What We Learned in Week 9 (Fantasy Football)
We’re officially past the halfway point, which is crazy to think about. This week was a stressful one in a lot of ways, but it ended with some great football on Sunday. The Tua era started off with a bang, and we saw a surprisingly convincing blow to Russell Wilson‘s MVP campaign in Buffalo. The afternoon window of games turned into an absolute show, but sadly the Sunday night stinker didn’t live up to expectations. I was relieved that the injury bug was held at bay for the most part, because this year has been brutal. Here’s to hoping that becomes the norm, so our fantasy playoffs can go down the right way. Let’s take a look at the Week 9 lessons:
James Robinson is the Midseason Fantasy MVP
He may not be the best fantasy asset overall, but he was an incredibly important pickup for anyone that has him. Very rarely do you find a bonafide RB1 with consistent volume sitting on the waiver wire without an injury, but Robinson has fit that mold through nine weeks. Going into the game with Houston, he was the RB5 and his performance yesterday should keep him in that range. Anyone who tells you they saw Robinson coming this summer is certainly either lying to you or is directly related to James himself. He was a waiver wire darling and a total surprise that will be the reason people win leagues if he stays healthy. I’m confused by the hot take crowd who discusses selling high on Robinson because there is no reason to think he will slow down anytime soon. He’s a genuine workhorse who produces like one. My well thought out analysis is to simply sit back and enjoy the show.
Dalvin Cook, PHEW!
What is there to say that he hasn’t said with his ridiculous statistics? His last two weeks have been historically impressive, and he’s in the conversation for the best fantasy asset overall. Alvin Kamara should see his target share dip since Michael Thomas is back on the field, and Christian McCaffrey has a few more guys to compete with than he has in previous seasons. Cook is right in the mix for the best player in fantasy football, especially in matchups like this one. I shouldn’t need to say this, but absolutely do not trade him.
The Panthers Backfield is a Goldmine… Still
This week there was discussion about Mike Davis potentially still having a role when fantasy Demigod Christian McCaffrey returns to the lineup. Hopefully, you can recognize coach speak when you see it, because that was absolutely never going to happen. Davis was a great fill-in for a team that lost their top weapon, but CMC is in a league of his own. Davis only saw six touches total, compared to McCaffrey’s 28. He’s going to finish the week as a top-three back, but did you really expect any different? If you kept your playoff hopes alive through his absence, this week was a celebration of that gritty six-week rollercoaster. He’s still the RB28 despite missing six weeks, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Unfortunately, with breaking news of CMC’s new shoulder injury this morning, Davis somehow boomerangs back into the conversation as a valuable low-end RB1.
Besides Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, the T-E position is T-D dependent
It is so ugly out there. George Kittle is likely done for the year, Mark Andrews is a complete bust, Tyler Higbee is nowhere to be found, and everyone else is in the streaming tier. Kelce is such a consistent and impressive player that dominates for your fantasy lineup, and someday we will look back at just how historically consistent he was. Darren Waller is one other guy that sees a healthy target volume, but he has plenty of weeks that are complete duds as well. For the most part, you’re starting Kelce, Waller, or someone you’re streaming. This week, Evan Engram and Jonnu Smith were two quality streams, and the slate next week has a fair amount of candidates worth looking at. If you roster someone like Andrews, Higbee, Gronk, or even Gesicki…. you may need to start viewing matchups more than name value.
Evan Engram is a Solid Option Going Forward
Speaking of Engram, he’s quietly been a reliable streaming option (which isn’t saying much), and his production is on the rise ever-so-slightly. He’s the third-highest targeted tight end in the league, and this week he finally secured a touchdown to give him a performance that was worth it. He’s dropped some very notable passes this year, but that also means he’s had more opportunity to produce than most. If things continue to trend upward, Engram will be a somewhat reliable TE1, which again, isn’t saying much. If you lost George Kittle or have suffered through Zach Ertz, Engram may be on waivers in your league or may be worth a trade discussion. I don’t endorse many tight ends this year, but Engram is a bit under the radar in terms of underlying metrics and recent production.
Curtis Samuel Better be Rostered
Samuel is quietly ballin’ out the last three weeks, most specifically in the end zone. He now has four touchdowns over the past three games, and this week he exploded for 118 total yards and a score. Robby Anderson has functioned as the Panthers WR1 this season, and Samuel and Moore have been very difficult to predict. Bye weeks are slowly winding down, so you’re not necessarily putting Samuel in your lineup no matter what, but in matchups that project to be high scoring, he’s worth a look. At the bare minimum, Samuel needs to be rostered in 100% of leagues.
Seriously, Stop Trusting Matt Patricia
Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Ty Johnson, Bo Scarborough, Adrian Peterson, LeGarrette Blount. This is the list of running backs Patricia has shown confidence in over the course of the past two seasons. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Johnson and Swift are much more talented than the rest, and in his defense, some of the work was injury-related. Swift is clearly the best running back on the team at this point, and his snap share has been increasing for three straight weeks going into the game with Minnesota. He still leads the backfield in carries and touches this week, but he only out-touched Peterson 16-11, despite the efficiency favoring Swift in every way. Patricia did the same thing with Kerryon Johnson last season, and it’s obvious at this point that he has no interest in a workhorse back. This makes a lot of sense given his ties to the Patriots organization, but at this point if you trust him – that’s on you.
Le’Veon Bell isn’t Worth Starting
The snap counts and touch distribution in Kansas City has been a complete nightmare, as I expected. Volume is king in fantasy football, and although I would never draft an Adam Gase running back anyway, at least Bell had volume in New York. Going over to a much better offensive situation doesn’t overcome sharing the backfield with a first-round rookie who has been really solid. This week Bell only saw 5 touches, and the snap count was a meager 25-19 in favor of CEH. That just turns the whole situation into a headache. Bell is not someone you can even consider starting, and for all intents and purposes – he’s a backup running back. A lot of people don’t want to hear that, but he’s an aging veteran past his prime, sharing the backfield with someone the franchise invested in heavily. It’s not going to happen for him unless CEH goes down, whether you want to believe that or not.
Terry McLaurin is Under-Appreciated
Terry may be scary around Halloween time, but he’s F1 all the time. Mclaurin had a phenomenal rookie season in 2019, and this year he was drafted at a reasonable ADP given the uncertainty at quarterback. Through the halfway point, he’s top twelve in yardage, top ten in targets, and should finish this week in the top twelve for fantasy scoring. He’s shockingly consistent for a guy who has no consistency in his offense. He’s ascending to the borderline elite tier of wide receivers in the NFL, but it seems like people don’t care too much. I understand he plays for a disgusting offensive scheme, but his production has been top-notch. I listed him as one of my most drafted players coming into this season, and he’s paying dividends on all of my teams. If by some miracle he falls to the fifth round again next year, he will once again be an auto-pick. For some reason, the fantasy community undervalues target hogs if they don’t have insane physical profiles, but a lot of the time they’re better assets. Will Fuller, Terry Mclaurin, Keenan Allen, and Tyler Boyd all fit that mold this year. All of them are outperforming expectations with ease. Learn something from this, Footclan.
Tyler Lockett is a Boom or Bust Headache (that’s worth it)
Lockett has two games this year with 100+ yards receiving and three touchdowns. In one of those games, he broke the 200-yard mark. He also has four games with under 50 yards receiving and no touchdowns, which is a fantasy killer. The moral of this story is: Tyler Lockett has grown into a boom or bust asset for the Seahawks. DK Metcalf is more consistent from a target and yardage perspective, but Lockett has had the week winning games. This type of headache is only fun on the good weeks, obviously – but it’s worth it if you’re trying to win a championship. These are the type of players that are great to have in the fantasy playoffs because you’ll be playing the other best teams in your league. The ceiling is necessary, even if it’s frustrating. I wouldn’t be trading him away unless I’m getting one of those true target monsters in return. Even with four rough games, he’s still fantasy football’s WR2.