Last week, after losing his second fumble in as many games, the Saints and HC Sean Payton benched RB Mark Ingram. The Saints’ starter managed just five rushing yards before being demoted and left his fantasy owners fuming at Payton’s stubbornness. In his place, the Saints turned to veteran Tim Hightower and rookie Daniel Lasco, with Hightower rushing for over 100 yards.
Following the game, Payton explained that he expected Ingram to “bounce back” but that the team would also use a committee approach to the backfield and they’d ride the hot hand. This talk and Ingram’s benching left fantasy owners confused about how to handle the Saints’ backfield in a juicy Week Nine matchup against the 49ers.
Once the game started, frustration only grew as Hightower drew the start and played much of the first quarter, including scoring the team’s first touchdown of the day. Later in the first half though, Ingram got on the field and quickly made an impact. Ingram found the end zone on a short pass from QB Drew Brees and later took a 75-yard run for his second score of the day, which was his longest career run. Ingram ended the day with 171 total yards, his best game in over two years.
Ingram is back in the good graces of the Saints’ coaching staff as well as fantasy owners, but don’t forget about Hightower, who racked up over 100 total yards for the second consecutive game.
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In Other News
Chargers’ second-year RB Melvin Gordon has looked like a different player this year and he had the best game of his career against the Titans in Week Nine. Gordon totaled 261 yards and a touchdown against the Tennessee defense and San Diego needed every yard as the teams squared off. Gordon is now up to 11 touchdowns on the season and gets the Dolphins’ defense next week in another nice matchup.
QB Ben Roethlisberger made his return to the field after knee surgery kept him out of the lineup for a couple of weeks. Big Ben and the Steelers offense got off to a very slow start, falling behind to the Ravens 13-0 before they finally got on the board in the final quarter. A late-game touchdown pass to WR Antonio Brown and a scoring run of his own saved Roethlisberger’s fantasy day, but wasn’t enough to get the Steelers in the win column. Roethlisberger finished with 264 yards, one passing touchdown and one interception.
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TE Eric Ebron is looking like an every-week starter in the two games he’s played since returning from an injury. Against the strict Vikings defense, Ebron caught seven of his eight targets for a team-high 92 yards… RB Jay Ajayi did it again for the Miami Dolphins. No, he didn’t quite get to 200 yards, but he did total 130 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. Ajayi looks like a weekly top 12 RB… Rookie QB Carson Wentz set a new career high with 364 passing yards, but failed to throw a touchdown, along with two interceptions in the Eagles’ loss… For the first time since his return from a suspension, RB Le’Veon Bell failed to break 100 total yards, finishing with 70 total yards. Bell still has yet to score a touchdown this season… The Cowboys and rookie QB Dak Prescott just keep winning. Prescott put up three touchdown passes along with 247 passing yards… Playing in place of starter Alex Smith, QB Nick Foles threw for 187 yards and a score. While the Chiefs announced Smith would start in Week Ten, there seems to be some support for sticking with Foles… Rookie WR Michael Thomas continues to look like a dominant force and he caught five passes for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas is a weekly must-start in all fantasy formats… QB Marcus Mariota remained hot, totaling four touchdowns and throwing for 313 yards. Unfortunately, it was three turnovers from Mariota that likely sealed the Titans’ defeat… The Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers got off to a very slow start, but as he has done recently, he made up for it late in the game. Rodgers ended with 297 passing yards, three scores and added a valuable 43 rushing yards… While WR Marvin Jones continues to struggle, his teammate Golden Tate is once again the go-to option for QB Matthew Stafford. Jones caught one ball for five yards, while Tate caught 11 passes for 79 yards and the game-winning touchdown… While Ajayi is turning the Dolphins into a run-first team, WR Jarvis Landry saw just six targets, catching three for 53 yards… The struggling Eagles turned to veteran RB Darren Sproles as their new lead back and he totaled 71 yards, carrying the ball 13 times compared to five for former starter Ryan Mathews… Like his QB, WR Antonio Brown salvaged a decent fantasy day late in the game. He finished with a 7/85/1 line for the game… Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott had his second career multiple TD game and he’s now up to seven scores and four 100-yard rushing games through eight games… Playing in place of RB Spencer Ware, expectations were high for the Chiefs’ Charcandrick West, but he was a letdown, totaling just 74 yards against the Jags defense… RB Carlos Hyde was a late scratch for the Niners, but his backup DuJuan Harris picked up the slack, totaling over 140 yards and a touchdown. I expect him to stay involved even when Hyde returns… After a breakout game in Week Eight, rookie RB Derrick Henry had a chance to keep up his hot streak. Instead, he suffered a calf injury that kept him out of the game before he could touch the ball… After missing last week, RB/WR Ty Montgomery saw much less usage as both a runner and receiver, but still totaled 91 yards as the Packers lost to Indy… The Vikings’ rushing attack continues to be a disaster. Jerick McKinnon returned from an injury, but had just eight yards on seven carries. Ronnie Hillman also had seven carries, gaining 30 yards. Matt Asiata ran for 27 yards on nine carries. This team will be in the market for a new RB in the offseason… Jets RB Matt Forte kept his hot streak going, totaling 97 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins… Eagles TE Zach Ertz played his best game of the season, catching all eight of his targets for 97 yards… The Baltimore running game continues to be a sore spot. Terrance West ran for 21 yards on 15 carries, while rookie Kenneth Dixon managed 13 yards on nine carries… TE Jason Witten saw 10 targets and his 134 yards were his highest since the final week of the 2013 season… Kansas City TE Travis Kelce had an interesting day. He caught five passes for 58 yards and had an end zone target that resulted in him arguing with an official and being ejected from the game… After his worst outing of the season last week, TE Greg Olsen bounced back, catching five passes for 52 yards and Cam Newton’s only TD pass… RB DeMarco Murray had a rare down game. What’s impressive is his down game still resulted in 80 total yards and a touchdown… WR Jordy Nelson looked like a true WR1 for the first time in a while, catching seven of a team-high 13 targets for 94 yards and a score… WR Stefon Diggs is fully healthy again and caught 13 of his 14 targets for 80 yards as the Vikes blew the lead against division foe Detroit… The Giants’ running game was once again ineffective, but it is important to note that veteran Rashad Jennings and rookie Paul Perkins evenly split 22 carries. This backfield could be trending towards the former UCLA back… WR Mike Wallace scored a 95 yard TD early in the game, but he missed some time due to a reported illness. Wallace finished with 124 yards on four receptions… The Cowboys didn’t need WR Dez Bryant and the star took a back seat, catching one pass for 19 yards… The Jaguars’ running game looked much different this week. Chris Ivory rushed for over 100 yards and T.J. Yeldon totaled over 60 yards and a touchdown. These are still a pair of risky players to rely on in fantasy football lineups… The Rams gave RB Todd Gurley his fewest amount of carries in any game this season, even though it was just a one-score contest for much of the game… WR Randall Cobb was surprisingly ruled active after early morning reports suggested he’d again sit. He didn’t step on the field in the first half, but did end up catching a late TD in very limited action… Vikings rookie WR Laquon Treadwell made his first career reception, catching his only target of the game for 15 yards… Giants WR Odell Beckham caught just four passes against the Eagles, but two of them went for scores… Rookies QB Cody Kessler and WR Corey Coleman returned to the Browns’ lineup. Coleman caught three balls for 41 yards, playing nearly every snap. Kessler started ahead of veteran Josh McCown, who can likely be dropped in fantasy football leagues… WR Allen Robinson enjoyed his first game of the season with more than 75 receiving yards, posting a 7/76/1 line… There was some expectation that we could see the debut of rookie QB Jared Goff, but the Rams stuck with Case Keenum in a close loss to the Panthers… TE Dwayne Allen returned to the Colts’ lineup, but it was still Jack Doyle who saw the majority of the work, catching five passes for 61 yards… Facing a tough Dallas pass defense, WR Terrelle Pryor once again led his team with five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown… WR Jeremy Maclin was questionable for the Chiefs, but suited up. He aggravated his groin injury and was forced to leave the game without a reception… RB Frank Gore found the end zone twice and gained over 70 total yards on the Packers’ tough run defense…The Denver defense held the Oakland pass game in check, but still allowed a career day from RB Latavius Murray, who rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Raiders to a huge divisional win...Rookie RB Devontae Booker was unimpressive, gaining 30 total yards on 11 touches...