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Winners and Losers, Fantasy Football has them both

Posted Nov 7, 2017

Week 9 saw highs and lows around the league, but it was a Jaguars fantasy defense that remained consistently elite

Finally we had a week in the NFL in which a devastating injury didn’t drastically alter the landscape of fantasy football rosters. It came in a week when a lot of fantasy studs were on a bye, so hopefully the injury reaper doesn’t come back for them in Week 10 in a Final Destination replay.

Outside of the lack of injuries for fantasy owners to be thrilled about, it was certainly an entertaining week of games that kept fans glued to their seats. The Eagles and Rams each put up 51 points; Brock Osweiler went full-on Brock Osweiler, insuring the Broncos offense was a fantasy nightmare; the 49ers continued their losing ways (0-9), possibly putting Jimmy Garoppolo under center as early as Week 11 after the team comes out of its bye.

The only real waiver wire news to talk about this week is the return of Josh Gordon to the Browns. He’s scheduled to report to the team on Tuesday, but his first game action will depend on how he looks in practice. The reality is he will take a good 3-4 weeks to get back into game shape. That puts his effective fantasy use around Week 13-14, the fantasy playoffs. The question then becomes, do you want to trust him with your season?

My take on Gordon is this: He hasn’t played a down in the NFL since Week 4 of 2016. His time off isn’t due to injury, so that is a positive. However, he isn’t in tune with Hue Jackson’s playbook, and the Browns QB situation would be the worst in the NFL if the Broncos weren’t doing all they could to compete with them in that area. Gordon is a speculative add because we know what his ceiling is, but only in the deeper leagues where you are desperate for WR help.

 

Winners

Jay Cutler – Dolphins: When the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, fantasy owners had to wonder just what they would do with the offense given the fact that Jay Cutler came into Week 9 averaging just 165.8 yards per game passing.

Cutler stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball out of the park (so to speak) by completing 34 of 42 passes for 311 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions for the first time since Week 1. It was an impressive performance for a QB that is unowned in almost 85 percent of fantasy leagues.

Jacoby Brissett – Colts: The Colts placed Andrew Luck on injured reserve, ending his season. That means the Colts offense is Brissett’s to command, barring a catastrophic failure down the stretch. He is a dual threat QB, but hasn’t looked comfortable enough in the offense to take the time to find his WRs… until this week.

Brissett completed 20 of 30 passes for 308 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs, but he did lose a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. The fumble was the lone blip on an otherwise great day in which Brissett hooked up with T.Y. Hilton for a 45-yard touchdown, then again on an 80-yard touchdown.

The Colts have a much tougher matchup against the Steelers in Week 10, so don’t be quick to start Brissett and think he will do the same thing again. Be aware, and beware.

Adrian Peterson – Cardinals: AD (All-Day) may very well be the ageless wonder at running back, as the 32-year-old toted the ball 37 times against the 49ers on Sunday, racking up 159 yards in the process. The 37 carries were a career-high for Peterson.

With Drew Stanton barely serviceable as a QB, the Cardinals offense will be put on the back of Peterson for the rest of the season. With the Cardinals sitting at 4-4 for the season, and with no viable option at QB, there is no reason for David Johnson to return this season. That means Peterson should get 20-plus touches every week, and is at worst a RB2 for fantasy purposes.

Corey Clement – Eagles: Nobody outside of Philadelphia knew who Clement was before Sunday, but now he is being added in fantasy football leagues as if he is the new starter for the Eagles. Clement managed to rack up 51 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries against the Broncos’ normally tough run defense, and added 15 more yards and another touchdown on his lone catch.

Clement got additional work this week with Jay Ajayi still learning the playbook. And with the Eagles on a bye in Week 10, Ajayi should have enough of a grasp on things to take over as the starter for Week 11. What that means for Clement isn’t clear, with LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood also fighting for touches. I’m not a buyer of Clement’s stock, but it was a nice game for the rookie out of Wisconsin.  

T.Y. Hilton – Colts: As I mentioned earlier, Hilton was the recipient of two long touchdowns (45 & 80 yards) from Brissett, and finished with 5 catches for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hilton had 177 receiving yards back in Week 5, but the touchdowns were his first since Week 3 of this season.

The Colts offense is far from turning any corners, but this was an encouraging sign from Brissett and Hilton. As I said with Brissett, Week 10 brings the Steelers into Lucas Oil Stadium, making the matchup much more difficult. I would expect Hilton and Brissett to regress back to their previous numbers, putting Hilton closer to the WR3 rankings for me.

Robert Woods – Rams: Woods has actually been a fairly solid WR3 in fantasy terms this season, averaging 4.1 catches and 54.4 yards per game heading into Week 9. With the Rams scoring at will on the helpless Giants, Woods was able to haul in 2 touchdown catches of his own, adding additional value to his normal 4 catches and 70 receiving yards.

Woods is owned in only about 35 percent of fantasy leagues, meaning he is likely available in most standard-sized leagues. If you’ve been holding on to guys like Danny Amendola and Terrelle Pryor, you should give consideration to Woods. He may not score again this season, but he will give you 4-5 receptions and 50-70 yards each week.

Julius Thomas – Dolphins: We can finally take Julius Thomas’ picture off the milk carton, and put someone else’s on it. Thomas easily had his best game of the season in Week 9, reeling in 6 of 8 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was his first since Week 10 of the 2016 season, while the yards were the most he’s seen since Week 12 of the 2015 season.

Thomas clearly isn’t the TE he was with Peyton Manning back in his Denver days, but the Dolphins’ recommitment to the pass could give him added value for the 2nd half of the season. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for him doing this again. But he is someone to at least keep an eye on just in case Cutler and he can turn their seasons around.

Jacksonville Jaguars defense: The Jaguars are the most talked about defense in the NFL, but they weren’t being talked about when I had them on the defensive fantasy draft board back in the preseason. “Sacksonville,” as they’ve become known, held the Bengals to 7 points and racked up 2 more sacks and a special teams touchdown. Things might have been better, fantasy-wise, had Jalen Ramsey not been ejected at the end of the first half.

The Jaguars lead the league with 35 sacks, but the punt return touchdown was their first KR/PR touchdown this year. The sacks you can count on, but return touchdowns are as unpredictable as kickers and their field goals. No matter what, the Jaguars are an elite fantasy defense for the remainder of the season.

 

Losers

Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: Winston has been worth his average draft position (pick No. 70.5), racking up 4-yard games and scoring 10 touchdowns through 7 games. Week 9 brought some challenges for Winston, as he was dealing with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that he suffered back in Week 8.

The shoulder problems were too much for Winston, though, as the Bucs QB made it through just 2 quarters of football, finishing with 67 passing yards, 8 rushing yards, no TDs, and no INTs. The stats look more like RB numbers than QB numbers, leaving fantasy owners chasing a win in a tough spot.

An MRI on Winston’s shoulder revealed “more damage,” but thankfully it is nothing structural. The Bucs have already said Winston will be shut down for at least two weeks, and there is a real possibility he could miss much more time with the Bucs sitting at 2-6 for the season. Once the team concedes the season is over, there is little reason to risk further injury to their franchise QB. Again… be aware, and beware.

Kirk Cousins – Redskins: Cousins had been having a solid QB1 fantasy season, putting up 1,900 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions through 7 games this season. Cousins had thrown at least a touchdown in every game this season, despite the Redskins’ WR and offensive line problems.

Those O-line problems came to a head this weekend, culminating in Cousins absorbing 6 sacks on his way to 247 empty passing yards. He did snap his 3-game streak of throwing an INT, but it also came at the expense of him snapping the 7-game touchdown streak.

Doug Martin – Buccaneers: The list of what went right for the Buccaneers this weekend is far shorter than what went wrong, and it didn’t stop with the QB position either. Martin carried the ball just 8 times, finishing with 7 yards rushing.  Martin hasn’t been used much in the passing game this season, and that trend continued this week with him not seeing a single target.

With Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, and Mike Evans suspended this week, Martin’s Week 10 outlook is that of a RB3, with a limited ceiling. I’d try and find other options if you can.

LeSean McCoy – Bills: Shady McCoy is one of the first RBs taken in any fantasy draft, but his fantasy owners were frustrated for much of the first half of this season with him failing to score a touchdown until Week 7. Adding to the scoreless season, McCoy has managed 75 or more yards in just 2 games prior to Week 7.

Shady had scored in back-to-back games heading into the week, but he couldn’t get anything going against a normally soft Jets defense. He finished with a mere 25 yards on 12 carries, and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. The 12 carries tied his season low, but the 25 yards sadly were his 3rd-lowest of the season.

Look for a bounce back game in Week 10 as the Bills host the Saints’ shaky run defense.

A.J. Green – Bengals: It was a hard week to swallow for Bengals fans and for Green owners alike. Not only did the Bengals lose to the Jaguars 23-7, but Green was ejected in the 2nd quarter for getting into a fight with CB Jalen Ramsey. Green managed to haul in 1 of 2 targets for 6 yards and no touchdowns before leaving the game.

Green won’t be suspended, which is great news for his fantasy owners. The Bengals head to Tennessee for Week 10 to take on a Titans defense that gives up the 10th-most fantasy points to fantasy WRs this season. As long as he can keep his composure, Green will be the elite WR1 he always is.

Mike Evans – Buccaneers: Evans, like the rest of the Buccaneers, is wishing he could forget that Week 9 ever occurred. But with a 1-game suspension in place following a blindside hit to Marshon Lattimore on the sideline, that isn’t likely.

Evans wasn’t ejected from the game, which is shocking if you watch video of what happened, but he finished with just 1 catch for 13 yards. With A.J. Green and Jalen Ramsey avoiding suspension, you do have to wonder if Evans will appeal it. But for now, fantasy owners will have to find another option at WR for Week 10.

Jason Witten – Cowboys: Jason Witten is one of the most frustrating fantasy TEs to own, with catch totals ranging from 10 back in Week 2, to 1 in Weeks 3, 4, and now 9. That’s right, Witten finished with 1 catch (on 1 target) and 5 empty yards.

Witten is a rollercoaster ride for production, but most TEs are. Touchdowns are as scarce as water in the desert, but owners can usually count on about 4 catches and 40 yards. That is only good for 2 points in standard scoring, and 6 points in PPR formats, making him a waiver wire streamer that is impossible to predict.

Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Chiefs started off the season on fire, winning their first 5 games and putting Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and their defense on the must-own/must-start list. However, the next 4 games brought 3 loses, with the final one coming this week as they gave up 28 points to the Cowboys while managing just a single sack for fantasy numbers.

All told the Chiefs defense gave fantasy owners a whopping 0.00 points this week. Yes, you read that right. The 28 points allowed is worth -1 points in most scoring formats, and the sack is worth 1 points most of the time. The Chiefs defense is a prime bounce-back candidate for Week 10 as they travel to New York to take on a destitute Giants offense.

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