Oakland Raiders @ San Francisco 49ers
Vegas Insight: 49ers 24, Raiders 21.5
I’m not going to separate this game by position like I normally do, and it’s solely because this is a classing ugly Thursday night football game. Unless you’re a Raiders or 49ers fan, the only people watching this game will be people who are degening the single game showdown slates, and I have no interest here whatsoever in the Thursday-Monday slates. It looks like Nick Mullens is going to start with CJ Beathard looking unlikely to play, but he is listed as game-time decision so there is a shot that he ends up being active. George Kittle is the clear top overall play in this game, which speaks to how ugly the game truly is, a tight end is the best play in the game? Wooooo, boy. Doug Martin was actually surprisingly good for the Raiders last week racking up 5.5 YPC, and if we get a scenario where Beathard doesn’t play and the 49ers lay an egg the game-script will benefit him even though I want to attack the 49ers through the air. If you’re playing the showdown slate, I would be looking at the Quarterback’s, Marquise Goodwin, Jared Cook, Defenses and then some fliers on Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, Matt Breida and Seth Roberts. Bleck.
Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Redskins
Vegas Insight: Redskins 24.5, Falcons 23
Quarterback: With a 47.5 O/U, this game is not at the top of my list but it’s not exactly the worst either. The Redskins are somehow 5-2, so this should be a good game from a real-life standpoint. Matt Ryan has been pretty underwhelming on the road this season, and this Redskins defense ranks 13th against the pass according to Football Outsiders DVOA. The Redskins game-plan has been to run the ball and it has worked thus far (see their record) so I don’t exactly love the pace of this game either.
Running Back: While the Redskins secondary has been good, their run-defense has been exceptional as well. They’ve stuffed named like Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley in recent weeks, and Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith continue to cannibalize each other enough that neither sticks out as a quality play each week.
Adrian Peterson turned back the clock last Sunday running for 149 yards and a touchdown, while also catching a touchdown. His price has come way up, but we love attacking the Falcons with running backs and Chris Thompson still hasn’t practiced this week (as of Thursday). If Thompson is out, I have to consider Peterson for tournaments and if Thompson is in, both become GPP options.
Pass Catchers: The play I feel strongest about in this game is Julio Jones, he still SOMEHOW has not scored a touchdown, but he leads the NFL in receiving yards per game. On DraftKings in a full point PPR scenario, with a 100 yard bonus, it’s easy for him to crush value even without finding the end zone. I’m not sure if we will have the money to spend, but I’m putting him in my cash game pool for now.
On the Redskins side, Jordan Reed is the only play I can get behind in this group. I’m assuming Jamison Crowder will still be out, and the likes of Josh Doctso and Paul Richardson have been extremely underwhelming. I think Smith could end up having a nice day, but they want to ground and pound and unless you’re making 20+ teams I don’t see any reason to go here.
Cash Game Outlook: Julio Jones
GPP Outlook: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
Vegas Insight: Dolphins 24, Jets 21
Quarterback: This is one of the most boring games on the Week 9 main slate, so I’m going to group most of the sections together out of non-interest. Both Sam Darnold and Brock Osweiler have been underwhelming from a fantasy perspective, and even though Darnold had his best game of the season against this Dolphins defense we simply cannot attack them in daily fantasy, unless you were taking some 1% owned MME shots.
Running Back: If you are looking to attack this game, it’s going to come at the running back position. As much as I like Trenton Cannon and Eli McGuire in real-life, they can’t be counted on to siphon too much usage away from Crowell and he is still affordable for the workload he should receive. We have attacked this Dolphins team on the ground all season and even thought it’s Crowell it’s in play for GPPs.
Kenyan Drake is still losing work to Frank Gore, but it’s quietly getting less and less as the weeks go on. He’s looked really good the past three weeks and he has the type of upside that can break a slate at sub-5% ownership if he finds the end zone.
Pass Catchers: I don’t see any reason to go here given the QB’s in this game and the matchups, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are both still banged up, and Danny Amendola has been non-existent with Osweiler at the helm.
Cash Game Outlook: None
GPP Outlook: Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Crowell
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns
Vegas Insight: Chiefs 29.5, Browns 21.5
Quarterback: This is probably the third or fourth best overall game of the weekend, but it will definitely fall behind TB/CAR and LAR/NO. As I noted with Ben Roethlisberger last week, the place to attack the Browns as of late has been on the ground especially since they have failed to be able to stay in games. Jameis Winston is the only guy to post a real monster fantasy game against Cleveland recently, and that was in an overtime shootout. I don’t see the Browns being able to stay close at all in this one, which should result in a big first half from Mahomes but maybe it falls off a bit after that. He’s playable in all formats, but I’ll deploy him as GPP-only this weekend.
As for Baker Mayfield, he has fallen victim to truly abysmal offensive line play and the result has seen his YPA drop over two full yards in his last two games. They should be in catch-up mode early in this one, but with the way this offense has played I cannot trust him for fantasy right now.
Running Back: Homecoming narrative #1: Kareem Hunt. Hunt has returned to his rookie year form over the last month, he’s much more involved in the passing game and the Browns have been gashed on the ground in recent weeks. This is no surprise, given the Browns defense has literally played an extra game given all their overtime contests and with the blitz-heavy play-calling of Gregg Williams. Hunt is a Cleveland native, and the game-script should benefit him in this one as well, in a game where he definitely will want to show out for his family. He’s neck-and-neck with Christian McCaffrey as a top cash game play this week.
Nick Chubb has been the lone bright spot for the Browns in recent weeks, he grades out extremely strong according to Pro Football Focus and has seen 17+ touches in both games as the starter despite trailing in both. It remains to be seen how Freddie Kitchens plans to get Duke Johnson involved in the offense, but for now we can consider Chubb in all formats at his price in a matchup with the 32nd ranked run-defense (DVOA).
Pass Catchers: Homecoming narrative #2: Travis Kelce. Kelce is also a Cleveland native, and he always is sure to rep Cleveland and you know he’s going to want to put on a show in front of his “home” crowd on Sunday. I already wanted to find a way to play him in cash games, but now with Tyreek Hill looking out or at least limited due to a groin injury it interests me even more. I still don’t know if it will be possible, but I’m tagging him as a cash game play as of now. Sammy Watkins has been surprisingly consistent as of late, and if Hill is limited like I just noted that would bump him into the cash game range at his price.
The Browns pass catchers have been equally as underwhelming as Baker Mayfield in recent weeks, but it does look like Rashard Higgins will be able to return this week. You can look at Jarvis Landry or Njoku in tournaments, but I’m pretty much off the Browns offense here outside of Nick Chubb.
Cash Game Outlook: Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Nick Chubb
GPP Outlook: Patrick Mahomes, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
Vegas Insight: Vikings 27, Lions 22.5
Quarterback: I love the 49.5 O/U listed in this game, and even though it’s a divisional contest I expect a good amount of points here. I want to be interested in Matt Stafford, I do, but given how the Lions have been running their offense I’m going to shy away from him. They’re playing slow, and they want to run the ball, and that doesn’t make for a ceiling-type output which is what we need in our tournaments.
Kirk Cousins on the other hand has had no issues throwing the ball, which is funny because they have featured pass-heavy game plans most weeks outside of last week when they faced the number one run-defense…makes sense. Cousins has had one of the highest floors at the QB position and is a great tournament play in Week 9.
Running Back: Kerryon Johnson has seen his snap-count rise in each week without Theo Riddick, and he has gotten increasingly more involved in the passing game. Riddick has been limited in practice all week, and if he happens to miss this game again that would thrust Johnson into the tournament conversation. If the matchup was better, I would consider him for cash games.
Latavius Murray has been really strong for the Vikings over the past three weeks, topping 18 fantasy points in all three contests. The Lions traded for Snacks Harrison to help shore up their run-defense, but they are still allowing the most yards per game on the ground through eight weeks of the season. You could probably throw Murray into the cash game pool, but I’m keeping him as tourney only for now.
Pass Catchers: The Lions sold off Golden Tate at the trade deadline, paving the way for more targets to funnel to Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. If Xavier Rhodes (day-to-day) is active I do expect him to follow around Marvin Jones, which would put the bulk of my interest in Kenny Golladay. If Rhodes is out, you can certainly look at Jones who is coming off his best game of the season and has been near the top of the league in end zone targets this season.
Adam Thielen has went over 100 receiving yards in every game this season and also leads the team in red zone looks. He’s the best WR in football right now and is playable every week in all formats. You can certainly look at Stefon Diggs in tournaments for the upside as well, he has a strong history against the Lions and like I said, I do expect the Vikings to put up points in this spot.
Cash Game Outlook: Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph (Cheap TE)
GPP Outlook: Latavius Murray, Stefon Diggs, Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, Kirk Cousins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
Vegas Insight: Panthers 30, Bucs 24
Quarterback: With a big 54.5 O/U in Vegas, this is the premier game in terms of fantasy for the early set of games, and probably falls short to only the Rams/Saints game. Ryan Fitzpatrick is taking back over as the starter for Jameis Winston after Winston was benched for throwing too many interceptions…after Fitzpatrick was benched for throwing too many interceptions. What a cycle! Regardless, Fitzpatrick was huge early on in the season and Winston didn’t skip a beat fantasy wise, whoever is the QB in this offense is going to have value given all of their weapons and they’re going to be thrown into shootouts weekly. I don’t think we are going to need him in cash games, but he’s near the top of my GPP QB list right now.
Cam on the other hand, is set up as one of the top quarterback options on the week. We have attacked this Buccaneers secondary relentlessly and I’m not going to stop now, they’re allowing the most passing yards per game in the NFL and I’ve always talked about how valuable Cam is given his rushing floor. He’s a solid bet for 20+ fantasy points in an expected shootout and is one of the top overall options in all formats.
Running Back: I am interested in some Bucs players this week, but they aren’t coming at the running back position. Jacquizz Rodgers stepped into the pass-catching role once Ronald Jones went down last week, but I’m going to be avoiding this as a whole.
McCaffrey has seen his price drop below $8,000 on DraftKings, which has put him firmly in play for me in all formats. The Buccaneers run-defense has been extremely banged up in recent weeks, and they rank bottom-ten against catches out of the backfield this season. You can pair Newton with McCaffrey in cash games, or use CMC as a way to get Panthers exposure if you choose to drop off Cam for my favorite QB options, which we will get to later.
Pass Catchers: Mike Evans was on fire to start the season with Fitzmagic at the helm of the offense, and you can certainly use him as a stacking partner with Fitz in tournaments this week. I really like this as a leverage play, with so many people focusing on Cam/McCaffrey and the Panthers pass catchers. I have to mentioned OJ Howard as a cash game option as well, he has scored in two of his last three games and has been one of the most reliable tight ends in fantasy football over the past month.
If we like Cam Newton so much, we obviously are going to be interested in the guys catching passes from him. Devin Funchess is coming off a tough 3-27 line against a really good Ravens secondary, and there’s no better matchup for him to get back on track this week. I think he is playable in all formats, but will probably get over-shadowed by rookie DJ Moore should Torrey Smith misses again. Moore posted a 5-90 line last week on six targets and was a clear beneficiary of Smith being out. He’s mega-athletic and should be able to burn this Bucs secondary if he’s on the field…and he is still under-priced across the industry.
Cash Game Outlook: Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Devin Funchess, DJ Moore (If Smith Out), OJ Howard, Greg Olsen
GPP Outlook: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson
Chicago Bears @ Buffalo Bills
Vegas Insight: Bears 23.75, Bills 13.75
Quarterback: As you can tell by the Vegas information, this is going to a truly brutal game. I will say though, with the Bears traveling to Buffalo agants a really strong defense this certainly could be even lower scoring than is projected. Mitchell Trubisky has thrown for two or more touchdowns in four straight games, with 20+ fantasy points in all of them. He’s been extremely consistent, but I’m not going to be targeting him on the road against an above-average defense.
The Bills are probably going to be without Derek Anderson, which means Nathan Peterman will start and they brought in Matt Barkley for emergency backup…yeah, that’s all you need to know.
Running Back: I do think if you really wanted exposure to this game you can look at the backfields. The one place this Bills defense has been vulnerable has been to pass-catching running backs and that definitely suits Tarik Cohen. Matt Nagy has been very good with adjusting his game plans for each opponent so we could see a steady diet of Cohen early on in this one. Shady McCoy has finally been getting the touches, which makes him a GPP play weekly but even without Khalil Mack (if he misses) this Bears defense has absolutely shut down opposing running games.
Pass Catchers: Given the Bills QB situation, I won’t be looking at any of their pass catchers this week and for the time being. On the Bears side, you could make the case for Trey Burton at tight end, or Anthony Miller if Allen Robinson is out again, but with loads of value at wide receiver this week that seems a bit thin to me.
Cash Game Outlook: None
GPP Outlook: Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Anthony Miller (If Robinson Out)
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos
Vegas Insight: Broncos 23.5, Texans 22.5
Quarterback: This is a relatively boring game fantasy-wise, but there is one play I expect to be massively owned which we will get to in a second. Deshaun Watson welcomes Demaryius Thomas to his team, but also watches Will Fuller head to IR with a torn ACL. Broncos corner Bradley Roby is out for this game, so I could see firing up Watson in a GPP, but on the road in Denver I have him firmly behind Mahomes, Fitzpatrick and Cousins in my GPP tier.
I could see the case for playing Case Keenum at his price on DraftKings in tournaments however, the Texans numbers look fantastic against Quarterback’s but they also haven’t really been tested. One of Keenum’s receivers is going to be mega-owned, so Keenum makes sense as a leverage punt.
Running Back: The Broncos have been gashed in recent weeks on the ground, and even though the matchup is good I don’t see myself having much interest in Lamar Miller as a road dog.
I would love to play Phillip Lindsay in tournaments this week, but that’s going to be contingent on whether or not Royce Freeman is active. If he plays, that bumps Lindsay off my tourney core.
Pass Catchers: DeAndre Hopkins will definitely benefit target-wise with Will Fuller out, but he was already a top GPP play anyways. He definitely will fall behind guys like Julio Jones and Michael Thomas in ownership, so you certainly can target him, even if you aren’t using Watson.
Courtland Sutton is your uber-chalk play, which I touched up on in my cash game article as well. Demaryius Thomas is now out of town, and that opens the door for Sutton to see increased targets and he already was getting red zone work. Given the ownership, I love pivoting to Emmanuel Sanders in tournaments, and that would probably be where I went with a Keenum stack.
Cash Game Outlook: Courtland Sutton
GPP Outlook: Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, DeAndre Hopkins
Los Angeles Chargers @ Seattle Seahawks
Vegas Insight: Seahawks 24.5, Chargers 23.5
Quarterback: I’m pretty surprised that this game features an O/U over 45 points, and I do expect it to go under. Philip Rivers has been as consistent as he’s ever been this season with two or more touchdowns in every game thus far, but I have severely under-estimated how good this Seahawks defense would be this season. They like to run the ball as well, and I don’t see the pace in this game being high enough turn shootout.
Russell Wilson has been hyper-efficient this season, but I really have no interest in him with the weapons surrounding him as long as he isn’t running the ball, which he hasn’t at all this season.
Running Back: Weirdly enough, again I feel like if you are attacking this game it has to be in the backfields. Melvin Gordon should be back after missing their game in London and with names like Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey at the forefront of ownership this week nobody is going to touch him. This makes him an elite tournament play, with the ability to hit 30+ fantasy points every time he takes the field.
Chris Carson has gone over 100 rushing yards in three of his last four games, and has another strong matchup on the ground against the Chargers. He sees basically no passing game usage, which makes him a tough DraftKings swallow, but he falls right in the Murray/Chubb tier for cash games.
Pass Catchers: I’m not in love with anything here outside of some tournament shots, and it’s going to come on the Chargers side. Keenan Allen could rack up 6+ catchers in this matchup and he seems a bit due for a big performance, and Tyrell Williams has as much upside as anyone in GPPs.
Cash Game Outlook: Chris Carson
GPP Outlook: Melvin Gordon
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints
Vegas Insight: Rams 30.5, Saints 29.5
Quarterback: This game is literally the class of the slate, with an outrageously high 60 O/U, something that you rarely see in the NFL. Pretty much everyone in this game is playable in some format, and the biggest debate comes with Jared Goff. I ended up with Goff in cash games last weekend, and now we have a situation where he is just $6,000 again, in this game environment, and Cam Newton as the main chalk QB. I have no issues going with Goff in cash games, and it’s something I’m going to debate up until Sunday.
Given Sean Payton’s tendency to insert Taysom Hill in the red zone, that has eliminated Brees from the cash game range for me. That being said, this is a classic shootout environment at home for Brees and he is a top tournament option.
Running Back: I ended up getting off Todd Gurley in cash games last week and still won, but given all of the value this week I don’t see any way I don’t play Gurley. He just keeps doing it weekly, and for some reason his price has decreased on DraftKings.
Much will be made of Alvin Kamara this week, but even though Mark Ingram has taken snaps from him, his touch count really hasn’t decreased. This type of game fits in perfectly with Kamara’s playing style, and I think he is a top play in all formats at a severe discount this week. Ingram is easily playable in tournaments, but I actually think it’s possible to fit Gurley/Kamara/Hunt or McCaffrey in cash games.
Pass Catchers: Given the interest in the quarterbacks, and the O/U in this game. we are going to have interest in the pass catchers here. Cooper Kupp is expected back for the Rams this week, and he has the best overall matchup in the slot. I think he is cash playable if he is active, with Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks (REVENGE) being suitable in tournaments.
On the Saints side, there are two options that I love in all formats. The first is Michael Thomas, who matches up with Marcus Peters who has been a bottom-five corner in the NFL this season. The second is Tre’Quan Smith, who has been on the field a ton with Ted Ginn on IR, and is just waiting patiently to break out. Could that breakout happen in a game with a beat up secondary and a 60 O/U? Hmmmmmmmm. STACK THIS GAME.
Cash Game Outlook: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith
GPP Outlook: Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)