In my opinion, Week 9 is a very ugly slate of games. It’s looking like a pay down at running back week for me, with the injuries to Le’Veon Bell and Matt Forte. Darren McFadden has also earned some cash game consideration after being entrenched as the clear No. 1 RB in this backfield after he played 80 percent of the snaps last week, and the Cowboys releasing Joseph Randle. If you want to try and roster Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski you’ll need to find places to save, and running back looks to be that spot, along with the WR3 slot. Now, let’s get to Week 9!
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Tom Brady ($9,500): Tom Brady has been on an absolute tear this season. Now he gets the luxury of playing Washington in the confines of his own home. The Patriots have an enormous team total at 33 implied points. TJ Hernandez from Fantasy Insiders dug up a stat the other day and mentioned that there have been 15 teams since the merger that Vegas has projected for over 33 points … The average score of those teams was 38.1 points. The Patriots have passed on 65 percent of their offensive plays and 71 percent of their touchdowns inside the red zone have been scored via the pass, per 4for4.com. If I can afford to play Brady, I am going to. However, if he severely limits the floor of the rest of your team, it won’t be worth it. We need to think about the rest of our team when constructing our rosters. I think there may be enough value plays to fit Brady into your lineups.
Derek Carr ($7,000): If I don’t pay up for Brady, I am likely leaning towards Derek Carr against a Steelers defense that surprisingly has a top-6 run defense in adjusted DVOA. This may result in a more pass-heavy approach for Carr and the Raiders. Per PFF, Carr ranks seventh in efficiency with .55 fantasy points per drop-back and he has some nice weapons in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to complement him. With an over/under of 48 points, I think this game has some sneaky shootout potential. With Carr being pass-heavy in the red zone (85 percent of touchdowns scored in the red zone have come via the pass), I don’t think he should have a tough time hitting value at $7,000.
Mark Ingram ($7,700): Khiry Robinson is done for the year, and Mark Ingram makes for one of my favorite plays on this slate. The Saints are 8-point favorites at home, with an implied team total of 28.25 points. Any time a team is projected for at least four touchdowns, I take notice. Prior to his injury, Robinson was handling 23 percent of the carries inside the 20 for the Saints and 38 percent from inside the five yard line. If I had to guess, I think Ingram will take over those lost snaps with Robinson out. CJ Spiller held 7.7 percent of the red zone carries inside the 20s, with just one carry from 10 yards or closer. This game sets up well for Ingram with the absence of Khiry.
Jeremy Langford ($6,400): With the injury to Matt Forte, we get the luxury of paying down for Jeremy Langford as a nice form of salary relief. Langford stepped in as an every-down pack back once Forte departed from the game. He ran the fastest 40 at the combine among running backs last year, and his two closest comps are Lamar Miller and Tevin Coleman from a combine standpoint. The matchup against the Chargers is a good one, as they give up a league-high 5.0 yards per attempt and have allowed the third-most rushing yards in the league. The Chargers currently give up the most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields and have allowed over 100 yards rushing six of their eight games.
Antonio Brown ($8,700): Due to the fact that it’s the Raiders, most people probably sleep on the fact that they have a very good run defense. PFF grades their run-stopping unit in the top eight, while Football Outsiders has them ranked fifth in adjusted DVOA. This leads me to be in love with Antonio Brown. Brown has averaged double-digit targets in his last 17 starts with Ben Roethlisberger under center. He had an okay week last week with six receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown, but it’s not what we were expecting from AB, while the 11 targets were encouraging. Brown is still priced relatively low at $8,700 by Antonio Brown standards. Prior to the Big Ben injury, he was consistently priced in the $9,000 range. I have a hard time believing any of the Raiders’ corners will be able to keep a lid on Brown.
Michael Crabtree ($5,800): Don’t get me wrong, I love Amari Cooper and he is in play, but I think Michael Crabtree is the better price-sensitive play. Crabtree comes in $1,500 cheaper than Cooper on FanDuel and he’s been more involved in this offense. It’s never exciting rostering Crabs because Cooper has that big play potential that everyone loves, but it’s hard for me to ignore his usage in this offense. Crabtree boasts 26 percent of the teams’ market share of targets, to Cooper’s 22 percent and he’s more involved in the red zone. Touchdowns are crucial on FanDuel and Cooper has just ONE red zone target, compared to Crabtree’s eight. Like I said, both wide receivers are great plays, but I believe Crabtree is the better price-sensitive play.
Rob Gronkowski ($8,500): Rob Gronkowski’s usage has finally started to see a little uptick. Gronk has seen 25 total targets in his last two games, while topping 100 yards and a touchdown in each of them. His market share of targets was starting to dwindle in the early weeks, but things are starting to change for him. He’s representing 21 percent of the targets overall and 16 percent of the red zone opportunities. Gronk has a team-high nine targets inside the 10 yard line and seven targets from three yards and in. His probability of scoring each week is very high as he has an elite red zone conversion rate.
Martellus Bennett ($5,400): Tight end is my least favorite position to try and predict. Outside of a few in the top-tier, they’re all quite volatile. I am settling on Martellus Bennett because I like his matchup on paper. The Chargers rank 30th in DVOA at defending the tight end position and they rank 26th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends, per 4for4. You’d think Bennett would see some positive regression at some point, but so far that hasn’t came to fruition. I think the injury to Forte, along with Alshon Jeffery having a tough matchup on the outside with Jason Verrett may return more looks to Bennett in this game. Granted, Jeffery has a huge size advantage and is a matchup nightmare for just about anybody, and I doubt Cutler will shy away from his best weapon, I still believe Bennett is in a good spot here. Jordan Reed is also in strong consideration at $5,700.