Rich Hribar

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The NFL Week 9 Worksheet

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Week 9 is here, and we’re really closing in on making our final push towards the fantasy postseason, Hopefully everyone is setting up a playoff run, but if you’ve been unfortunate this season in your leagues, there’s always DFS to keep the fantasy juices flowing. Week 9 is our largest bye week so far on the season with six teams off. Make sure to have all of your Giants, Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars and Eagles out of your lineups.


For those that are new here, the goal of this article is to provide a top-down, statistical snapshot for each game each week, running down weekly point spreads, team totals, play calling splits, and statistical bullet points on the players and teams involved. Although we’re focusing strictly on PPR league scoring here as a baseline, there’s more than enough to spread around across formats and daily leagues. The reason we’re operating under a PPR umbrella is it allows us to cover a larger portion of the players involved in action weekly.


As the author, it’s imperative that I note that this is an expectations-based column over a linear start/sit forum. The labels for each subset of players for each game is simply the vehicle for those expectations and have a different context for each player. Players that are high performers week-to-week are held to different standards than a secondary option in an offense. Every player runs into down weeks, and we’re trying to identify those moments, even for the star players you’re going to ride through thick and thin moments that don’t tally many low points during the season. That said, we’re still embracing some of the elements that will go along with a start/sit column as a byproduct of those expectations. I encourage that you use the game by game tables and data points here in conjunction with the Start/Sit column posted weekly by Nick Mensio, Pat Daugherty’s rankings in the Goal Line Stand, Evan Silva’s Matchup’s column, Ray Summerlin's Waiver Wired and most importantly, your own information and thought process.  Remember, you control your own team. If you are curious as to my personal weekly rankings, they can be found each and every week in the Season Pass section.


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All lines are taken from VegasInsider on Tuesday nights 


Raiders @ 49ers


OaklandRank@San FranciscoRank
3   Spread -3  
21.8   Implied Total 24.8  
19.7 27 Points/Gm 21.6 23
31.1 31 Points All./Gm 29.5 28
62.9 19 Plays/Gm 63.9 17
61.1 8 Opp. Plays/Gm 65.4 24
36.8% 23 Rush% 43.4% 11
63.2% 10 Pass% 56.6% 22
48.4% 31 Opp. Rush % 39.4% 14
51.6% 2 Opp. Pass % 60.6% 19


  • Oakland is allowing 11 red zone plays per game (31st) while San Francisco is allowing 10.9 per game (30th).
  • Opponents have scored on 52.8 percent of their possessions against the Raiders, the highest rate in the league.
  • The 49ers have scored on 30 percent (18-of-60) of their possessions since C.J. Beathard has taken over the starting quarterback, 28th in the league.
  • Oakland is averaging just 13.0 points per game on the road, 31st in the league.
  • Per Pro Football Focus, Derek Carr has a 110.0 quarterback rating with a clean pocket as opposed to a 43.4 rating under pressure. That gap is the third largest in the league behind Cam Newton and Josh Allen.



Trust (spike starting production)

  • Jared Cook: There was no target spike for Cook in the first game without Amari Cooper, but it didn’t matter as Cook turned four catches in 74 yards and a score. He leads all tight ends in targets inside of the 10-yard line (eight) on the season. The 49ers have only faced three top-12 tight ends on the season and allowed a starting-caliber week to all three. Tack on that both Reuben Foster and Jaquiski Tartt are both also unavailable for the 49ers and this spot gets even better for Cook.

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)


  • George Kittle: With the 49ers turning things over to Nick Mullens, their entire offense receives a downgrade. That said, Kittle is still in play as a high-volume option at a depressed position. He has 23.9 percent of the San Francisco receptions, the second-highest share for a tight end behind Zach Ertz. Oakland is coming off a week in which they allowed Indianapolis tight ends to catch 10-of-11 targets for 133 yards and three scores.
  • Derek Carr: He has had his two best games of the season in high-scoring, back-and-forth environments, which we can’t count on happening here now with Mullen drawing the start for San Francisco. Still, Carr is a solid QB2 with upside here as San Francisco ranks 27th in passing points allowed per game (19.5) and they have allowed multiple touchdown passes in seven games this season, the most in the league.
  • Jalen Richard: He’s been a top-30 back in three straight games and have six or more receptions in five games so far. Slight concern that if the 49ers don’t show up that he won’t stack receptions, but he’s still a floor-option FLEX.
  • Matt Breida: Supposedly limited last week, Breida totaled 16 touches while the rest of the San Francisco backfield combined for 10 touches. Natural regression and playing with so many injuries has begun to impact Breida’s efficiency, however.  After rushing 32 times for 274 yards through his opening three games, Breida has rushed 52 times for 213 yards and a score over the past five weeks. That said, he’s still in play as a lower-end RB2 given his touch count against an Oakland defense surrendering 169.1 total yards per game (28th) to backfields.
  • Doug Martin: He totaled 15 touches and 5.5 yards per carry taking over as the lead back a week ago. The 49ers have allowed just one back to hit 70 yards on the grounds against them this season but have faced a smattering of combination backfields and are allowing 132 yards from scrimmage per game to the position. On the deepest bye week of the season, Martin is in the mix as a top-30 back and gets some added appeal if Oakland can control the game against a third-string quarterback.


Bust (underperformance)


  • Raiders WRs: In the first game without Amari Cooper, Brandon LaFell, Seth Roberts and Jordy Nelson all received four targets. Nelson and LaFell led the team in routes run with 27 each. Nelson now has now reached 50-yards receiving in just one game this season. The matchup is one we’d typically target with good wide receiver play, but this group is a better sum of parts option than picking out one individual scorer.
  • Nick Mullens : Drawing his first NFL game action in regular season play, Mullen is an undersized (6'1", 210) quarterback who threw three interceptions this preseason on 43 pass attempts. He's a complete wild card, but not one we can bet on for positive results blindly, even against a soft Oakland defense that is allowing a league-high 8.8 yards per pass attempt and is 26th in passing points allowed per game (18.8).



Falcons @ Washington


1.5   Spread -1.5  
23.0   Implied Total 24.5  
27.1 11 Points/Gm 20.9 25
30.3 30 Points All./Gm 19.1 5
63.9 18 Plays/Gm 64.4 14
65.1 23 Opp. Plays/Gm 61.1 7
35.1% 27 Rush% 46.6% 4
64.9% 6 Pass% 53.4% 29
36.0% 6 Opp. Rush % 34.1% 2
64.0% 27 Opp. Pass % 65.9% 31


  • Washington has trailed for 28.4 percent of their offensive snaps, the third-lowest rate in the league behind Kansas City (20.6 percent) and the Rams (25.7 percent).
  • 43.1 percent of the drives against the Falcons have ended inside of the red zone, the highest rate in the league. League average outside of Atlanta is 27.8 percent.
  • The Falcons are allowing 7.2 yards per play on first downs this season, the highest rate in the league. League average is 5.8 yards.
  • Adrian Peterson ranks third in yards after contact (296) after Todd Gurley (340) and Kareem Hunt (341).
  • The Falcons have rushed for a league-low 67.8 yards per game over their previous five games prior to their Week 8 bye.
  • Since their Week 4 bye, Washington is allowing 72.3 rushing yards per game, third fewest in the league over that span.
  • The Falcons have scored on 26.1 percent (6-of-23) of their possessions on the road this season (27th) as opposed to 56 percent (28-of-50) at home (fifth).


Trust (spike starting production)


  • Julio Jones: We’re now up to 81 consecutive receptions in the regular season without a trip to the end zone, but that lack of scoring hasn’t stopped Jones from being a strong asset per week. He is tied for third in receptions per game (7.6) for all wideouts and leads the position in receiving yardage per game (116).


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)


  • Adrian Peterson: We’re still exposing ourselves to game script any time we have supreme faith in Peterson and he’s only been an RB1 in three of seven games. Atlanta also does have an offense capable of getting out early, even if it is a road game. That said, Washington has been playing turnover-free football and controlling games to give Peterson 17 or more touches in six games this season. Atlanta has been one of premier targets for running back output, but the majority of that damage comes out of the receiving game. They are middling against the run, ranking 18th in rushing yardage (81.9 yards) allowed per game to backfields.
  • Jordan Reed: He has been far from a sexy option, averaging just 4.1 catches for 43.7 yards per game, but he is coming off a season-high 12 targets while the Falcons are 21st in receptions allowed per game (4.7) to opposing tight ends. With a six-team bye week, even another pedestrian performance Reed is tangible at the position.
  • Alex Smith: There has just been no ceiling here to speak of as Smith has been the QB16 or lower in six straight games, but the Falcons have been a supreme slump-buster so far this season. Atlanta has allowed a top-10 scoring quarterback in six straight games and are 29th in passing yardage allowed per game (320.6). If Smith had given us any ceiling to date, he’d arguably be the best streaming option on the board.
  • Matt Ryan: He’s torched fantasy points at home but has been the QB24 and the QB19 in each of his starts on the road, but Washington has allowed a top-12 scorer or a 300-yard passer in each of their past five games.


Bust (underperformance)


  • Washington WRs: If Smith is going to crash through his ceiling this week, someone here should go along for the ride, but there’s little to latch onto with this group. They’ve combined to have one week higher than WR40 on the season. Josh Doctson has led the team in targets in each of the past two games and has pressed Paul Richardson for the team lead in air yards even though he has yet to cash in his opportunities.
  • Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith: The Falcons have had issues running the football and neither back is overly involved in the passing game. Between the two of these backs, they’ve had just one game in which either has had more than three catches in a game. Washington has allowed 91 combined rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley over their past three games.
  • Calvin Ridley: We like Ridley in shootouts, but he becomes a high-risk option otherwise. In the three games in which Ridley has found the end zone, he’s been the WR29, WR1 and WR15. In his other four games, he’s checked in as the WR106, WR64, WR56 and WR45.
  • Mohamed Sanu: It’s same story for Sanu as he’s cleared four receptions just once on the season and has ranked higher than WR64 in just one of his four games without a touchdown.


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)


  • Austin Hooper: He has two games with 22 targets surrounding 19 total targets over his other five games. On a condensed week, he’s still a lower-tier option, but Washington has yet to allow an opposing tight end to post more than 48 yards in a game.
  • Kapri Bibbs: With Chris Thompson officially out, Bibbs will get the call once again as the pass-catching back in the Washington offense. The only problem with that is that Washington has yet to fall behind consistently. Bibbs has had just six and three touches in the two games that Thompson has missed this season, but did have a 4-43-1 receiving line in the last game Thompson was absent against the Cowboys. Bibbs isn't a reliable source of touches, but his role is one we typically would highlight in this matchup. Atlanta is allowing a league-high 8.9 receptions and 68 receiving yards per game to opposing backfields while Peterson has more than two catches in just one game this season.


Lions @ Vikings


5   Spread -5  
22.8   Implied Total 27.8  
24.4 17 Points/Gm 24.6 16
26.6 25 Points All./Gm 24.4 15
62.0 22 Plays/Gm 67.2 6
60.3 3 Opp. Plays/Gm 60.1 2
37.3% 20 Rush% 32.3% 30
62.7% 13 Pass% 67.7% 3
47.2% 29 Opp. Rush % 41.0% 21
52.8% 4 Opp. Pass % 59.0% 12


  • Adam Thielen has at least 100-yards receiving and a receiving touchdown in five straight games, the longest such streak since Patrick Jeffers in 1999.
  • Thielen ranks second in the league in yards after he catch (302) while Stefon Diggs ranks third (293 yards) for all wide receivers.
  • 77.4 percent of the yardage gained by the Vikings has been via passing, the fourth-highest rate in the league.
  • 60.7 percent of the yardage allowed by Detroit has been via passing, the second-lowest rate in the league.
  • Latavius Murray has a rushing touchdown in 23 games since the start of the 2015 season, tied for second in the league over that span with Cam Newton behind Todd Gurley (26).
  • Matthew Stafford has been the QB16 or lower in 7-of-8 games against the Vikings since Mike Zimmer joined the team, averaging a QB19 scoring finish, 223.8 passing yards and 14.4 fantasy points per game.
  • Kerryon Johnson averages +3.1 yards per carry than any other carry from his team, the largest gap in the league.


Trust (spike starting production)


  • Adam Thielen: He leads the position in just about everything and now has added become a touchdown scorer to his resume, leading the team with 11 red zone targets over the past five games. Tack on that Stefon Diggs will be inactive and Thielen should push double-digit receptions.


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)


  • Kirk Cousins: He’s finished higher than QB10 just twice on the season, but has held a steady floor, posting 17 or more points in six of his eight games, including three in a row.
  • Kerryon Johnson: He’s set new season-highs in snaps played over the past two weeks and showed last week that he’s game-script proof with Theo Riddick sidelined as he caught 6-of-8 targets. His ceiling is still hurt by his lack of involvement near the end zone, but Johnson has double-digit points in six straight games played.
  • Kyle Rudolph: He hasn’t been a top-12 scorer or had double-digit scoring output since Week 4, but the theme of the week is that tight end is even shallower than usual with so many teams on bye. Detroit has allowed a top-12 tight end in three of their past four games and Rudolph should get more opportunities with Diggs out.
  • Kenny Golladay: There was a developing concern for his targets as he received four or fewer targets in three of his past four games, but Tate led the team in targets in 6-of-7 games and was averaging 9.9 looks per contest. Both Golladay and Jones will get the immediate target bump with no tight end presence on the roster and Theo Riddick still dealing with an injury.
  • Marvin Jones: He’s coming off a season-high 10 targets and now more targets open up with the trade of Tate. In typical Jones boom-or-bust fashion, he has one monster game (6-109-2) against the Vikings while with Detroit orbiting three other games where he’s combined to turn in 7-101-0.
  • Latavius Murray: He’s been a top-10 scorer in each of the past three weeks, averaging 20 touches per game over that span with a touchdown in each game. Detroit ranks dead last in rushing yards allowed per game (137.0) and yards per carry (5.5) to backs and has allowed five top-10 scorers in seven games this season. The Vikings look like they want to get Dalvin Cook involved on a "limited amount of snaps" Sunday, but that's vague information at best and they likjely won't push him given how many setbacks Cook has had thusfar with his hamstring injury. That said, even a 10 percent snap share can be enough to move Murray from a low-end RB1 to a RB2 given his lack of involvement in the passing game.


Bust (underperformance)


  • Matthew Stafford: Between his consistent down weeks versus the Vikings under Zimmer and the fact that he has finished higher than QB14 just once on the season, he’s a mid-QB2 option once again.



Steelers @ Ravens


3   Spread -3  
22.0   Implied Total 25.0  
29.1 5 Points/Gm 24.6 14
24.6 16 Points All./Gm 17.1 1
67.0 7 Plays/Gm 72.9 1
67.0 27 Opp. Plays/Gm 62.5 16
34.5% 28 Rush% 36.9% 22
65.5% 5 Pass% 63.1% 11
34.5% 4 Opp. Rush % 39.8% 17
65.5% 29 Opp. Pass % 60.2% 16


  • Joe Flacco leads the league in pass attempts of 15-plus yards downfield (65) but has completed just 33.8 percent (22-of-65), the lowest rate for all full-season starting quarterbacks.
  • The Steelers have allowed opposing passers to complete just 34.9 percent (22-of-63) of their deep passing attempts, second in the league behind only Dallas (33.3 percent).
  • After allowing 8.1 yards per pass attempt through four weeks (26th), the Steelers have allowed 5.8 yards per pass attempt since, fewest in the league.
  • Over his past five starts in Baltimore, Ben Roethlisberger has averaged 233.8 passing yards, 6.2 yards per pass attempt and 11.9 fantasy points per game with five touchdown passes and five interceptions.
  • Antonio Brown has averaged 6.0 catches for 65.8 yards with one touchdown in these games and has not had a 100-yard receiving game in Baltimore over his career.
  • Brown has caught a touchdown pass in five consecutive games, the longest streak for the Pittsburgh franchise since Ron Shanklin went six straight games in 1973.
  • James Conner has 10 touches inside of the 5-yard line, second to only Todd Gurley (14). Le'Veon Bell had not had more than eight touches inside of the 5-yard line since his rookie season in 2013.
  • Conner has seven runs of 20 or more yards, tied with Saquon Barkley for the most in the league. Bell had seven runs combined of 20 or more yards over the entire 2016 and 2017 seasons.
  • Conner is the first running back to have 100-yards rushing and multiple rushing touchdowns in three straight games since Chris Johnson in 2009.


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)


  • Antonio Brown: The outcry for his underperformance has died down as he’s reeled off three straight top-12 scoring weeks and now leads the position in touchdowns, but he and Ben’s history here in Baltimore is enough to at least smudge the expected ceiling.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster: He’s had 60 or fewer receiving yards in three of his past four games and has gone over four receptions in just one of those games. That said, he still carries touchdown-saving upside for his floor as he leads the Steelers in red zone targets (15) while the next closest target (Brown) has eight.
  • Vance McDonald: He had a modest 5-62 line when these teams met in Week 4. His down moments have come in big Pittsburgh wins where the Steelers have taken the air out of the ball. They should keep the volume going here as road dogs. Opposing tight ends have accounted for 29.5 percent of the receiving yardage against the Ravens, the highest rate in the league.
  • John Brown: The Steelers are defending the deep ball as good as anyone in the league of late and that’s where Brown makes his money. 49.2 percent (30-of-61) of Brown’s targets are on throws 15-plus yards downfield. With that in mind, he still had 3-116-1 on seven targets when these teams last met in Week 4, as he's the type of player that only needs to make one play and the Ravens shouldn't be expected to run the ball effectively.
  • Michael Crabtree: His 8.6 targets per game rank 15th at the position, so you can still squeeze WR3 life from him based on volume and the Ravens shouldn’t be expected to run the ball here. That said, he did have his worst game of the season (3-29-0 on eight targets) when these teams last met, but it's tough to leave him outside of the top-30 wideouts on such a shallow week.

Bust (underperformance)


  • Ben Roethlisberger: It’s an early road start, which we always throw into consideration when anticipating a down week from Roethlisberger. To tack on, it’s also a tougher matchup that he has struggled in on the road and Baltimore has allowed just three top-12 scoring quarterbacks at home since the start of the 2016 season.
  • James Conner: You're still playing him, of course but this could be a week where he struggles to reach the high-end RB1 status he will surely be ranked as across the industry. He’s dropped a hammer on three straight soft matchups but will be tested here on the road against a Baltimore defense that is allowing just 70.3 rushing yards per game to backs (fifth) and held Conner to a season-low 44 yards in Week 4. Just one back has reached 80 yards from scrimmage in a game against the Ravens. Still, Conner has had a stable receiving floor, catching four or more passes in every game but one and always carries touchdown upside.
  • Joe Flacco: He’s tied for the league lead in pass attempts per game (42.8), but it has bene empty calories of late as he’s been the QB22 or lower in three of his past four starts. The Steelers have righted the ship a bit on the back end of their defense, holding three straight passers to QB18 or lower scoring weeks.
  • Alex Collins: He’s out-touched Javorius Allen 46-13 over the past three weeks, but still has had just one RB2 or better scoring week over his past five games. The Steelers rank fourth in rushing yardage allowed per game (66.4) to opposing backfields.


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)


  • Willie Snead: He has seven or more targets in five straight games and has double-digit points in 6-of-8 games on the season. There’s not much to grasp onto here as far as a ceiling goes (his highest scoring week is WR27), but if you’re in need of a floor WR4 type, he’s in play.

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Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. You can find him on Twitter @LordReebs.
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