to make him a worthwhile starting in all but the deepest of leagues.

Value Meter:
RB1: Leonard Fournette
Flex: Allen Hurns
Bench: Everyone else

Prediction: Jaguars 17, Bengals 16 ^ Top

Ravens @ Titans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Ravens’ passing game has been suspect before Joe Flacco took a shot to the head in Week 8. Flacco made it through concussion protocol this week and has been cleared to play. This is a wonderful matchup on paper but I’m not sure there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. This is the same unit that currently ranks dead last in passing yards per game and while Flacco may be symptom free, I’m not so sure John Harbaugh wants to see his quarterback take another hit to the head anytime soon. The most glaring reason for not liking the Ravens passing game this week, however, is the emergence of Alex Collins and the running game. The only player getting consistent looks in the confined passing scheme seems to be Jeremy Maclin. There isn’t much to love here but he’s better than a goose egg and you can do worse than taking a flier on a receiver playing the Titans. Everyone else in the passing game will struggle to see enough volume in what should be a battle on the ground.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Baltimore enters this week fresh off its thrashing of the Dolphins a week ago. Alex Collins is the buzz of the NFL and fantasy leagues across the globe. Simply put, Collins’ performance showed that he has the potential to wrangle away the lion’s share of the backfield duties for the foreseeable future. The Ravens’ struggles in the passing game only give the coaching staff more reason to try and ride Collins as far as he can take them. There isn’t too much behind Collins either. Terrance West and Danny Woodhead are dealing with injuries so Javorius Allen is holding down the backup role again this week. Allen will see most of his work on passing downs but I do not expect him to receiver enough touches to be a factor in PPR leagues.

Value Meter:
RB2: Allex Collins
Flex: Jeremy Maclin
Bench: Joe Flacco, Javorius Allen, Mike Wallace, Ben Watson

Passing Game Thoughts: As bad as the Ravens have been passing the ball, it is the Titans that have thrown for the fewest touchdowns. With the calendar flipping to November, Tennessee has more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5) with the fourth fewest passing attempts in the league. This is far from a fantasy gold mine and it might need to get worse before it gets better with the Ravens coming to town Week 9. Baltimore has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks. Marcus Mariota has tossed exactly one touchdown over the last two games and hasn’t been running since coming out of the bye in Week 5. Additionally, his eight rushing yards on three attempts comes after posting 116 rushing yards on 20 attempts in the first four games. Mariota is looking less and less ownable in fantasy leagues these days and shouldn’t come anywhere near your Week 9 starting lineup. Tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) continued to miss practice this week and appears to be headed towards a “game-time decision” so be sure to have alternative plans in place for Sunday. Eric Decker has struggled to find consistent targets and that will open the door for rookie Corey Davis to finally see some snaps or even start this weekend. Typically, a high-profile rookie getting playing time has a larger fantasy impact but until the Titans make improvements elsewhere Davis’ fantasy prospects this week are reduced. Walker’s absence and less familiarity with his other two options, will give Mariota more reason to look for Rishard Matthews.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: The bye week came at a good time for DeMarco Murray. That doesn’t mean he is completely over his ongoing hamstring woes but it does help his cause to be a viable starter in Week 9. After being limited in practice early in the week, Murray was able to put in full practices and is on track to start against the Ravens. Baltimore has not been quite as good stopping the run as they have the pass in 2017. Tennessee continues to give Murray enough work to make him a useful fantasy option as he plays through his ailments so get him into your lineups. Meanwhile, the constant up and down fantasy value of Derrick Henry keeps his owners in limbo again this week. He has seen back-to-back games with double digit carries and can add a catch or two in the passing game. It would be easier to plug Henry in if the offense had found its groove but as it stands he is a slight risk as a flex and stretch to fill your second RB slot if you are thin at the RB position.

Value Meter:
RB1: DeMarco Murray
Flex: Rishard Matthews, Derrick Henry
Bench: Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis, Eric Decker

Prediction: Ravens 24, Titans 13 ^ Top

Colts @ Texans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: After seeing 14 more passes come his way against the Bengals in Week 8, Jack Doyle enters the week with the fourth most targets amongst all tight ends this season. Jacoby Brissett has seemingly found a true complement to T.Y. Hilton in the passing game and it doesn’t look like Doyle’s role is going to subside anytime soon. The Colts’ two most consistent pass-catchers will be putting plenty of pressure on Houston’s defense that will already be feeling the pain of a less potent offense. Meanwhile, Donte Moncrief has not been able to find any consistency within this Brissett-led offense. He failed to catch a single pass in the Colts’ loss last week and hasn’t scored since Week 4. It may be time for fantasy owners to move on if they haven’t done so already. Can Donte Moncrief or Kamar Aiken take advantage of the extra room left by the defense’s efforts to stop Hilton? Kamar Aiken would seem to have a shot at earning more snaps if he can outplay Moncrief so continue to monitor this passing game. Andrew Luck’s season officially ended this week with him being placed on IR with continued shoulder discomfort following off-season surgery.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: If it sounds like a broken record then you are hearing things perfectly clear. Frank Gore gets his typical work in each week to net his owners about 8-10 fantasy points. PPR owners usually average double digits but the impact is similar - the veteran running back is extremely valuable in the roster flexibility he affords his owners during bye weeks and as a flex option more often than not. In his last two games at Houston, Gore has rushed the ball at least 22 times in route to posting fine fantasy outings. He is a little older this time around and the coaching staff has changed but I’d feel alright putting a gamer in my flex spot for this divisional matchup. The hype train surrounding Marlon Mack has been losing steam ever since his nine-carry, 91-yard outing against the 49ers back in Week 5. His PPR value has a pulse now that he has garnered 11 targets over the past two weeks; a trend that should continue this week in Houston.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jacoby Brissett
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
TE1: Jack Doyle
Flex: Frank Gore, Marlon Mack (PPR only), Kamar Aiken (deep leagues only)
Bench: Donte Moncrief

Passing Game Thoughts: Houston was dealt a crushing blow on Thursday when they learned rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson had torn his ACL at practice in a non-contact injury. The ramifications of this injury are vast but I will focus on the immediate fantasy impact for Week 9. Tom Savage is back in at quarterback this week. The offense that had set the NFL on fire over the past month has been reduced to a flickering candle. Savage had a rocky start as the team’s opening day starter logging more fumbles than touchdowns. Do not expect the offense to shrivel up without Watson in the huddle, but everyone must be downgraded. DeAndre Hopkins reverts back to being a WR2 in favorable matchups while Will Fuller will become a touchdown dependent fantasy player that will struggle to make the same big plays his owners had come to expect. Ryan Griffin should get one more start before C.J. Fiedorowicz returns from a concussion and he may be the lone beneficiary of the quarterback switch. Griffin had become an afterthought once the vertical passing game took off with Watson under center but he has a chance to pass for a starting fantasy TE now that he will be serving as a safety outlet for Savage. I’m not saying he’s a surefire top-ten tight end, but he could help teams in deeper pools.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman and now Alfred Blue are getting carries in the Houston backfield. Be assured, Miller is the leader of this group for Week 9 after seeing a season-high 21-carries and a touchdown against the Seahawks in Week 8. He’s been a top-ten performer at his position for several weeks now and HC Bill O’Brien will likely turn to his veteran running back even more in the wake of Watson’s injury. While there is a potential for more touches this week, anyone who followed the Texans last season knows that there is a real risk of teams loading up against the rush without the threat of a legitimate passing game. Savage has the ability to be adequate in this game so I wouldn’t do anything drastic like bench Miller for Week 9. However, his owners may want to take a long look at his rest of the way value moving forward. D’Onta Foreman become an even more valuable handcuff. He would benefit if the Texans revised offense becomes more conservative in Savage’s first game back.

Value Meter:
RB2: Lamar Miller
WR2: DeAndre Hopkins
TE2: Ryan Griffin
Flex: Will Fuller
Bench: Tom Savage, D’Onta Foreman

Prediction: Texans 19, Colts 17 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Saints - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Jameis Winston walks into an ideal situation for fantasy success this weekend. Playing on the road against a high scoring divisional team usually results in a lot of throws for a quarterback and plenty of fantasy points for his owners. However, that hasn’t been the case for Winston when playing against the Saints in his young career. In his last outing at the Super Dome, Winston showed that he may have turned the corner in his ability to play through adversity and keep his team in the game. He has better weapons this time around and comes into this game with a head coach that won’t have any issues slinging the ball all over the field. The regular names should be in your lineups this week. Mike Evans is among the hottest fantasy receivers in the game and caught seven of eight balls thrown to him in their last encounter with New Orleans. When the Saints roll the coverage towards Evans they will have to account for Jackson and Brate as well. Since taking over as the starter last season, the 26-year old Harvard alumnus has quietly emerged as one of the better weekly fantasy plays at the TE position. He comes into this game trying to add a seventh consecutive game with at least 60-yards receiving so keep him locked into your Week 9 lineup. DeSean Jackson’s catch-rate is below 50% but he should get enough volume as the Saints try to contain Evans to be squeeze out a useful WR3 fantasy day.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Doug Martin has yet to win a game in 2017 and there has to be some frustration building. He has seen his fantasy point totals decline four straight weeks and his owners are questioning whether to start him despite the fact he is still getting about 15 touches per game. Your patience will be rewarded this week. Part of the reason for the dull numbers is due to the tough opponents so look for Martin to bounce back to his usual self in this contest. Over the past three weeks, the Saints have given up on average 101 rushing yards and four receptions per game to opposing running backs. I wouldn’t expect the Bucs to churn out 200 yards on the ground, but Martin belongs in the RB2 mix for Week 9 and could easily outperform his expectations should he find his way into the end zone. Tampa is barely using Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims as backups so Martin’s owners need not worry.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jamies Winston
RB2: Doug Martin
WR1: Mike Evans
WR3: DeSean Jackson
TE1: Cameron Brate
Flex: Adam Humphries
Bench: Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims

Passing Game Thoughts: Start ‘em if you get ‘em! New Orleans is next in line for the punching bag that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneer defense. Unlike last week, Drew Brees shouldn’t have many issues picking apart the opposing team’s secondary and move the team up and down the field on Sunday. Willie Sneed’s involvement in the offense is about the only headache fantasy owners are forced to deal with heading into Week 9. The coaches have indicated a desire to get him more involved in the offense where he had earned his quarterback’s trust prior to opening the year on suspension. Until he is back in the lineup and playing the majority of the offensive snaps, however, Sneed belongs glued to your fantasy bench. That solidifies Ted Ginn Jr. as a decent WR3 this weekend but isn’t quite enough to make Brandon Coleman an ownable fantasy commodity. The one player not getting much love in this offense is TE Coby Fleener. With three or fewer targets in four of the past five contests he continues to be a low end TE2 this year.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Don’t look now but Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are making a case to be the most dynamic pair of running backs in the NFL (that includes division rival Atlanta). This week, Ingram figures to run angry after losing a couple of fumbles last week. New Orleans top dog in the backfield has reached pay dirt in each of his last three games and is a solid bet to do so again in Week 9. Ingram is in the midst of logging his fifth consecutive season with a YPC over 4.0 making him one of the best fantasy tailbacks to own. However, he is on pace to set a career-high in receptions as well after catching 30-of -38 passes through seven games. That is impressive considering backfield mate Kamara has averaged six targets a game himself. Expect the Saints to continue to lean on the rushing attack to control the game throughout on their way to securing their sixth victory of the season.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB1: Mark Ingram
RB2: Alvin Kamara
WR1: Michael Thomas
TE2: Coby Fleener
Flex: Ted Ginn Jr.
Bench: Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead

Prediction: Saints 30, Buccaneers 17 ^ Top

Redskins @ Seahawks - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Kirk Cousins suffered his first sub-20 point fantasy day this past week as the Redskins fell to the Cowboys in what was expected to be a fairly big fantasy day for Cousins and the Washington offense. The Dallas defense had been a sieve for most of the first half of the season but the numerous injuries across the Washington offensive line proved to be too much as the Dallas defensive line shut down the run, generated pressure all afternoon and was able to force two turnovers from Cousins in an ugly, rain-soaked contest. Cousins and the Redskins now go from a friendly home matchup to a terrifying road matchup in Week 9 against one of the league’s best secondaries, the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle did get lit up by Deshaun Watson this past week however they had previously been their usual, dominant selves, which leads to the expectation that there will be a return to the norm this week. The Redskins will still likely be without Trent Williams at left tackle along with other injuries across the offensive line, which shouldn’t give fantasy owners much excitement for any of these Washington receivers, who have been inconsistent at best this season. Jamison Crowder (hamstring) finally had his best fantasy day of the season this past week, catching nine passes for 123 yards although he still has not scored this season. Meanwhile, Josh Doctson has overtaken Terrelle Pryor in the starting lineup, leaving Pryor to fend for scrap time with the likes of Ryan Grant. At tight end, frustration for fantasy owners continues as the Redskins will once again be without tight end Jordan Reed whose injured hamstring could cost him multiple weeks and he has already been ruled out for this weekend’s contest. Vernon Davis, who has been essentially a plug-and-play TE1 anytime Reed been out of the lineup, should be a hot waiver wire target, especially with as many byes as there are and the general lack of production coming from the position throughout the league this season. Cousins himself could be a borderline QB1 in this matchup but the upside isn’t great in this extremely difficult road matchup behind a patchwork offensive line.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: With Rob Kelley getting back to full health, many believed that the Redskins would attempt to deploy a more run-heavy offensive gameplan against the Cowboys in Week 8, especially in a game that ended up being played in ugly weather conditions. The team did give him a carry near the end zone which he was able to turn into his first touchdown of the season, thus saving what was otherwise an ugly stat line, but the 47-to-12 snap count in Chris Thompson’s favor seems to indicate that the Redskins have a clear pecking order in their backfield. Rookie Samaje Perine is now droppable in most formats as he has not seen a single snap over the past two weeks since Kelley’s return but Kelley himself is nothing more than a touchdown-or-bust type of Flex option, preferably in non-PPR formats.

A matchup against a surging Seattle team in a game that the Redskins could find themselves behind in does look like a potentially nice PPR fantasy day for Thompson, who currently leads all running backs with 442 receiving yards this season. The Seahawks are one of the best defenses in the league against the run and they’ve been particularly good at limiting opposing backfields from producing in the passing game, although the truth is that they really haven’t played many backfields with even an above-average pass catcher, let alone one who possesses the playmaking ability of a guy like Thompson. Most running backs don’t possess much upside in matchups like these, but Thompson is a true RB1 in PPR formats because he’s the kind of player who can thrive even in garbage time if necessary.

Value Meter:
QB2: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Chris Thompson (PPR)
TE1: Vernon Davis
Flex: Rob Kelley (non-PPR), Jamison Crowder (PPR if he plays)
Bench: Samaje Perine, Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Grant

Passing Game Thoughts: We predicted it last week and Russell Wilson certainly came through with a gigantic fantasy day in a shootout win over the Texans. Wilson threw for a whopping 452 yards and four touchdowns while adding 30 yards as a runner in what was his biggest fantasy day since Week 12 of the 2015 season. The Seahawks seem to have essentially given up on running the football this season so it all rests on Wilson’s shoulders. The Seahawks did also make a move this week to improve their offensive line, adding veteran Duane Brown at left tackle in a trade with their opponent from this past week, the Texans. Brown had only played in the Texans-vs-Seahawks game after holding out to start the season but should still be an improvement for an otherwise terrible Seattle offensive line. While this should also help the running game, what it primarily does is give Wilson some additional peace of mind on his blind side, potentially leading to more time in the pocket which could lead to more deep shots down the field. This bodes well for receiver Paul Richardson who now seems to have a firm grip on the team’s second WR spot as he has now out-snapped Tyler Lockett in three straight contests. Richardson exploded with his first 100-yard game of the season against the Texans, catching six passes for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns; extending his team-leading receiving touchdown total to five on the season. He has now scored in back-to-back weeks and is beginning to look more like a viable fantasy starter, at least as a Flex option.

Fellow wideout Doug Baldwin has had some ups and downs throughout the season but his 15 receptions over the past two weeks show us that he is still very much the top receiving option in this offense. While there is concern of cornerback Josh Norman being lined up on Baldwin and taking him away, the reality is that Baldwin will likely avoid Norman for most of the afternoon as he plays most of his snaps out of the slot and Norman almost exclusively plays outside in the Washington scheme. This could mean nice value in DFS for Baldwin as fantasy owners worry about a potentially difficult matchup that is unlikely to materialize on the field. Another excellent fantasy option in this suddenly potent Seattle passing game has been tight end Jimmy Graham who has now scored four touchdowns over his past three contests. Graham could’ve had even more this past week if he had held onto a wide open deep pass down the sidelines that he dropped, but fantasy owners won’t complain about the two-touchdown performance. Graham is once again a set-and-forget TE1 provided that his banged up ankle does not hold him out of this game.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Running game? Who needs a running game when your quarterback is throwing for 450 yards? That seems to be the Seahawks gameplan at the moment as the team is just not generating push along their offensive line and their backs are certainly not creating their own production. The team did add left tackle Duane Brown this week, which could help in the running game, but that alone isn’t likely to change things in a dramatic way for this pathetic unit. For what it’s worth, Eddie Lacy is expected to start but Thomas Rawls seems to have established himself as the clear top dog in this ugly backfield as he led the team with 41 snaps while no Seattle other tailback had more than 16, but even Rawls only saw six total touches (which he turned into an impressive negative one rushing yard) in this past week’s victory over the Texans. It’s not smart to trust anyone in this backfield for the time being, but Rawls has the highest upside - albeit not much upside at all - of the bunch in this matchup against a Redskins defense that got run over for 150 yards and a pair of scores by Ezekiel Elliott this past week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
WR1: Doug Baldwin
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Flex: Paul Richardson
Bench: Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise, Tyler Lockett

Prediction: Seahawks 27, Redskins 17 ^ Top

Cardinals @ 49ers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: A matchup against a mediocre Los Angeles secondary was expected to give at least some production for Drew Stanton and the Arizona passing game the last time we saw this unit back in Week 7, but Stanton is simply not any good - at least for fantasy purposes. Stanton threw for just 66 total yards in that contest with no touchdowns and an interception, narrowly escaping negative points for the week at a position that it is almost impossible to get negative points at in a full game. Now coming off of a bye week, there is some hope as the Cardinals will have had a full two weeks to prepare for a winless team with a terrible defense. Even still, it’s hard not to question the upside of the Arizona passing game as long as Stanton is behind center. They weren’t really lighting the fantasy world on fire even when Carson Palmer was healthy and this is a substantial and obvious downgrade.

Still, a player like Larry Fitzgerald is likely to garner enough targets to justify at least WR2 numbers in this great matchup. Fitz was held to just 32 yards on four receptions earlier this season when these teams played, but he did get into the end zone. Fitzgerald has an excellent recent track record against the 49ers and he does have WR1 upside in this matchup. Unfortunately, the other pass catching options in this offense are just too hit-or-miss to trust. John Brown has seen the second-most playing time out of the Arizona receivers since coming back but he’s still conceding way too much time to the likes of J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown to make him a viable fantasy starter until we see him create some chemistry with Stanton.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: If Arizona is going to make a run at the playoffs this season without Carson Palmer or David Johnson, you get the feeling that it’s going to have to be on the shoulders of a return to glory from running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson exploded in his first game with the Cardinals back in Week 6 against the Buccaneers, but was then held in check in the Cardinals blowout loss to the Rams.

Negative game script could very well lead to some ugly fantasy outlooks for Peterson going forward, however there is plenty of reason to be hopeful this week in what is statistically the best matchup in the league for opposing running backs, against the 49ers. San Francisco has been absolutely humiliated by opposing running games in almost every game this season. Even the Cardinals, prior to acquiring Peterson, saw their duo of Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington produce 167 yards from scrimmage in what was a low-scoring contest. This game figures to be fairly low scoring again yet Peterson is almost certainly in line to see upwards of 15 to 20 touches as long as he can stay healthy. If he’s able to do that, there’s a real potential for him to surprise many critics and finish as a RB1 this week, especially in non-PPR formats. Ellington is also a player to keep an eye on as he could be back from the quadriceps injury that held him out in recent games. If he does play, Ellington could be useful as a desperation Flex play in PPR formats as he was a major part of the Cardinals passing attack when these teams played back in Week 4.

Value Meter:
RB1: Adrian Peterson (low-end)
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald (high-end)
Flex: Andre Ellington (PPR only)
Bench: Drew Stanton, Kerwynn Williams, John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jermaine Gresham

Passing Game Thoughts: A trade for Jimmy Garoppolo this week does not necessarily indicate the end of the C.J. Beathard era, but it certainly puts the pressure on the young quarterback to find his stride quickly before he finds himself sitting behind another young, potential franchise quarterback. Beathard hasn’t been good thus far, which obviously helped lead to the 49ers trading for Garoppolo yet he hasn’t been terrible from a fantasy standpoint. A 215-yard average through the air with two passing touchdowns in three games is certainly nothing to write home about but he has actually been decent from a fantasy perspective due to his ability to pick up additional points with his legs. Beathard has rushed for an average of 28 yards per game and he also ran for a touchdown. Those aren’t Tyrod Taylor or Deshaun Watson numbers though it’s better than most and enough to help anchor him into low-end QB2 consideration.

Unfortunately, the cloudy injury status of top wide receiver Pierre Garcon does cast further doubt on an already bad passing game, as Garcon’s injured neck has held him out of practice early in the week and landed him on IR Thursday night. Wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson stand to see an uptick in playing time, although neither player is worth playing as anything other than a lottery ticket in DFS formats. Tight end George Kittle continues to run plenty of routes and he’s seeing a decent number of targets however the inconsistent play of Beathard hasn’t led to many red zone opportunities for this offense, thus significantly limiting Kittle’s upside and keeping him outside of the TE1 conversation.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Like their Week 9 opponents, the 49ers’ best chance to win this game would seem to be their running game. While their passing game has struggled to generate much of anything all season, running back Carlos Hyde does currently rank inside the top 10 at his position in PPR formats. Hyde’s usage in the short passing game has seen a significant spike this season with the new coaching staff in town while he’s still seeing between 12 to 16 carries most weeks. This high usage has meant a decent floor for Hyde with the potential for touchdowns, as he has scored four times so far this season. One thing to watch out for, however, is the ballooning playing time for Matt Breida, who saw 21 snaps this past week - his highest total since Week 5. Hyde still out-snapped Brieda by over a two-to-one margin this past week against the Eagles, but Breida could be utilized more if the 49ers fall behind on the scoreboard. Fortunately for Hyde owners, a sudden offensive explosion by the Cardinals seems fairly unlikely, so the 49ers should stay close enough on the scoreboard that Hyde will get around his usual number of touches, which is enough to make him a borderline RB1 here in Week 9.

Value Meter:
RB1: Carlos Hyde
Bench: C.J. Beathard, Matt Breida, Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, George Kittle

Prediction: Cardinals 21, 49ers 20 ^ Top