Week 9 has been another week of upsets and shocking fantasy football performances. As always, let’s examine the most notable fantasy takeaways of each Sunday game so that we can strategize on how to do better in Week 10.
NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Takeaways | Early slate
Major storylines in the early slate of games include Josh Allen’s collapse, Rhamondre Stevenson’s ascension, and all Dallas wideouts taking a backseat to the unheralded Malik Turner. There was no shortage of fantasy football implications during Sunday’s early slate. What happened yesterday that will shape how we manage our teams in Week 10?
Bengals vs. Browns
Sometimes a game changes on one play in the first quarter. That’s what happened yesterday in Cincinnati, as the normally reliable Joe Burrow threw a pick-six on the opening drive at the Cleveland 3-yard line. Burrow never recovered, throwing another interception later on and absorbing 5 sacks. On the bright side, Joe Mixon remains one of the least appreciated top-14 RBs in fantasy football history.
For the Browns, it was all Nick Chubb. He’s now averaging 17.3 fantasy points per game and is within an earshot of RB1 production. It also should be noted that Jarvis Landry led the team in targets (5) and receptions (3) but finished with only 4.1 fantasy points. He has 0 receiving touchdowns, so we should see some double-digit outputs in the second half of the season.
Cowboys vs. Broncos
A shocking loss, particularly considering this one was over with about 11 minutes left. Ezekiel Elliott suffered a knee contusion, and with the game out of reach, little-used wideout Malik Turner became Dak Prescott’s favorite target. Turner went on to exceed 20 fantasy points. It was that kind of day for Dallas and for fantasy managers accustomed to big points from Cowboys players.
Meanwhile, Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon might be the league’s best one-two backfield punch — at least until Kareem Hunt returns in Cleveland. The two combined for an extraordinarily high 40 touches. I’m still disappointed my opponent wisely wouldn’t trade Williams to me earlier this season.
Dolphins vs. Texans
I did not have “Texans and Dolphins D/STs are elite” on my Week 9 bingo card. An ugly game, to say the least. But as promised, Jaylen Waddle delivered. He is nearly QB-proof in the fantasy world.
And Phillip Lindsay led Houston RBs with 8 touches. Unless he can consistently crack 10+, this is a non-story. The bigger news is Brandin Cooks continued to dominate attention with 13 targets. He remains the only semi-safe fantasy starter on this team.
Saints vs. Falcons
Upset of the year? It’s up there, though Miami beating New England in Week 1 keeps looking more improbable. Trevor Siemian played well for himself and was mistake-free overall. However, let’s remember he was playing Atlanta. Things will get a bit tougher if he’s starting again next week in Tennessee.
As for the Falcons, how does Cordarrelle Patterson do it? I regret advising readers to sell high. He’s unstoppable.
Giants vs. Raiders
With Kyler Murray expected to miss yesterday’s game, I traded Justin Fields for Daniel Jones, assuming Jones would offer a nice ceiling. And it looked that way on the opening drive, as he racked up a little over 7 fantasy points. He only added about 1 more the rest of the game.
Instead, Devontae Booker stole the show. Booker has been a must-start every week. It’s hard to imagine the Giants overloading Saquon Barkley when he returns, knowing Booker is ready and able.
For Las Vegas, a tragic week ends with an avoidable loss. It’s too soon to know what will become of this team in 2021. For now, from a fantasy perspective, Kenyan Drake continued to enjoy attention in the passing game, and he remains my favorite fantasy RB in this backfield.
Panthers vs. Patriots
Christian McCaffrey’s long-awaited return had no material impact on Carolina’s atrocious offense. Sam Darnold is now TD-less in three straight contests while averaging a hair over 5 yards per pass attempt. He should not be starting.
For New England, Rhamondre Stevenson has gone from inactive to hero in three games. This is what it’s like to live in head coach Bill Belichick’s world.
On a team that lacks a true No. 1 receiver, Stevenson arguably offers more upside than Damien Harris. Yesterday might prove to be the day Stevenson claimed no worse than a co-share of this backfield.
Of course, they’ll need to be ready next week. Both suffered head injuries in the fourth quarter, so their statuses should be monitored closely.
Jaguars vs. Bills
How did this happen? Playing without James Robinson and with Trevor Lawrence throwing for only 118 yards, Jacksonville somehow won 9-6. Major credit to their defense. Their offense is a wreck, and things probably won’t get better next week in Indianapolis. Still, it’s worth noting Dan Arnold remains their most consistent offensive weapon.
For Buffalo, a game to forget. Interestingly, Cole Beasley caught 8 balls for 33 yards on 11 targets. He is one of Josh Allen’s two favorite receivers, period.
Ravens vs. Vikings
Devonta Freeman turned back the clock as he and Le’Veon Bell combined for 26 touches. Interestingly, the formerly pass-friendly Bell has only caught 1 pass on the year. Furthermore, Ty’Son Williams didn’t get any looks. A two-man backfield obviously is preferable in fantasy, so enjoy it while you can.
Dalvin Cook had a nice game while tacking on 3 more receptions. However, as I’ve mentioned before, his catches and receiving yards are noticeably down this season. That’s shaved at least a couple points off his normal weekly production.
NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Takeaways | Late slate
Major storylines in the late slate of games include DeVonta Smith breaking out of his slump, James Conner turning back the clock, and Patrick Mahomes hitting rock bottom.
Is Conner officially an RB1? Can we honestly say Mahomes is not a must-start QB? Here are the top fantasy storylines heading into Week 10.
Eagles vs. Chargers
We kept waiting for DeVonta Smith to get back on track. Turns out it was only a matter of time. As I’ve shared several times in recent weeks, Smith is one of the least utilized “good/great” receivers in the NFL. The concern is that Jalen Hurts threw only 17 passes, one week after throwing just 14. After weeks of abandoning the run, the Eagles now are embracing it — ironically, only after Miles Sanders went on injured reserve.
As for the Chargers, Mike Williams’ disappearing act continued. He’s had 2 catches on 5 targets in each of his last three games. This is the Williams we’ve seen in previous years. Given his hot start to the year, the decline has been shockingly rapid.
Chiefs vs. Packers
If Kansas City had lost, they would have faced an existential crisis at 4-5 with a brutal remaining schedule awaiting them. Instead, they can breathe a little easier as they prepare for the Raiders.
But the looming question is, “What’s wrong with Mahomes?” He’s thrown only 2 TD passes in their last three games, and in four of his last five contests, he hasn’t cracked a 75 QB rating. Can we still call him, say, a top-eight QB? Is he a must-start next week? That we’re asking these questions reinforces how troubling this situation is.
As expected with Jordan Love making his first NFL start, Green Bay tried to duplicate the successful game plan employed last week against Arizona. 13 of their first 16 offensive plays were directed at Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon.
However, once the Chiefs built a double-digit lead, the Packers shifted gears and put more on Love’s plate, with mostly disappointing results. In a season when some backup QBs have risen to the occasion, Love did not inspire confidence.
49ers vs. Cardinals
I’ve continually hyped Brandon Aiyuk as a buy-low WR. His talent is too high to remain irrelevant in fantasy all year. Ironically — or maybe because of it — George Kittle’s return coincided with Aiyuk’s 2021 breakout. Deebo Samuel’s days as a WR1 are likely over. Jimmy Garoppolo realistically can feed one or two receivers in a week, but usually not three.
And credit Colt McCoy for terrific quarterbacking with Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and (for most of the game) Chase Edmonds sidelined. Most notably, James Conner is playing like an MVP candidate, and that’s no exaggeration: 11 TDs in his last seven games and much-improved yards per carry in his previous four contests. If Edmonds is forced to miss time, Conner would slot in as an RB1.
NFL Week 9 Fantasy Football Takeaways | Sunday Night Football
Major storylines on Sunday Night Football include Matthew Stafford’s struggles, plus Adrian Peterson’s and D’Onta Foreman’s return to NFL action. Is there any reason to be concerned about Stafford’s back troubles? And is Peterson droppable in fantasy leagues?
Rams vs. Titans
Stafford didn’t practice this past week because of a sore back. If that impacted his performance against Tennessee, all one can hope for is a full recovery before Week 10. Because if Stafford is at less than 100%, the Rams’ offense is only middling.
Peterson scored more points than I expected, thanks to a late 1-yard score. But he ran like a 36-year-old who no other team wanted — even the desperate ones. D’Onta Foreman simply looked better. While it’s only one game, it seems clear that Jeremy McNichols is the best PPR play here, and Foreman offers the most upside on the ground. Peterson probably will be a weekly RB5/6 unless he finds the end zone.