Friday - Dec 14, 2018

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BOLD PREDICTIONS: Week 9

Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick will combine for over 700 total yards and seven touchdowns in their matchup this week.

My thinking: This game between the Panthers and Buccaneers has shootout written all over it. Cam Newton has combined for at least 270 passing/rushing yards and thrown at least two touchdowns in each of the last three weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for at least 400 passing yards, three touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season. I know Fitzpatrick lost some of his “magic” in Weeks 4 and 6, but let’s remember that this Tampa Bay offense is predicated on passing early and often. They are going to throw, throw, throw and have the firepower to put up a 40 spot on the scoreboard in any given week. The Panthers have a semi-respectable defense (17.8 fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks 15th in the NFL), but they aren’t an elite unit by any stretch of the imagination. The Buccaneers defense, on the other hand, has been hot garbage all season. They’ve surrendered an average of 34.4 points per game in their last five games. They rank dead-last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and second-to-last in PPR fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Cam Newton is in for a big-time fantasy performance, as is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Oh, and when you talk to your local bookie, be sure to take the over (55) in this game.

Case Keenum will finish with more fantasy points than Deshaun Watson in their matchup this week.

My thinking: You would think I’d be lower on Case Keenum after one of his top wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas) was traded to the Texans earlier this week. That is not the case, at least not this week. This one is one of my boldest predictions of the year, but hear me out. First, this game is being played in Denver this week. Case Keenum has averaged more fantasy points at Mile High Stadium (16.2) than on the road (13.2). Deshaun Watson has averaged fewer fantasy points on the road (19.9) than at home (21.5). Those aren’t vast differences, but they hold water in this matchup. If you think Demaryius Thomas is going to be of any use to Deshaun Watson in this game, you’re in for a rude awakening. Thomas just got traded to Houston on Tuesday and has had just a few days to get prepared for this game. He and Watson will not be on the same page just yet, which means Watson will be forced to rely on DeAndre Hopkins and Keke Coutee as his primary targets. Hopkins is a stud in every sense of the word, but losing Will Fuller to a torn ACL is a more significant loss than you may think. In Week 1 when Fuller was sidelined, Watson threw for just 176 yards and totaled 11 fantasy points. In Weeks 5 and 6, when Fuller was a non-factor (four receptions, 48 receiving yards combined in those two games), Watson threw for 375 yards against Dallas (okay, that was a great game), but then threw for just 177 yards at home against Buffalo. Not to mention, Keke Coutee has shown flashes of superb play this year, but missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and will be listed as questionable for this week’s game against the Broncos.

My point is, while Watson has an extremely high weekly ceiling (much higher than Keenum), he’s laid a few eggs this season (11 or fewer fantasy points in three of eight games), which has left fantasy owners displeased. My gut is telling me this is going to be a dud week for Watson because of the reasons I listed above, and while Keenum just lost a primary receiver, there’s this rookie receiver by the name of Courtland Sutton that is primed to step into a more prominent role in the offense and pick up the slack left by Thomas. As a result, Keenum has a better-than-you-think chance of outscoring Watson in their matchup this week.

Todd Gurley will run for over 200 rushing yards against the Saints this week.

My thinking: I know what you’re thinking. “Evan, do you realize that the New Orleans Saints have allowed the fifth-fewest PPR fantasy points to opposing running backs on a per-game basis (18.9 points per game) through its first seven games?”  Alternatively, maybe you’re thinking, “Is he crazy? The Saints have allowed an average of 2.8 yards-per-carry on 123 rushing attempts to opposing running backs through its first seven games.” Whatever it is you’re thinking, let me fill you in on the running backs the Saints have faced this year and then remind you whom the Saints will have to defend in Week 8.

The Saints have gone up against the following running backs this season: Week 1 – Peyton Barber, Week 2 – Carlos Hyde, Week 3 – Tevin Coleman, Week 4 – Saquon Barkley (okay, he’s pretty good), Week 5 – Adrian Peterson, Week 7 – Alex Collins, Week 8 – Latavius Murray. Except for Barkley, that is a whole bunch of mediocre to below-average running backs the Saints have faced this season.

Todd Gurley is an entirely different animal. He’s had at least 30 PPR fantasy points in each of the last four games, which is absolutely astonishing when you think about it. Expect Sean McVay to lean heavily on Gurley (as he has all season) in what has the potential to be a preview of the NFC Championship. Gurley has been the best fantasy running back this season, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t turn in another high-end RB1 performance against the Saints in Week 9.

Nick Chubb will run for over 130 rushing yards and have one touchdown against the Chiefs this week.

My thinking: This one lies solely in the hands of the Browns keeping this game close on the scoreboard. If the Chiefs get off to a scorching-hot start (which is always a possibility), Chubb will be game-scripted out of the game. However, if the Browns can control the clock and use Chubb early and often to keep the Chiefs offense on the sideline, they have a (small) chance of ousting the Chiefs. Chubb has played relatively well in his first two games as the starting running back. He’s accumulated 145 rushing yards on 36 carries (4.0 yards-per-carry) with one rushing touchdown in two games and now gets to square off against a Chiefs defense that has given up a boatload of rushing yards to opposing running backs this season. The Chiefs defense has allowed an average of 126 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs and an average of 5.3 yards-per-carry on 166 rushing attempts. It’s an excellent matchup for the rookie out of Georgia, and as long as the (new) powers that be on the Browns sideline plan to feature Chubb early and often to control the pace of the game, he should have one of his best fantasy performances of the season.

About Evan Reardon

An avid Boston sports fan, Evan has been a Patriots and NFL fan since the 1990's. Fantasy football runs in his family. He grew up in the 90's watching his father and uncles play in a 6-team, Touchdown-only league. He has been playing fantasy football since the early 2000's and has been writing fantasy sports content since 2014.