Week 9 was quite a way to kick off the back half of the fantasy season. There were exciting finishes, surprising upsets, near upsets, high scoring games, and some backup quarterbacks had their moment to shine under the bright lights.
A Quick Snapshot
Sunday was action-packed, but some games stood out more than others during this week's slate of games.
The Bills embarrassed the Seahawks in a 44-34 victory. QB Russell Wilson decided to stay out of the kitchen this week completing only 28 of his 41 attempts and throwing two interceptions. He was sacked five times for a loss of 28 yards. Josh Allen, on the other hand, threw 415 yards on 31 completions, three touchdowns, and even rushed one in himself.
The Dolphins-Cardinals came right down the bitter end with a missed field goal by the Cardinals’ Zane Gonzalez. The Dolphins pulled out a 34-31 victory despite missing RBs Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida. QB Tua Tagovailoa gets more and more comfortable each week he's out on the field. He completed 20 of his 28 attempts for 248 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. As much as it shocked us to see QB Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled, the change is starting to make more sense.
The Panthers-Chiefs game had a head-scratching start with the Chiefs playing from behind and having to settle for field goals. Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater threw over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but it was the return of RB Christian McCaffrey that stole the show. He rushed 18 times for 69 yards and a touchdown but was targeted 10 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. Despite being ahead 17-13 at the half, the Chiefs came back to get the victory in a suspenseful 33-31 finish.
The Steelers nearly lost to the beleaguered Cowboys who found new life with QB Garrett Gilbert at the helm. He threw 21 completions on 38 attempts for 243 yards and a touchdown but just his presence seemed to ignite something within the Cowboys that you could see on the field. It’s also a great storyline to see Gilbert in the NFL after crushing it for the Orlando Apollos in the AAF. The Steelers were caught on their heels but managed to stave off a last-minute comeback attempt to remain undefeated. I should also note that Pittsburgh's kicker kicked a 48-yard field goal but couldn’t make two extra-point attempts.
Speaking of new QBs, the Jacksonville Jaguars featured Jake Luton as their new piece under center against the Houston Texans. For anyone who started the Texans Defense in the hopes that Luton would stumble, I am sorry. I am there, too. Luton burst onto the scene with over 20 fantasy points, slicing Houston’s secondary to ribbons with over 300 yards passing. WR D.J. Chark put up 146 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown. The Texans would not be outdone in terms of scoring as they came away with the 27-25 victory, but I did not see that performance coming from the Jaguars. It puts Gardner Minshew’s future in serious jeopardy moving forward.
The Giants defeated the Washington Football Team to advance to 2-7. Their only two wins this year are against Washington. QB Kyle Allen went down with a bad ankle injury and Alex Smith had his shot the rest of the game. He threw 24 completions on 32 attempts for 325 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions. Even so, the Giants barely took the victory 23-20.
Despite looking far better than their record, the Chargers found a way to lose. Again. The game was an exciting back forth matchup against Las Vegas. The Raiders combined a heavy run game with some surprising and gutsy plays by QB Derek Carr. Charger QB Justin Herbert got nearly every pass-catcher involved and RB Kalen Ballage was even a thing. He rushed 15 times (compared to Josh Kelly’s nine attempts) for 69 yards and a touchdown after an early injury to Justin Jackson took him out of the game. Herbert manufactured a final drive with just a few seconds left on the game, but backup TE Donald Parham could not hold onto the game-winning touchdown pass. To make it dramatic, it was called a touchdown on the field but was reversed upon further review. The game went down to the bitter end.
Let’s not forget the matchup between two of the best quarterbacks in the league during primetime Sunday night football. The Saints-Buccaneers game promised to be a high-scoring affair with the plethora of talent on both teams. Well, it was certainly high scoring, but only for the Saints. The Bucs were nearly shut out, save a field goal, in a game where New Orleans completely and utterly dominated Tom Brady and Tampa Bay in a 38-3 victory. Brady had pressure in his face the entire game, was sacked three times and threw three interceptions with zero touchdowns. It was a beat down. It was also Brady’s worse loss of his career.
At this rate, Monday night football featuring the 2-5 Patriots at the 0-8 Jets could be a total barn-burner.
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Tom Brady (QB - TB)
Chris Godwin (WR - TB)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB - KC)
D’Andre Swift (RB - DET)
Michael Thomas (WR - NO)
Tyler Lockett (WR - SEA)
Curtis Samuel (WR - CAR)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR - PIT)
While we had some strange games this week, we also have some intriguing opportunities when it comes to trade targets. Brady and WR Chris Godwin, who would normally be unattainable, may just be the ticket to winning your fantasy championship. Not only do the Bucs have one of the best schedules for QBs and WRs during Weeks 14-16, but their blow-out loss may provide the push needed to get them. Godwin has been disappointing this year with injuries and a shaky start with Brady at QB. I’m not saying it will be easy, but having either of those two (preferably both) could spell W-I-N for your squad.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is another target you should look for. Le’Veon Bell has not been the threat that so many were worried about, but Edwards-Helaire has been underwhelming. He had a 6.1-point finish in Week 8 and a touchdown saved this week’s performance with 12.4 in PPR. You can capitalize by trading away a big name performance (like JuJu Smith-Schuster) and get him on your squad. He is consistent at a position that has very little depth.
Along the same vein is targeting the Lions' D’Andre Swift. His last two performances haven’t been much to write home about after two games with back-to-back touchdowns. He still scored 12.7 points and was involved in both the running and passing game and their playoff schedule is juicy.
In addition to Godwin, some other elite WRs you can target is Michael Thomas and Tyler Lockett. Thomas hasn’t played since Week 1 and didn’t do much for fantasy GMs his first week back. Lockett is playing the second fiddle to DK Metcalf and both allow you to swoop in and alleviate their managers’ woes and take them off their hands.
Of course, when you trade for a player, you should offer some value in return if you have any hope of that trade going through. I already mentioned Smith-Schuster who finally found the end zone against the Cowboys. With so many talented players around him, it’s hard to imagine he will suddenly be sustainable each week moving forward.
The same idea holds for Panthers WR Curtis Samuel. He has scored 17.3, 21.4 and 26.8 points in the last three games. If you have depth at WR and need a heavy hitter, he could be the perfect option. Don’t forget, WRs Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are still on the team and healthy and Samuel’s volume is far from guaranteed.
Speaking of no guaranteed volume, it’s time to move on from the Ravens and the Broncos backfields. There is a small window of opportunity here to get the best value out of J.K. Dobbins while fantasy GMs are getting excited about the rookie getting more work. However, the Ravens still haven’t changed much with their offense and Mark Ingram isn’t out for the season. Trading either Lindsay or Gordon may be a tough sell after this week, but keep them on the block moving forward. They may provide an excellent bundle piece to get a deal done.
Every league’s trade deadline is different, so make sure you know when that time is. It’s never too late to start preparing for the playoffs, either. Even though you’re looking at least four weeks ahead, getting the conversation started in a trade now shouldn’t hurt.
Always remember to trade away a player when their value is at their highest if you want to get the best possible player in return. Also, don’t offer garbage. Just don’t be that person. Check out your league mate’s rosters, identify their needs and your own, and see if a deal can be made.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured during the game. He did return and finish, but we will keep an eye on his status moving toward Week 10. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford left the game early under the concussion protocol. ... Colts TE Jack Doyle left the game early after a big hit from the Ravens. ... Texans RB David Johnson was ruled out of the game with a concussion. ... Washington QB Kyle Allen was carted off the field with a dislocated ankle. ... Broncos TE Noah Fant limped off the field but was able to return and finish the game.