4:05PM ET Games
Philadelphia @ Oakland
The Raiders followed their Week 7 bye with a Week 8 win over the Steelers that reinforced their offensive mentality under first-year OC Greg Olson. Oakland registered a 38:19 run-to-pass ratio, never veering from the run-heavy strategy even as Pittsburgh scored the game's final 15 points. On the season, the Raiders rank ninth in rushing attempts per game and 30th in passes. Expect another smash-mouth effort featuring Darren McFadden, who looked quick and explosive when he had space against the Steelers. Although the Eagles play better run defense than credited for, McFadden is a strong RB2 based on volume, big-play potential, and his stranglehold on goal-line work. DMC is averaging 20 touches in the five games he's played start to finish. ... Noteworthy enemy wideout stats against the Eagles through eight weeks: Donnie Avery 7-141; Malcom Floyd 5-102; Hakeem Nicks 9-142; Eddie Royal 7-90-3; Terrance Williams 6-71-1; Demaryius Thomas 9-86-2; Leonard Hankerson 5-80-2; Wes Welker 7-76-2; Rueben Randle 6-96-2; Vincent Jackson 9-114-2; Dez Bryant 8-110; Victor Cruz 7-86. Philly is porous to be kind in the defensive back half, ranking 31st against the pass and 26th in sacks. Denarius Moore is a recommended WR3 play versus the Eagles' burnable cornerbacks. I also noticed Moore costs only $4,900 in FanDuel's Week 9 game. I like his chances of getting behind RCB Cary Williams once or twice on Sunday.
Terrelle Pryor is a quality QB1 streamer versus the Eagles, and an every-week two-quarterback-league start. He's the No. 14 fantasy QB in per-game scoring. ... Pryor's 2013 targets: Moore 41, Rod Streater 32, Mychal Rivera 16, McFadden 15, Brice Butler 13, Marcel Reece 12, Jacoby Ford 10, Rashad Jennings 5. ... Streater has scored one touchdown over his last 11 games. Streater also has a more difficult on-paper matchup than Moore because he runs most of his routes at left cornerbacks. LCB Bradley Fletcher has been Philly's top corner this year. Williams is the weekly whipping boy. ... There are no realistic fantasy options on Oakland's roster beyond the ones discussed in detail above. Reece had three carries for ten yards and wasn't targeted in the first game since the Raiders' Week 7 bye, which is telling. Olson isn't making an honest effort to get Reece touches. ... Seventh-round rookie Butler has been a disappointment since an eye-catching August. Butler dropped 2-of-3 targets in last Sunday's win over the Steelers and wound up playing a season-low eight snaps. Butler is only deep Dynasty league material.
Nick Foles is back in the quarterback saddle for Philadelphia, as Michael Vick's latest hamstring injury will sideline him indefinitely and Matt Barkley didn't appear ready to play in the NFL coming off the bench in last week's embarrassing home loss to the Giants. Although Foles faceplanted terrifically in his last start, there is still a three-appearance body of work that suggests he can function effectively in Chip Kelly's attack. Foles maintains a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio on the season with a 101.3 passer rating. He's worth firing up in two-QB leagues, although I'd stop short of crowning Foles a QB1 streamer. He was stunningly inaccurate in the Week 7 game against Dallas, looking genuinely confused. ... Albeit to varying degrees, Foles and DeSean Jackson are attractive Week 9 fantasy investments because the Raiders' defense is so much more vulnerable in the air than on the ground. Enemy passers have posted a 10:5 TD-to-INT ratio on Oakland and the third highest completion rate (67.6%) in football. Pro Football Focus grades the Raiders as a bottom-three team in pass rush. These are D-Jax's stats in the three games Foles has attempted at least 25 passes this season: 7-132-1; 6-64-2; 3-21. Week in and week out, Jackson remains the focal point of Kelly's passing attack. The Eagles move Jackson all around the formation and find ways to manufacture him touches. At very worst, D-Jax is a high-ceiling fantasy WR2 in the Black Hole.
Foles' 2013 target distribution: DeSean Jackson 19; Jason Avant 16; Riley Cooper and LeSean McCoy 11; Zach Ertz 9; Bryce Brown, Brent Celek, and Jeff Maehl 6. ... You're asking for trouble trying to paper over a WR3 hole with any of the Eagles' wide receiver alternatives. Cooper will run most of his routes against Raiders RCB D.J. Hayden, who's come on strong since a slow start to his rookie year. Avant is just a guy. Maehl plays in four-receiver sets and spells Cooper on some intermittent downs, based on personnel packages. ... Kelly's offense was billed coming into the league as tight end friendly. The tight ends do play a lot of snaps, but they're not big parts of the passing game. Neither Ertz nor Celek has cleared 60 yards in any game this season. ... The Raiders are playing legit top-six run defense -- they bottled up Le'Veon Bell in Week 8 and submit just 3.55 YPC -- but Shady can never be benched in fantasy. Even during McCoy's three-week touchdown drought, he's averaged 23.3 touches per game and is essentially due for a long run after topping out at 10 yards the past two weeks. McCoy is struggling slightly and has a difficult Week 9 matchup, and he's still an RB1. ... I noticed Bryce Brown was dropped in one of my re-draft leagues recently and quickly grabbed him. Although Brown's workloads have been minimal as the "breather back" behind McCoy, there still isn't a more valuable handcuff/stash in fantasy. I’d always rather roster a high-upside backup like Brown than a WR5, particularly during the fantasy stretch run.
Score Prediction: Eagles 23, Raiders 20
Tampa Bay @ Seattle
The on-field effort of Tampa Bay's roster began to shown signs of diminishing a few weeks back. This is an 0-7 club obviously headed nowhere with mutinous potential under a coach who's lost all respect nationally and likely the locker room of his team. The Bucs have dropped 12 of their last 13 games under Greg Schiano, and opponents have begun to light up the Bucs' defense despite impressive paper talent. Over its last three games, Tampa has been shredded by Nick Foles, receiver-depleted Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton for a combined 65-of-89 passing (73%), 790 yards (8.88 YPA), and an 8:0 TD-to-INT ratio with two more scores on Foles and Cam scrambles. Fire up Russell Wilson. ... Wilson has been on fire the past six weeks. His target distribution during that span: Golden Tate 45, Sidney Rice 27, Doug Baldwin 21, Zach Miller 16, Luke Willson 14, Marshawn Lynch 13, Jermaine Kearse 11, Robert Turbin 4. ... Schiano told reporters this week the Bucs have "looked hard" at using Darrelle Revis in more man coverage as opposed to zone. While disturbing it took so long on Tampa's end, a change in defensive scheme that allows Revis to eliminate opposing No. 1 wide receivers would be really bad news for Tate. As usual, Tate will be a risky WR3 option in Week 9. He plays in a run-first offense and could be on Revis Island.
Percy Harvin suffered a setback in his hip recovery and may not play before Week 11. We'll have more info next week. ... Rice's ACL tear frees up Z receiver to Kearse and perhaps Baldwin. The likeliest three-wide package against Tampa would have Tate at X, Kearse at Z, and Baldwin in the slot. If Revis indeed takes Tate, Kearse would likely see rookie Johnthan Banks on most of Sunday's snaps, with Leonard Johnson on Baldwin inside. Kearse and Baldwin would both have favorable matchups. Wilson throws to the open man rather than target-peppering any singular receiver, so Baldwin and Kearse remain dice-roll bye-week filler WR3s. I'd lean toward Kearse if forced to decide between the two. I think his body control along the sideline is impressive, and Kearse has demonstrated a knack for scoring. He has two end-zone trips among eight receptions this season and had two more touchdowns in the preseason. ... Miller has made six appearances this year. He's averaging 22 yards per game and is unworthy of a fantasy roster spot. ... Lynch expressed understandable displeasure with his inexplicably diminished role in last Monday's near-loss to St. Louis, venting both during the game and after. Back at home versus a pushover opponent, look for the squeaky wheel to get greased. Although Tampa has historically played stout run defense under Schiano, that wasn't the case last game, perhaps because the front seven has packed it in for the year. The Panthers imposed their will on the Bucs, banging out 129 yards and two TDs on 27 carries (4.78 YPC) in a 31-13 victory. Seattle has running-game personnel to copy and execute Carolina's approach. Lynch is a top-five RB1 in Week 9.
Seattle's defense is all but impenetrable at home, where it allows a smothering average of 8.7 points per game and is genuinely capable of eliminating both run and pass games. The lone Bucs skill player I'd feel remotely confident about starting in this matchup is Vincent Jackson, who moves around the formation enough to avoid stationary LCB Richard Sherman's shutdown coverage. On base downs, V-Jax runs the majority of his pass patterns against right corners (RCB Brandon Browner), and in three-wide packages over 50% of Jackson's targets have come on inside routes (slot CB Walter Thurmond III). With Mike Glennon forcing him the ball, lock in V-Jax as an every-week WR2. ... Replacing Mike Williams (torn hamstring/I.R.) as the Bucs' Z receiver, look for Tiquan Underwood to experience the bulk of Sherman Island. Underwood isn't even worth owning in 12-team leagues despite his injury-induced promotion. ... Glennon's target distribution on the year: Jackson 60; Tim Wright 24; Williams 17; Brian Leonard 13; Underwood and injured Doug Martin 10; Mike James 9; Chris Owusu 7; Tom Crabtree 5; Eric Page 3.
Wright is worth a look for desperate TE1 streamers. The undrafted rookie played a season-high 54 snaps in last week's loss to Carolina and has a chance to be the primary box-score beneficiary of Williams' loss. Wright is built like Williams (6'3/220) and has been extraordinarily efficient (20 catches on 28 targets), although the Seahawks have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Again, Wright is a desperation play. ... In two games since Martin's shoulder tear, rookie James has amassed 117 scoreless yards on 31 touches. Versatile but lacking burst, James is averaging 3.55 yards per carry. Volume keeps James on the flex radar, but he's definitely toward the back end in this particular matchup. Owners running back needy enough to start James -- admittedly, I am in one of my re-draft leagues -- can optimistically point to Zac Stacy's 26-134 game against the Seahawks in Week 8. It's also worth noting Seattle is playing on a short week following its Monday night win, although all of these are very rose-colored takes. In all likelihood, James will receive something like 17 touches, gain about 65 total yards, and fail to find pay dirt.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 24, Bucs 13
4:25PM ET Games
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Jason Campbell kept the chains moving and connected on a handful of shot plays in Cleveland's Week 8 loss at Arrowhead, though it's worth noting 39 of his yards and one of his two touchdowns came on a second-quarter flea flicker. His second score came on a poorly defended swing route to Fozzy Whittaker. And playing well in one game as a journeyman spot starter is much different than sustaining week-to-week success. The Browns get another forbidding pass-game matchup in Week 9 against a Baltimore defense that ranks second in sacks per game and has held enemy quarterbacks to a combined 4:4 TD-to-INT ratio since Week 1. Campbell has very little two-QB-league appeal and isn't a remotely viable QB1 streamer. Unfailingly sack prone, Campbell will have Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil breathing down his neck. ... Campbell's target distribution on the year: Josh Gordon and Davone Bess 10; Jordan Cameron 5; Chris Ogbonnaya and Greg Little 4; Willis McGahee and Whittaker 2. ... Gordon was Cleveland's Week 8 target leader and has consistently produced amid quarterback turmoil. He's cleared 70 yards in 5-of-6 appearances. Campbell has many limitations, but arm strength isn't among them, and Gordon wins against defensive backs downfield. He's an every-week WR2. Look for Gordon to get the better of Ravens RCB Jimmy Smith Sunday. Smith is 88th of 108 qualifiers in PFF's cornerback coverage ratings.
Bess' target total is deceptive because the Browns recently demoted him out of the starting lineup for dropping passes. And he dropped two more against the Chiefs. An ineffective player at this point in his career, Bess is not a fantasy option. ... The Ravens have allowed the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends, and Cameron touched up this same Baltimore defense for a 5-95 line in Week 2. Cameron is a respectable mid-range to low-end TE1 this week. ... Another reason for Campbell skepticism is he's always been a quarterback who needs a stick-moving, foundation run game to have success. The Browns can't offer that, especially this week against Baltimore's top-13 run defense, which has allowed one rushing touchdown all year and surrenders 3.82 yards per carry. Cleveland's blackhole backfield has devolved into a three-way timeshare, with dead-legged McGahee at the forefront, fullback Ogbonnaya working in as a change-of-pace ball carrier and sometimes passing-down specialist, and Whittaker chipping in as a receiver. None of the three reached double-digit touches in Week 8, and nor is any of them a fantasy option in Week 9.
The Ravens return from a Week 8 bye, which historically has translated to wins under coach Jim Harbaugh. Since 2002, Baltimore is 10-1 following open dates, good for the NFL's best record during that span. In Ray Rice's last four post-bye games, he's averaged 28 touches for 139 total yards and scored two touchdowns. Rice claims his poor 2013 performance can be traced directly to an early-season hip injury. On tape, it certainly appears he's lost cutting ability and burst. If Rice's self-diagnosis is on point, he shouldn't have trouble paying RB2 dividends, even against the Browns' top-12 run defense. I expect to find out a lot about Rice's future in this game. ... Bernard Pierce's stash appeal has diminished due to Baltimore's poor run blocking, though he'd still be an every-week RB2/flex if Rice went down. Keep an eye on Pierce's Week 9 usage. If the Ravens believe Rice has reached his decline phase, it's entirely possible Pierce's role will expand after two weeks of coaches' film study. ... The Browns are playing top-six pass defense, surrender the NFL's lowest yards-per-attempt average (6.0), and rank third in sacks. In these clubs' Week 2 tilt, Joe Flacco was limited to 211 yards and a touchdown on 33 attempts. He's a low-end QB2.
Flacco's target distribution since Marlon Brown returned from a hamstring injury two games ago: Brown 11; Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Dallas Clark 10; Tandon Doss and Rice 9, Pierce 3; Ed Dickson 2. ... First in the NFL in yards per reception and 11th in receiving yards, Smith comes off the bye as an every-week WR2. Joe Haden's coverage is an obvious obstacle, but Smith dropped a 7-85 line on Cleveland in the Week 2 game and got the bulk of his stats versus Haden. ... Harbaugh stated publicly prior to Week 7 he wanted Jones more involved in the pass offense. Flacco followed through in the last game, sending a team-high eight targets Jones' way despite weak efficiency (4-32). Jones started over Brown, though both were heavily involved with the latter playing slot receiver on most snaps. In a difficult matchup, the lack of No. 2 wideout clarity makes Brown and Jones Week 9 fantasy players to avoid. Jones just isn't a very good receiver, and Brown has been bumped down the pecking order, even if it's only slightly. ... The Browns have allowed the 16th most fantasy points to tight ends, creating a middling matchup for 34-year-old Clark and underachieving two-tight end set partner Dickson. Clark is a TE2. Dickson is a TE3. ... With Jones and Brown back to 100% health, Doss has settled in as Baltimore's No. 4 receiver.
Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Browns 17