1. Ryan Mathews
For the first time since early last season, Mathews entered Week 9 the subject of high expectations that weren’t a hope and a prayer. Coming off his first back-to-back 100-yard performances since December 2011, Mathews was squaring off with a Redskins defense allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs. How did he respond? By getting seven carries in a game the Chargers lost in overtime. Why Mathews got only seven totes in a contest that was close throughout is a bit of a mystery, but his role isn’t. Thanks in part to his past failures, the Bolts don’t trust Mathews as more than an early-down pounder, and an early-down pounder isn’t what they wanted in Washington. It’s our latest humbling reminder that no matter the opponent, Mathews can’t be trusted as more than an RB3.
2. Darren McFadden
That should just about do it for McFadden’s contract drive. Adhering to DMC’s law — whatever can go wrong will — McFadden made it all of five carries before re-injuring his hamstring in the “same spot” he did in Week 4. Even without one of the league’s lengthiest injury histories, McFadden would be a poor bet to suit up in Week 10. With it, he’s a virtual certainty to sit out against the Giants, and quite likely to miss Week 11, as well.
3. Arian Foster
A man whose laundry list of ailments is beginning to rival McFadden’s? Foster’s. Playing through a hamstring injury, Foster departed without so much as a carry after his back flared up on Houston's opening drive. It means he’ll have touched the ball just four times in 27 calendar days if he’s active against the Cardinals, and will be at risk of aggravating two different injuries. Even were Foster to get healthy in time for Week 10, he’ll be squaring off with a run defense allowing only 3.5 yards per carry and 88.3 yards per game. The sell-high window on Foster is closed, and unlikely to be re-opened.
1. Now maybe play that kind of defense on the road, Jets?
2. Greg Schiano, who will write the forward to your book “There’s More Than One Way To Lose A Game”?
3. Indy, next time you face Andre Johnson, maybe roll some coverage his way?
Stats of the Week
Redskins FB Darrel Young scored as many rushing touchdowns Sunday as LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice have all season.
Speaking of Rice, he entered Week 9 averaging 2.81 yards per carry. He exits it averaging 2.67. That’s second-to-last among all qualified rushers. Only former teammate Willis McGahee (2.62) has been worse. Interestingly, current teammate Bernard Pierce is third worst at 2.71.
Terrelle Pryor leads the NFL with eight rushes of at least 20 yards.
Pryor’s 7.7 yards per carry also leads the NFL, though one player would be tied if he had enough rushes to qualify: Andre Ellington.
Andre Johnson’s three touchdowns Sunday were more than he had scored in his previous 20 games combined.
The All Sell High Team: QB Nick Foles/Case Keenum — We’re avowed fans of both players, but this is the classic “they’ll never be more valuable.” If you’ve got Foles or Keenum behind a Rodgers or Stafford, by all means, don’t wait a week to make a move. As Foles has proven, you never know what might happen week to week. RB Mike James — James had a great game, becoming the second straight back to run all over Seattle’s supposedly elite run defense. But this is an unproven player on a bad team, and nothing — least of all, workloads — can be taken for granted on a weekly basis. If James is your RB4/5, turn him into a WR2/3. WR Roddy White — This may seem like a sell low, but in reality, we have no idea what White will provide upon his apparently imminent return. Two days removed from his 32nd birthday, White is returning to matchups against the Seahawks and Darrelle Revis, and doesn’t have Julio Jones to deflect defensive attention. With many fantasy owners looking for late-season saviors, they could be willing to pay a pretty penny for White’s name and past production. Selling now is a risk — it’s hard to bet against a player like Roddy White — but a gamble worth taking. TE Tony Gonzalez — Gonzalez again proved that he remains physically capable of being a high-end TE1 in the first half of Sunday’s loss, catching five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. After the break, however, he again showed why he’s a weekly dice roll, getting held to one grab as the Panthers rolled extra coverage his way, ignoring the Drew Davis and Darius Johnsons of the world. The focal point of every opposing defensive coordinator, Gonzo’s stat lines are going to be hard to predict.
The All Buy Low Team: QB Philip Rivers — At this point in his career, Rivers is the kind of player owners will look for any reason to panic over. Two interceptions in a loss are as good as any. If you’re not as shored up as you’d like at quarterback, send out some feelers and see if you can get a locked-in QB1 on the cheap. RB LeSean McCoy — Let’s be real — Shady won’t be cheap. But with just 147 rushing yards over his past three starts and only two total touchdowns since Week 3, he’ll be cheaper than he should be. WR Josh Gordon — Perhaps the most wrongfully doubted player in fantasy football, Gordon’s owners will again be in a panic after he caught just three passes for 44 yards in Sunday’s win. Take advantage and make him your new WR1/2 at a WR2/3 price. TE Jordan Cameron — The same is true of Gordon’s teammate. Cameron’s owners stopped believing in him the second Brian Hoyer went down for the season, but Cameron hasn’t stopped producing. Don’t dramatize his one-catch Week 9. It was a bad game. Every player has them. Cameron is and was a top-five tight end.
Week 9 Fantasy All Pro Team: QB Nick Foles, RB Zac Stacy, RB Chris Johnson, WR Andre Johnson, WR T.Y. Hilton, WR Riley Cooper, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Jimmy Graham
Most Absurd Moment of Week 9: This throw from Jeff Tuel should suffice, wouldn’t you say?
Least Valuable Player, Non-Jeff Tuel Division: Ray Rice, what are you doing with your life?
Get well, Gary Kubiak and John Fox. Get gone, Richie Incognito.