Welcome to the Fantasy Football Rundown: a weekly article written by yours truly in which I give at least one sentence on every single fantasy relevant player for Week 9. Starts, sits, sleepers, busts, DFS plays, you name it, I talk about it here. Be warned, this is a beast of a piece. If you’re looking for a specific player, I recommend using your web browser’s search function to head straight to said player. Otherwise, enjoy reading!
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Over/Under Points Scored: 41.5
QB Matt Ryan — Ryan is a volatile QB2 in a tough matchup. He has the pass catching personnel to stay relevant as a QB13-16 guy. NOLA’s defense is legit though.
WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson — Patterson’s 19.8% NECC consistency rating is T-3rd best among NFL RBs. Consistent as they come, he’s a back-end RB1.
WR Tajae Sharpe — Sharpe filled in decently for Calvin Ridley (mental health) who is out indefinitely. The once promising WR has a tough matchup on his hands this week though and should not be trusted as more than a shaky WR5.
WR Russell Gage — For the first time in my life I allowed myself to consider Gage as a viable fantasy asset after his Week 7 performance. He then saw exactly zero targets come his way in Week 8. I won’t make that mistake again and neither should you.
WR Olamide Zaccheus — They elevated a journeyman/preseason guy (Sharpe) over him. Ignore Zaccheus.
TE Kyle Pitts — The usage will be there for high-end TE1 results but Pitts has been thrown into double-coverage fire with Calvin Ridley shelved.
RB Mike Davis — Davis has seen a recent uptick in passing game usage as of late but he just seems to be a bad fit for the offense. He’s an RB4 with RB3 upside.
New Orleans Saints
QB Taysom Hill — Hill finished between QB4 and QB11 in all four of his 2020 starts and his ball distribution made a big jump in games three and four. The dual threat passer averaged 28.5 pass attempts and 9.75 carries per game. It’s fair to mention the absence of Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but that’s likely to lead to more tucking and running. With the porous defenses of the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans on deck, Hill is a real-deal fantasy QB1.
WRs Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Tre’Quan Smith — A smattering of receivers with downfield skillsets. Callaway is the most well-rounded of the bunch and sets the pace as just a fantasy WR4.
TE Adam Trautman — Trautman’s route totals have drastically risen over the last three weeks but Hill’s insertion into the lineup throws a curveball into the mix. He’s a bench-hold.
RBs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram — Ingram’s introduction to the lineup dropped Kamara’s snap share to a season-low 67% as did his route percentage (72.4%, PFF.com). Kamara’s rushing efficiency should increase with Hill at the helm but his passing usage could be volatile and his red zone rushing numbers likely take a hit as well. ATL’s 23.6 .5PPR RB PPG allowed are 9th most in the league so Kamara remains a top-5 RB play. But consider selling high on him if you can. Ingram should be rostered across all formats as he was quickly given six carries and two targets in his 2021 Saints debut. He’s this week’s premier RB4.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
Over/Under Points Scored: 49.5
QB Teddy Bridgewater — Bridgewater has more quality pass catchers than he knows what to do with but Dallas’ pass defense is no joke. Standout CB Trevon Diggs has picked off the opposing QB in all but one game this year. Bridgewater remains a high-floor QB2 whose Week 9 path to success relies on game script. Set expectations conservatively in redraft but DEN/DAL DFS stacks are warranted.
WRs Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick — It’s a crowded bunch. Sutton’s downfield looks are volatile, Jeudy was on a slight snap count last week, but Patrick managed a perfect 3-of-3 for 64 yards last week. Patrick is that good but that kind of volume is not. All three are viable WR4s. Jeudy has the best matchup as Dallas’ slot CB Jourdan Lewis is just a serviceable puzzle piece. Sutton and Patrick will take turns running against Diggs.
TEs Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam — Fant landed on the COVID-19/Reserve List on Tuesday after testing positive. If vaccinated, he could return to play via two negative tests over a 48-hour period. If he’s unvaccinated, he must remain on the list for 10-days. Okwuegbunam would be a volatile TE1 in Fant’s absence.
RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams — Gordon ran as the 1A last week, taking 10 carries for an efficient 47 yards and 1 touchdown, beating Williams’ 9-for-35. Gordon also went a perfect 3-of-3 for 15 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. Williams caught 2-of-4 for 11 yards. In the red zone, it was all Gordon as well. The veteran saw three intended touches there and converted two of them. The only other Bronco to be afforded a red zone look was Jeudy. Per PFF.com, Gordon was asked to block more than Williams for the second consecutive week, which was the third time this season. Williams makes splashy plays but it certainly seems like Gordon is one of Vic Fangio’s more trusted players. Gordon and Williams hug the RB2/3 borderline.
QB Dak Prescott — Prescott’s on track to play this week. Denver’s defense has been depleted via injuries and trades. It’s now a unit to target. Prescott is a high-end QB1 this week.
WRs Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb — Cooper and Lamb are trustworthy top-15 WR plays on a weekly basis.
Update 11/7/21: Gallup is not playing. Cooper and Lamb will play on the perimeter for the majority of their snaps. Wilson will operate as the primary slot WR. As mentioned below, Wilson has a good matchup.
WRs Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson — Gallup would be a volatile WR5 with DFS appeal if active. If Gallup is inactive, Wilson would be a WR4 with a decent shot at a good day. Wilson’s Week 9 prospects are enhanced by Denver’s stud slot CB Bryce Callahan landing on Injured Reserve this week
TE Dalton Schultz — A combination of Cooper Rush at QB and SS Harrison Smith’s coverage kept Schultz to just two receptions on seven targets last week. With Prescott at the helm and Blake Jarwin (hip) unlikely to play, Schultz is back on the TE1 radar though.
RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — We’ve highlighted this in the past but Denver’s lost big time contributors in their defensive front this year:
The #BroncosCountry have suffered a ton of injuries at the linebacker position, none more impactful that Alexander Johnson ⬇️ It’s #DErnestJohnsonWeek #Browns pic.twitter.com/dOFbTkQOdo
— Nic Bodiford (@Ginger__Nic) October 22, 2021
Johnson is perhaps the league’s single best run defending ILB and Jewell is a fantastic do-it-all man as well. Bradley Chubb remains on IR and Von Miller is now a Cleveland Brown. Elliott and Pollard should rock the house this week. Elliott is the overall RB1. Pollard is an RB3.
New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers
Over/Under Points Scored: 41
New England Patriots
QB Mac Jones — Jones is getting better every week. His bread and butter may still be the short game but his average depth of target (aDot) continues to inch upwards. Carolina’s DB group is no joke though–CB Stephon Gilmore started his Panthers tenure off hot last week. Although he played just 32% of snaps, he recorded both one pass defended and one interception. CAR ILB Shaq Thompson also ended his three-week injury absence with a bang, notching 1 pass defended, 1 interception, and a team-high 10 combined tackles. Jones is a mid-to-low QB2 with a capped upside.
WR Jakobi Meyers — The Football Gods continued toying with Meyers last week, only allowing him to enter the end zone via a two-point conversion. He’s got a date with stud slot CB A.J. Bouye on tap though, keeping him in the low-ceiling WR4 ranks.
WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne — Agholor and Bourne are not likely to make much noise against Gilmore and Donte Jackson. They are low-end WR5s.
TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — Henry’s target counts have slipped a bit but his team air yards share (13.48%) is still more than double that of Smith (6.31%). Treat Henry as a high-floor TE1 here as CAR’s WR coverage should force more work onto Henry’s plate. Smith is droppable.
RBs Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J. Taylor — Harris is the lone constant here as the weekly bet to see 15+ touches. He’s a high-end RB2. Bolden remains involved in the passing game but his usage has begun to fluctuate with Taylor and Stevenson taking turns cycling though. Carolina’s front-seven offers stiff competition so the non-Harris bunch are all risky propositions. If desperate, Bolden and Stevenson can be started but their ceilings are likely capped in the RB4 range. Stevenson offers the most upside with his all-around skillset.
QB P.J. Walker — Walker completed 3-of-14 passes in relief duty last week. He’s a QB3. Sam Darnold (shoulder/concussion) is a long shot to play.
WR D.J. Moore — They will scheme up touches for him but with Walker at QB and a matchup against the Patriots, Moore has a tenuous grasp on a top-36 ranking.
WRs Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall — WR6s.
TE Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas — TE3s.
RB Chuba Hubbard — Hubbard received 26 intended touches last week and might actually surpass that number this week if the team goes all-out in limiting Walker’s influence on the game. It’s a tough matchup but Hubbard’s workload locks him in as a top-15 option.
Update 11/6/21: Christian McCaffrey is expected to play this week and Dr. Adam Hutchison believes he’s ready. If active, he’s an elite RB1. Chuba Hubbard would be downgraded to a low-end RB3 if this is the case. Ameer Abdullah would be irrelevant for our purposes.
RB Ameer Abdullah — Abdullah was on the team for eight days and he out-touched (eight carries, five targets) Royce Freeman (six carries) in his first outing last week. Abdullah deserves mid-to-high RB4 consideration as an outlet pass player for the slow-footed Walker.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens
Over/Under Points Scored: 49.5
QB Kirk Cousins — The Vikings are in disarray. The rift between the analytically inclined Cousins and the hardheaded HC Mike Zimmer is evidently so large that they don’t communicate regarding timeouts. Cousins is reliant upon his talent and the players around him to produce, with the head coach providing zero help. Some of the Ravens’ defensive personnel groupings have been neutered via injury so a high-end QB2 finish is possible but understand that he carries a trapdoor floor.
WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen — Cousins has formed a strong connection with Jefferson but he and Thielen have been a 1-2 punch for years. With the team on stormy seas, Thielen could end up as the go-to. This pair can lay waste to the Ravens’ CB corps so keep them in your lineup as WR2s but understand that there’s a little more risk at hand this week.
WR K.J. Osborn and TE Tyler Conklin — The duo continues to alternate as the No. 3 pass catcher but Baltimore is allowing the most .5PPR TE PPG right now (16.7) making Conklin a mid-tier TE1. Osborn is a WR5.
RBs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison — Dual threat running backs of Cook’s ilk have been slicing and dicing Baltimore’s front-seven all year. The Ravens are currently allowing the 7th most .5PPR RB PPG (24.5) and their 64.6 per game RB receiving yards is 3rd most. Cook’s as much of a home run as there is at the position this week. He’s a top-5 Week 9 play. Mattison is just a primary bellcow backup now.
QB Lamar Jackson — Here’s to hoping Zimmer overcorrects and has the defense study Tyler Huntley tape this week. Jackson is an elite QB1, as always.
WRs Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and Sammy Watkins — MIN CBs: Patrick Peterson is on IR, Cameron Dantzler is battling an ankle injury, and Bashaud Breeland is very bad. Brown should keep his dominant 2021-train chugging this week. He’s a high-end WR2. Bateman continues to play very well and can be deployed as a borderline WR3/4 this week. Watkins returned to practice this week after a three-week absence (hamstring) but is more likely to return to play in Week 10. Duvernay is just a WR6.
TE Mark Andrews — Andrews remains a high-end TE1 based on talent but SS Harrison Smith is no joke.
RBs Devonta Freeman, Ty’Son Williams, and Le’Veon Bell — Freeman is the only Ravens RB that deserves starting consideration but he’s just an RB4. Latavius Murray is still out with an ankle injury.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Over/Under Points Scored: 46.5
QB Baker Mayfield — Mayfield’s likely to feel the heat this week, both from Odell Beckham Jr.’s dad and the right side of his offensive line. RT Jack Conklin is out for a few weeks due to a dislocated elbow. The Bengals’ pass rush is stout. Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and Larry Ogunjobi all generate pressure up front and CB Mike Hilton keeps the blitzes coming. Mayfield is a floor-play QB2.
WR Jarvis Landry — Since his return to play two weeks ago, Landry comfortably leads the team in targets, 17, by a margin of 9. He is the unquestioned No. 1 WR in Cleveland and should have no issue thrashing slot CB Hilton whose biggest contribution to the team is his blitz work. Landry is a mid-to-high WR2.
WRs Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz — With Beckham being asked to stay away from the team, DPJ and Schwartz are back to duking it out for the downfield role. DPJ had separated from Schwartz in Weeks 5 and 6 before suffering a pre-game groin strain in Week 7. This will be the former’s first return to action but he can be started as a borderline WR3/4 this week as Schwartz did nothing of note in DPJ’s absence.
WR Rashard Higgins — Higgins is just a rotational fantasy WR6.
TEs Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant — All belong in free agency plus it’s a tough positional matchup.
RB Nick Chubb — Cleveland was measured in their use of Chubb last week, sprinkling in both Johnson and Felton behind him. The Bengals hold up well in run defense but get gashed by backs through the air. Their 8.6 RB receptions allowed are tops in the league and their 62.6 RB receiving yards are 4th most. Chubb remains a mid-tier RB1.
RBs D’Ernest Johnson, and Demetric Felton — Surprisingly, the team elevated Johnson over Felton as the primary receiving back last week. Johnson’s 12 routes run (PFF.com) and 3 targets handily out-paced Felton’s 6 routes (PFF.com) and 1 target. Given the matchup, Johnson can started as an RB3/4. Felton is not fantasy relevant.
QB Joe Burrow — Cleveland’s defense is loaded but a number of their impact players are banged up. Burrow should stay firmly in the QB1 ranks. Interesting side read: CIN has one analytics guy who is in Zac Taylor’s headset in-game. That’s cool. They need to expand that department though.
WR Ja’Marr Chase — No. 4 league-wide in percentage share of team’s air yards (40.95%), No. 2 in WR NECC consistency rating (6.8%), No. 3 in receiving yards (786), and No. 4 in receiving touchdowns (7). He’s an elite WR1.
WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd — Last week, Zac Taylor had Burrow spread the ball around a little bit more. Higgins was still an integral passing game component but Boyd saw a nice uptick in targets and managed to answer the call (8 targets, 5 catches, 69 yards, and 1 touchdown) Expect both to produce as WR3s this week.
TE C.J. Uzomah — Uzomah has caught every ball thrown his way since Week 4 and continues to produce usable results when the matchup is right. The Browns have held most tight ends in check this year thanks to a number of key contributors, namely rookie linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, which relegates Uzomah to the TE2 ranks for Week 9.
RBs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine — Perine was a big factor in CIN’s blowout Week 7 win, with Chris Evans sideline (hamstring), but largely rode the bench in a close Week 8 contest against the Jets. Week 9 looks like for more of a Week 8 repeat than Week 7. Mixon is a back-end RB1. Perine and RB4.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
Over/Under Points Scored: 48.5
QB Josh Allen — Elite QB1, especially against the Jags.
WRs Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders — Jacksonville is dead last in NEFF pass defense rating (29.4%). Diggs is a safe top-12 play and Sanders a top-36 play despite last week’s donut.
The #Jaguars' pass defense ranks dead last in NEFF rating, allowing over 35 PPG receiving this year.
A great week to have Josh Allen or his receivers on your #fantasyfootball team 😎 pic.twitter.com/tTMPKDSQgP
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) November 3, 2021
WR Cole Beasley — Jacksonville’s defense employs far more zone defense than it does man, which means that it should be a top-24 WR week for Beasley. Beasley’s dealing with a rib injury right now though and has been unable to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If active, start him. He may not be though.
WR Gabriel Davis — Earlier this year, TE Dawson Knox took the No. 4 passing game job from Davis but with Knox out, Week 8 was Davis’ time to shine. The second-year WR caught 4-of-5 passes for 29 yards and 1 touchdown. With Knox out again this week (hand) and Beasley ailing, Davis garners WR4 consideration this week and would be startable as a WR3 if Beasley actually sits.
TE Tommy Sweeney — It’s a crowded pass catching corps but the Jags are allowing 13.5 .5PPR TE PPG, 7th most in the NFL. Sweeney’s a TE1 streaming option.
RBs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary — The usage pendulum swung back toward Moss last week, partially due to clock salting in the second-half. Both backs are RB3s.
QB Trevor Lawrence — Lawrence is a borderline QB2/3 in this one. Buffalo is the No. 1 fantasy defense vs. opposing QBs.
WRs Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault, and Jamal Agnew — Agnew got rolling last week, but as we called ahead of time, that was matchup-based.
LFG!!! My Week 8 Must-Start #DUUUVAL slot receiver Jamal Agnew popped off against the #Seahawks . Team-high 12 TGTs, 6 receptions for 38 yards/1 TD + 85 return yards #FantasyFootball #NerdingOut https://t.co/VZ7j6kJXy2
— Nic Bodiford (@Ginger__Nic) October 31, 2021
Jones is the best of the bunch as a fantasy WR4 here. Shenault is playing out of position as the X-receiver and Agnew is more of an athlete than a WR. Do not start either of the latter two.
RB Carlos Hyde and Dare Ogunbowale — Lead back James Robinson suffered a bruised heel last week and will miss the Week 9 bout. Hyde hoarded touches in his absence and can be expected to do so against. The Bills’ No. 2 rated run defense per NEFF is as good as it gets but volume should get Hyde into the RB3 realm. Ogunbowale is a fantasy non-factor.
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins
Over/Under Points Scored: 45.5
QB Tyrod Taylor — Taylor’s set to start this week. While his passing leaves a lot to be desired, his rushing doesn’t. He went 4 carries for 40 yards on the ground in Week 1 and 1 carry for 15 yards and 1 touchdown in Week 2. Miami’s pass defense has struggled badly this year, making Taylor a QB2 with surprising QB1 upside this weekend.
WR Brandin Cooks — 21 of Cooks’ 70 targets came in Weeks 1 and 2 with Taylor at the helm. Cooks resumes his volume-based WR2 status once again.
dolphins defense vs WRs over last 4 games:
106 targets (2nd)
71 rec (t-1st)
884 yards (1st)
9 tds (1st)
53.4 ppr ppg (1st) pic.twitter.com/DCK21rJUEX
— pete astronaut aboard the pitts-8 rocket rogers (@petemrogers) November 4, 2021
WRs Nico Collins and Danny Amendola — Collins and Amendola are DFS-only considerations. Amendola was a preferred target for Taylor early on and he’s averaged five targets per game over the last two weeks. Collins is young but very promising.
TEs Pharaoh Brown and Jordan Akins — Brown was Taylor’s preferred TE target earlier this year but he’s now dealing with a hamstring injury. Neither man is desirable for redraft but Akins would be a DFS option should Brown sit.
RBs Rex Burkhead and Scottie Phillips — Burkhead and Phillips led the backfield in intended touches (eight apiece) last week but Burkhead soundly out-played him. If desperate, Burkhead could be started as an RB5.
QB Tua Tagovailoa — Houston’s NEFF pass defense rating and QB pressure rate are both 4th worst in the league. Tua is battling a finger injury in his throwing hand but reports indicate he looks fine in practice. He’s a mid-tier QB2 with a sprinkling of top-12 upside.
WRs DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle — It’s a frightening proposition but one needs to rank the two primary ‘Fins WRs as WR3s this week. Houston can’t stop anything.
Update 11/5/21: Parker suffered some sort of setback and is now doubtful to play. Waddle gets a slight bump up but Gesicki gets a big one.
TE Mike Gesicki — Mid-tier fantasy TE1.
RBs Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed — Houston’s 25.3 .5PPR RB PPG allowed is 6th most in the NFL and their 135.4 RB rushing yards per game are No. 1. Gaskin should run efficiently as the lead back but Ahmed is liable to see 10 or more touches in clock-killing mode. Both have routes to failure but the matchup is theoretically right. Gaskin is an RB3. Ahmed is an RB4.
Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants
Over/Under Points Scored: 47
Las Vegas Raiders
QB Derek Carr — This one has sneaky shootout potential. Carr is a back-end QB1 but the events this week involving Henry Ruggs may have unforeseen effects on the players. It’s worth noting that Vegas has smartly ramped up their play-action passing rate post-Gruden. Weeks 1-5: 11.5%. Weeks 6-7: 32.8%, per PFF.com.
WRs Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and Zay Jones — Renfrow is now the top dog in the WR corps and should be counted on as a high-floor WR3 in more weeks than not. Jones will replace Ruggs as the Z-receiver but he and Edwards will duke it out for the next spot in the WR pecking order. Edwards is the safer bet for fantasy WR4/5 value but Jones will be called upon for long shots.
TE Darren Waller — Elite TE1 but monitor news around his ankle injury. There’s more to learn here.
RBs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake — Jacobs was actually seeing decent dual threat usage before exiting LV’s last game early (chest). Given the Raiders’ history with him though, we can’t trust that until we see that for a couple weeks in a row. For now treat Jacobs as a borderline RB2/3 and Drake as a borderline RB3/4.
New York Giants
QB Daniel Jones — Vegas’ quad-pass rushing unit, Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson, and Solomon Thomas are a forced to be reckoned with, which might just lead to more Jones scrambles and fantasy goodness for us. He’s a back-end QB1 with a frustrating trapdoor floor.
WRs Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Dante Pettis, John Ross, and Collin Johnson — This is brutal. Shepard is doubtful to play (quad) as is Pettis (shoulder). Golladay and his hyperextended knee have returned to practice but his availability is still in question. Ross was downgraded to a limited participant (quad) on Thursday. That’s bad. It appears as though Toney (recovering from a bad cut on his hand suffered in-game) will operate as the X-receiver. Slayton will run free as the downfield, Z-receiver, and Collin Johnson will operate as the No. 3. Toney is a legitimate top-12 play at the position this week. Slayton is suddenly a viable WR2. Johnson is even a fantasy WR4 candidate. Of the likely active players, Slayton (five) is the only WR who’s seen more red zone targets than Johnson (four) this year. Get Johnson is a DFS lineup.
TE Evan Engram — Fantasy TE2.
RBs Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, and Elijah Penny — The Giants evidently had 13(!) players produce false positive COVID-19 rapid tests. Barkley is one of them. He’s still being required to produce two negative PCR tests though (so far he’s produced one) and he’s still rehabbing the ankle injury. Expect Booker to get the bellcow role again with Penny taking a handful of snaps. Booker’s a mid-tier RB2.
Los Angeles Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles
Over/Under Points Scored: 50
Los Angeles Chargers
QB Justin Herbert — Herbert’s got some sort of throwing-hand injury but there’s no reason to think it will impact him at this time. Elite QB1.
WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen — Williams has cooled a bit since suffering a knee injury a few weeks back but his snap share was where it should be last week (90%). Williams will have to go to work against CB Darius Slay and Allen will duke it out with slot CB Avonte Maddox; tough matchups. But by the same token, Slay and Maddox have to try to stop Williams and Allen. Good players playing good football. BMW and Allen can be ranked as WR2s conservatively this week but top-12 finishes are always within their range of outcomes.
Related: Roast & Ghost: Week 9 Fantasy Football Start Sit Advice
WRs Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer — Best cardio this side of the Mississippi.
TEs Jared Cook and Donald Parham — It wasn’t a surprise that TE-eraser Bill Belichick kept Cook and Parham in check last week. It also won’t be a surprise when this duo goes off against a Philly defense that opts not to invest at LB and S. Both are dart throw, back-end TE1s. One should hit.
RBs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson — Last week showed us that Ekeler and Jackson are the two top dogs here. Jackson is nursing a quad injury at the moment but when healthy, he’s the emergency backup to roster. Ekeler’s a mid-range RB1 with a glorious dual threat workload.
QB Jalen Hurts — The Chargers’ front-seven ranks 31st in NEFF run defense rating, which should make Hurts’ path to fantasy success a cake walk. Elite QB1.
WRs DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Jalen Reagor — Brutal matchup and no one is seeing the volume to be treated as more than a WR4 here (Smith). Watkins is a WR5. Reagor should be in free agency.
TE Dallas Goedert — Led the team in targets last week and has cleared 70 yards in both Zach Ertz-less games. Very high-floor TE1.
RBs Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, and Kenneth Gainwell — All three backs miraculously got 12 or more touches last week. Scott and Howard operated as the clear-cut 1-2 punch and Gainwell only got real work in the 4th quarter. As mentioned above, LAC’s run defense is as bad as can be. Scott is a back-end RB2, Howard a back-end RB3, and Gainwell an RB4.
Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
Over/Under Points Scored: 48.5
Green Bay Packers
QB Jordan Love — The former 1st Round pick gets a chance to prove the doubters wrong against the league’s 30th ranked pass defense per NEFF. He’s an extremely volatile QB2.
WR Davante Adams — Adams could see 15 targets in this one. He remains a fantasy WR1 even with Love at the helm.
WRs Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers — A trio of risky fantasy WR5s and 6s.
TE Mercedes Lewis — Only up for consideration in two-TE leagues. Josiah Deguara could make some noise but it’s unlikely.
RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — KC’s run defense NEFF rating of 44.8% comes in as the 25th ranked unit in the NFL. GB will look to limit Love’s passes attempts as much as possible. Jones is a top-5 RB play while Dillon is a back-end RB2 with top-15 upside.
Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes — Green Bay’s front-seven is so bad and banged up that they signed Whitney Mercilus two weeks ago and he’s logged snap shares of 43% and 49%. Rotational defensive end Kingsley Keke is unlikely to clear the concussion protocol. Mahomes is a back-end QB1.
WR Tyreek Hill — Elite WR1.
WR Mecole Hardman — Hardman has seemingly separated from the rest of the pack as his 28 targets over the last 4 weeks are 15 more than the next closest KC WR. He’s a WR3 in this one.
WRs Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and Josh Gordon — Robinson and Pringle are WR5s. Gordon is a WR6.
TE Travis Kelce — The brief buy-low window for fantasy’s TE1 will close after this weekend.
RBs Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore — Gore was given 7 of his 11 touches on one drive in the second-quarter. It was a good drive but Andy Reid knows who the real lead back is here. Darrel Williams assertively took 13 carries for 49 yards and caught 6-of-6 targets for 61 yards receiving. Williams should trample the aforementioned injury-depleted Packer front. He’s a safe RB2. Gore may have earned more work but he’s no more than a fantasy RB4 right now.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
Over/Under Points Scored: 45
QB Kyler Murray — If the team deems him ready to go, start him as a QB1. That outcome is far from certain though as Murray (ankle) failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. Colt McCoy would likely start in his absence and would be a capped-ceiling QB2. The 49ers will notably be without starting safeties Jimmie Ward (quad) and Jaquiski Tartt (Injured Reserve).
Update 11/7/21: Both Murray and Hopkins are expected to miss today’s game. Kirk, Moore, and Wesley are expected to be the starting WRs. Kirk is a fantasy WR2, Moore a WR3, Wesley a WR4 with deep league/DFS appeal.
WR DeAndre Hopkins — Hopkins re-aggravated his hamstring injury last week and played just 25% of the snaps. Like Murray, Hopkins was also unable to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. His Sunday availability is very much in question. He’s one of the few NFL players who is allowed to go three-straight DNPs and play but this situation is not good. He’d be a volatile top-15 WR play if active.
WR A.J. Green — Green tested positive for COVID-19 this week and was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List. His vaccination status is unknown. If vaccinated, he must test negative twice over a 48-hour period. He has not yet produced a negative test. The clock is ticking.
WRs Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore — Should Hopkins and Green both miss, Kirk would operate as the team’s X-receiver while Moore hogs slot snaps for himself. In this case, both Kirk and Moore would be WR2s, assuming Murray is under center. If it’s McCoy, Kirk becomes far more volatile. Moore would likely be a featured weapon around the line of scrimmage though. Both players have speed and would be able to take advantage of SF’s safety woes.
WR Antoine Wesley and Andy Isabella — Wesley played ahead of never-was veteran Andy Isabella last week. Both players would likely be active if Hopkins and Green were to miss but neither are viable redraft fantasy plays. Isabella’s straight line speed brings contrarian DFS appeal.
TE Zach Ertz — Ertz has had decent results in his first two games with the Cards. He’ll face off against SF’s stud coverage linebacker Fred Warner this week. He’s a low-end TE1 but would have access to a high-ceiling should both Hopkins and Green miss this week’s game.
RBs Chase Edmonds and James Conner — Even if Murray is active, expect Kliff Kingsbury to load the backs up with all they can handle to take the pressure (and the desire to scramble) off of his hobbled quarterback. Both backs are safe RB2s.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Comfortable pockets on the way: J.J. Watt (shoulder) and Rashard Lawrence (calf) are very unlikely to play. Garoppolo is a high-floor QB2 with significant upside.
WRs Deebo Samuel — Samuel owns 37.13% of his team’s air yards, 12th most in the NFL and currently leads the team in red zone targets with 11 (PFF.com). The next closest Niner, Kyle Juszczyk has 5 to his name. He’s an elite fantasy WR1.
Update 11/6/21: Deebo Samuel’s calf injury is apparently far worse this week than it was last week. If active, he is at risk of re-injury. He’s now a volatile WR2. Brandon Aiyuk moves into the high-end WR2 territory and George Kittle should see all the work he can handle.
Brandon Aiyuk — Big things are coming for Aiyuk:
#49ers Brandon Aiyuk revealed that he and Kyle Shanahan "had some words” and that kick started his reboot/restart to the season that influenced his great weeks at practice and hence playing more.
— Jennifer Lee Chan (@jenniferleechan) November 4, 2021
SF OC Mike McDaniel also seemingly complimented on Aiyuk’s recent off-field performance, stating “he is finally understanding what it means to be a pro”. Aiyuk can be started as a fantasy WR2 this week.
WRs Mohamed Sanu and Trent Sherfield — WR5s.
TE George Kittle — Earlier this week Shanahan said Kittle is expected to return (calf) this week. If true, he would immediately assume high-end TE1 status despite a matchup with standout second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Kittle is just too good to be veered away from.
RBs Elijah Mitchell — The 49ers are carefully managing Mitchell’s practice reps as he works through his rib injury. In-game though, he’s unleashed. Mitchell’s received 18 carries in each of the last two weeks, clearing 100 yards and scoring in both. He’s a fantasy RB1.
Update 11/7/21: Jeff Wilson Jr. will be active. He’s more than just a bench warmer but Mitchell and Hasty have played very well in recent weeks. Mitchell is 16th in the NFL in rushing despite being inactive in Weeks 3 and 4 and having a bye in Week 5. Wilson will be a factor though, potentially in scoring position and in short-yardage situations.
RB JaMycal Hasty — 26 routes (PFF.com) and 7 targets in Weeks 6 and 7, Hasty’s established himself as SF’s passing game back. Fortunately for him, ARI is top-10 in both RB receptions, 6.9, and RB receiving yards per game allowed, 49.1. He’s a back-end RB3.
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams
Over/Under Points Scored: 54
QB Ryan Tannehill — Don’t fear the defense-reaper. In some cases, the way in which offenses interact with one another can render stout defenses irrelevant. This is such a matchup. Tannehill is a fantasy QB1 in the slate’s highest totaled game.
WR A.J. Brown — Elite WR1. He won’t have the benefit of a plus matchup as he rotates into the slot from time to time as lockdown CB Jalen Ramsey spends as much time there as he does on the perimeter. Talent and volume will keep him in the position’s top-12 this week.
Update 11/5/21: AJB registered a DNP on Friday (knee). He’s listed as Questionable. Awaiting more info. Mid-week downgrades are typically a bad sign but AJB does sometime gets Wednesday rest days for his knees so this could be an unorthodox version of that.
WR Julio Jones — Tennessee is having Julio practice despite his never-ending hamstring issues. He’ll play this week—and could leave at any moment—but whenever he’s on the field he’s a fantasy WR2.
WRs Josh Reynolds, Chester Rogers, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Marcus Johnson — TEN played musical chairs with these guys last week, rotating all of them from the perimeter to the slot. The takeaways: Johnson is Julio’s direct backup and relies on his absence for relevance. Reynolds didn’t play but he was sick. Rogers is just running cardio. NWI has a shot to take the starting slot gig and quietly sits third on the team in red zone targets (8, PFF.com). NWI is a high-end WR4 with WR3 upside. Reynolds is the same if active.
TE Geoff Swaim — Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt are involved but Swaim has actually run the most routes (30, PFF.com) and received the most targets (6) over the last 2 weeks. LAR is allowing 13.2 .5PPR TE PPG, 9th most in the league. Throw Swaim’s name into the streaming tight end hat this weekend.
RB Adrian Peterson — Peterson should kickoff his Tennessee tenure with a solid outing against the Rams’ run-funnel defense. Tennessee boasts a well run offense but they’re not going to be able to resist handing the ball off to Peterson 12-15 times at least. The Rams’ 48.2% NEFF run defense rating ranks a middling 19th in the NFL and their 21.4 .5PPR RB PPG allowed sits firmly in the middle (16th most). Peterson can immediately be started as a back-end RB2 in Week 9.
RB Jeremy McNichols — McNichols must be rostered across all formats. The pass catching specialist should be regularly involved this week and will siphon at least a handful of carries from Peterson. McNichols is an RB3. D’Onta Foreman is not likely to be a real contributor in his post-Achilles rupture life.
Los Angeles Rams
QB Matthew Stafford — This is the matchup dreams are made of. Stafford is concerningly dealing with a back injury but he can’t be faded. He’s a mid-tier QB1.
WRs Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Van Jefferson Jr. — Tennessee’s 39.2 .5PPR WR PPG allowed lead the league by 2.6 points. Kupp belongs as the No. 1 across all rankings. Woods is a back-end top-12 WR play. Jefferson, free of competition from DeSean Jackson, is suddenly a season-long WR3 that needs to be in redraft lineups this week.
TE Tyler Higbee — Borderline TE1/2.
RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel — Michel got some run in LA’s trouncing of Houston last week (Henderson still went off for 91 scrimmage yards and 2 touchdowns) but this week it should be the Henderson Show. Henderson is a locked-in RB1. Michel is an RB4.