Stars of Week 9
QB: Josh Allen, BUF: 31-38, 415 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Dalvin Cook, MIN: 22 carries, 206 yards, 2 TDs
WR: Davante Adams, GB: 10 catches, 173 yards, 1 TD
TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 10 catches, 159 yards, 0 TDs
If your favorite team’s QB finds himself in a funk, the cure resides in the NFL’s Pacific Northwest based franchise. Just have the QB face the Seattle Seahawks defense, and he’ll feel like he’s playing against air. Buffalo Bills’ QB Josh Allen found open receiver after open receiver against a putrid Seahawks’ secondary, throwing for more than 400 yards and 3 TDs, while also adding a rushing TD. Allen started with a bang in his first four games, then leveled off substantially in the subsequent four contests. Look for Allen to settle in somewhere in between those levels for the balance of the season, leaning more towards the high end. He’ll be a top-6 QB most weeks going forward.
Minnesota Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook repeats as the league’s top RB, and now he’s making a play for the top overall fantasy pick for 2021. Cook has been nothing short of spectacular this season, with 12 TDs over seven games while accumulating 858 yards rushing. Cook has elevated to the RB1 overall role, where he will remain most weeks as long as he remains healthy. This train ain’t slowin’ down anytime soon.
We now move to the league’s top fantasy WR of the week, who also has made a strong case to be considered the NFL’s top overall WR. Green Bay Packers’ WR Davante Adams creates separation at a level unparalleled in the league, with the San Francisco 49ers his victim this week. Adams “only” scored one TD, but he racked up 173 yards over 10 catches. Dude is always open, and QB Aaron Rodgers obviously has a special connection with his WR.
Kansas City Chiefs’ TE Travis Kelce joins Dalvin Cook as a back-to-back honor roll participant. While Kelce didn’t find the end zone against the Carolina Panthers, he caught 10 balls for 159 yards. Yup, that’ll do for the league’s best tight end. We’ll see if Kelce makes it here again next week for the hat trick.
Week 9 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we’ll take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB – MIA: 20-28, 248 yards, 2 TD, 0 INTs
Analysis: The NFL has been blessed with an influx of talented QBs entering the league over the past few seasons, with 2020 not disappointing on that front. We’ve already seen what Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert can do, and now after two starts, we’ve gotten a glimpse of Tank For Tua’s namesake, Miami Dolphins’ rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has lived up to the tremendous hype thus far, leading the Dolphins to victories in both of his starts, while playing mostly mistake-free football. While his numbers against the Cardinals don’t light up the screen, Tua consistently made accurate throws this past Sunday, hitting his WRs in stride time and time again. Tua also showed the ability to work through his progressions, in a manner much advanced compared to most rookie QBs. In addition to his 248 passing yards and 2 TDs, Tua added 35 yards on the ground - his rushing ability subtly adds value by raising his weekly floor. Over the long term, expect Tua to become a weekly fantasy starter, so he should unquestionably be rostered in all dynasty leagues. What about for this year? The Dolphins likely won’t put too much on Tua’s plate, wanting to give him a chance to continue to acclimate himself to the league. So those of you in shallower leagues (10 teams or less) should look elsewhere for QB help. But for those of you in deeper leagues (12+ teams), Tua can help if you’re in a pinch at QB. The Dolphins have some favorable matchups coming down the pike, including the Chargers, Bengals and Jets. You can do a lot worse than starting Tua against those opponents, so give him a look if you’re in need of QB help.
Tony Pollard, RB – DAL: 9 carries, 57 yards, 0 TDs
Ezekiel Elliott, RB – DAL: 18 carries, 51 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The Dallas Cowboys’ 2020 season will officially end on Sunday, January 3, 2021, but unofficially their season ended once QB Dak Prescott was lost for the season. The Cowboys have been spiraling since that moment, and there’s minimal reason for any optimism. Among the biggest disappointments for the team has been star RB Ezekiel Elliott, who has a monster-sized contract to go along with his disappointing play. Elliott has averaged under 4 yards per carry this season, with a paltry 3.24 yards per carry over his last three contests. His backup, Tony Pollard, meanwhile has averaged 4.4 yards per carry for the season, with a 4.71 yard per carry average over the last three games. While Elliott has had roughly twice the carries that Pollard over this time (if you want to argue smaller sample size), they have faced the exact same defenses in each game. Whether it’s injury, lack of interest or some combination of factors, Elliott hasn’t been the pro bowl runner that we’re used to seeing. As such, you should downgrade him accordingly if he’s on your roster – consider him a flex play until he performs otherwise. As for Pollard, he makes for a very interesting pickup as a speculative add. Given the Cowboys’ lost season, it’s likely that Pollard will continue to syphon carries from Zeke as he continues to remain in a funk. Also, wouldn’t surprise anyone if Zeke gets shut down a few weeks before the end of the season, sometime during the fantasy playoffs. In case you want to make an upside play for an RB and have the roster spot to house Pollard for the next few weeks, now’s the time to make the move.
Jerry Jeudy, WR – DEN: 7 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Along with the trio of prized rookie QBs in the 2020 draft came a vaunted group of WRs, starting with the troika of Las Vegas Raiders’ WR Henry Ruggs, Dallas Cowboys’ WR CeeDee Lamb and Denver Broncos’ WR Jerry Jeudy. Ruggs’ speed has helped open up the Raiders’ offense, even though he doesn’t have the individual stats to show his impact. Lamb started out on fire, only to slow down significantly once the team lost franchise QB Dak Prescott for the season. Jeudy has quietly had a solid start to his rookie year, but now may be the time where his performance starts making more noise. The Alabama alum has elite route running skills and great hands, with all of the makings of a true number one WR. Jeudy led the Broncos this past Sunday with 125 receiving yards over 7 catches, with one TD to boot. Most importantly, QB Drew Lock looked Jeudy’s way often, targeting him a whopping 14 times. Jeudy had 10 targets the prior week, which makes it safe to say that Lock has become “locked” into his new top WR – pun intended. With incumbent top Broncos’ WR Coutland Sutton out for the season, Jeudy should remain Lock’s top target. Jeudy’s ready to make a huge impact for the Broncos moving forward, and should be deployed more regularly in your lineups moving forward. For the 27% of leagues where Jeudy remains available on the wire, he’s your top add at WR if you need help at the position. As with all rookie WRs, weekly consistency will be at issue. But Jeudy’s attributes mentioned above bode well for limiting wild weekly fluctuations, so you should expect WR3/flex level play as his average output, with room to move upwards in good matchups. Jeudy’s the real deal, and look for a fantastic second half of the season for him.
Jakobi Meyers, WR - NE: 12 catches, 169 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The New England Patriots have dominated the NFL for so long, that we have to roll back over 20 years to see the last time they were irrelevant in Super Bowl discussions. 2020 instead brings us a last minute, come from behind win against the winless Jets. As the season has unraveled for the team, so has the fantasy value of most of their players. None are weekly starters, but QB Cam Newton and RB Damien Harris make serviceable fill-ins based on matchup. Now we have a third name to add to the mix, in this case ascending. Don’t look now, but second year WR Jakobi Meyers has become Newton’s favorite target. Meyers put on an aerial show on MNF, hauling in 12 passes for 169 yards. Newton targeted Meyers a healthy 14 times, to go along with 10 targets in the previous week’s game. Meyers has good hands and reliably makes plays when given the opportunity. In other words, he’s a Belichick type player. What we’ve witnessed the last two games is no fluke, and Meyers is ready to step up into fantasy relevancy. He has a tough matchup versus the Ravens’ secondary in week 10, but he should be a WR3/flex play most weeks. For the few leagues where Jeudy remains available, he's the top add at WR. Otherwise, Meyers is your guy.
Curtis Samuel, WR – CAR: 9 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: The Carolina Panthers have surprisingly boasted a lot of fantasy value amongst their WRs this season. With RB Christian McCaffrey not only the consensus top overall pick in fantasy drafts, but also a top option in the passing game, concern regarding how many balls would be available to go around were legit. But halfway into the season, the Panthers have not one, not two, but three WRs worthy of ownership in fantasy leagues. Lead incumbent WR D.J. Moore has continued strong into his third season, on pace to easily surpass the 1,000 yard mark. New Panthers’ WR Robbie Anderson has positioned himself to threaten 1,400 receiving yards. Both players have nearly universal ownership throughout leagues, so that’s not our focus here. It’s Curtis Samuel, who has scored four TDs over the last three weeks, who has our attention. The fourth year pro out of Ohio State has been a solid contributor on a yearly basis, but not enough to garner much attention for fantasy purposes outside of occasional, short-term rostering. With his outburst over the last three games, is it time to jump on Samuel as a WR option? Samuel’s issue throughout his career has been weekly consistency, which I’m not convinced has changed. You want your WRs to score roughly 12 points per game (via 0.5 PPR scoring system, so move up or down accordingly) in order to be a top 30 scoring WR. In 2019, Samuel only hit that mark in 6 out of 16 games, with only 1 of those games exceeding 15 points – just to give you an idea of ceiling. Through 9 games in 2020, Samuel has hit the 12 point mark in 3 of 8 games (the last 3), while hitting the 15 point mark in 2 of those games (the last 2). Sure, you can make an argument that his arrow is trending up, but his history, combined with the number of mouths to feed in this offense, say otherwise. This doesn’t mean that Samuel lacks value, but rather that expectations should be kept modest. For leagues with 12 plus teams, Samuel projects as a lower end flex play in good matchups, but with a higher ceiling and lower floor. In other words, expect weekly inconsistency.
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 featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Baker Mayfield, CLE vs HOU
RB: Nyheim Hines, IND vs TEN
RB: JD McKissic, WAS @ DET
WR: Darnell Mooney, CHI vs MIN
WR: Rashard Higgins, CLE vs HOU
TE: Irv Smith, Jr., MIN @ CHI