Green Bay Packers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Jordan Love helped a game that opened with this week’s highest over/under (55.5 points) total just 20 points Sunday, and the best that can be said about Davante Adams this week was that he finished top-five in air yards ... AJ Dillon is a beast and needs to be a feature back ASAP … Patrick Mahomes had 79 passing yards on 24 attempts in the first half and finished getting a career-worst 4.5 YPA (and an ugly -11.4 CPOE). He’s now recorded fewer than 6.0 YPA in four of the past five games, as something clearly isn’t right in Kansas City ...Derrick Gore wasn’t an inconvenient truth to Darrel Williams’ fantasy managers as feared, but Mahomes’ struggles are bringing down the fantasy value of all Chiefs … Green Bay muffed a punt, and Mason Crosby missed both of his field-goal attempts (he leads the league with six).
Los Angeles Chargers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Justin Herbert bounced back from a couple of rough games with a monster performance (+17.4 CPOE) Sunday, finishing as fantasy’s QB1 in Week 9 against an Eagles defense that entered allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Thankfully Herbert’s schedule goes from difficult to favorable come fantasy playoff time … Austin Ekeler lost a rushing score to Herbert and saw just three targets during a disappointing game against a Philadelphia defense that came in allowing the third-most fantasy points to RBs this season … Mike Williams has clearly fallen back behind Keenan Allen, as the former has sadly sacrificed targets (and fantasy points) for a deeper aDOT since opening the year in a different looking role … The Chargers had the longest drive during the first quarter without scoring (98 yards) in the NFL since 2002.
Just when many were possibly frustrated enough to bench DeVonta Smith while facing a Chargers defense ceding the second-fewest fantasy points to receivers, he finishes as the WR2 this week (fellow rookie Elijah Moore was the WR1). Smith entered top-12 in air yards this season, so he could be in store for a nice second half … Jordan Howard led Philadelphia’s backfield in a favorable matchup against a run-funnel LAC defense, but it remained a committee. Kenneth Gainwell didn’t see a target but punched in a goal-line score during one of his two carries. Considering their QB is also such a rushing threat, it’s tough to trust any Eagles' fantasy back moving forward. Howard has three touchdowns over the last two games, but they’ve come with zero targets and in highly favorable situations … The Eagles are 3-2 on the road and winless at home this season.
Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins
This turned into a defensive struggle with Tua Tagovailoa a late scratch and no DeVante Parker for Miami as well as Houston’s offensive line getting destroyed. The teams combined for seven turnovers with 12 minutes left in the third quarter and finished with the most (nine) in a game in five years … No Houston RB can be used in fantasy leagues, but much bigger games are ahead for Brandin Cooks (13 targets) now that Tyrod Taylor’s back. The Texans have an extremely favorable looking schedule against the pass after the team’s upcoming bye … Jaylen Waddle has seen his average depth of target cut in half when Jacoby Brissett has been QB, but the volume remains with no Parker … Myles Gaskin was treated like the workhorse most expected he would last week with Malcolm Brown out, tying for the NFL lead in Week 9 touches with 26. Gaskin managed just 1.7 YPC but is a top-20 fantasy back with that volume. Miami’s whole offense really needs Tagovailoa back healthy … Mike Gesicki had a much better game than his box score may indicate, as he followed up a nice one-handed catch with another one, helping miraculously keep our Team of Destiny alive in a $6 Million Survivor pool.
Denver Broncos @ Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott was clearly not sharp (-12.9 CPOE) while returning from his calf injury (and missing LT Tyron Smith), over-throwing an open CeeDee Lamb in both the second and third quarters for would-be 50+ yard touchdowns (the latter during one of Dallas’ four failed fourth-down attempts). Prescott entered getting 9.1 YPA and with a 10:1 TD:INT ratio over three games at home this season, and the Broncos just traded away Von Miller and have been ravaged by injuries, including Malik Reed late in the week and Patrick Surtain during Sunday’s game, so this was a bit unexpected … The Cowboys entered averaging an NFL-high and franchise-record 465.6 yards per game yet somehow totaled just 13 yards in the third quarter after being shut out at halftime. Down 30-0, a clearly banged-up Ezekiel Elliott who had his knee wrapped was curiously getting carries in the fourth quarter … Tim Patrick beat Trevon Diggs for a nice score ... Javonte Williams had football’s second-most impressive run of the week, with the best clearly by this six-year-old.
Minnesota Vikings @ Baltimore Ravens
Since the NFL stopped allowing practices during the first week off, teams coming out of their byes have routinely been slow to start games, which is seemingly what happened to Baltimore on Sunday. Five of the Vikings eight games this season have been decided on the final play, as no one routinely coaches to lose the spread more than Mike Zimmer … Marquise Brown picked up a good chunk of his 116 yards in overtime, as Lamar Jackson surprisingly struggled (6.5 YPA) throwing against a Minnesota defense missing Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith (the latter a surprise Sunday morning scratch that moved the line a half a point). But Jackson’s 21 carries tied for the most among all players in Week 9, resulting in his fantasy QB2 finish … Dalvin Cook had a nice game, but Justin Jefferson deserved far more than five targets over five quarters. The Ravens entered allowing the second-most yards per play at home this season.
New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey dominated work and looks like a top-five fantasy RB again but remains a health concern with a QB situation limiting his upside some. Sam Darnold (-14.5 CPOE) was awful again Sunday, and it remains a mystery why PFF graded him as the best passer last week. Darnold was playing hurt with a banged-up shoulder and without practice coming off a concussion while dealing with a poor offensive line and numerous drops, but it’s a shaky situation for DJ Moore’s fantasy value either way. He entered No. 4 in expected fantasy points per game yet No. 44 in actual fantasy points over the previous month and finished with 32 scoreless yards on seven targets. Robby Anderson also wasn’t too pleased with Darnold. The fantasy D/ST facing the Panthers has finished top-two in scoring in two of the past three weeks … At least Stephon Gilmore recorded a pick during his revenge game …
Damien Harris punched in a goal-line score but was outshined by rookie Rhamondre Stevenson (106 YFS on 12 touches), who led the preseason in rushing before a couple of missed blocks sent him to the bench. The impressive rookie back already has more receiving yards on the year than Harris and should be added in all fantasy leagues in which he’s available (just 6% rostered in Yahoo). Both RBs left in the fourth with head injuries, so the whole NE backfield needs to be monitored (with Brandon Bolden also a possible add).
Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Allen sacked, intercepted and recovered a fumble by Josh Allen in a game that might as well have taken place in the nexus of the universe. The Bills somehow lost as this week’s biggest favorites (15.5 points) despite Jacksonville missing a field goal (two on the same drive, in fact), Trevor Lawrence hurting his ankle (returning to badly over-throw an open Marvin Jones for a would-be 50+ yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter) and Jamal Agnew dropping an easy touchdown (with Carlos Hyde losing a fumble on the next play). The Bills cowardly punted late as if they were the big underdogs (Jacksonville countered with a 22-yard FG) … Stefon Diggs has had a wildly disappointing season … Seriously, how did the Bills not score a touchdown against a Jaguars defense that entered ranked last in DVOA?
Can the best team in the AFC please stand up?
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
After entering with notable on/off splits with Odell Beckham Jr., Baker Mayfield had a perfect Passer Rating at halftime. He’s not much of a fantasy option given Cleveland’s offense, but Mayfield’s (left) shoulder also appears to be getting healthier. Donovan Peoples-Jones is on the fantasy radar with no OBJ, but you don’t need to break the waiver wire bank for him (just three targets) … Nick Chubb continues to be really good, and I might even suggest throwing it to him more … Joe Burrow entered as the only QB in the league with multiple TD passes in every game this season, but his only passing score Sunday was a pick-six … Tyler Boyd is droppable, while Ja’Marr Chase will see better days after getting just 3.8 yards per target and losing a fumble.
Las Vegas Raiders @ New York Giants
Derek Carr’s lost fumble was remarkably the Raiders’ first of the season, while Daniel Carlson’s 25-yard missed field goal in the fourth quarter was the shortest of the NFL season … Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Kenyan Drake are all going to see more targets with Henry Ruggs gone … Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton somehow combined for just four targets with Sterling Shepard out, as the Raiders continue to play terrific pass defense. I certainly expected a lot more from Toney … Las Vegas entered as the only team in the league top-eight in yards per play, yards-per-play against and pressure rate, so don’t write them off after dealing with tough circumstances this week.
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
During the “day of the underdogs,” the Saints lost a matchup in which they entered with arguably the biggest mismatches along both sides of the line. Trevor Siemian wasn’t exactly good (-3.5 EPA) but played better than his numbers indicate, as he dealt with a ton of drops Sunday. Still, one has to wonder whether the Saints win if Taysom Hill (2.6 EPA) started instead. Hill remains available in more than 80% of Yahoo leagues and would immediately become a top-10 fantasy QB should he be named starter after New Orleans lost at home to a team that entered ranked last overall in DVOA.
Alvin Kamara didn’t mind not ceding any goal-line carries to Hill and saw seven targets; his day would’ve been bigger had a 50-yard run not been nullified by penalty … Mark Ingram saw 14 touches despite a bad game script. He’s a flex option running behind one of the best offensive lines, but no Saints pass catcher is … The Saints haven’t played every game in New Orleans, but their defense has oddly allowed the most yards per play at home yet the fewest on the road this season … Kyle Pitts had a bad drop early, but bigger games are ahead with better game scripts and Calvin Ridley out … The Falcons have the fourth-worst point-differential (-45) in the NFC but would make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers
James Conner entered the game averaging a modest 12.3 touches (five targets all season) while splitting work and in a tougher matchup with a backup QB as 5.5-point underdogs, so I thought his ECR of RB25 was too high. Naturally, Chase Edmonds immediately left injured, and the Cardinals blew out the 49ers despite missing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and J.J. Watt, helping Conner finish as easily fantasy’s RB1. It’s what I get for disrespecting Conner, who leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns. Third-string RB Eno Benjamin also steamrolled someone during his first career TD ... Backup QB Colt McCoy had an average depth of target of just 3.5 yards, but Christian Kirk was slinging it downfield.
Expected to be limited and facing an Arizona defense that had allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends, George Kittle lost the first fumble of his career but scored his first touchdown since Week 6 of last year, finishing as fantasy’s TE1 this week. Brandon Aiyuk also lost a fumble but is back as a flex option … Elijah Mitchell was hampered more by game script than his rib injury, and his five targets were more than he had previously totaled all season … The 49ers are 1-11 over their last dozen games in Levi’s Stadium, as San Francisco has gone from having a historically strong home-field advantage in Candlestick to a historically bad HFA with the move to Santa Clara; it’s an ironic second-order effect felt by many of the new stadiums throughout sports.
Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Rams
A fitting Sunday night football game with yet another upset during an NFL-record fourth Super Bowl rematch this week. Matthew Stafford (who entered having generated almost twice as much more pass EPA than the next closest QB) took a hit to his MVP case with a subpar game thanks mostly to an unexpectedly heavy Tennessee pass rush (Derrick Henry’s value argument also suffered given the Titans won so easily as underdogs without him).
It was one of those days where Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and Van Jefferson didn’t score (or reach 100 yards) on a combined 40 targets, yet Sony Michel caught a touchdown … The Rams entered the least penalized team in the league but committed the most of any game during the Sean McVay era.
A.J. Brown dropped multiple balls but has as many double-digit target games over the last two weeks as he did previously over his career. Only health can prevent Brown from being a top-five fantasy WR down the stretch … Adrian Peterson looked fit and punched in a goal-line score while immediately leading Tennessee’s backfield. The 36-year-old (with 3,300+ career carries) managed just 2.1 YPC and benefitted from a favorable game script, so he’s more of a HODL than a strong fantasy start against New Orleans’ top-run defense in Week 10.