The Week 9 slate is loaded with elite options at wide receiver. We have a handful of truly elite options, but each is priced at $8,600 or above. Given some value at other positions, there is a realistic path to fitting two of the five into your lineup, and it is comfortable getting up to at least one of the top pass catchers. The key decisions this week revolve around which passing offenses to target. Do we go with passing attacks operating at a high level but facing relatively tough matchups (e.g. the Bills)? Or do we instead focus on struggling passing attacks that could be poised to bounce back based on gratitude matchups (e.g. the Chargers, Packers, and Buccaneers)?
Quarterback Positional Overview
Assessing the upside of the quarterbacks on this slate is going to come down to how much we want to factor in what we have seen in past seasons. Going only by recent performance, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, and Justin Fields stand out as top plays. We also have Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers in elite matchups. While neither has done much this season and they do not have the full arsenal of weapons they did in 2021, both are priced down and have past history that tells us the upside is there, even if the season-to-date numbers say otherwise.
Top QB Plays
Justin Herbert, LA Chargers ($7,800)
Does 2022 Justin Herbert have GPP-winning upside? The answer may depend upon your frame of reference. Recent results say no. Herbert has not had a single 25-point fantasy game all season. He has only topped 20 points once since Week 2. In his last two outings, Herbert had 57 and 51 passing attempts but still failed to crack 19 fantasy points in either game. Passing volume has been there (46.8 dropbacks per game), efficiency has been lacking. However, we should remember this is still the same guy who scored 28.4 fantasy points or more five times last season. There are a few reasons we should have some confidence that Herbert can turn things around. First, he is still young. At age 24, we can be confident the drop off is not due to physical decline. Second, we know Herbert’s play dropped off after Week 2, which is when he suffered a nasty rib injury. He has been playing through pain and made it to the Week 8 bye. It is reasonable to wonder if he is going to return from the two-week layoff in much better health. Third, the matchup against Atlanta in Week 9 is a bona fide “get right” spot. We saw it happen for Joe Burrow and the Bengals (481 passing yards) two weeks ago and P.J. Walker (317 passing yards) last week. A bad pass defense that ranks 31st in passing EPA and is allowing over 300 passing yards per game has only gone downhill in recent weeks after losing its two best cornerbacks. While Herbert does have to figure things out without his top two wide receivers, it is worth rolling the dice in GPPs this week on the hunch that he is healthier and looks more like 2021 Justin Herbert in an elite matchup.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami ($8,000)
Miami has the fourth-most fantasy points from the passing game in the NFL (18.9) and the highest week-to-week variance (standard deviation of over 11 PPG). Some of the high variance is due to injuries at quarterback, but even when Tagovailoa has been in there, there has been quite a bit of weekly variance simply due to the fact that the highs have been so high. When this offense gets rolling with all of the passes over the deep middle of the field, it can look unstoppable, and the passing yardage piles up. This is the ideal passing offense to target for a GPP. While the floor may be slightly lower than some other passing offense, the ceiling is sky high. On paper, the matchup is middling against the Bears but this defense has lost some players and shown signs of slippage in recent weeks.
Other QBs to consider
Josh Allen, Buffalo ($9,300) Allen is a fantasy cheat code. The Buffalo passing game is the second most prolific in fantasy football (22.6 FanDuel PPG), and Allen also accounts for nearly 38.5% of the team’s fantasy rushing production, trailing only Lamar Jackson (39.2%) for the highest rushing market share amongst all quarterbacks. Allen is in play and should be in your player pool every week, even if you are only entering a few lineups. This is especially true because the more condensed FanDuel quarterbacks pricing makes paying up at quarterback relatively painless. Allen’s expected popularity, combined with the below-average matchup against a talented young Jets defense, knocks him just out of the top plays category.
Justin Fields, Chicago ($7,400) Fields was featured here last week but has been priced up $900 from Week 8 to Week 9. He still looks like a bargain based upon recent weeks. Since Week 6, Fields is the QB3 overall at 23.3 PPG. It does not feel flukey, given the maturation Fields has shown and his increased usage as a runner. Over the recent three-game stretch, Fields has 34 rushing attempts for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. That is eight more rushing attempts than Lamar Jackson and 14 more than Jalen Hurts in the same number of games. Fields has a plus matchup this week against a Miami defense that is giving up the seventh-most FanDuel PPG to opposing quarterbacks.
Running Back Positional Overview
The news that Jonathan Taylor will be out has a major impact on the slate and overall tournament strategy. His $5K price tag opens up an easy path to the highest-priced guys at wide receiver or running back (like Austin Ekeler). Jackson should be chalky, but it will be interesting to see just how popular he gets given the tough matchup and lack of name recognition. There are strong options this week at a number of different price points, but a pair of players in the mid-$7Ks stand out slightly from the pack. Both are featured below as top plays.
Top RB Plays
Deon Jackson, Indianapolis ($5,000)
In the two weeks Jackson has played more than 8% of the snaps, he averaged 12.5 carries and 7.0 receptions per game. Jackson played 67% of the snaps in his lone start of the season and racked up 121 total yards, a touchdown, and 10 catches. He should see a similar percentage of the snaps in Week 9 with Jonathan Taylor out and Nyheim Hines in Indianapolis. Jackson’s comfort in the passing game makes him game script proof as he is going to be heavily involved regardless of the score. Getting Jackson at a massive discount (he should be priced in the mid-$7K range given his expected role) lets you do almost whatever you want at other positions and opens the door for your to fit in one or more of the elite wide receivers on the slate. Similar to Tony Pollard last week, this feels like a spot to eat the chalk and try to differentiate elsewhere.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay ($7,800)
While Aaron Rodgers is sure to intrigue many this week against a Detroit defense that is allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the better play is Jones. The Lions are also giving up the third-most FanDuel points to opposing running backs. Basically, offenses have been able to play to whatever their own strengths are against this league-worst defense. Aside from Miami last week and Washington in Week 2, every single opposing team got 140 yards and multiple touchdowns from their running backs when facing the Lions. In the second half of last week’s Monday night game against the Bills, it looked like the Packers finally found their identity on offense. Despite trailing by multiple scores the whole time, Green Bay just pounded away with the power run game and looked as good as they have all season. Jones ended with a season-high 20 carries for 143 yards against a Buffalo defense that is much more stout against the run than this Lions unit. Expect more of the same on Sunday.
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