Stars of Week 9
QB: Russell Wilson, SEA: 29-43, 378 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Christian McCaffrey, CAR: 24 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs
WR: Tyler Lockett, SEA: 13 catches, 152 yards, 2 TDs
TE: Zach Ertz, PHI: 9 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD
Through nine weeks of the NFL season, the league MVP has been Russell Wilson…hands down. Wilson threw for five TDs against the Bucs, including the game winner in OT. Whether Wilson ultimately wins the award will hinge in large part on whether the Seahawks make the playoffs, but he has been the best NFL player thus far. And swap Wilson out with a league average QB, and the Seahawks would likely have a losing record. Wilson is also the QB1 overall for fantasy purposes. He’s a must start every week, even next week against the vaunted San Francisco 49ers’ defense.
We move to a less praised teammate of Wilson’s, Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks top WR punished the Bucs throughout the game, catching 13 balls covering 152 yards, while also finding the end zone twice. Lockett has become a firm WR1 in fantasy and also a weekly must start.
We’ll now transition from the Seahawks but not from the weekly must start category, as Carolina Panthers’ RB Christian McCaffrey has been the top player in fantasy football this season. McCaffrey rushed for 146 yards and two TDs against a rough Tennessee Titans’ D, and he also caught a TD on the afternoon as well. In this space we worship at the church of CMC. Last but not least, welcome back to the fold Zach Ertz! The Philadelphia Eagles’ TE has had a quiet year, coming into the Week 9 matchup against the Chicago Bears with only 1 TD and not yet having had a 100 yard receiving game. Ertz found his groove again, exploding for 103 yards and a TD over nine receptions. For those of you with Ertz, you should expect fewer vintage days like the one he had this past Sunday. He remains a TE1, but he’s no longer a top-3 option. The Eagles just have too many options on offense in order to feed Ertz the same volume of targets as he’s received over the past few years. So adjust the expectations to more of a top 6-8 TE, which is still quite solid – just likely not what you hoped for when you drafted him earlier than that.
Week 9 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
Matthew Stafford, QB – DET: 26-41, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: Now in his 11th NFL season, Matthew Stafford has established himself as a mid-tier NFL QB with a tantalizing arm, but one who is lacking that defining moment. Stafford’s best season came in 2011, when he threw for 41 TDs and over 5,000 yards, never to reach anywhere near that TD total again. Now eight years later, Stafford quietly sits on pace to throw for roughly 5,000 yards and 38 TDs in this 2019 season. Stafford has Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones to help anchor the passing game, and a suspect running game behind him – meaning he’ll be throwing quite a bit. With all that considerd, will Stafford reach the projected numbers? Well, the problem is that Stafford’s schedule of passing defenses is about to get much tougher. 10 of Stafford’s TD tosses have come over the last three games, which have included uber friendly matchups against the Vikings, Giants and Raiders’ secondaries. Over the next four weeks, Stafford will face the Bears twice, along with the Cowboys, with a cookie matchup against the Redskins sandwiched in there. So while Stafford has been a top 5 QB to date, he’s not an automatic weekly start. Expect Stafford’s stats to pull back a bit in the coming weeks, but he should be a top 10 QB for the balance of the season.
Kenyan Drake, RB – ARI: 15 carries, 110 yards, 1 TD (4 catches, 52 yards, 0 TDs)
Analysis: The Arizona Cardinals threw the NFL world into a loop last week by trading for RB Kenyan Drake from the Miami Dolphins. With star RB David Johnson still hobbled and rookie backup RB Chase Edmonds also TKO’d for a few weeks, the Cardinals elected to trade 2020 draft capital for an RB to help them over the next handful of weeks…despite not having a prayer of making the playoffs. So how does Drake’s trade to the Cardinals impact that troika of RBs? Well, let’s start with Drake himself. The new Cardinals’ RB was ceding carries to Mark Walton in Miami, so this trade is an immediate bump in value in the short term, and likely for the balance of the season as well. Given how well Drake played against a stingy 49ers’ run D last week, he’s likely to remain involved in the offense even when David Johnson returns. Drake will be an RB1 as long as he’s got the RB gig to himself. Upon Johnson’s return, Drake will likely stay involved as part of a time share with Johnson. Drake will be an RB3/flex play in such a role, while Johnson will drop to RB2 status. As for Chase Edmonds, he loses the most value from the trade and will be droppable in redraft leagues.
Devin Singletary, RB - BUF: 20 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: I’ve long advocated for mid to late round picks in fantasy drafts to be spent on rookie RBs, as opposed to low ceiling veterans. You can always find a Giovani Bernard type player on the waiver wire. Instead, roll the dice on an incoming RB who has a chance to significantly outperform his draft slot…such as Buffalo Bills rookie RB Devin Singletary! With the ageless RB Frank Gore in the fold, the Bills had the luxury to get Singletary ramped up slowly. Unfortunately injuries knocked Singletary out for a month, so this past Sunday was only his fifth NFL game – and his best one yet. Singletary outcarried Gore 20 to 11, while outgaining him 95 yards to 15. Singletary also contributes in the passing game, with 45 yards receiving over three receptions. Most telling, Singletary has outsnapped Gore by an 83-38 count over the past two games. While Gore will continue to remain in the picture, Singletary will be the more valuable fantasy asset going forward – he’ll be the primary third down back and will likely lead Gore in carries as well. Singletary should be viewed as an RB2 in PPR leagues and an RB3/flex play in standard leagues. Gore falls to an RB4 / flex option in deeper leagues. It’s transition time in Buffalo, with the newbie taking over.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR – SF: 7 catches, 112 yards 1 TD
Analysis: I got blasted on Twitter for not forecasting Emmanuel Sanders to go off against the Cardinals on TNF. The San Francisco 49ers, a supreme running team facing a porous Cardinals’ run D, decided to throw the ball all over the field instead of running it down the Cardinals’ throat. As a result, QB Jimmy Garoppolo threw for a career high 4 TDs, and Sanders, in his first ever game with the 49ers and Jimmy G, cracked the 100 yard mark and found the end zone. Yep, I missed on this…but not because of faulty rationale. There was no way to know that Jimmy G and Sanders would connect right away, as WRs usually take some time (at least a game or two) two assimilate to a new team and QB mid-season. Now that we know the assimilation has happened, we can raise our expectations going forward for Sanders, as he will be Jimmy G’s main target among the WRs going forward. Sanders led the team with 9 targets, edging out star TE George Kittle with his 8 targets and fellow WR Deebo Samuel with 7. As a result of Sanders’ addition to the 49ers, he should be viewed as low end WR2 (think top 20-24 WRs). The good news for Kittle’s owners is that his value as a top 3 TE doesn’t change with Sanders’ addition. The rest of the 49ers’ WRs though do drop in value a bit, and none of which should be starting in leagues, as they will not put up consistent enough numbers to merit a place in your lineups.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Ryan Tannehill, TEN
RB: Ronald Jones, TB
RB: Kalen Ballage, MIA (next man up with Mark Walton suspended)
WR: DeVante Parker, MIA
WR: Cole Beasley, BUF
TE: Chris Herndon, NYJ