Week 8 was quite an interesting ride and Week 9 may provide some of the same as another six teams are on bye this week. Make sure to get all your Bengals, Cardinals, Patriots, Texans, Bears and Washington players out of your lineups.
Let me provide the disclaimer that I encourage you use the game by game tables and data points in conjunction with your own information and thought process rather than searching out your own players in the individual player diagnosis and turning that section into a linear start/sit guide. You can always cross reference these thoughts with my weekly rankings for further context. With that out of the way, let’s hit all the Week 9 games in a PPR light…
Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay
- The Falcons face 41.8 pass attempts per game, the second most in the league.
- After leading the NFL in pass attempts per game through the first three weeks (47.3), Tampa Bay is 26th in pass attempts per game (31.8) since.
- Atlanta is allowing 2.8 red zone touchdowns per game, the most in the league.
- 19.1 percent of the pass completions against Tampa Bay have gone for 20 or more yards, the highest rate in the league.
- Matt Ryan has 34 completions of 20 or more yards, the most in the league.
- 76.7 percent of Julio Jones‘ receptions have gone for 10 or more yards and 37.2 percent have gone for 20 or more yards, both are the highest rates in the league for wide receivers (min 20 receptions).
- Just 4.3 percent of Jones’ targets have come from inside the red zone, the lowest rate for all players with 40 or more targets on the season.
- Atlanta is tied for the league lead with six games in which they’ve scored three or more touchdowns.
- Atlanta is also tied with the Browns in most games allowing three or more touchdowns (seven).
Trust: Matt Ryan (the only shade I can throw at his outlook are that he is on the road in a short week, otherwise, this is a layup), Julio Jones (the continued lack of red zone use is frustrating and Atlanta has shown they no longer need to force him targets, but Jones has a history of thumping the Bucs, going for 90 plus yards or a touchdown in eight of nine career games versus Tampa Bay), Jameis Winston ( he’s gone over 15 points in three straight while Atlanta is allowing the most passing points per game)
Bust: Cameron Brate (despite the touchdowns last week, his snaps have now dropped four consecutive weeks and he has topped 50 yards in just one game)
Reasonable Return: Devonta Freeman (you’re getting him out there, but his hip injury on a short week is keeping me from ceiling expectations), Mohamed Sanu (Tampa Bay has allowed top-30 scoring weeks to five sets of teammates, including Jones and Sanu in Week 1), Antone Smith (Tampa will likely use all of Smith, Peyton Barber and Mike James to some degree. Smith has never had more than four carries in an NFL game, but he’s a guy Dirk Koetter trusts and I expect him to be favored in any split as Barber played just three snaps last week and James hasn’t had a touch in almost two years, while Atlanta has allowed seven top-24 backs on the season), Mike Evans (Evans is the only top-12 receiver that Atlanta has allowed and he’s going to get fed targets regardless of the matchup, but I see him more as a WR2 this week as he has no help to keep Desmond Trufant away from him), Austin Hooper (with Jacob Tamme out this week and Tevin Coleman still down, Hooper will have the opportunity to make an impact and he already has three receptions of 30 or more yards on the season in a limited role)
Detroit vs. Minnesota
- Detroit is allowing the most yards per drive (38.9) in the league. Minnesota averages 26.7 yards per dive (31st), ahead of only San Francisco (23.2).
- Minnesota averages 4.6 yards per play, 31st in the league.
- Minnesota has six rushing attempts that have gained 10 or more yards on the season, last in the NFL and one fewer than Alfred Blue has on the season.
- Marvin Jones had six receptions of 30 or more yards through three weeks, since then he has just one.
- The Vikings have allowed just five pass plays of 30 or more yards, tied for the fewest in the NFL.
- 73.7 percent of Golden Tate‘s receiving yards have come after the catch, the highest rate for all wide receivers.
- Theo Riddick averages 14.1 receiving points per game, tops among running backs and equal to the WR27 at the receiver position.
- The Vikings are the only team in the NFL that has yet to allow three touchdowns in a game this season.
Trust: Theo Riddick (he’s finished below RB22 just once and has been in the top-5 in his two most recent games while the Vikings have given up points to receiving backs this season), Kyle Rudolph (he’s had fewer than 20 percent of the team targets in three of his past four, but the Lions are the touchdown giving gift to all tight end plays)
Bust: Matthew Stafford (Stafford did have 18 plus points in each game versus the Vikings a year ago if you’re looking for a reason not to use a streamer over him, but the highest a quarterback has finished against Minnesota so far is QB15), Marvin Jones (he hasn’t been a top-24 scorer in five straight games while the Vikings allow 5.3 yards per target to opposing receivers, the second lowest in the league), Sam Bradford (the Vikings can’t pass protect and there are much better streaming options this week than to chase the Detroit matchup), Jerick McKinnon (he’s in the mix as a flex/RB2 if healthy, but McKinnon’s floor has proven to be much lower than Asiata’s)
Reasonable Return: Golden Tate (I expect Jones to be negated here and the way in which Tate receives his targets and gets his yards as an extended running back, he’s in play as a floor option despite the matchup), Eric Ebron (he returned with a season-high 10 targets last week and the Vikings just allowed a top-5 week to Zach Miller), Stefon Diggs (if Darius Slay is active it takes some shine off, but doesn’t remove him from the board as a WR2 this week), Matt Asiata (the Vikings haven’t run well with anyone they’ve used in the backfield, but Asiata remains a flex option due to his scoring potential and if McKinnon misses again, will see 15 plus touches)
Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore
- Baltimore averages just 1.4 offensive touchdowns per game, 31st in the NFL.
- Mike Wallace had 24.8 percent of the Baltimore targets after Steve Smith‘s injury after getting 16.4 percent prior.
- 63.5 percent of Joe Flacco‘s completions have failed to gain at least 10 yards, the highest rate in the league.
- Opponents average just 2.1 red zone possessions per game against the Ravens, the fewest in the league.
- Le’Veon Bell is the only back other than David Johnson to have over 100-yards from scrimmage in every game this season.
- Only Ezekiel Elliott (162.5) has averaged more yards from scrimmage per game than Bell’s 147.3 yards since he returned in Week 4.
- Ben Roethlisberger has never been a top-12 scoring quarterback in any of his eight career games at Baltimore, throwing seven touchdowns to 11 interceptions with a high of 280 passing yards.
- Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions in the eight games he’s played after missing the previous game due to injury, eclipsing 15 fantasy points in three of those games.
Trust: Le’Veon Bell (he hasn’t even scored a touchdown yet and has been a top-12 scorer in every game since returning)
Bust: Ben Roethlisberger (the Steelers are suggesting he could play while Vegas is suggesting otherwise, but given his history immediately off of missing time and on the road at Baltimore, I’m not entering this week with QB1 expectations if he does suit up), Jesse James/Ladarius Green (it’s doubtful Green gets a full allotment of snaps, making both sketchy and the Ravens have smother tight ends so far), Mike Wallace (his placement here is contingent on Steve Smith returning as his heavy volume is linked to Smith’s absence. If Smith can’t play, bump him up to WR2 status), Joe Flacco (he’s finished above QB19 just once so far)
Reasonable Return: Antonio Brown (Brown’s numbers have gone along with Ben’s on the road and at Baltimore, topping 60 receiving yards in just one career game there, but you aren’t running away from his floor potential and he’s topped 100-yards in each of Landry Jones‘ starts), Sammie Coates (his hand laceration and Roethlisberger’s injury derailed what was heading towards a fantasy breakout and Baltimore has allowed seven passing touchdowns form outside of the red zone, the third most in the league. If Roethlisberger is out, run away), Terrance West (rookie Kenneth Dixon may see more time out of the bye, which could shave down West’s bottom line, but Pittsburgh has been smashed in back to back games by power backs), Steve Smith (if he’s available, he had more production in each game prior to his injury and the Steelers have allowed five or more receptions to five receivers who move inside to the slot), Dennis Pitta (there’s nothing sexy with Pitta, but he’s had eight or more targets in five of his past six games)
New York (AFC) vs, Miami
- Jay Ajayi is just the 4th running back to ever rush for 200-yards in back to back games, joining Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell and O.J. Simpson, who did it twice.
- Over those two games, Ajayi had 16 runs of 10 or more yards after Miami had nine such runs as a team over their opening five games.
- 34.1 percent of the runs against the Jets have gone for zero yards or lost yardage, the highest rate in the league.
- 79.7 percent of the yards gained against the Jets have been passing, the highest in the league.
- Ryan Tannehill has just two red zone touchdown passes, the fewest of all full season starting quarterbacks.
- Just 5.4 percent of Jarvis Landry‘s fantasy output is from touchdown production, the lowest rate for all top-30 wide receivers.
- Landry has 33.1 percent of the Miami receptions, the highest share for any receiver in the league.
- Brandon Marshall‘s 1.08 points per target is ahead of only DeAndre Hopkins (1.07) for all top-30 receivers on the season.
- Miami has faced the 6th most rushing attempts this season, but have allowed the 5th fewest rushing points per attempt (.484).
Trust: Jay Ajayi (the Jets rush defense is the best he’s faced, but the Jets have allowed four top-12 scorers over their past five games and Ajayi has had two tough paper matchups entering his past two games where he crushed as the Miami offensive line is healthy and dominating), Ryan Tannehill (he’s thrown 25 or fewer passes in three of his past four games, but the Jets run defense should help him push past the 30 mark and the New York defense is allowing the second most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks on the season)
Bust: DeVante Parker (it’s not unreasonable to use him in this matchup, but I prefer to swing on Stills between the two for the upside as Parker has had more than four targets in just one of his past four games), Ryan Fitzpatrick (he’s been higher than QB17 just once and thrown multiple touchdowns in a game just once), Matt Forte (I’m a little down this week on Forte because I believe the Dolphins win at home and Forte has 25 or more touches in every game that New York has kept within one possession, but three of those games New York won outright while Miami’s run defense has strong underlying efficiency numbers outside of the volume teams have stacked on them in losses)
Reasonable Return: Jarvis Landry (he’s always usable for his floor, but he’s been a top-20 scorer in just one of his past four games and vertical receivers have done the most fantasy damage to the Jets), Kenny Stills (if you need to cast a line on a bye-week flyer, the Jets have allowed five passing touchdowns of 40 or more yards on the season, tied for the most in the league), Brandon Marshall (you just have to keep pushing him out there in these matchups that look good, but he’s left a lot on the table and has failed to be a top-40 scorer in five games so far on the season), Bilal Powell (a long touchdown run saved him a week ago, but he’s been at his best when the Jets trail), Quincy Enunwa (he had more targets last week than over his previous two games combined, so it’s hard to jump back on the bandwagon head first, but Miami slot man Bobby McCain can be exploited)
Dallas vs. Cleveland
- Cleveland is 8th in the league in first half scoring (13.4 points per game), but last in the NFL in second half scoring at 6.4 points per game.
- Gary Barnidge is the only top-12 scoring tight end without a touchdown.
- After ranking second in the NFL in rushing yardage through four weeks (394 yards), Isaiah Crowell has 130 rushing yards since (32nd).
- Dak Prescott has at least 17 points in six consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league.
- Dez Bryant played 88 percent of the snaps in his Week 8 return and was targeted on 28.9 percent of his routes.
- Cleveland has allowed 11 top-24 scoring wide receivers, the most in the league.
- The Cowboys are the first team to rush for 175 yards or more in five consecutive games since 1986.
- Ezekiel Elliott is the only running back with at least 15 carries in every game this season.
- After allowing 114.2 rushing yards per game through five weeks, Cleveland has allowed 193 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks.
- Dallas has scored a touchdown on 30 percent of their possessions (third in the NFL) while the Browns have allowed a touchdown on 31.5 percent of their opponent’s drives, the highest in the league.
Trust: Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott (in what was perceived as his worst performance, Prescott posted his highest fantasy total), Dez Bryant (it’s doubtful that he’ll get 14 targets again this week based on potential script, but he’s best pass catching touchdown producer west of Gronk and Cleveland has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league)
Bust: Jason Witten (even in a week void of strong tight end options I find it hard to use Witten as he’s scored in double digits just twice so far on the season and has had fewer than 50 receiving yards in five straight), Isaiah Crowell (Dallas has faced the fewest rushing attempts by backs in the league and have allowed just three rushing scores, making it tough to latch onto a player reliant on volume and/or touchdown production to float his totals), Gary Barnidge (Dallas has allowed just one tight end inside of the top-10 in scoring on the season), Corey Coleman (returning from such a lengthy layoff against a team that has locked down boundary receivers has me cautious on immediate returns, but if you’re swinging, McCown showed faith in him in back in Week 2 when he had eight targets and two touchdowns)
Reasonable Return: Cole Beasley (he has at least 50 receiving yards in every game and the Browns have been shredded by opposing slot receivers), Josh McCown (I like other streamers more as Dallas has allowed just one top-15 scoring quarterback over their past four games, but with Barry Church and Morris Claiborne expected to be out, McCown can find some opportunity), Terrelle Pryor (it’s concerning that nearly every productive receiving game against Dallas has come from a slot receiver, but with Claiborne out, Pryor should find success), Duke Johnson (he’s been a top-30 option in five games as he has four or more receptions in six of his past seven)
Jacksonville vs. Kansas City
- The Jaguars average 6.7 points per game in the first half this season, last in the NFL. They average 13.1 points per game in the second half, 9th in the league.
- Jacksonville has trailed for 71.7 percent of their overall snaps, have trailed for 81.9 percent of their second half snaps and have trailed by multiple possessions for 48.8 percent of their snaps, all league highs.
- Blake Bortles‘ career touchdown passes by quarter: 4, 15, 13 and 26.
- Allen Robinson‘s 5.2 yards per target ranks 56th of the 57 wide receivers with 40 or more targets on the season.
- Opposing teams have run 17.5 percent of their plays in the red zone against Jacksonville, the highest rate in the league.
- Jacksonville is the only team to allow a rushing touchdown in every game this season.
Trust: Charcandrick West (if Spencer Ware is out, than West will run into a situation to clear 20 touches in a game that the Chiefs should lead regardless of quarterback, plus he can be used in the passing game if the script should happen to go in reverse)
Bust: Blake Bortles (the only quarterbacks to finish above QB14 against the Chiefs has been Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, a class of quarterbacks much higher than where Bortles is currently playing). Chris Ivory/T.J. Yeldon (no team runs less than the Jaguars because of their orbiting negative game script and on the road at Arrowhead isn’t a place where we can anticipate that offensive climate changing), Julius Thomas (the Chiefs have yet to allow an opposing tight end to reach double digit scoring on the season), Allen Robinson ( I understand holding your nose and starting him weekly as the targets are still there, but he’s yet to crack 75 yards receiving in any game or place inside of the top-30 over his past three weeks), Jeremy Maclin (even with the touchdown last week, Maclin had less than 50 yards through the air for the fourth time in five weeks and has more than five catches just one this season), Tyreek Hill (he’s caught two long touchdowns the past two weeks, but he’s still more on the watch list as he has more than two targets in just three games and ran just 15 routes last week)
Reasonable Return: Allen Hurns (he’s the one Jaguar I feel semi-decent about on the inside as Steven Nelson is beatable from the slot), Travis Kelce (without knowing the availability of Alex Smith, we still have a good idea on how the Chiefs will operate on offense as five players had three or more targets on Nick Foles’ 22 pass attempts with Kelce leading the way with five), Alex Smith/Nick Foles (given the large implied point total paired with the large spread, either Chief quarterback is on the board as a high QB2 this week)
Philadelphia vs. New York (NFC)
- The Eagles are last in the league in offensive yards per game (256.3) over their past three games while the Giants rank 30th (296 yards per game).
- The Giants are averaging just 19.0 points per game (27th) after averaging 26.2 (4th) per game in 2015.
- Just 20.4 percent of the offensive yardage gained by the Giants has been from rushing, the lowest rate in the league.
- After rushing for 120 yards in Week 3, the Giants have rushed for 78, 43, 38 and 36 yards since.
- Just 8.5 percent of Eli Manning‘s pass attempts have come from inside the red zone this season, the lowest rate for all starting quarterbacks.
- The Giants are allowing 6.3 yards per pass attempt, the 4th best in the league.
- Only Brock Osweiler (4.5 yards) has lower yards per pass attempt over the past two than Carson Wentz (4.8 yards) for quarterbacks that played both weeks.
- Darren Sproles played 82 percent of the Week 8 snaps and handled 39 percent of the team touches, both season-highs.
- Ryan Mathews has 71.4 percent of the Philadelphia backfield touches inside of the opponent’s 10-yard line while having just 36.4 percent outside.
Trust: Odell Beckham (the Eagles have defended boundary receivers well, but the two best ones they’ve faced so far in Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant have put up top-10 scoring weeks on them and Beckham is in that class)
Bust: Eli Manning (the Eagles have allowed just two quarterbacks reach double digit points and just one to pass for more than 275 yards against them although they really haven’t been tested by high-end competition, but we can’t suggest Eli qualifies as he has one top-12 scoring week on the season). Rashad Jennings (he’s totaled 40 rushing yards in his two games since returning), Sterling Shepard (after a hot start, Shepard hasn’t cracked the top-50 over his past four games), Ryan Mathews (you’re strictly chasing a touchdown at this stage by using him), Carson Wentz (he’s been QB23 or lower in each of his past three games while the Giants have held five of the seven quarterbacks they’ve faced in the back half of weekly scoring), Zach Ertz (he hasn’t had more than four targets in a game since returning in Week 5), Dorial Green-Beckham (he’s coming off a season high nine targets, but the Giants have been strong versus boundary receivers)
Reasonable Return: Darren Sproles (he appears to have taken over as the lead back and is a top-20 option while getting double digit rushing attempts to go along with his receiving ability), Jordan Matthews (his targets have been wildly inconsistent, but the best fantasy days to come through the air versus the Giants have been from interior options, allowing top-24 weeks to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb, Jamison Crowder and Willie Snead)
Carolina vs. Los Angeles
- Since returning from injury and Cam Newton‘s concussion, Jonathan Stewart has handled six of the eight rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line.
- The Rams have faced 13 rushing attempts from inside their own 5-yard line, the second most in the league.
- 44.9 percent of Stewart’s fantasy production is from touchdown production, the highest of all top-50 scorers.
- Carolina is allowing 306 passing yards per game to opposing passers (sacks removed), the most in the league.
- Kenny Britt averages 11.1 yards per target, second to only Julio Jones (12.3 yards) for all 57 receivers with 40 or more targets on the season.
- Tavon Austin‘s 4.7 yards per target ranks last of that same group.
- Todd Gurley is 7th in touches per game (22.1), but ranks 34th in touches per touchdown (51.7) for all backs with 75 or more touches.
- Just 4.5 percent of Gurley’s runs have gone for 10 or more yards, the lowest rate for all running backs (min. 50 attempts).
- Carolina is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs, the fewest in the league.
Bust: Kelvin Benjamin (he’s been a top-24 scorer in just one of his past five games and the Rams have allowed just four top-24 scoring receivers on the season)
Reasonable Return: Jonathan Stewart (only one running back has hit 90 yards on the ground facing the Rams, but they have allowed seven top-24 scorers), Greg Olsen (the Rams have allowed just one top-12 tight end and just two to reach double figures, but have faced just one current top-12 tight end on the season), Kenny Britt/Brian Quick (where Carolina struggles the most is by giving up big plays and Britt and Quick have been those targets for the Rams), Cam Newton (his two best passing games were extremely opponent driven so far and he’s run into some stiff matchups outside of those while the Rams have allowed just two top-15 scorers, but he always is in play due to his rushing ability), Todd Gurley (this is a terrible rushing draw and he has no top-12 scoring weeks, but has found a usable floor now that he’s tacking on receiving work), Case Keenum (it’s scary to use Keenum as a streamer because whispers are that he’s close to be being pulled, but the Panthers have allowed 15 or more points to five of the past six quarterbacks they’ve faced and Keenum has already showed he’s capable of cashing in a lottery ticket on the road in Detroit), Tavon Austin (you can reach here in PPR based on the Panthers leaky pass defense and the Rams are hell bent on funneling opportunities to him), Lance Kendricks (he’s had eight and nine targets over the past two weeks on his way to TE6 and TE9 scoring weeks for those searching for a bye replacement)
New Orleans vs. San Francisco
- The 49ers are last in the league in points allowed (31.3) while the Saints are 31st (30.7).
- Since Week 1, opponents have scored on 50.7 percent of their possessions against the 49ers, the highest rate in the league.
- Drew Brees has completed a league-high 75.6 percent of his red zone passes (34 of 45).
- The Saints are allowing the most rushing points per attempt (.861) in the league to opposing running backs while the 49ers are 31st (.815).
- New Orleans is allowing 1.7 rushing touchdowns per game, the most in the league. San Francisco averages 1.4 rushing touchdowns per game, the third highest in the league.
- The 49ers are allowing a touchdown pass once every 14.9 pass attempts (30th) to opposing passers and a rushing touchdown once every 21.3 attempts to opposing running backs (27th).
- San Francisco has allowed 170 or more rushing yards in four consecutive games, the longest streak in franchise history and the longest in the NFL since the Bears in 2013.
- Mark Ingram played just six snaps last week, the fewest of any game in his career.
- 46.6 percent of Colin Kaepernick‘s fantasy output has come from rushing, the highest rate in the league.
- Just 20.6 percent of Kaepernick’s pass attempts have gained at least 10 yards, the lowest rate for any quarterback with at least 50 pass attempts on the season.
- Michael Thomas‘ 42 receptions are tied with Anquan Boldin for the most ever by a rookie receiver through a team’s first seven games and the second most by a rookie receiver over the first seven games of his career (Eddie Royal, 46).
Trust: Drew Brees (on the road or not, opponents are running a ton of plays against the 49ers and they aren’t stopping any of them), Brandin Cooks/Michael Thomas/Willie Snead (the 49ers don’t give up a ton of counting stats to wideouts since they’re consistently getting shredded on the ground, but there will be points here and all of these guys are receiving dead even usage since the bye)
Bust: Coby Fleener (his snaps have dropped four weeks in a row, down to just 34 percent a week ago)
Reasonable Return: Tim Hightower/Mark Ingram (last week’s benching of Ingram really shades a glorious matchup, but I still believe there’s enough here for both backs to turn in useful lines if there’s a true timeshare), Colin Kaepernick (he’s thrown for less than 200 yards in each start, but he’s still been the QB14 and QB16 those weeks, scoring 18 and 14 points), Carlos Hyde (his status still remains unclear, but if he’s a go, he’s a decent bet to score a touchdown)
Tennessee vs. San Diego
- Marcus Mariota has thrown multiple touchdowns in six games this season, tied with Matt Ryan for the league lead.
- San Diego is allowing 16.8 passing yards to opposing quarterbacks per drive, the fewest in the league.
- 32.1 percent of Delanie Walker‘s receptions have gone for 20 or more yards, trailing only Rob Gronkowski for all tight ends.
- The Chargers have allowed 10 top-24 scoring running backs, the most in the NFL.
- 19.9 percent of Philip Rivers‘ pass attempts have come from inside of the red zone, the highest percentage in the league.
- The past three quarterbacks to face the Titans have finished the week as the QB10, QB1 and QB4.
- Antonio Gates‘ 3.9 yards per target rank last of all tight ends with 30 or more targets and his 7.2 yards per reception are tied for last of all with 20 or more receptions.
- Melvin Gordon has 84.9 percent of the San Diego rushing attempts since Week 2, the highest share for any running back in the league.
- Tyrell Williams is the only receiver in the top-10 in percentage of receptions to go for 20 or more yards (31.3 percent) and in percentage of targets inside of the red zone (19.3 percent).
- Tennessee has allowed just 55 rushing yards per game over the past four weeks the fewest in the league over that span.
Trust: Philip Rivers (Rivers has let us down in a few bunnies so far against the Colts and Falcons, but Tennessee has funneled teams toward the pass and haven’t done a great job stopping them when they do), Tyrell Williams (he’s banged up himself, so minitor him thorughout the week, but with Travis Benjamin playing injured and