Win or Lose, Buccaneers Need More Touchdowns

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 9 - Week 9 was filled with fantasy goodness, from five-touchdown performances to multi-interception misery. We'll recap it all to make sure you know everything about the games from this weekend. Let's dive in.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals remain one of the most frustrating and unpredictable teams in the NFL. After back-to-back weeks with 13 or more targets, DeAndre Hopkins saw just five targets, only two in the second half. The Seahawks defense has improved in recent weeks, but it still felt like the volume could have been enough for Hopkins. Sadly, that wasn't the case. James Conner returned from injury and usurped Eno Benjamin, who had played well as the RB1 in Conner's absence but played just 27% of snaps this week. If Conner continues to be used so heavily, Benjamin will be droppable in redraft leagues, where the roster spots are needed for players more involved. Rondale Moore showed that he's a key part of the offense, but his volume isn't much use without touchdowns. Moore has played 20 NFL games and has three games where he has scored double-digit PPR points when he has not managed to get into the end zone.

Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Smith and the Falcons have spent their last two first-round picks, both in the top 10, on Kyle Pitts and Drake London, but they have no inclination to use them heavily or consistently. Smith can berate fantasy football all he likes, but any team that is misusing two high draft picks and slowing down their development deserves scrutinizing. On Sunday, even when pushed into a shootout with the Chargers, the Falcons' two best weapons struggled to produce. Pitts and London combined for 14 targets but were only able to turn them into 50 scoreless yards. The Falcons are playing themselves out of the highest draft pick market with their ugly football, and perhaps it is more likely they look to the veteran market in 2023, especially considering they rank second in 2023 cap space according to Over The Cap.

Baltimore Ravens

In last week's column, I talked about how well the Ravens offensive line was playing and how we might see them turn very run-heavy in the coming weeks and against the Saints they ran the ball 40 times, as they ground down the Saints converting eight of twelve third downs. The Ravens had very little to work with amongst their pass-catchers this week and the bye week will no doubt help players like Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards get healthy, ready for a stretch of friendly looking games where we could see a lot more grind-the-clock drives from this Ravens team.

Buffalo Bills

Gabriel Davis saw his ADP reach as high as the top of the fourth round in Underdog best-ball drafts this offseason, and perhaps that's a format more suited to Davis' boom-or-bust record more so than redraft or dynasty leagues where you make start and sit decisions. Through seven games this year, Davis has just one with more than three catches. Davis has four games with less than 40 receiving yards and three games with more than 70. Going forward, Davis should be considered a matchup-based option only until we see otherwise. Elsewhere, Nyheim Hines made his debut but saw just one single uncaught target as the Bills eased him in. In Week 10, the Bills play Minnesota , who rank seventh against running backs as receivers, so it might be worth keeping Hines on the bench a little longer.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers continue to be a messy team for fantasy purposes, serving up DJ Moore and D'Onta Foreman duds every time that we start to feel like we can rely upon them. Between P.J. Walker and Baker Mayfield, this team has become the bottom-ranked team in pass offense DVOA, and the return of Sam Darnold doesn't feel like it could bring anything good to this team. Second-year receiver Terrace Marshall has had three games with 80% or more snaps now and finished as a top-30 PPR receiver in the last two weeks. If you're in a deep league or desperate for a player to start, he can be considered an OK play against an Atlanta defense that ranks 29th against WR2s.

Chicago Bears

It wasn't too long ago that Justin Fields looked like one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, and whilst he still ranks 34th in passing DYAR, his fantasy outlook has been much rosier. Fields is the QB8 in fantasy scoring and has enjoyed three games in a row over a 60% completions rate for the first time in his NFL career. Fields set the NFL all-time record for quarterback rushing yards in a single game with 178 on just 15 attempts, and is second amongst quarterbacks with 602 rushing yards. The only other quarterback with more than 400 is Lamar Jackson, who leads the way with 635. Considering how successful Fields was on the ground, it was surprising to see Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery combine for 7.7 PPR points and just 59 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Better days should be ahead for the duo in Week 10 when they take on the Lions , who rank 27th in run defense DVOA.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon had been somewhat disappointing this season until Sunday, when his five touchdowns helped to score 55.1 PPR points in the biggest fantasy performance from a running back since Alvin Kamara scored six touchdowns on Christmas Day 2020. The Bengals need Mixon to play at a high level going forward if they're to have a successful season, and whilst Mixon hoovering up all the touchdowns on Sunday harmed the likes of Tee Higgins and Hayden Hurst, a more balanced offense will help this team moving forward. Hurst has failed to score 12 or more PPR points in all but one game this season, and whilst he's not exactly hurting your team, he's not particularly helping either. Now is the time to decide If you can make a trade for a better tight end before the fantasy playoffs.

Detroit Lions

D'Andre Swift has become the biggest liability in fantasy football this season. His ceiling is such that fantasy managers feel the need to start him when possible, but it's looking increasingly likely that benching him will be the more pain-free move going forward. After touching the ball 10 times in Week 8, Swift saw just five opportunities against a Packers defense that struggles to contain the run. Even on these limited touches, Swift's efficiency shone through and his 1.6 fantasy points per touch ranked fifth-best amongst running backs this week. If you have Swift on a roster, it's going to be tricky the rest of the way, and packaging him up as part of a multi-player trade might be the easiest way to offload him without it looking like you don't value him.

Green Bay Packers

What a horrendous state of affairs the Green Bay Packers find themselves in when they can't get right against the get-right team of the league, the Lions. Aaron Rodgers threw three interceptions on Sunday, which was only the second time in the last five seasons he has thrown two or more interceptions in a regular-season game and just the fifth time in his 18 years in the league that he has thrown three. The Packers simply look broken without Davante Adams, and now that Romeo Doubs is set to miss time, their receiver corps is even worse looking. Allen Lazard is an every-week play when healthy, averaging 14.7 PPR points this season with four top-24 finishes in his last five games. Aaron Jones got banged up and left the game, but should be OK, which is a blessing for the Packers, who haven't seen a leap in production from AJ Dillon this year. Jones ranks third in rushing DYAR, whilst Dillon ranks 25th and has failed to find the end zone since Week 1 despite leading the team in red zone rushing attempts (11).

Houston Texans

There aren't many positives to the league's 30th-ranked offense in DVOA, but the one shining light has been Dameon Pierce who runs like a man possessed and ranks ninth in effective yards. It can often be tricky to part with a player in dynasty leagues when you believed in them and got a bargain, but Pierce's value is high right now and there is no guarantee it will be next year. If you can shop Pierce for a good price and you're not a contender, then it makes a lot of sense. Pierce now faces the Giants, who rank 23rd in run defense DVOA, before a tough matchup against the No. 1-ranked Commanders.

Indianapolis Colts

On Monday, the Colts—or specifically Jim Irsay—decided to part ways with head coach Frank Reich. A few years back, when faced with a similar conundrum Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti opted to keep John Harbaugh and remarked that he didn't want to fire a guy who every team without a head coach would want to hire. This feels like it will be apt in the coming months. Frank Reich is a good head coach who ended up in bad situations at quarterback ever since Andrew Luck retired. The Colts are behaving like a team fully intent on tanking as hard as possible going forward, and there will be big fantasy implications. On Friday, the team elevated both Phillip Lindsay and Jordan Wilkins to the active roster, which, along with Deon Jackson and Jonathan Taylor, makes for four total running backs at present. If the Colts really are intent on tanking, then it feels likely that Taylor could end up getting an awful lot of rest in the coming weeks. Sam Ehlinger was always going to struggle in New England ,and whilst this performance was historically bad with just 125 total yards, the timing of this firing is much more about Irsay's malcontent than the job Reich did.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Christian Kirk had a few tricky weeks after a bright start to the season, but with Trevor Lawrence rediscovering some form, Kirk has again begun to turn in fantasy-worthy performances, with two top-15 finishes in his last three games. Kirk's 70 targets rank 14th amongst receivers, and only nine receivers have more red zone targets than Kirk's nine. Kirk has potential pass-heavy scripts on the horizon with games against the Chiefs and Ravens. As long as Lawrence can keep his calm, Kirk should be in for good games.

Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes had 68 pass attempts on Sunday night, which is one more than Justin Fields threw in his first four games this season. Mahomes has now had nine career games with 400 or more passing yards, but this was the first one where he managed to throw fewer than three touchdowns, and whilst 34.1 points are not to be sniffed at, it could have been so much more. Mahomes ranks second in passing DYAR and QBR to Tua Tagovailoa but should get a friendly chance to pad his stats in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who rank 27th in pass defense DVOA. JuJu Smith-Schuster seems to have established himself as the WR1 in this offense, but behind him it gets very messy, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling leading the team in snaps, Mecole Hardman scoring the touchdown, Skyy Moore setting a career-high in snaps, and Kadarius Toney seeing two targets on just six routes. Unfortunately, fantasy managers may struggle for answers here, and it's best to play the matchups when possible and avoid them elsewhere.

Las Vegas Raiders

Davante Adams' 17 targets were the second-most a receiver has seen this season, and also the second time this year Adams has seen that many, matching his Week 1 performance against the Chargers. Whilst Aaron Rodgers is struggling without Adams, it can't be said that Adams misses Rodgers—he has seen his fantasy points per touch increase from 2.8 in 2021 to 3.1 this year. The Raiders have now lost three games that they led by 17 or more points this season, and there is a lot to figure out. Derek Carr targeted Adams seven times in the fourth quarter but the two players couldn't connect on a single one of them. Josh Jacobs had another disappointing game, especially considering he should have been utilized to run the clock down as the Raiders looked to take charge. Instead, Jacobs ended up with 11.7 PPR points and has failed to score more than 12 for two weeks running. Things might not get any easier this week when the Raiders take on the Colts defense that ranks eighth against the rush in the last four weeks.

Los Angeles Chargers

Before Austin Ekeler rushed 16 times for 173 yards against the Falcons, he had managed just one game over 4 yards per carry this season. That's more rushing yards than Ekeler had managed in his last four games combined, and with the pass-catchers banged up, it was great to see Ekeler able to punish a team as he has in previous seasons. It's noteworthy that Isaiah Spiller touched the ball seven times on Sunday and seems to be the RB2 ahead of Sony Michel, who had one touch. If anything were to happen to Ekeler then Spiller could be a very valuable stash down the stretch. Josh Palmer had his best performance of the season and will be an every-week WR2 for fantasy until Keenan Allen and Mike Williams return.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams continue to be a tough watch, and despite several weeks off, Cam Akers managed just 3 yards on five rushing attempts. Darrell Henderson had the team's longest run of the season with a 23-yard effort, which just highlights how poor this ground game has been to date. The Rams rank 29th in rush offense DVOA and everyone but Henderson is droppable in most leagues. I dropped Henderson this past weekend, and it felt great to relieve myself of that headache going forward.

Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa has now played three games at home and three on the road this season. In road games, Tagovailoa averages 38.4 fantasy points, which is a huge difference from his home game average of 15.7. The Dolphins have shown they can beat top teams in the Ravens and Bills, and that they can play well on the road. Miami now ranks first in pass offense DVOA and should be targeted heavily in daily fantasy matchups for the rest of the season.

Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson scored his first receiving touchdown since Week 1 and had his sixth game over 90 receiving yards. Whilst Jefferson is always deserving of attention, T.J Hockenson's usage warrants some focus too. Hockenson only joined the Vikings last Tuesday, but on Sunday he saw nine targets, catching all nine. That's more receptions than Hockenson had in his last 15 games with the Lions, and he should continue to benefit from being a part of a better offense going forward. Unfortunately for Hockenson, he faces the second-best defense against tight ends in Week 10 when the Vikings travel to face the Bills.

New England Patriots

The Patriots should have made the destruction of the Colts and Sam Ehlinger even easier than they did, but Mac Jones struggled early, getting sacked three times in the first quarter in what is proving to be a difficult second year for a quarterback who ranked 12th in DYAR in 2021 but finds himself 32nd this year. Jones did, however, enjoy his first interception-free game of the season, which will be a relief heading into the bye week. Patriots pass-catchers outside of Jakobi Meyers are completely droppable in redraft leagues unless you enjoy headaches.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints offensive stats were padded by a comical touchdown for Juwan Johnson, who still leads the Saints tight end room in targets and snaps, despite Adam Trautman's return. Trautman's return will likely make streaming Johnson a much riskier play going forward and if you've been relying on him lately it's a good time to take a look at what else is available. Alvin Kamara struggled for relevancy as the Saints struggled to move the ball, picking up just two first downs before the two-minute warning. With Mark Ingram likely to miss Week 10 with a knee injury that kept him out of this game Kamara is likely in for a better game against the struggling Steelers. 

New York Jets

Zach Wilson continues to be a kiss of death for fantasy purposes, but it is also fair to say he performed well against the Bills, who are no pushover and rank fifth in pass defense DVOA. Elijah Moore has now had just one target in his last three games, and since Wilson returned to being the quarterback in Week 4, Moore has scored 8.6 PPR points in total. Sometimes we see a squeaky wheel narrative for players who voice their unhappiness, but no such narrative has happened in New York. James Robinson out-touched Michael Carter 15 to 13, but Carter looked the more explosive of the two running backs and it's possible both players are flex-worthy in certain matchups now that Ty Johnson has returned to a minimal role, seeing just two touches on Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert is currently ranked second amongst tight ends in DYAR and effective yards, fourth amongst tight ends in receptions (40), and second in yards per game (65.1), and he is the TE4 in PPR formats. A.J. Brown is stealing the headlines with jaw-dropping touchdowns, but Goedert is quietly having a great season, finishing as a TE1 in six of the eight weeks he has played. Goedert was drafted as the TE7 in Underdog's best-ball drafts and is returning value handsomely, whilst DeVonta Smith and Brown fight it out for the usable weeks at receiver.

Seattle Seahawks

Noah Fant continues to be out-snapped by fellow tight end Will Dissly, but whilst Fant can't find a path to becoming the clear TE1 for the Seahawks, his role continues to be reliable, albeit limited. On Sunday, Fant had 96 receiving yards, which marked the first time this year he has cleared 50 and, along with five receptions, helped Fant to a 14.6-point PPR performance and a top-10 finish amongst the position. Fant ranks sixth amongst tight ends with a catch rate of 79% and may be worth a stash in deep leagues for a tasty-looking matchup against the Raiders in Week 12.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers might be a more fun team for fantasy managers if they could score a few more touchdowns per game. In 2021 Tampa Bay scored 3.5 offensive touchdowns per game, whereas in 2022 so far that rate is down to 1.4 per game. Chris Godwin is enough of a volume hog to survive without touchdowns in PPR formats thanks to his average of 11.5 targets over the last four weeks, and Mike Evans is seeing similar numbers, but due to the nature of his targets, he could do with more touchdowns than the 0.38 per game he currently averages. It was striking to see Scotty Miller targeted seven times in the last two possessions, and he's a name to keep an eye on in very deep leagues if that kind of usage occurs again.

Tennessee Titans

The NFL told us what they thought of Malik Willis when he dropped to the 86th overall pick in this year's draft, and whilst taking the Chiefs to overtime in Arrowhead is no easy accomplishment, it was disappointing to not see more plays where Willis flashed. Through two games Willis has a 42.3% completion rate and 13 rushing attempts for 52 yards. The Titans' success begins and ends with Derrick Henry, but they need Ryan Tannehill back too. In Week 10, Henry will match up against a Broncos defense that ranks first against the pass, but 25th against the rush. Expect Henry to be a popular favorite for DFS plays this week.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders are a team in flux right now at 4-5. It's easy to see them not winning many more games, or in another timeline staying spicy enough to sneak a wild-card spot if Chase Young's return can lift the team. Neither Carson Wentz nor Taylor Heinicke is a good enough option to sustain success, and they are getting little help from the ground game. Antonio Gibson has out-snapped Brian Robinson for consecutive weeks but continues to fail to capitalize when he has opportunities. Through 14 combined appearances, Gibson and Robinson have combined for three games where one of them rushed for more than 4 yards per carry. Gibson averages an 11.7% target share and is clearly preferred on passing downs to Robinson, who has a 2.7% share. If you're forced to start one of these, it should only be Gibson.


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