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BOLD PREDICTIONS: Week 9

Isaiah Crowell will have over 125 rushing yards, two touchdowns against the Dolphins this week.

My thinking: In what is shaping up to be a pillow-fight type of matchup between two division rivals, the Jets (4-4) and Dolphins (3-5) certainly aren’t heading towards a playoff berth any time soon. Sam Darnold appears to be trending in the right direction and has a good chance of becoming a reliable franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future, which is excellent news for a Jets organization that has yearned for a franchise quarterback for so many years. However, they surely aren’t ready to compete for a playoff spot this year. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have to realize that Ryan Tannehill (and Brock Osweiler, for that matter) are terrible quarterbacks that are not going to turn things around for the Dolphins organization any time soon.

The Jets starting running back, Isaiah Crowell, has been up and down this season. He’s had a few monster fantasy performances (Weeks 1, 3, and 5), but has tallied less than eight fantasy points in every other game this season. It’s hit or miss with him, and I’m banking on a “hit” week for the fifth-year player out of Alabama State. The emergence of rookie running back Trenton Cannon (who’s filling the role of the injured Bilal Powell as the pass-catching back) will not hinder Crowell’s success so long as the Jets are ahead on the scoreboard or not getting blown out. It’s cliché and basic, but for Crowell to have success, the Jets have to be in the game and not be trailing by multiple touchdowns. Against a Dolphins defense that has allowed 4.7 yards-per-carry (on 215 rushing attempts) and the second-most total rushing yards this season, Crowell has a good chance of having another one of his big-time fantasy performances in Week 9.

Michael Thomas will have 14 receptions, 160 receiving yards, two touchdowns against the Rams this week.

My thinking: From Weeks 1 to 3, Michael Thomas averaged 12.7 receptions, 132.7 receiving yards and 30.9 PPR fantasy points per game. After what was an incredible start to the season, Thomas has cooled off a bit in the last four games. He is averaging just 13.3 PPR points per game in the last four games and hasn’t gone over seven receptions or 85 receiving yards in any of those games. That’s going to change this week. Even though the Saints have taken more of a balanced approach on offense these past four weeks, Thomas is still an elite fantasy wide receiver in every sense of the word and is locked in as the number one target for Drew Brees in the Saints offense. In what is shaping up to be a wildly exciting game against the Rams this week, the Saints offense will have to score at least 28 points to have a shot at keeping up with a dynamic Rams offense. Expect Brees to pepper the former Ohio State University wide receiver (Thomas) and rely on him to convert on crucial third-down situations and red zone attempts. Thomas is matchup-proof and is in for a stellar fantasy performance in Week 9.

O.J. Howard will have eight receptions, 120 receiving yards, one touchdown against the Panthers this week.

My thinking: Piggy-backing on the Ryan Fitzpatrick/Cam Newton prediction, this game is going to be a high-scoring affair that will consist of many opportunities for both teams’ pass-catchers to rack up an abundance of fantasy points. O.J. Howard has played really well this season and enters Week 9 averaging 12 PPR fantasy points per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL among tight ends. He’s the only tight end in the NFL to have at least 50 receiving yards in every game he’s played in this season. In his last four games, he’s hauled in at least four receptions, tallied at least 60 receiving yards and has scored two touchdowns in those four games. He’s averaging 17.5 yards-per-reception, which leads all tight ends with a minimum of 20 receptions. Don’t be worried about the Tampa Bay offense having “too many mouths to feed.” Their running backs are hot garbage, and as I’ve said, they are a pass-first team that will continue to attack defenses through the air. There are plenty of targets to go around in this offense, it’s as simple as that. To make Howard even more appealing this week, the Panthers have allowed an average of 19.2 PPR fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, which ranks dead-last in the NFL. Keep him locked into your TE1 spot and enjoy another top-notch fantasy performance out of Howard in Week 9.

Jimmy Graham will have nine receptions, 100 receiving yards, one touchdown against the Patriots this week.

My thinking: Cliché alert! The New England Patriots are known for shutting down an opposing teams’ best player, thus forcing teams to beat the Patriots with their secondary options. Davante Adams is the clear-cut number one play-maker in the Packers offense, so don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick makes it a priority to completely shut him down on Sunday night. Whether or not that strategy will be successful will remain a mystery, considering Adams (and his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers) are two of the premier players at their positions in the NFL.

If the Patriots defense does shut Adams down, Rodgers will be forced to look elsewhere to move the ball down the field. Enter Jimmy Graham. Graham has mostly been hit or miss this season but has turned in a few high-end fantasy performances. He’s had at least five receptions, 75 receiving yards in three of seven games and has scored two touchdowns in seven games. It’s been nothing to write home about, but my gut is telling me Graham is going to be leaned on heavily against the Patriots this week. The Patriots have allowed an average of 15.2 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, which ranks 27th in the NFL through eight weeks and certainly helps Graham’s cause for having a high-end fantasy performance this week. Also, his $4,700 price tag on DraftKings screams “value play,” so don’t shy away from firing him up in your DFS lineups as well.

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.