Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Week 9 key wide receiver questions and tight end analysis

  • Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins is the WR1 in PPR points per game this season and has another winnable matchup on the horizon against the Seahawks.
  • Ravens rookie TE Isaiah Likely is shaping up as a top-six fantasy option at the position if Mark Andrews (shoulder, knee) is too banged up to suit up on Monday night.
  • Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers has been a top-15 fantasy receiver on a per-game basis and should avoid ace Colts CB Stephon Gilmore from the friendly confines of the slot.
Estimated reading time: 30 minutes


Week 9 is here! It’s truly a great day to be great.

What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following seven categories will be analyzed for all 26 teams playing this week:

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the wide receiver falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Week 9 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
  • Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYJ | PHI | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH


ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR6), Rondale Moore (WR26), Robbie Anderson (WR53)
  • WR Usage: DeAndre Hopkins (100% routes, 0.33 targets per route run, 3.2 yards per route run), Rondale Moore (98%, 0.16, 1.24), A.J. Green (38%, 0.12, 0.3)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: SEA: 4 in PPR per game to WR, 23 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Zach Ertz (TE4)
  • TE Usage: Zach Ertz (91% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.1 yards per route run), Trey McBride (17%, 0.06, 0.47)

Key question: Are both DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore must-start options this week?

The former sure is. The artist known as Nuk has caught 22 of 27 targets for 262 yards and a touchdown in his first two games post-suspension, making the sort of ridiculous plays that have helped him be one of the game’s most productive receivers of the last decade.

In Weeks 1-6 the Cardinals averaged a pedestrian 19 points per game; they have ripped off 42 and 26 points over their last eight quarters of action. Kyler Murray set season-high marks in passing yards (326) and touchdowns (3) last week against the Vikings; this is suddenly a fairly lethal offense with Hopkins and a healthy version of Moore in the fold.

While Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen has the size (6-foot-4) to potentially give Hopkins some problems at the catch point, Woolen has spent 92% of his snaps as the defense’s right cornerback this season and isn’t expected to follow one particular receiver this Sunday. Continue to fire up the WR1 in PPR points per game as a top-six option at the position until told otherwise.

The Cardinals’ pint-sized second-year playmaker got back to spending the majority of his time in the slot last week after working mostly on the outside during his Week 7 one-catch dud. It’s not a coincidence Moore’s slot usage was back to normal with both Robbie Anderson and A.J. Green able to suit up. Moore has now played a full game’s worth of snaps on five separate occasions, feasting in the three contests that featured a majority of his reps on the inside:

  • Week 4 (26% slot rate): 3-11-0 (5 targets)
  • Week 5 (83%): 7-68-0 (8)
  • Week 6 (80%): 6-49-0 (10)
  • Week 7 (14%): 1-31-0 (2)
  • Week 8 (58%): 7-92-1 (8)

The Week 6 stat line came against this very defense; I’m firing up Moore as a volume-based upside WR3 against a Seahawks defense that has allowed the league’s seventh-highest explosive pass-play rate to slot receivers this season.


ATLANTA FALCONS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Drake London (WR31), Damiere Byrd (WR57), Olamide Zaccheaus (WR64)
  • WR Usage: Drake London (90% routes, 0.26 targets per route run, 1.89 yards per route run), Olamide Zaccheaus (81%, 0.16, 2.17), Damiere Byrd (58%, 0.23, 3.55)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: LAC: 19 in PPR per game to WR, 22 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kyle Pitts (TE5)
  • TE Usage: Kyle Pitts (87% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 1.8 yards per route run), Parker Hesse (23%, 0.08, 0.68)

Key question: Can either Drake London or Kyle Pitts be trusted as weekly upside options?

Not exactly, inside of the league’s most run-heavy offense since Rex Ryan’s 2009 Jets. It’s a shame; both players have made a habit of flashing with their sporadic opportunities. London’s dropoff has been especially frustrating considering how well the rookie has looked at overcoming his alleged lack of separation ability.

And yet, it’s tough to be overly critical of Falcons head coach Arthur Smith when his offense is in the top half of the league in pretty much any metric denoting overall success on that side of the ball:

  • Points per game: 25 (No. 6)
  • EPA per play: +0.025 (No. 7)
  • Yards per play: 5.5 (No. 14)
  • Scoring drive rate: 39.5% (No. 9)

Marcus Mariota’s 28 pass attempts in Week 8 were his most since Week 1. Pitts and London will in all likelihood need to continue to make the most out of few opportunities, but at least they both boast gaudy target-per-route run rates north of 25%. Neither needs to be jammed into starting lineups, but this isn’t the worst spot in the world considering the Chargers (-3.5) could theoretically force Mariota and the passing game to keep their foot on the gas more than usual.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Devin Duvernay (WR32), Demarcus Robinson (WR60), James Proche (WR77)
  • WR Usage: Devin Duvernay (70% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 1.68 yards per route run), James Proche (70%, 0.1, 0.52), Demarcus Robinson (53%, 0.17, 0.97)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: NO: 25 in PPR per game to WR, 18 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mark Andrews (TE2)
  • TE Usage: Isaiah Likely (81% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.48 yards per route run), Josh Oliver (33%, 0.11, 0.52)

Key question: How high is the ceiling for Isaiah Likely if Mark Andrews (shoulder, knee) is ruled out?

It’s looking good. No offense has targeted its tight ends more than the Ravens this season, meaning Likely could immediately flirt with position-best volume should the Ravens choose to be cautious with Andrews. Coach John Harbaugh did say Andrews’ shoulder injury is not a “major thing,” although the team’s Week 10 bye could perhaps lead to them being extra cautious with their stud tight end.

Fantasy managers need to be careful here considering the Ravens face off against the Saints on Monday Night Football; just realize Likely will be a legit top-five option at the position should Andrews miss time. The only tight ends I would confidently start ahead of him: Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz and probably Kyle Pitts.

From PFF’s post-preseason breakdown on Likely, who earned the position’s highest PFF preseason grade (92.2):

“Isaiah Likely had a dream preseason, making the kind of impact where it is immediately clear his general draft evaluation was well off the mark. The focus for Likely was on his blocking deficiencies, but it should have been on just how good and polished he is at every aspect of receiving. Likely caught all 12 passes thrown his way including four contested targets. He averaged almost six yards after the catch and broke seven tackles with the ball in his hands. Likely still may not be the best blocker in the world, but he can be an impactful secondary pass-catching option within the Ravens' offense.”

The reality that Rashod Bateman (foot) is already sidelined means that Likely should be considered the favorite to lead this offense in targets should Andrews be ruled out. Credit to the Saints for allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game to opposing tight ends this season, but Likely’s combination of elite volume and promising talent is enough to outweigh the tough matchup.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Stefon Diggs (WR2), Gabriel Davis (WR16), Isaiah McKenzie (WR46)
  • WR Usage: Stefon Diggs (87% routes, 0.27 targets per route run, 2.98 yards per route run), Gabriel Davis (87%, 0.13, 1.67), Isaiah McKenzie (53%, 0.18, 1.17)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: NYJ: 9 in PPR per game to WR, 2 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dawson Knox (TE11)
  • TE Usage: Dawson Knox (77% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.85 yards per route run), Quintin Morris (17%, 0.09, 0.84)

Key question: Should Stefon Diggs fantasy managers be overly concerned about stud Jets CB Sauce Gardner?

To an extent. PFF’s midseason Defensive Rookie of the Year hasn’t allowed more than 51 receiving yards in any game this season and has racked up a league-high 10 pass breakups. PFF’s fourth-highest-graded cornerback, Gardner has proven more than worthy of being the 2022 NFL Draft’s No. 4 overall pick.

And yet, Gardner hasn’t followed a specific receiver around all season; he’s spent 82% of his snaps this season as the defense’s left cornerback. Obviously, Josh Allen and company are good enough to win any matchup based on their own greatness alone, and both Diggs and Gabriel Davis move around the formation enough to prevent either from getting too lost in the Sauce (sorry).

Don’t get me wrong: This remains a tough matchup against a Jets secondary that boasts two additional top-15 cornerbacks in overall PFF grade in D.J. Reed (79.3, No. 7) and Michael Carter II (76.7, No. 15). This is PFF’s second-highest graded defense in pure coverage for a reason; it’d make sense if Diggs and Davis don’t exactly erupt this weekend, even if both need to continue to be started in fantasy lineups of all shapes and sizes.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: D.J. Moore (WR20), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR40)
  • WR Usage: D.J. Moore (97% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.61 yards per route run), Terrace Marshall Jr. (95%, 0.18, 1.56), Shi Smith (55%, 0.1, 0.56)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: CIN: 8 in PPR per game to WR, 12 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tommy Tremble (TE32)
  • TE Usage: Tommy Tremble (55% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 0.7 yards per route run), Ian Thomas (24%, 0.19, 1.32)

Key question: Is D.J. Moore back?

It’s looking good! Panthers QB P.J. Walker certainly hooked up with Moore when it mattered, and yet last week’s performance could have been even bigger. Moore was open for potential 81- and 24-yard scores, only for Walker to overthrow the bomb, and underthrow the shorter end zone shot. The 6-152-1 performance is hardly one to complain about; just realize the total wasn’t too far away from surpassing 200 yards with at least one additional score.

Moore has benefited from three key variable changes in recent weeks:

  1. Improved quarterback play from prodigy P.J. Walker
  2. More volume after both Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey were traded
  3. Cozy matchups against banged-up secondaries

None of these factors look to be changing ahead of Week 9. Both starting Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie (ACL, out) and Eli Apple (hamstring) could again be out of the picture, leaving Moore to feast against the same group of backups that Amari Cooper just dusted to the tune of 5-131-1 on only seven targets.

Moore is back in the position’s top-20 thanks to another solid matchup alongside truly fantastic expected volume.


CHICAGO BEARS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Darnell Mooney (WR39), Chase Claypool (WR44), Equanimeous St. Brown (WR63), Dante Pettis (WR68)
  • WR Usage: Darnell Mooney (97% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.7 yards per route run), Dante Pettis (52%, 0.12, 1.05), N'Keal Harry (48%, 0.11, 1.41)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: MIA: 24 in PPR per game to WR, 30 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Darnell Mooney vs. Xavien Howard.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Cole Kmet (TE18)
  • TE Usage: Cole Kmet (68% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 0.85 yards per route run), Trevon Wesco (16%, 0.1, 1.15)

Key question: Is Chase Claypool suddenly going to boom in Chicago?

Highly doubtful. Nothing against Claypool: Most of his detractors are usually either still pissed off that he celebrated the first down at an awfully bad time last season, or because he called himself a top-three receiver in the NFL back in the offseason. In reality, Claypool is still just 24 years old and managed to score 13 touchdowns in 17 games as a rookie all the way back in 2020.

The bigger problem with expecting any sort of fantasy-relevant upside is simple: This offense doesn’t want to throw the ball. Credit to Justin Fields for ripping off four consecutive top-12 fantasy finishes; he still hasn’t reached even 210 passing yards in a game this season. Darnell Mooney is easily the Bears’ No. 1 pass-game option with 44 targets, a mark that would rank fourth on the Steelers this season and nearly tied for fifth with George Pickens.

Only Titans wide receivers have collectively had fewer expected PPR points than the Bears. Mooney and Claypool are good real-life wide receivers with horrific fantasy football volume, making both non-recommended starts even in a winnable matchup against Xavien Howard and company.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Tee Higgins (WR9), Tyler Boyd (WR17), Mike Thomas (WR55)
  • WR Usage: Tee Higgins (100% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.98 yards per route run), Tyler Boyd (98%, 0.13, 1.58), Mike Thomas (48%, 0.08, 0.37)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: CAR: 22 in PPR per game to WR, 21 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Hayden Hurst (TE12)
  • TE Usage: Hayden Hurst (73% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 1.03 yards per route run), Mitchell Wilcox (25%, 0.1, 0.8)

Key question: Should you keep trusting Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd despite last week’s up-and-down performance?

You bet, especially considering these Bengals wide receivers have the second-coziest stretch at the position in Weeks 9-14 in terms of PPR points per game allowed to the position:

  • Week 9 vs. Panthers: 22nd in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers
  • Week 10 Bye
  • Week 11 at Steelers: 31st
  • Week 12 at Titans: 27th
  • Week 13 vs. Chiefs: 30th
  • Week 14 vs. Browns: 15th

Boyd has now posted seven top-20 and nine top-28 finishes in 14 games with Joe Burrow but without one of Higgins or Ja’Marr Chase. Higgins has scored a touchdown and/or surpassed 90 yards in all but two of his full games this season. Both can be fired up as top-20 options at the position; they should see plenty of both C.J .Henderson (PFF’s 73rd-highest-graded corner) and Donte Jackson (81st) throughout the afternoon.


DETROIT LIONS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR10), Josh Reynolds (WR37), Kalif Raymond (WR52)
  • WR Usage: Kalif Raymond (95% routes, 0.17 targets per route run, 1.64 yards per route run), Amon-Ra St. Brown (95%, 0.31, 2.16), Josh Reynolds (82%, 0.17, 1.5)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: GB: 7 in PPR per game to WR, 8 in PFF coverage grade
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Brock Wright (TE33) 
  • TE Usage: T.J. Hockenson (69% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.87 yards per route run), Brock Wright (18%, 0.13, 1.87)

Key question: Is the Sun God still locked and loaded as an every-week PPR WR1?

Abso-lutley, especially with T.J. Hockenson now residing in Minnesota, and D’Andre Swift (ankle, shoulder) still seemingly not operating at 100%. Reminder: St. Brown has barely missed in his last nine games not impacted by injury:

  • Week 13, 2021: 10 receptions-86 yards-1 TD (12 targets, PPR WR6)
  • Week 14, 2021: 8-73-0 (12, WR26)
  • Week 15, 2021: 8-90-1 (11, WR6)
  • Week 16, 2021: 9-91-1 (11, WR6)
  • Week 17, 2021: 8-111-1 (11, WR2)
  • Week 18, 2021: 8-109-1 (10, WR9)
  • Week 1, 2022: 8-64-1 (12, WR12)
  • Week 2, 2022: 9-116-2 (12, WR4)
  • Week 3, 2022: 6-73-0 (9, WR37)
  • Week 8, 2022: 7-69-0 (10, WR23)

The Packers have been a bottom-eight defense in passer rating allowed to slot wide receivers. St. Brown’s target ceiling is the roof as the last standing key cog of this once-lethal passing attack; fire him up as a true top-10 option in full-PPR formats.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Romeo Doubs (WR27), Sammy Watkins (WR65)
  • WR Usage: Romeo Doubs (88% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.17 yards per route run), Sammy Watkins (71%, 0.13, 1.67), Amari Rodgers (47%, 0.16, 1.11)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: DET: 29 in PPR per game to WR, 32 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Robert Tonyan (TE10)
  • TE Usage: Robert Tonyan (65% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.55 yards per route run), Josiah Deguara (38%, 0.17, 1.59)

Key question: Can fantasy managers finally trust Romeo Doubs after last week’s solid performance?

It helped, although Allen Lazard (shoulder) managed to start the week off with a practice after missing the Packers’ Sunday night loss to the Bills

The allure here is a matchup against PFF’s single-lowest graded defense in terms of pure coverage grade. Only the Falcons, Steelers and Chiefs have allowed more PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Lions this season.

It’s downright shocking that the calendar says November and Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown for three touchdowns or even 260 yards in a game yet this season. Perhaps a matchup against a familiar punch bag will be enough for A-aron to re-find MVP form: He’s posted 138-2-0 (in one half), 255-4-0, 290-3-0, 240-2-0, 323-2-1 and 283-2-1 passing lines against the Lions since joining forces with head coach Matt LaFleur in 2019.

Doubs will be more of a mid-tier WR3 as opposed to upside option if Lazard is healthy enough to return to action. The former receiver would be ranked closely; unfortunately, the Packers don’t have enough benefit of the doubt at this point to feel overly confident about either option, although it’d make sense if this pristine matchup yields at least some close to a get-right game.


HOUSTON TEXANS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Brandin Cooks (WR29), Phillip Dorsett (WR79)
  • WR Usage: Phillip Dorsett (89% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 0.88 yards per route run), Brandin Cooks (83%, 0.22, 1.53), Chris Moore (74%, 0.1, 0.87)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: PHI: 10 in PPR per game to WR, 5 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Brevin Jordan (TE26)
  • TE Usage: Brevin Jordan (46% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 0.36 yards per route run), O.J. Howard (34%, 0.18, 1.33)

Key question: Is anyone in this passing game worth trusting in fantasy at the moment?

Nope. Nico Collins (groin, out) won’t suit up Thursday night, while Brandin Cooks (personal/wrist, questionable) seems to be at odds with the franchise following their handling of the trade deadline.

Ultimately: The upside available isn’t worth chase. The entire team has just two top-24 wide receiver finishes this season: Cooks as the PPR WR22 and WR14 in Week 1 and Week 4, respectively. Davis Mills has cleared 250 passing yards once this season and has yet to throw three touchdowns in a single game. I’ll be answering any close start/sit questions involving Cooks with the other guy. 


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Michael Pittman Jr. (WR21), Alec Pierce (WR39), Parris Campbell (WR49)
  • WR Usage: Michael Pittman Jr. (96% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.68 yards per route run), Parris Campbell (75%, 0.12, 0.9), Alec Pierce (68%, 0.18, 1.75)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: NE: 11 in PPR per game to WR, 14 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Michael Pittman vs. Jalen Mills.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Kylen Granson (TE27)
  • TE Usage: Mo Alie-Cox (43% routes, 0.1 targets per route run, 0.92 yards per route run), Kylen Granson (36%, 0.17, 1.19)

Key question: Is Michael Pittman still a recommended start with Sam Ehlinger under center?

Tentatively, yes. Pittman (9 targets) led the way over Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell (2) in Ehlinger’s first career start; even a dropoff in efficiency can be swallowed with this sort of volume.

Figuring out whether this is the spot to expect a boom game from Pittman is a different story. The Patriots have deployed both Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones in coverage this season. Much like their backfield, it’s always difficult to get a read on what Bill Belichick and company are thinking with their coverage.

I lean toward Mills getting the assignment due to the reality that he was the most recent corner asked to hold up in one-on-one coverage. The ex-Eagles corner deserves credit for doing a pretty good job against both Amari Cooper (4-44-1) as well as Diontae Johnson (6-57-0), although both matchups were also obviously influenced by mediocre quarterback play.

The latter variable is of bigger concern to Pittman than this specific matchup. Treat him as a borderline WR2 in a matchup that could bring out the worst in Ehlinger if Bill Belichick’s reputation of bringing out the worst in young quarterbacks is to be believed.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Christian Kirk (WR23), Zay Jones (WR38), Marvin Jones Jr. (WR59)
  • WR Usage: Zay Jones (97% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.26 yards per route run), Christian Kirk (91%, 0.2, 1.74), Marvin Jones Jr. (80%, 0.18, 1.19)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: LV: 17 in PPR per game to WR, 26 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Evan Engram (TE14)
  • TE Usage: Evan Engram (94% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.35 yards per route run), Chris Manhertz (11%, 0.11, 0.4)

Key question: Why is this passing game struggling so much?

Because of Trevor Lawrence if we’re done blaming Urban Meyer at this point. It’s not like the 2021 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick has sucked in every game this season, but the complete picture certainly isn’t all that pretty.

  • Week 1: 56.8 PFF passing grade (No. 22 among all quarterbacks with 15-plus dropbacks)
  • Week 2: 73.7 (No. 8)
  • Week 3: 76.0 (No. 6)
  • Week 4: 29.0 (No. 34)
  • Week 5: 60.6 (No. 22)
  • Week 6: 62.2 (No. 17)
  • Week 7: 50.4 (No. 25)
  • Week 8: 42.2 (No. 29)

Add it all together and this has been anyone’s idea of a below-average quarterback. Lawrence stands as PFF’s sixth-lowest-graded quarterback as a passer among 36 qualified signal-callers this season. Twenty-third in yards per attempt (6.7), 25th in adjusted completion rate (73.5%) and 22nd in passer rating (84.9), even the most astute Lawrence truther would be hard pressed to find a passing metric that paints him as anything other than a mediocre quarterback through eight weeks of action.

The good news: Jacksonville’s schedule really lightens up down the stretch. Nobody has an easier next six weeks than Jaguars wide receivers when it comes to the average ranks of their Week 9 to 14 opponents in PPR points per game allowed to the position:

  • Week 9 vs. Raiders: 17th
  • Week 10 at Chiefs: 30th
  • Week 11 Bye
  • Week 12 vs. Ravens: 28th
  • Week 13 at Lions: 29th
  • Week 14 at Titans: 27th

Christian Kirk (17 targets over the last two weeks) and Evan Engram (13) are the only recommended starts out of this struggling passing game at the moment; just don’t be surprised if T-Law and company are able to flirt with at least a few more upper-end performances before the season is over.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR22), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR34), Mecole Hardman (WR45)
  • WR Usage: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (73% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 1.54 yards per route run), JuJu Smith-Schuster (68%, 0.19, 2.09), Mecole Hardman (57%, 0.16, 1.41)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: TEN: 27 in PPR per game to WR, 9 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Travis Kelce (TE1)
  • TE Usage: Travis Kelce (81% routes, 0.24 targets per route run, 2.22 yards per route run), Noah Gray (27%, 0.14, 0.8)

Key question: What should fantasy managers expect from Kadarius Toney in his first game with the Chiefs?

Not too much. Coach Andy Reid would only say, “We’ll try to work him in. He picks things up fairly easily.” Still, Toney’s top-12 numbers in yards per route run and yards after the catch per reception as a rookie reflects what the film told us: The man is awfully difficult to handle in space.

 

Of course, it’s hardly a guarantee that Toney: 1.) Stays healthy, and 2.) Gets a full-time role. Even with those two variables, it’s not a given that Patrick Mahomes suddenly focuses all of his attention on Toney. The all-world signal-caller warned fantasy managers before the season that things would be spread around on a week-to-week basis. This certainly proved to be true (aside from Travis Kelce’s typical excellence) for the first six weeks of the season, but the entire wide receiver room really got going in the team’s dominant Week 7 win over the 49ers:

  • Week 1: 34.6 total fantasy PPR points scored from Chiefs wide receivers
  • Week 2: 27.8
  • Week 3: 23.9
  • Week 4: 25.4
  • Week 5: 38.8
  • Week 6: 38.9
  • Week 7: 75.2

It was good to see Week 7’s explosion; then again fantasy managers also have six weeks of evidence that suggests there might not be enough meat on the bone for any one man to consistently post high-end production in this crowded wide-receiver room.

For now, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marques Valdes-Scantling remain the clear-cut top-two fantasy receivers; Toney’s presence is a far bigger obstacle for Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore. The whole group is set up well on Sunday Night Football against a Titans defense that has allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season.


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Davante Adams (WR5), Mack Hollins (WR43), Hunter Renfrow (WR48)
  • WR Usage: Mack Hollins (93% routes, 0.14 targets per route run, 1.48 yards per route run), Hunter Renfrow (91%, 0.16, 1.08), Davante Adams (65%, 0.25, 2)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: JAX: 18 in PPR per game to WR, 24 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: Davante Adams vs. Tyson Campbell, Mack Hollins vs. Tre Herndon.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Foster Moreau (TE17)
  • TE Usage: Foster Moreau (95% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.28 yards per route run), Jesper Horsted (2%, 0.18, 0.86)

Key question: Are we positive things are going to get better for this passing game in the near future?

Not necessarily. Raiders wide receivers have the second-toughest schedule in terms of their Week 9 to 14 opponents' PPR points per game allowed to the position. This week’s spot specifically isn’t all that rough, but Davante Adams and company will next have to take on the Colts (No. 2 in PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers), Broncos (No. 1), Seahawks (No. 4), Chargers (No. 19) and Rams (No. 20) up until the fantasy playoffs.

This week’s specific one-on-one matchup also isn’t necessarily a gimme. The Jaguars have asked Tyson Campbell to track the opposition’s No. 1 receiver the two times they have deployed him in shadow coverage, with Tre Herndon on the clear No. 2. Sadly, Head coach Josh McDaniels has relegated Hunter Renfrow to part-time duties in the slot, meaning Mack Hollins will be the one tasked with the plus matchup against PFF’s 87th-highest graded corner out of 122 qualified defensive backs.

Campbell deserves credit for shutting down both Courtland Sutton (1-13-0) and Mike Williams (1-15-1). PFF’s 11th-highest-graded corner, Campbell could very well make life tough on Adams this week. Of course, tough matchups ceased to matter for Adams quite some time ago; his combination of elite volume and talent makes him a weekly top-10 option in fantasy land regardless of whichever mere mortal is assigned with slowing him down.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Josh Palmer (WR28), DeAndre Carter (WR51)
  • WR Usage: DeAndre Carter (93% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 0.95 yards per route run), Mike Williams (75%, 0.19, 1.67), Michael Bandy (63%, 0.18, 0.94)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: ATL: 32 in PPR per game to WR, 27 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Gerald Everett (TE7)
  • TE Usage: Gerald Everett (58% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.42 yards per route run), Tre' McKitty (25%, 0.06, 0.29)

Key question: Why isn’t Justin Herbert pushing the ball downfield more often?

To be fair, the Chargers’ banged-up wide receiver room isn’t exactly overflowing with field-stretching options that warrant constant deep shots. This is truly one banged-up group of pass-catchers:

  • Keenan Allen (hamstring) missed Weeks 2-6 before returning to limited snaps because he “did not feel like he could burst” per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper. He didn’t practice Wednesday and is considered “day-to-day.”
  • Mike Williams (high-ankle sprain) will miss “weeks not days” per head coach Brandon Staley.
  • Josh Palmer (concussion) wasn’t able to suit up in Week 8, but Palmer has cleared the protocol and is expected to play in Week 9.
  • Jalen Guyton (knee, IR) hasn’t played since Week 3.

That said: Austin Ekeler is on pace to catch 129 passes this season. This is great for Ekeler’s fantasy managers, not so much for real-life Chargers fans. It doesn’t really make sense for someone with Herbert’s sort of arm talent to boast a bottom-five average target depth after seven weeks. His passing numbers are far closer to Daniel Jones than most Chargers fans would prefer.

For now, Palmer is the only recommended start with Allen and Williams both tentatively expected to be sidelined this week. Even then: Don’t get carried away; he’s benefited from Allen being sidelined virtually all season already and has traded three solid finishes as the PPR WR31, WR25 and WR22 with three complete duds as the WR87, WR79 and WR74. Still, the Falcons’ banged-up secondary has allowed more PPR points per game to the position than anybody; Palmer is a volume-based upside WR3 with the sort of matchup that Herbert *should* be able to exploit.


LOS ANGELES RAMS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Cooper Kupp (WR4), Allen Robinson II (WR35), Van Jefferson (WR56)
  • WR Usage: Cooper Kupp (97% routes, 0.29 targets per route run, 2.42 yards per route run), Allen Robinson II (89%, 0.13, 0.84), Van Jefferson (64%, 0, 0)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: TB: 12 in PPR per game to WR, 4 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tyler Higbee (TE8)
  • TE Usage: Tyler Higbee (42% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 1.42 yards per route run), Brycen Hopkins (8%, 0, 0)

Key question: Has Allen Robinson been one of the league’s most-underwhelming receivers?

In terms of PPR points below expectation: Yes. Overall, just seven wide receivers find themselves at least 20 PPR points below expectation through eight weeks of action:

This isn’t all on Robinson. PFF’s 30th-ranked offensive line hasn’t helped matters, while Cooper Kupp continues to function as one of the biggest target-hogs in the entire league. Throw in the complete utter lack of a run game, and this version of the Rams is suddenly the worst group that head coach Sean McVay has ever led:

  • 2017: No. 1 in points, No. 10 in yards
  • 2018: No. 2 in points, No. 2 in yards
  • 2019: No. 11 in points, No. 7 in yards
  • 2020: No. 22 in points, No. 11 in yards
  • 2021: No. 7 in points, No. 9 in yards
  • 2022: No. 28 in points, No. 30 in yards

Robinson is back on the WR3 map and will rank inside the position’s top-30 if Kupp (ankle) surprisingly winds up inactive; just realize there’s not much meat on the bone in an offense led by a quarterback on pace to throw for *17* touchdowns this season.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Tyreek Hill (WR1), Jaylen Waddle (WR8), Trent Sherfield (WR81)
  • WR Usage: Jaylen Waddle (85% routes, 0.23 targets per route run, 2.74 yards per route run), Tyreek Hill (80%, 0.35, 3.68), Trent Sherfield (63%, 0.1, 0.82)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: CHI: 3 in PPR per game to WR, 17 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mike Gesicki (TE13)
  • TE Usage: Mike Gesicki (58% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 1.22 yards per route run), Durham Smythe (18%, 0.09, 0.67)

Key question: Is Tua Tagovailoa’s arm strength holding back this passing game?

I agree with the general sentiment that Tua Tagovailoa has left a lot of meat on the bone when it comes to getting the ball to his speedy playmaker deep downfield; just realize it hasn’t stopped the third-year signal-caller from working as one of the game’s most-efficient deep-ball passers.

Tua on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield

  • PFF passing grade: 92.7 (No. 6 among 30 quarterbacks with at least 15-such attempts)
  • Passer rating: 111.1 (No. 6)
  • Yards per attempt: 20.3 (No. 2)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 70.8% (No. 1)

Hill has nearly 100 additional receiving yards (389) over second-place receiver Stefon Diggs (290) in terms of total yardage picked up on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield. Hell, Tua slanderers have to admit that Hill didn’t fully help his own cause last week when he dropped what would have been a 60-yard deep strike.

Hill (the overall PPR WR1) and Waddle (WR4) have both earned weekly upside WR1 treatment regardless of the matchup as the twin engines of this top-five offense in yards and EPA per play. Up next is a Bears defense that figures to be a lot less intimidating for opposing offensive lines without Robert Quinn or Roquan Smith patrolling the line of scrimmage.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Justin Jefferson (WR3), Adam Thielen (WR25), K.J. Osborn (WR47)
  • WR Usage: Justin Jefferson (100% routes, 0.24 targets per route run, 2.68 yards per route run), Adam Thielen (93%, 0.17, 1.27), K.J. Osborn (86%, 0.13, 0.81)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: WSH: 23 in PPR per game to WR, 13 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: T.J. Hockenson (TE9)
  • TE Usage: Irv Smith Jr. (48% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.01 yards per route run), Johnny Mundt (43%, 0.17, 0.92)

Key question: What should expectations be for new TE1 T.J. Hockenson?

The hope is that Hockenson is able to be more involved than Irv Smith (ankle, IR) was on a weekly basis. While Smith had at least four targets in all but one game this season, he never played even 65% of the offense’s snaps in an individual contest. Meanwhile, Hockenson’s season-low snap Rate with the Lions was 76%; he’s been over 83% in every other contest.

Hockenson ranked eighth in expected PPR points per game (10.7) with the Lions. Smith (7.9) and Johnny Mundt (4.0) combine for more than this; it’s certainly possible that Hockenson soars higher than before in a more consistent passing game with ample available volume. Still, it’s far from a given that Hockenson gets a full-time role with less than a week to learn the playbook.

Ultimately, the Vikings traded a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick for Hockenson along with 2023 and 2024 fourth-round picks; that sort of investment makes a part-time role awfully unlikely. For this week I’ll be ranking Hockenson behind guys like Kyle Pitts, Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee because there’s enough concern about the workload; once a full-time role is confirmed the ex-Lions talent will be in the weekly top-six conversation.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Jakobi Meyers (WR24), Tyquan Thornton (WR44), Kendrick Bourne (WR82)
  • WR Usage: Jakobi Meyers (91% routes, 0.23 targets per route run, 2.2 yards per route run), Tyquan Thornton (84%, 0.13, 0.71), Kendrick Bourne (80%, 0.14, 1.44)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: IND: 2 in PPR per game to WR, 15 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Hunter Henry (TE21)
  • TE Usage: Hunter Henry (55% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 1.01 yards per route run), Jonnu Smith (52%, 0.24, 1.6)

Key question: Is Jakobi Meyers suddenly a weekly WR2 option?

In full-PPR scoring, yes. Meyers has peeled off 13, six, nine, eight, eight, eight, 12, eight and 12 targets in his last nine games with Mac Jones under center — good for an average of 9.3 targets per contest. Independent of the quarterback, Meyers has posted PPR WR18, WR8, WR39, WR35 and WR10 finishes in his last five games.

The man is the WR13 in PPR points per game this season; Meyers is a target hog in an offense with fewer places to go with the ball than ever with DeVante Parker (knee) banged up. The overall offensive upside at hand isn’t great, yet Meyers has found the end zone three times in his last four games.

Still not sold? Ace Colts CB Stephon Gilmore has made a habit of tracking the opposition’s No. 1 receiver all season, although he’s only spent three total snaps in the slot. This defense ranks just 27th in contested target rate against slot wide receivers; fire up Meyers as the legit WR2 that he’s been for most of 2022.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Chris Olave (WR13), Tre'Quan Smith (WR54), Rashid Shaheed (WR67)
  • WR Usage: Chris Olave (81% routes, 0.27 targets per route run, 2.42 yards per route run), Tre'Quan Smith (58%, 0.16, 1.84), Marquez Callaway (39%, 0.15, 0.83)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: BAL: 28 in PPR per game to WR, 16 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Taysom Hill (TE6)
  • TE Usage: Juwan Johnson (61% routes, 0.14 targets per route run, 1.02 yards per route run), Taysom Hill (35%, 0.11, 0.42)

Key question: How well does Chris Olave’s per-route efficiency stack up with past rookie receivers?

Pretty damn well. The following leaderboard denotes the most yards per route run among rookie wide receivers with at least 50 targets since 2015:

  1. A.J. Brown (2.67)
  2. Justin Jefferson (2.66)
  3. Ja'Marr Chase (2.51)
  4. Chris Olave (2.42)
  5. Tyreek Hill (2.28)

Olave’s PPR WR42 fish in Week 8 marked the first time that he finished outside the position’s top-18 highest scorers since Week 2. It’s unclear when, if ever, Michael Thomas (foot) and/or Jarvis Landry (ankle) return to action; continue to fire up Olave as an upside WR2 in the meantime.

Don’t be surprised if Olave flirts with an upper-end outcome against a Ravens secondary that has been dreadful against the deep ball this season.

Ravens defense vs. passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield

  • Completions allowed: 17 (No. 32)
  • Yards allowed: 569 (No. 31)
  • Touchdowns allowed: 3 (tied for No. 18)
  • Pass yards allowed per attempt: 21.1 (No. 31)
  • Explosive pass-play rate allowed: 59.3% (No. 31)
  • Passer rating allowed: 128.2 (No. 26)

NEW YORK JETS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Garrett Wilson (WR36), Denzel Mims (WR71), Elijah Moore (WR72)
  • WR Usage: Garrett Wilson (98% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.76 yards per route run), Denzel Mims (74%, 0.11, 1.74), Braxton Berrios (53%, 0.13, 0.56)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: BUF: 13 in PPR per game to WR, 7 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tyler Conklin (TE15)
  • TE Usage: Tyler Conklin (72% routes, 0.19 targets per route run, 1.29 yards per route run), C.J. Uzomah (49%, 0.08, 0.67)

Key question: Can anybody in this passing game really be trusted as long as Zach Wilson is under center?

At least Wilson did rack up 355 passing yards and two scores in the Jets’ Week 8 loss to the Patriots; the problem is that only Garrett Wilson has a full-time role at the moment with Corey Davis (knee) hurt and Elijah Moore in the doghouse. Wilson’s 6-115-0 performance in Week 8 was a good reminder of just how talented the 2022 NFL Draft’s No. 10 overall pick is, but he’s ultimately seen just six, four, five, four and seven targets in five games with Wilson under center this season.

This week’s matchup against the Bills is nightmare fuel for Wilson considering this defense ranks third in pressure rate, yet dead last in blitz percentage. The top-five dropoffs in yards per attempt when under pressure vs. when kept clean this season among all quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks:

The Jets are implied to score just 17 points this week, and that feels generous. Wilson remains a volume-starved borderline WR3 unfortunately forced to operate inside anyone’s idea of a bottom-five passing environment. Tyler Conklin is the only other viable option in this passing game; be careful about overly chasing last week’s 6-79-2 performance considering Conklin totaled eight receptions for 90 scoreless yards in his previous four games with Wilson under center.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: A.J. Brown (WR7), DeVonta Smith (WR19), Quez Watkins (WR58)
  • WR Usage: DeVonta Smith (85% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 1.71 yards per route run), A.J. Brown (82%, 0.26, 2.87), Quez Watkins (59%, 0.06, 0.54)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: HOU: 6 in PPR per game to WR, 10 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: A.J. Brown vs. Derek Stingley Jr.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dallas Goedert (TE3)
  • TE Usage: Dallas Goedert (76% routes, 0.18 targets per route run, 1.91 yards per route run), Jack Stoll (26%, 0.06, 0.39)

Key question: Could this be a big-time bounce-back week for DeVonta Smith?

It would make sense, especially with the 2022 NFL Draft’s No. 3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. expected to spend most of his time across from three-touchdown world-beater A.J. Brown.

AJB proved last week that sometimes not even two defenders are enough to slow him down. This reality has made Brown a matchup-proof WR1 for quite some time now, although the 2022 NFL Draft’s No. 3 overall pick deserves some credit for at least making his shadow opponents work for their production so far this season:

The intriguing part about those above lines is that the Broncos and Chargers were dealing with injuries and didn’t have a viable No. 2 receiver, while the Raiders don’t exactly have an overly fantasy-relevant secondary option at the position with all due respect to Mack Hollins and Hunter Renfrow. This means that there really wasn’t a concentrated effort from any of those offenses to take advantage of Houston putting their top corner’s attention on one specific receiver.

The Eagles have seemingly gone out of their way to feed Smith the ball after his two previous duds this season, as he went 7-80-0 following Week 1’s goose egg and 10-87-0 after a 3-17-0 performance in Week 4. Obviously, AJB is cemented as a weekly upside WR1 regardless of the matchup, but Smith also presents serious boom potential against a secondary that has quietly not been overly tested to this point.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: D.K. Metcalf (WR12), Tyler Lockett (WR14), Marquise Goodwin (WR61)
  • WR Usage: Tyler Lockett (76% routes, 0.23 targets per route run, 2.14 yards per route run), D.K. Metcalf (71%, 0.27, 2.03), Marquise Goodwin (37%, 0.15, 1.37)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: ARZ: 16 in PPR per game to WR, 31 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Noah Fant (TE22)
  • TE Usage: Will Dissly (59% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 1.51 yards per route run), Noah Fant (59%, 0.18, 1.16)

Key question: How close was Tyler Lockett to absolutely blowing up last week?

Yes, Lockett caught five of eight targets for 63 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ Week 8 win over the Giants. Also yes, the veteran left quite a bit of meat on the bone throughout the afternoon:

  1. Smith threw a b-e-a-utiful pearl into the left corner of the end zone from 21 yards out. Lockett made the catch in the end zone, but could only get one foot inbounds.
  2. Smith again displayed his pinpoint downfield accuracy from 33 yards out to an even more wide-open Lockett; this time the veteran receiver straight up dropped the perfectly thrown pass and immediately felt the sheesh of the moment.
  3. Lockett caught a ho-hum pass in the flat inside his own 5-yard line, only to lose his fantasy managers two points by coughing up the football and giving the Giants an extra goal-line possession.

Lockett wasn’t the only man to drop a well-thrown touchdown last week, as speedster Marquise Goodwin couldn’t maintain possession of what should have been an 18-yard touchdown. Credit to Goodwin for snagging two scores in Week 7, but this was a sheeshful drop.

The Week 8 Sheesh Report breaks down all the near misses from the previous week of action. I break down every instance when:

  • Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass
  • Pass-catchers did receive an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped
  • Ball carriers managed to get all the way to the one-yard line, but didn’t score
  • Players scored or picked up big yardage, but the play was nullified by penalty
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Mike Evans (WR11), Chris Godwin (WR15), Julio Jones (WR41)
  • WR Usage: Mike Evans (96% routes, 0.21 targets per route run, 2.11 yards per route run), Chris Godwin (92%, 0.24, 1.74), Julio Jones (56%, 0.17, 1.47)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: LAR: 20 in PPR per game to WR, 20 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Cade Otton (TE16)
  • TE Usage: Cade Otton (92% routes, 0.13 targets per route run, 0.91 yards per route run), Ko Kieft (13%, 0.1, 1.59)

Key question: Is this the week TB12 and company finally put everything together?

It’d certainly be a lot cooler if it was. Helping matters for Mike Evans is the fact that Rams CB Jalen Ramsey hasn’t been asked to track a specific receiver all game this season despite regularly doing so in the past. This has included matchups with clear-cut No. 1 receivers seemingly deserving of the treatment like Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb and D.J. Moore. While Evans has been a constant shadow target of Ramsey over the years, the Rams didn’t assign this matchup in Week 3 last season. They did in the NFC Championship game, but I lean toward the former scenario playing out here due to the aforementioned point that Ramsey hasn’t been asked to shadow anybody so far this season.

Perhaps this extra attention paid toward Evans is what has enabled Chris Godwin to post productive 12-172-2, 7-53-1 and 6-74-0 receiving lines in three career matchups against this defense. The Buccaneers’ target-hot slot receiver hasn’t found the end zone yet this season, but his usage numbers since returning from injury in Week 4 suggest that breakthrough could be imminent:

  • Targets: 47 (No. 2 in the NFL)
  • Receptions: 32 (tied for No. 6)
  • Receiving yards: 333 (No. 19)

There’s certainly some bye week f*ckery going on with those above stats; just realize Godwin and Evans have both seen awfully elite volume for the better part of the last month and a half despite the sad reality that this offense has only eclipsed 22 points once all season. Neither Julio Jones nor Russell Gage are nearly as big of factors to the target equation while being so banged up.

Continue to start Evans and Godwin in fantasy lineups of most shapes and sizes; you’d better have a damn good roster to warrant sitting either due to volume alone, God forbid the GOAT starts playing like it.


TENNESSEE TITANS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Robert Woods (WR42), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR62)
  • WR Usage: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (100% routes, 0.09 targets per route run, 1.01 yards per route run), Robert Woods (86%, 0.19, 1.66), Cody Hollister (57%, 0.13, 1.74)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: KC: 30 in PPR per game to WR, 19 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Austin Hooper (TE30)
  • TE Usage: Chigoziem Okonkwo (50% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.41 yards per route run), Austin Hooper (29%, 0.12, 1.05)

Key question: Are the Titans still the league’s only offense without a single top-24 PPR fish from a wide receiver, and because of this you should avoid all parties involved at all costs despite a winnable enough matchup against the Chiefs?

Yes.


WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

  • Week 9 WR Fantasy Ranking: Terry McLaurin (WR18), Curtis Samuel (WR30)
  • WR Usage: Terry McLaurin (92% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 1.74 yards per route run), Cam Sims (87%, 0.08, 0.36), Curtis Samuel (79%, 0.2, 1.34)
  • Week 9 WR Matchup: MIN: 26 in PPR per game to WR, 28 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 9 TE Fantasy Rankings: Logan Thomas (TE23)
  • TE Usage: Logan Thomas (49% routes, 0.13 targets per route run, 0.74 yards per route run), Armani Rogers (38%, 0.11, 1.21)

Key question: Does Terry McLaurin deserve a Nobel Peace Price for putting up with Washington over the years?

I’m not opposed. McLaurin has caught passes from the following quarterbacks since entering the league in 2019: Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke, Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, Kyle Allen and Garrett Gilbert. Not great, yet McLaurin continues to make the most out of the situation and has essentially snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat in back-to-back weeks by winning difficult one-on-one matchups against Jaire Alexander (5-73-1) and Stephon Gilmore (6-113-0) in the clutch.

Give Heinicke some credit for existing in the few seconds between the snap and throwing the ball in McLaurin’s general direction, although he is the primary culprit for the high contested-target rate at hand. Ultimately, the Commanders’ 27th-ranked scoring offense rides a fine line between being OK and terrible more weeks than not; at least the artist known as Scary Terry is so damn good that he’s capable of swinging the balance even in weeks that feature shadow dates against the very best corners the league has to offer.

Fire up McLaurin as an upside WR2 against the Vikings’ bottom-eight defense in both PPR points per game allowed to the position as well as team PFF coverage grade. Curtis Samuel remains in the WR3 conversation thanks to a surprisingly robust rushing role that has produced 5-26-0 and 4-29-0 lines on the ground over the last two weeks. Both will continue to carry an elevated weekly floor as long as first-rounder Jahan Dotson (hamstring) remains out of the picture.

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