Stars of Week 9
QB: Lamar Jackson, BAL: 27-41, 266 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs (21 carries, 120 yards, 0 TDs)
RB: James Conner, ARI: 21 carries, 96 yards, 2 TDs (5 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD)
WR: Elijah Moore, NYJ: 7 catches, 84 yards, 2 TDs
TE: George Kittle, SF: 6 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD
Just two seasons removed from his MVP season, Lamar Jackson has taken a huge leap forward in his fourth season in the league. Jackson has gone from a “pass when necessary” operation to an “I’ll beat you with the pass” skillset. Jackson kindly sprinkled in 120 rushing yards to go with his 3 TD passes. Jackson remains an easy top 5 fantasy option at QB.
Arizona Cardinals’ RB James Conner has proven to be one of the steals of fantasy drafts. With starter Chase Edmonds exiting the game versus the 49ers early due to injury, Connor found paydirt 3 times while amassing over total 170 yards. Connor’s a solid weekly RB3/flex option, and an RB1 in any weeks when Edmonds is out. Edmonds currently has a high ankle sprain, so look out.
Rookie Elijah Moore entered fantasy drafts as a possible sleeper, and the Jets’ rookie has started to flash his immense promise. Moore connected well with backup, backup QB Josh Johnson, scoring 2 TDs while hauling in 7 passes. We’ll take a closer look at Moore below.
Welcome back, George Kittle! If you jog your memory back about a year ago, you’ll remember that Travis Kelce versus George Kittle was a reasonable debate. Injuries caused that discussion to fade, but Kittle reminded folks what he can do when healthy. Kittle remains a top 3 TE whenever he suits up.
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.
Carson Wentz, QB – IND: 22-30, 272 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: Colts’ star RB Jonathan Taylor stole the show on TNF, rushing for 172 yards and 2 TDs on only 19 carries. Taylor has officially thrown his hat into the mix for RB1 overall consideration in next year’s drafts. Now that we’ve acknowledged Taylor’s greatness, let’s move to the Colts’ signal caller, who has quietly had a good season of his own. Carson Wentz barely broke a sweat while throwing for 3 TDs and 272 yards versus the Jets. Yes, it was the Jets, so let’s dig deeper. Wentz has thrown for 2 plus TDs in 7 out of his 9 games, including in each of his last 6 games. Further, Wentz carries a 17 to 3 TD to INT ratio, while averaging a solid 244 passing yards per game. After a short adjustment period to his new team, Wentz has settled in nicely, leaning on Taylor and the running game while also developing great chemistry with burgeoning star WR Michael Pittman Jr. Coach Frank Reich has helped calm Wentz, with Wentz cutting down tremendously on his biggest issue the last few years – turnovers. Wentz should be viewed as a high end QB2, with startability in all put the toughest matchups. The Colts face the Jaguars next week, which is a screaming matchup – even if Bills’ QB Josh Allen failed to capitalize against them in Week 9.
Elijah Moore, WR – NYJ: 7 catches, 84 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: The Jets took major steps in resetting their offense in the 2021 draft, selecting QB Zach Wilson, RB Michael Carter and WR Elijah Moore, among others. While the jury remains out on their QB, both the RB and WR have shown traits to like. We looked at Carter last week, and now we examine Elijah Moore. The Ole Miss product flashed his quickness and burst in the open field, en route to 2 TDs and 84 receiving yards. With lead WR Corey Davis out, Moore tied Keelan Cole with 8 targets. Moore was also targeted 6 times in each of the two previous games, showing that his incorporation into the team’s offense is more than a fad. While Davis should be returning soon, expect the Jets to continue to target Moore as well in the game plan as the team’s WR2. With the playoffs not a realistic option this season, the Jets should focus on developing their rookies and building offensive chemistry with their long term weapons. Moore should be a viewed as a flex option in deeper leagues (i.e. 12 plus teams), with upside to move up from there as he continues to demand more targets.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR – SF: 8 catches, 89 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: Among the more disappointing defeats in Week 9 was the 49ers getting trounced by a Cardinals team missing Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. But a bright spot in an otherwise dark afternoon in Santa Clara – the reemergence of second year WR Brandon Aiyuk. Both the NFL and the fantasy community had high hopes for Aiyuk coming into 2020, after he had 748 receiving yards and 5 TDs in his rookie season. Aiyuk’s talent flashed, and reasonable expectations had Aiyuk seizing the 49ers’ top WR spot. Instead, Aiyuk found himself in Coach Shanahan’s dog house for reasons much unknown, and he became mostly a non-factor for the first third of the season. Over the last two weeks, however, the ground underneath Aiyuk seems to be thawing. QB Jimmy Garappolo targeted Aiyuk 8 times this past Sunday, leading to 6 catches for 89 yards, including a TD. Aiyuk was also targeted 7 times the previous week, which provides underlying support that the 49ers are actively re-engaging Aiyuk in their game plans. As the 49ers have turned back to Aiyuk, so should you. In case you need a WR, pick Aiyuk up asap, as this could be your last chance. He should be considered a WR3/flex option moving forward.
Olamide Zaccheaus, WR – ATL: 3 catches, 58 yards, 2 TDs
Analysis: In a wacky week of NFL results, who had the Falcons going into New Orleans and winning? Even wackier…this wasn’t even a top three upset for the week. In any event, the Falcons faced an extremely tough Saints’ defense, and QB Matt Ryan and company threw the ball all over the field. With star WR Calvin Ridley remaining out, others needed to step up in the passing game. Lo and behold, one such player was WR Olamide Zaccheaus. The third year player from the University of Virginia came into the game with 114 yards and a TD over 6 games played, and he added two TDs and 58 yards to his season total. What does Zaccheaus’ performance mean for fantasy owners moving forward? Buyer beware. Matt Ryan had 30 pass attempts, while only targeting Zaccheaus 3 times. At minimum, Zaccheaus remains behind TE Kyle Pitts, WR Russell Gage and supernova Cordarrelle Patterson in the passing game pecking order. Sunday’s result was a best case scenario for Zaccheaus from a TD conversion standpoint, with three catches, much less 3 targets, becoming 2 TDs. Zaccheaus doesn’t have the underlying volume of targets in the passing game to be relied upon for your fantasy team. Stay clear here, and let another manager get mesmerized by the unlikely to be repeated TD cadence.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs DET)
RB: Jordan Howard, PHI (@ DEN)
RB: Devonta Freeman, BAL (@ MIA)
WR: Rashod Bateman, BAL (@ MIA)
WR: Michael Gallup, DAL (vs ATL)
TE: Pat Freiermuth, PIT (vs DET)
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