Week 9 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom
It’s a strange week across the board, with a decent amount to “like,” but not a lot to “love” (or, I should say: not a lot to feel truly “certain” about). As such, this week’s Player Grid will be a bit bottom-heavy (i.e., fewer Tier 1 plays), and I’ll probably go a bit lighter in buy-ins this week to account for this (while also being willing to go with more of a multi-entry style than I typically take). With that said: I’m always working to narrow things down to the smallest possible core, and that will be the case for me this week. We’ll see how close I can get — but this will help us to get started along that path!
- Cam Newton :: Tremendous matchup for a QB who has already shown one of the highest floors and highest ceilings on the season. Realistically, he’s a cut above Fitz on paper, and he may even be a cut above Goff (though that one is quite a bit closer).
- Ryan Fitzpatrick :: Fitz could be placed in Tier 3 (“high ceiling, but a floor that’s more iffy”), as there is always risk that comes with a fringe starter. But given that the Bucs are a pass-heavy team, and that the Panthers are (by far) best attacked through the air, and that Koetter can’t very well bench Fitz this week even if he has a couple mistakes, there should be a floor of at least 300 yards and a couple touchdowns — and Fitz has shown a high enough ceiling on the season that he deserves a spot up here.
- Jared Goff :: Really, the only “risk” we ever have with Goff is that Gurley will soak up all the touchdowns on the ground. But given how strong New Orleans is against the run and how weak they are against the pass, this games sets up well for the Rams’ scores to come primarily through the air. Goff could easily earn you exposure to 300+ passing yards and four passing touchdowns, and his downside is minimal. He is clearly one of the top plays on the slate.
Running back is typically the spot where we are able to lock in the most certainty, but this is an odd week, with viable question marks across the board. Last week, we not only felt we could lock in guaranteed points from Gurley, Hunt, and Conner; we also had Lindsay, Mack, and Kerryon listed in Tier 1 — creating a beautiful setup at this position. This week, we have two guys in the top tier (Tier 1 = high ceiling, with a low likelihood of price-considered failure), and you could even make a case that there are price-considered question marks here.
- Todd Gurley :: Obviously the top raw-projected play on the slate — but this is a tough matchup on the ground. For me, Gurley is a “play him if he fits” guy this week (as he is most weeks). As always with a guy this expensive: there are builds that can earn you a win without him; but if you can fit him, his points are as locked-in as it gets.
- Kareem Hunt :: He has one of the top three red zone roles in the NFL (behind only Gurley and Conner), and he is taking on a Browns team that has been ultra-generous to running backs in the red zone. His usage has been consistent enough that I feel safe going here this week — though obviously, Andy Reid introduces his own brand of “Oops, I forgot Hunt was on our team” risk.
There aren’t any wide receivers this week that I feel can get us a locked-in massive score, but there are a number of guys who have a very low likelihood of price-considered failure, and who have respectable ceiling to go with it. These are the guys standing out to me in this category this week.
- Adam Thielen :: The safest wide receiver play, week in and week out. If Diggs misses, it shouldn’t impact a whole lot (simply because there isn’t much room for Thielen’s projections to grow), but we can feel safe about his floor and ceiling regardless.
- Julio Jones :: Julio lines up for his typical nine to 12 targets this week, against a pass defense that forces a low aDOT but allows a league-average catch rate. If his red zone role spikes, he could be a week-winner. If it doesn’t, he should still produce a solid stat line.
- Mike Evans :: The Panthers have been excellent at keeping wide receivers out of the end zone, but otherwise they have been attackable — and Evans should see enough work in this spot to justify his price tag. A monster game is not “the likeliest scenario,” but it is absolutely in the cards, and he’s unlikely to disappoint.
- Emmanuel Sanders :: This is a bold move, but I really do like the way Sanders sets up in this spot. Anyone reading this knows how much I like Courtland Sutton as a player, but Keenum’s connection with Sutton has been spotty — and while the departure of DT locks in a good six to seven targets for Sutton, it should also solidify Sanders’ workload. Sanders has averaged over 100 yards per 10 targets (i.e., if he sees 10 targets here, he’s probably topping 100), and he has five touchdowns on the year. The departure of Demaryius solidifies his floor a bit, and his ceiling has been awesome all year.
- D.J. Moore :: I’m only expecting six to seven targets for Moore — but at his price, this should enable him to carry a high floor; and his ceiling (both in this matchup, and from a talent perspective) is great.
- Cooper Kupp :: The Rams’ passing attack is one of the best units on the slate, and Kupp sets up best in this matchup. He stands out to me as one of my favorite plays on the slate.
- Travis Kelce :: “Paying up at tight end” is going to be more popular than normal this week, with all the value at WR, but even though his ownership should rise, I have no arguments against Kelce as a play. Locking in one of the best tight ends in football on one of the best offenses in football is never a bad idea — and Kelce sets up well in this matchup
- David Njoku :: His targets should rise back to seven-plus this week, and the matchup is tremendous. Obviously: after his zero-target dud last week, I don’t blame you if you want to bump Njoku down to a lower tier and just stick with Kelce this week.
- Bears :: You’ll have to pay to get them (which I probably won’t end up doing myself — at least, not on my optimized builds, as the extra money is difficult to justify at such a high-variance position). But from a “guaranteed points” standpoint, it’s tough to do much better than “a good defense against the Bills.”
- Elijah McGuire :: I only expect 10 to 12 carries and two to three targets for McGuire, but this should be enough to get him to nine to 10 points, with upside for more. This is obviously a high-risk play with some guesswork involved, but I like the way it sets up, and it’s interesting to mess around with some Elijah Builds to see what it can enable you to fit.
- Devin Funchess :: Locked-in role on this offense, with a decent floor and a respectable touchdown-driven ceiling. Unlikely to pop off for a huge game, but also unlikely to fail.
- Danny Amendola :: Never sexy, but his role has been very real with Osweiler on the field. He’s safe exposure to some floor, and it’s not impossible for him to punch in a touchdown for some respectable price-considered ceiling.
- Robert Woods // Brandin Cooks :: Either of these guys could be placed in Tier 1…but realistically, we are likeliest to see one of them end up with a strong game, while the other ends up with a “solid, but unspectacular” game. The guesswork between the two takes them out of Clear Tier 1 Territory for me, but they’re on the borderline — and even with each guy carrying a higher-end price tag, I would feel comfortable going here on any type of roster.
- Willie Snead // Michael Crabtree :: Upside is limited, but floor is secure. Each guy is seeing enough work to matter in what should be a pass-heavy spot for the Ravens, and it won’t be surprising if one guy adds a touchdown.
- Chris Godwin // Adam Humphries :: Same as Snead/Crabtree: neither of these guys is likely to pop for a big game, but price-considered floor is secure, and it won’t be surprising if one guy adds a touchdown.
- Joe Flacco :: Floor is scary, but the ceiling is there. He has a solid shot at a 300-yard, multi-touchdown day.
- Matt Ryan :: Ryan should land in his normal range of pass attempts, and he has the weapons to win in a matchup against a team that forces a low aDOT. The likeliest scenario here is that Ryan posts a “solid, but unspectacular” game; but there is enough ceiling for him to be part of the tourney conversation.
- Patrick Mahomes :: Mahomes should always be considered in tourneys. The matchup is not ideal; but that has yet to matter this year for Mahomes.
- Drew Brees :: Brees is not a guy I will be playing, as I believe that the Saints are run-heavy by design right now (and I believe in the Rams’ ability to keep opponent play volume in check). But if you see Brees throwing 38 to 40 times (as opposed to the 30 to 32 times I’m seeing), you should bump him much higher up your list. I always like betting on Brees at home when the volume is there.
- Nick Chubb // Duke Johnson :: Tons of question marks on this offense at the moment, but the Chiefs are a great matchup to attack with running backs, and one of these two will probably post a solid game.
- Mark Ingram // Alvin Kamara :: To be clear: most people would auto-lock these two (or at least Kamara) into Tier 1. I strongly encourage you to challenge my thoughts here and see where you land yourself. I also want to remind you that Tier 3 is still guys I like a lot, from an “upside” perspective; these are just guys who I think have a lower price-considered floor than the Tier 1 guys. I see 12 to 16 touches for Ingram and 14 to 18 touches for Kamara. That gives each guy plenty of upside in this offense — but it also opens the door for one of them to disappoint. I’ll definitely have exposure to these two, and I may yet end up with one of them on my Main Build (there is even a case to be made for playing both of them together, if you think the touchdowns will come from the running backs; they regularly combined for 40+ last year, and it won’t be surprising if they get there again), but each guy has slim “floor concerns” for me, which pushes them down here.
- Latavius Murray :: His ceiling is great in this matchup, in this offense. His floor is a bit scary, however, given his small role in the pass game. If Cook plays, it doesn’t impact Latavius projections much, as Cook will play limited snaps (while Roc Thomas and Mike Boone were playing limited snaps before). If Diggs misses, I actually like Latavius a bit more, as he should be leaned on more often, and he should see one or two additional targets.
- Lamar Miller :: His floor is low, but it’s tough to ignore back-to-back 100-yard games, solid usage, and a great matchup. It won’t be surprising if Miller craters; but it also won’t be surprising if he posts another strong point-per-dollar score.
- Phillip Lindsay :: Tough matchup, but the work will be there, and Lindsay is talented enough to win in a difficult draw. His work in the pass game elevates his floor a bit, and we always like his ceiling.
- Adrian Peterson :: After I did my research, I actually listed Peterson in Tier 1 — and I only moved him down here because I cannot justify a “one to two catch” guy in Tier 1. Even on FanDuel (talking “Main Builds,” of course), we prefer players who can gain points in multiple ways, as this gives them a much higher floor. But given the way this matchup sets up, I do expect Peterson to see a ton of work, making him a very intriguing play.
- Tarik Cohen :: According to the research, this does not set up as a heavy-usage game for Cohen; but he’s worth a few shots in large-field tourneys, as it’s difficult to move the ball on the Bills, and the Bears may find that Cohen gives them the greatest edge in this matchup. If that proves to be the case, he could turn in a big score at very low ownership. This is the definition of a Tier 3 play: low price-considered floor, but true slate-winning upside.
- John Brown :: Deep ball specialist against a team that is best attacked deep. Lower floor, but high ceiling.
- Tyreek Hill :: Always in play down here. Lower floor than others in his price range, but one of the highest ceilings on the slate.
- DeSean Jackson :: When it comes to upside: speed wins. Jackson will see a few shots downfield, and he could become a difference-maker if he connects.
- DeVante Parker :: We cannot expect another monster box score; but if Stills misses, Parker should see six or seven targets, and he’ll certainly carry upside.
- Courtland Sutton :: I love Sutton’s upside, but his floor remains lower than most are willing to admit. This is the sort of play that we love playing when it is low-owned, but that becomes tougher to justify when ownership soars. I’ll have some Sutton on multi-entry stuff, as he has been a “flagship player” for me all season (this guy is a legitimate Top 10 wide receiver down the road); but from a game theory perspective, it makes sense to fade a high-variance guy when that guy will be highly owned.
- Tre’Quan Smith :: Low floor, with his downfield looks; but lots of upside with his downfield looks. I expect five to six targets, but if he sneaks above that range, he could become a monster play.
- DeAndre Hopkins :: Always worth betting on in tourneys. The best way to beat Denver is on the ground, and Houston has skewed very run-heavy lately; but Nuk’s upside always warrants mention/consideration.
- Sammy Watkins :: As Levitan mentioned on the Square Table this week: Watkins’ role hasn’t changed; he just happened to pop off last week. With that said: his role in this offense is solid, and he has the talent to post a big game from time to time. He’ll have a couple more big games down the stretch, which should keep him in the conversation each week.
- Greg Olsen :: We’re probably looking at four to six targets, which gives him a middling projection; but he should have a couple games this year in which his targets rise — and when that happens, he’ll carry big upside.
- O.J. Howard :: If he sees four targets again, he likely produces a strong game, but the floor will be thin. If he somehow rises to seven or eight looks, he would be my favorite play on the slate. I’ve been heavy on Howard this year, as he is just so, so good; this is a strong spot — so while the low targets keep him in Tier 3, he’s a strong guy to consider.
- Vance McDonald :: YAC machine against a team that is best attacked with tight ends. Vance’s target projection is never easy to pin down; but when the targets are there, he produces.
Honestly, I may not use any of these defenses, as I don’t feel anything is “certain” at the position this week — and as such, it might prove to make sense to just take an off-the-board defense and hope you get points that no one else is getting. On paper, however, these are the units that at least stand out the most.
- Bills :: Talented home defense against a sometimes-mistake-prone QB. They should post a respectable score in this spot.
- Chiefs :: We prefer defenses at home, and this is especially true for KC. But the Browns’ offensive line has been overwhelmed this year, and Baker Mayfield has held onto the ball too long and made his fair share of mistakes. The Chiefs are an aggressive defense, which opens opportunities for points to pile up.
- Broncos :: The Texans’ offensive line will be overmatched by the Broncos’ pass rush. I expect the Texans to put up points, of course; but the Broncos’ defense will have an opportunity to pick up some sacks and perhaps one or two turnovers along the way.
Trying a new feature this week :: Here is one interesting stack from each game to consider in large-field tourneys. Not all of these are “high-probability stacks,” but all of these carry upside and create interesting starting points for large-field tourney rosters.
- Bears // Bills :: Tarik Cohen // Bills D.
- Steelers // Ravens :: Joe Flacco // John Brown // James Conner.
- Falcons // Redskins :: Adrian Peterson // Matt Ryan // Julio Jones.
- Lions // Vikings :: Adam Thielen // Kirk Cousins // Kenny Golladay.
- Jets // Dolphins :: Miami Defense // Jakeem Grant.
- Chiefs // Browns :: Kareem Hunt // Chiefs D.
- Bucs // Panthers :: Ryan Fitzpatrick // Mike Evans // O.J. Howard // Greg Olsen.
- Texans // Broncos :: Emmanuel Sanders // DeAndre Hopkins.
- Chargers // Seahawks :: Chris Carson // Austin Ekeler // Tyrell Williams.
- Rams // Saints :: Jared Goff // Cooper Kupp // Mark Ingram.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Thursday morning for the Week 10 edition of the NFL Edge!
If playing the Full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft:
The main guy on Sunday Night Football who stands out to me on the Main Slate is James White. I’m comfortable slotting him in as a Tier 1 play on FantasyDraft, with full-PPR scoring, and he remains on the borderline of Tier 1 even if Sony Michel plays, as he is such a big part of this Patriots passing attack. With Green Bay so focused on taking away wide receivers, White will get his looks.
Michel is in play as well. He drops to Tier 3 (lower floor, still-high-ceiling), simply because he has little involvement in the pass game. But the likeliest scenario in this spot calls for him to post a strong game, as the way to attack Green Bay is on the ground.
On the Packers’ side, Marquez Valdes-Scantling becomes very intriguing with Gilmore on Davante Adams, and with Geronimo Allison out. MVS should see five to eight targets in this spot, and he has the talent to pop off. I like him a little more than Sutton (from a “value receiver” perspective), and I like him the same as D.J. Moore.
Rodgers has a shot in tourneys to be the top QB, but I still prefer Cam myself, from a floor/ceiling perspective. Brady is below both of those guys, but he’s still Tom Brady, so the upside is there.
Literally all the main pieces in this game are in play in tourneys beyond that (check out the writeup of this game in the NFL Edge for the full breakdown, of course), with Adams and Edelman standing out the most, but with plenty of guys to consider beyond there. White, Michel, and MVS are the guys who stand out to me the most, however, and I’ll leave my Main Roster builds on FantasyDraft at that.