Stars of Week 9
QB: Drew Brees, NO: 25-36, 346 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Kareem Hunt, KC: 17 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs (1 catch, 50 yards, 1 TD)
WR: Michael Thomas, NO: 12 catches, 211 yards, 1 TD
TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 7 catches, 99 yards, 2 TDs
We’ve got a pair of teams representing the honor roll this week, none of which are strangers to this space. Future hall of famer Drew Brees had a masterful performance against the Rams, surpassing 300 yards and throwing for four TDs. On the receiving end of nearly two thirds of those yards and one of the TD tosses was none other than stud WR Michael Thomas. Thomas set the Saints single game receiving yards, but perhaps this game will be better remembered for his cell phone celebration, ala Joe Horn from 2003. Thomas remains a top 3 WR. Switching from one offensive juggernaut to the other, the Chiefs have two representatives here as well. Kareem Hunt scored three TDs against the Browns, with two scores coming from the ground and one from the air. Teammate Travis Kelce makes back to back appearances in this space, leading tight ends with his two TD performance. Each of these players are blue chippers, so no surprises this week.
Week 9 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
Nick Mullens, QB - SF: 16-22, 262 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Analysis: The final battle of the Bay Area teams took place last Thursday night, and the game looked like a snoozer on paper with a matchup of a pair of one win teams. Well, the game was one sided, as the 49ers punished the Raiders by a 34-3 score. That being said, an unexpected storyline developed with the emergence of Nick Mullins onto the NFL scene. Who exactly is Nick Mullins? The QB played his collegiate ball at Southern Mississippi and was an undrafted free agent signed by the 49ers in 2017. And following a nearly perfect game on TNF, Mullins has piqued the curiosity of the NFL world, including fantasy. So how will Mullins do in his encore performance? No one can say for sure, but he faces the hapless New York Giants next, and then the Bucs after the week 11 bye. If you need a QB and have risk tolerance, put a claim in on Mullins. It’s hard to project how Mullins will fare going forward, given how little NFL tape he has, but we know that his upcoming matchups are enticing and that he has excellent coaching with Kyle Shanahan. Mullins is absolutely worth an add in deeper leagues (12 plus teams).
- Duke Johnson, RB – CLE: 9 catches, 78 yards, 2 TDs (1 carry, 8 yards, 0 TDs)
Analysis: There has been a seismic shift in the Cleveland Browns’ RB grouping. First, we had the trade of Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars, which opened up space for Nick Chubb to take over lead rushing duties. Next, the team brass kicked coach Hue Jackson to the curb, much to the chagrin of Hue Jackson. Jackson has since lamented that if only the team had allowed him to draft the QBs he sought, or to have more control over the coaching matters, then the Browns would be on their way. I like to sneak in a bit of comedy when we have a chance. Anyways, the firing of Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley may have served as a #FreeDukeJohnson moment. The pass catching weapon out of the backfield had been largely marginalized up to this point, due in large part to poor coaching. As Johnson showed this past Sunday, he’ll produce if given the opportunity. Look for Johnson to continue to be heavily involved in the passing game going forward. For PPR leagues, Johnson should be viewed as an RB2, while standard leagues should view him as a flex option. He’s the top RB add for this week if available in your league.
- Elijah McGuire, RB – NYJ: 7 carries, 30 yards, 0 TDs (3 catches, 37 yards, 0 TDs)
Analysis: The Jets offense took a massive hit when it was announced that Bilal Powell would be out for the season. As expected with a talented, rookie QB at the helm, the Jets have been inconsistent offensively from week to week. Elijah McGuire has stepped into the role vacated by Powell, and in his first game of the 2018 season, McGuire played a viable supporting role in the offense. Nothing to get too excited about, but McGuire had roughly one-third of the carries and was targeted five times by Darnold out of the backfield, resulting in three catches. McGuire’s stat line this past Sunday represents a good measure of what to expect from week to week – 6 to 8 carries plus 4-6 targets as a receiver, with an occasional touchdown. That’s flex territory in PPR leagues, and RB4 land in standard leagues. If you need help at RB, McGuire’s a reasonable option to put up consistent points, albeit not with a high ceiling.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR – GB: 3 catches, 101 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The Green Bay Packers had a “next man up” situation with their wide receivers since the beginning of the season. Injuries have hit hard, and Jordy Nelson now wears silver and black. This strategy works when you have an all-time great QB like the Packers do with Aaron Rodgers. Both Davante Adams and Randall Cobb have faced injuries this season, with Cobb having missed games. Next man up brought us Geronimo Allison, who has taken advantage of additional targets – until he got hurt. Quietly lurking the last several weeks has been the next next-man-up, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The 2018 fifth round draft pick has impressed in his limited opportunities, and now with Geronimo Allison out for an extended period, Valdes-Scantling will be increasingly fantasy relevant going forward. He’s averaging just over 22 yards per reception and 6 targets per game, so expect variance in between his weekly points. But Valdes-Scantling should be on the flex radar for teams in larger leagues (12 plus teams). If you need a WR and he’s available, make the move.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in most leagues.
QB: Alex Smith, WAS (struggled last week, but mouthwatering matchup with Bucs this week)
RB: Mike Davis, SEA (especially if Chris Carson is out)
RB: Josh Adams, PHI
WR: Christian Kirk, ARI
WR: Mike Williams, LAC
TE: Jack Doyle, IND