Sorry we’re a little late this week – sometimes real life gets in the way of our fantasies – but better late than never! Speaking of real life getting in the way of fantasy, how about Todd Gurley giving up the sure touchdown to guarantee a win? I’m guessing more than a few fantasy owners were upset about that one. Of course, I’m sure the Aaron Rodgers fantasy owners were even less pleased with Ty Montgomery fumbling away a shot at a Rodgers Special. Hopefully they didn’t throw as big a temper tantrum as Montgomery did.
Of course, if you start all the right players then you don’t sweat the “what if’s”. That’s where we come in. Before we get to your week 9 starts and fades, however, let’s take a look at how we did last week.
Last week’s Starts: Lamar Miller, Phillip Lindsay, Chris Carson, Jordy Nelson
Miller (133 yards and a touchdown), Lindsay (112 total yards and a touchdown), and Carson (124 total yards and a touchdown) all posted remarkably similar stat lines last week. If you started any of the three, you were probably pretty happy. Jordy, however, did not make fantasy owners so happy. Despite stepping in as the de facto WR1 after the Raiders traded away Amari Cooper, Nelson received a whopping 3 targets that he turned into 2 catches for 16 yards. Of course, the entire Oakland offense stunk in this one so it wasn’t Jordy’s fault necessarily, but that doesn’t take the sting away from those who started Nelson.
Last week’s Fades: Devin Funchess, Mark Ingram, Josh Gordon
Funchess took a backseat last week in the Carolina passing game as his 3/27/0 line was well below his season average of 5 catches for 60 yards and a coin flip for a touchdown. Ingram did churn out 92 total yards on 16 touches, but he did not find the end zone and his 3 catches weren’t exactly lighting it up in PPR formats. It was better than we had expected, but still wasn’t a great total for fantasy purposes. Gordon’s ascent hit a road bump against a fierce Buffalo defense that forced Brady to throw quickly to his checkdown targets more often than not. Flash’s 4/42/0 line was well below his averages with Brady so far.
Overall, last was a pretty solid week as our only real miss was with Jordy Nelson. We’ll look to keep the good times rolling this week.
The Ravens defense hasn’t necessarily been elite, but they have been strong. Even while letting up 36 points to the Panthers last week they actually did a decent job of limiting Carolina’s yardage (3 turnovers from the offense are mostly to blame for the score), and they did similarly well against another high powered offense (New Orleans) the week before. Their only notable weakness is against tight ends. Over the past four weeks, the only team to not boast a tight end with 60 yards or a touchdown was a dysfunctional Titans offense that let up 11 sacks. McDonald has been up and down this season, but his boom weeks have been pretty solid. Against a defense that is easiest to attack over the middle, that should mean start-worthy production from the veteran.
D. J. Moore
Moore has slowly seen his workload increase over the last several weeks. Last week against the Ravens he actually was the Panthers’ top receiver in terms of targets, receptions, and yardage. He even chipped in 39 yards on the ground. This week Carolina draws Tampa Bay, whose defense has allowed season highs to pretty much every offense they’ve faced. Regardless of whether you believe the Panthers will contend with Fitzmagic or Fitztragic, the Carolina offense should roll. With Moore’s rising role in the offense, that means he should have a solid day.
The ageless wonder is having a stellar age 33 season as the heartbeat of the Redskins’ offense. Expect the storybook comeback to continue as Washington takes on the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense is weakest against receiving backs, but they haven’t exactly been strong against the traditional ground game either. While they did a good job of bottling up Saquon Barkley last week, they were lit up by James Conner and Peyton Barber the previous two weeks. If the Washington defense can hold up their end of the bargain at home – something they’ve done well for most of the season – then Peterson should feast.
Cooks started off the year great, racking up an impressive 26 catches for 452 yards over the first four games. Then his production suddenly fell off a cliff. While this didn’t directly coincide with Cooper Kupp’s MCL sprain, it’s likely that Kupp’s absence has hurt Cooks’ numbers as defenses were better able to shift coverage Cooks’ way. Now that Kupp is returning to the lineup, Cooks figures to have an easier time getting open. Kupp’s return couldn’t have come at a better time either; the Saints have struggled to slow down opponents’ passing games and have been particularly weak to the deep ball (see: John Brown). On top of that, Cooks didn’t exactly leave New Orleans on good terms. So in summary, we have a revenge story-line against lighter-than-expected coverage from a poor pass defense in a slug-fest of offensive heavyweights. I’m buying into that.
There were many question marks about Green Bay’s wide receiver depth entering the season, and those question marks were put to the test when both Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb went down early in the season. MVS quickly grew from this crucible into one of the more reliable weapons for Aaron Rodgers. In fact, last week against the Rams he out-snapped Randall Cobb and was targeted more than Geronimo Allison despite both of the starters being reasonably healthy. With Allison falling back to an injury designation this week, MVS will be thrust back into the starting lineup. This is a good week for that to happen as the Patriots are known for focusing on their opponents’ premier weapon. In this case, that means New England will likely put most of its attention on Davante Adams, leaving the rest of the receivers to run free against what has been a disappointing secondary. MVS appears to be in the position to benefit the most.
Conner has had a prolific stretch these last three games, posting no worse than 110 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns, and 4 catches in any of those contests. However, those weren’t exactly elite defenses he was running over; the Falcons, Bengals, and Browns all rank in the bottom ten in the league for YPC allowed. Baltimore, meanwhile, is sitting pretty with the 7th best YPC against mark in the NFL. In fact, they limited Conner to a mere 19 yards on 9 carries back in week 4 in Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t expect the Ravens defense to be quite so successful this time around, but don’t be surprised to see a steep dropoff for Conner this week.
Ever since week 3 when he became the first Lions running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing since 2013, Johnson has been on a roll. Even in a down game against the Seahawks last week where he only posted 8 carries for 22 yards on the ground, he managed 6 catches for 69 yards through the air. Don’t expect so much success this week. Minnesota boasts a stout run defense, and they aren’t particularly susceptible to receiving backs either. Beyond that, the Vikings have a strong offense that could easily force Detroit into catch-up mode, pushing focus away from the running game. The rookie Johnson is on his way to a strong rookie campaign, but this will not be one of his better games.
Lindsay is one of the more surprising stories of the year. Signed as an undrafted rookie, he’s risen quickly from 3rd string running back to borderline feature back as his backfield mates have fallen due to ineffectiveness (Devontae Booker) and injury (Royce Freeman). Unfortunately, the good times may hit a rough patch this week. Houston has been a bit up and down against the run over the last few weeks, but on the season they’ve been pretty stout, most notably holding Ezekiel Elliott to 54 yards on 20 carries. Houston has also added former Bronco Demaryius Thomas to its stable of impressive wide receivers. With Deshaun Watson showing shades of last year’s breakout debut and quite possibly the best 1-2 punch at wide receiver in the entire league, it’s not at all unreasonable to believe that Denver will find itself down early to a prolific Texan air attack. That type of game script doesn’t bode well for Lindsay’s volume.