Week Nine was another strange one around the NFL, filled with backup QBs and bench-clearing brawls. Here’s all you need to know about what happened in Sunday’s slate of games.
Once again, the Falcons blew a double-digit lead, though this one was not nearly as egregious as their Super Bowl gaffe. After leading 10-0 in the first quarter, the Falcons managed just one more score for the remainder of the game, while the Panthers relied on the play-making ability of their two best players, QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey. Newton had very modest passing numbers of 137 yards and no touchdowns, but he did lead the team with 86 rushing yards and a touchdown. McCaffrey was heavily involved as the game went on, partially due to a pair of lost fumbles by starting RB Jonathan Stewart. McCaffrey ended with a career-high 66 rushing yards and totaled 94 yards and a touchdown in the game. In their first game following the trade of WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills, WR Devin Funchess predictably led the team in receiving with five grabs for 86 yards. WRs Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard were being pegged for increased playing time, but it didn’t happen in this game. Samuel totaled 37 yards on four touches and Shepard didn’t catch either of his targets in the game.
Atlanta had a clear plan to feed their best player WR Julio Jones and that is just what QB Matt Ryan did, looking for his star wideout a dozen times. Jones caught six of those for 188 scoreless yards, but dropped a sure thing deep touchdown that was the difference in the game. More than once, Jones limped off the field, only to return quickly. WR Mohamed Sanu was once again quietly impressive, catching all three of his targets for 23 yards and a touchdown. It was not a string day for the Atlanta running game. Starter Devonta Freeman managed just 46 rushing yards, along with 18 receiving yards. RB Tevin Coleman did add a late touchdown, but totaled only 24 yards in the game.
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In a battle of backup QBs, the Colts Jacoby Brissett easily outperformed Houston’s Week One starter Tom Savage and Indy held on to get the win, shutting Houston down in the red zone in the final seconds. The star of the day for the Colts was WR T.Y. Hilton, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of Brissett’s yardage, catching five passes for 175 yards and two scores, including an 80-yard touchdown in which the Texans defense let up after Hilton was apparently tackled. Hilton jumped up and finished the play and the touchdown was upheld after review. There was not much offense from the Colts' other fantasy-relevant players as RB Frank Gore totaled 77 scoreless yards, rookie RB Marlon Mack put up 29 rushing yards and TE Jack Doyle caught eight balls for 63 yards. Prior to the game, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Colts expect injured QB Andrew Luck to be ready for the 2018 season. This situation just keeps getting worse as some are suggesting there could be long-term ramifications for this injury.
Playing their first game after breakout star QB Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL, ending his season, the Texans offense was predictably out of sync. QB Tom Savage was very slow starting but did finish with 219 yards and a touchdown pass. He will clearly limit the rest of this offense as long as he’s in the lineup. Many expect Houston to lean on RB Lamar Miller instead of the passing game, but he managed just 51 rushing yards, along with 34 yards on three receptions. Rookie RB D’Onta Foreman actually drew more carries than Miller, 11-10. WR DeAndre Hopkins again relied on massive volume to post a respectable stat line. He caught six of his 16 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown. As expected, deep threat WR Will Fuller was the key victim of the loss of Watson, catching two of eight targets for 32 yards, his touchdown streak ending.
One of the few close games of the day saw the Titans outlast the Ravens in an ugly game lacking much offensive power for either team. Titans RB DeMarco Murray was in and out of the lineup for much of the day and finished with only 41 total yards. Backup RB Derrick Henry nearly split the touches evenly and only a short rushing touchdown saved his fantasy day as he ran eight times for 26 yards. TE Delanie Walker, who was questionable to even play, led the team with 71 yards on five receptions, while WR Rishard Matthews posted a 4/70/1 line. Rookie WR Corey Davis returned after missing over a month, catching two passes for 28 yards. QB Marcus Mariota had 218 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but continues to be a non-factor in the running game.
Veteran WR Jeremy Maclin (8/98) continues to establish himself as the team’s top option, even with the return of WRs Mike Wallace (4/19/1) and Breshad Perriman (3/28). Fresh off his Thursday night coming out party, lumbering RB Alex Collins rushed for only 43 yards on 13 carries. RB Buck Allen did almost nothing through three quarters, but woke up in the fourth and finished with 65 total yards and a touchdown. QB Joe Flacco, playing just over a week after being on the wrong side of a massive hit from Miami’s Kiko Alonso, which knocked him out of the game, put up one of his better statistical performances of the season, throwing for a season-high 261 yards and a pair of scores.
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Although the Eagles were one of the hottest teams in the NFL, entering the week as the league’s only seven-win team, there were many doubts about the team facing off against the Broncos' tough defense. QB Carson Wentz and company quickly proved there was nothing to worry about, posting 31 first-half points and then pouring it on in the second-half. Wentz did whatever he wanted all day, making 199 passing yards and four scores look easy. WR Alshon Jeffery was a force, turning 11 targets into a 6/84/2 stat line and locking up a top three fantasy finish among all receivers. TE Zach Ertz was a surprise inactive, opening the door for talented backup Trey Burton, who caught a pair of balls for 41 yards and a score. Rookie RB Corey Clement saw the most carries, despite the addition of former Dolphin RB Jay Ajayi and turned his playing time into three touchdowns. It was reported that Ajayi’s playing time would be limited in his Eagles debut, but he carried eight times for 77 yards, thanks to a 46-yard touchdown run. With LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood also chipping in, this backfield will be difficult to project from week to week.
The struggling Broncos turned to their former starter QB Brock Osweiler to once again lead the way and he predictably disappointed, throwing for 208 yards, one touchdown and a pair of picks. He targeted WR Demaryius Thomas 12 times, which was good for an 8/70/1 line, the first touchdown of the season for DT. WR Emmanuel Sanders returned from an injury absence but caught just one pass for 30 yards. The Broncos have many issues, but the lack of effectiveness in the running game is chief among them. Starter C.J. Anderson rushed nine time for 13 yards and backup RB Devontae Booker out-produced him. Anderson is likely to see fewer touches going forward if he can’t turn things around.
New Orleans- 30
Tampa Bay- 10
The Saints dominated the game from the start and rookie RB Alvin Kamara dominated the Buccaneers defense as the Saints easily won a division game. QB Drew Brees had yet another good, not great passing day as he threw for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This was a blowup spot for Brees and he didn’t blow up. Kamara and starting RB Mark Ingram continued to lead the way for the Saints offense. The rookie totaled 152 yards and two touchdowns, while Ingram posted 79 yards, playing little role in the passing game. WR Michael Thomas again led the team in targets with 11, catching eight for 65 yards and WR Ted Ginn made another big play, catching a 36-yard score among his total 59 yards. Ginn also just missed on a potential 80-yard score from Brees.
The Bucs had almost no offensive flow and didn’t find the end zone until garbage time. After a poor first-half, Tampa sat injured starting QB Jameis Winston, replacing him with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Winston totaled just 67 passing yards in the first-half, but we’d see more from him before this game concluded. All aspects of the Tampa offense were ineffective Sunday with RB Doug Martin rushing eight times for seven yards. He was outrushed by four other Bucs, including both QBs and WR DeSean Jackson, who had one carry. Jackson led the team in receiving, but it only took 25 yards. Star WR Mike Evans had a dud, recording just one catch for 13 yards. Evans did most of his damage in the second-half when Winston and Saints rookie DB Marshon Lattimore were exchanging words near the Bucs sideline. Winston finally poked Lattimore’s helmet and when the rookie turned around to respond, Evans essentially tackled him from behind. Somehow, Evans was not ejected but we could hear from the league on this incident. Even reliable TE Cameron Brate was a dud, catching one pass for nine yards.
The Bengals superstar WR A.J. Green was not a good fantasy play on Sunday, facing a stingy Jaguars defense, but he made things even worse when he reacted and attacked Jags DB Jalen Ramsey, putting the defender in a choke hold, slamming him to the ground and then throwing multiple punches to the helmet. Of course, this ignited a huge brawl and resulted on both Green and Ramsey being ejected. Green caught just one pass for six yards before getting the boot. This was the only fight the Bengals showed all day as Jacksonville easily cruised to a win. QB Andy Dalton faced a tough matchup as shown by his scoreless 136 yards. Rookie RB Joe Mixon controlled the backfield after veteran RB Jeremy Hill suffered a pre-game injury and was inactive. Mixon totaled just 46 yards, but did score Cincy’s only touchdown of the day. TE Tyler Kroft had another productive day with a 2/79 line. Rookie WR John Ross was a healthy scratch and is starting to earn a bust label. He can be dumped in seasonal leagues and is siphoning dynasty value by the week.
The Jaguars shocked the fantasy football world when they made rookie RB Leonard Fournette one of their inactives due to a violation of team rules. Veteran RB Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon stepped in for the superstar and totaled 110 rushing yards and 31 carries. As he has all year, WR Marqise Lee served as the team’s top receiver, hauling in eight passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. QB Blake Bortles threw the ball more than he has in many games, totaling 259 passing yards. Following the game, HC Doug Marrone announced that Fournette would play next week.
LA Rams- 51
NY Giants- 17
The Rams and QB Jared Goff absolutely embarrassed the Giants defense. With 27 first-half points, Goff didn’t need to do much after the break and by early in the fourth-quarter, Goff was on the bench and backup Sean Mannion was finishing things off. Goff finished with 311 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Due to the blowout, RBs Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown finished with a near even split, but Gurley produced two rushing scores and 104 total yards. WR Robert Woods caught four of five targets for 70 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Sammy Watkins managed just one grab, but it went for a 67-yard score. Tight ends continue to be impossible for the Giants to defend as Tyler Higbee caught a touchdown pass and rookie Gerald Everett hauled in a 44-yard strike.
It’s no surprise, but there is little to be excited about when it comes to the Giants offense. Rookie TE Evan Engram continues to be the top target for QB Eli Manning and finished with a 4/70/1 line, assuring himself of another finish among the top five fantasy TEs. WR Sterling Shepard returned from his injury absence to lead the team with 70 receiving yards on five receptions.
San Francisco- 10
A battle of backup QBs was won by QB Drew Stanton, who threw for 201 yards and a pair of scores. This game was really about veteran RB Adrian Peterson, who set a new career-high with 37 carries, good for 159 scoreless yards. We were promised a heavy dose of AP and Arizona delivered. Veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald also had a productive game with five catches and 70 yards.
With dead man walking rookie QB C.J. Beathard under center, the 49ers had almost no offense to speak of on the day. RB Carlos Hyde was the only real weapon for the Niners, leading the team in rushing (41 yards) and receiving (84 yards) before getting involved with the third fight of the day around the league and earning a disqualification for the game’s final minutes. In the Niners' first game without WR Pierre Garcon, who was placed on the injured reserve list earlier in the week, Hyde led the team with 11 targets, followed by eight each for WRs Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. WR Trent Taylor was a trendy deep sleeper pick this week, but recorded just two receptions for 22 yards before leaving the game with a rib injury. Hyde looks like a locked in RB1 for the second-half of the season despite the team’s winless record. San Francisco hosts the Giants next week, which could be a spot to earn their first win. HC Kyle Shanahan has a decision to make at the quarterback spot after the Niners traded for former Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo last week.
While it was a low-scoring matchup, just 10-2 entering the fourth quarter, the Redskins/Seahawks game was one of the most entertaining of the day. Both quarterbacks excelled in the final period as QB Russell Wilson led his team to a late score and QB Kirk Cousins matched the touchdown drive to win the game. Cousins threw for 247 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown pass, limiting his fantasy production. In the fantasy anomaly of the day, Redskins RB Rob Kelley carried 14 times for 18 yards, but scored twice, including the game-winner with just over a minute remaining. RB Chris Thompson led the Skins in rushing, but only totaled 31 yards in the game. With TE Jordan Reed out of the lineup, veteran TE Vernon Davis filled in nicely, leading the Redskins with a 6/72 line. Davis is a TE1 anytime Reed is out and is still playable even when the starter is healthy. WR Josh Doctson continues to slowly work towards establishing himself and he made a huge catch leading to the game-winning score. Doctson finished with three catches for 59 yards.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson put up big numbers in the final quarter and finished with 297 yards and a pair of scores and even led the team in rushing. Veteran RB Eddie Lacy, who was expected to carry the load this week, suffered an early groin injury and did not return. Wilson had 77 rushing yards and RB Thomas Rawls also ran well, gaining 39 yards on nine carries. With Lacy again dealing with an injury and Seattle facing a quick turnaround for a Thursday night Week 10 game, Rawls could draw the start. Wilson pass-catchers continue to put up big numbers even in a relatively low-scoring game. WR Doug Baldwin had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, while TE Jimmy Graham posted a 5/59 line. WRs Paul Richardson (3/41) and Tyler Lockett (2/10) were the players who suffered due to the low-scoring game.
Kansas City- 17
The Chiefs' cold streak continues as they couldn’t quite hang with the Cowboys in Dallas, succumbing to a 28-17 defeat. The Chiefs had nothing going before a last-second touchdown to WR Tyreek Hill to end the first-half. Hill took a short pass from QB Alex Smith the distance, making the score 14-10 at the break. Hill would finish with 64 yards on two receptions. It was also a quiet game for rookie RB Kareem Hunt, totaling 61 yards. His cumulative numbers for the season are still excellent, but he’s hit a rookie wall. Over the past month, Hunt is the RB13. There’s no shame in that rank, but it is far off his early season pace. TE Travis Kelce delivered with a 7/73/1 line for the game.
The Cowboys were again led by MVP candidate QB Dak Prescott who threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns, adding in 27 rushing yards and another score. RB Ezekiel Elliott was awarded a stay to play in the game and finished with 93 rushing yards and a touchdown. This might have been Zeke’s last game until Week 16. WR Dez Bryant was in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury, which was later determined to be a sprained ankle. His status for Week 10 could be iffy. WR Terrance Williams posted the Cowboys' first 100-yard receiving game all season, catching nine of nine targets for 141 yards. Dez still had a productive game with a 6/73 line. WR Cole Beasley (4/24/2) caught both touchdowns from Prescott and TE Jason Witten (1/5) was shut down.
Although the Sunday Night matchup was competitive from start to finish, the Oakland Raiders remained in control throughout, getting a much-needed win over the Dolphins. Veteran RB Marshawn Lynch returned from his one-game suspension to play possibly his best game of the season, rushing for a pair of scores and 57 yards. QB Derek Carr threw for exactly 300 yards, along with one score. While WRs Michael Crabtree (3/40) and Amari Cooper (4/58) were held in check, TE Jared Cook was dominant, catching eight balls for 126 yards.
We knew the Dolphins offense would look different following the surprising trade of starting RB Jay Ajayi. In his place, RB Damien Williams totaled 61 yards and was heavily involved in the Miami passing games. RB Kenyan Drake was the team’s top runner, gaining 69 yards on just nine carries. He also added 35 receiving yards. WR DeVante Parker returned to the field after missing time with an ankle injury and contributed five catches for 76 yards. WR Jarvis Landry stayed hot with another touchdown, but only had 32 receiving yards on six catches. Finally, the Dolphins were also led in receiving by their starting TE Julius Thomas on a 6/84/1 line.