Well, Week 8 wasn’t quite as fruitful as Week 7 was for us but nevertheless, we press on! Publishing this article Thursday morning leaves ample time for injury news to develop (or not in some cases) which unfortunately last week left us high and dry with two wide receivers who were question marks at the time of writing. In an effort to help determine a backup plan for such instances going forward, my recommendations will be ordered by value from highest to lowest going forward. So unless you are playing the guy at the bottom of the list or playing a small slate where not all options are available, you should have an easy replacement waiting in the wings!
On to Week 9!
1. Kirk Cousins QB, Minnesota (DraftKings $6,200 FanDuel $8,300)
Another week, another great matchup for Kirk Cousins. He’s playing at a Top 5 level in season-long fantasy and hasn’t posted less than 17.5 DraftKings points since the Week 3 debacle against Buffalo. With a floor that safe and sky-high ceiling, Cousins makes a ton of sense coming in just below the top tier of quarterback pricing this week. His opponent (Detroit) is averaging the 11th-most fantasy points allowed to opposing passers this season and have allowed multiple touchdowns to the position in all but one contest this season. Start Cousins with confidence and don’t be afraid to stack him too!
2. Joe Flacco QB, Baltimore (DraftKings $5,200 FanDuel $7,500)
When it comes to Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP), you’ll sometimes need to have a quarterback with low ownership to take down the top prize. This creates a differentiator with a relatively safe floor in most cases as well meaning you can take some chances with somewhat moderate risk. Flacco presents a solid opportunity to return nice gains in Week 9 with Pittsburgh coming to town. Pittsburgh has tightened up a bit over the past few weeks but had been getting torched by enemy quarterbacks for the first five weeks of the season, including allowing 25.2 points to Joe Flacco when the teams first met back in Week 4. We have a track record of success and the Pittsburgh offense is playing at a high level right now, averaging 34 points per game over its past three contests. This, of course, adds the “worthy opponent” attribute to this match up so expect Flacco to be slinging the ball early and often as Baltimore tries to keep pace. This stout Baltimore defense has given up 50 points over the last two weeks so there is sneaky shootout potential here despite the vaunted Baltimore defense.
3. Aaron Rodgers QB, Green Bay (DraftKings $6,400 FanDuel $8,600)
The last time Rodgers faced a defense this generous against opposing quarterbacks was Week 6 against San Fransisco. Rodgers turned in a 31.4 effort in that contest against the league’s sixth-most generous defense against quarterbacks. New England is currently averaging the eighth-most points allowed to quarterbacks and boast an obviously potent offense to go along with its defense. That combination typically bodes well for fantasy success. In a game with a 57 point over/under, it’s safe to expect fireworks. Placing your investment with the best football player on the field strikes me as a safe bet this week.
4. Drew Brees QB, New Orleans (DraftKings $6,100 FanDuel $8,400)
Make no mistake, there are plenty of quarterbacks around this price point that have better matchups on paper. This Brees pick is simply an effort to go against the grain and try to create a high-end differentiator in my GPP lineups but I think its a safe bet given the matchup and the timing. Brees is fresh off an abysmal 7.8-point outing at Minnesota last week, a matchup he preceded with a pedestrian 16.8 points in his Week 7 matchup at Baltimore. Confidence in Brees is at all-time low which might make this the perfect time to play him. I always like a quarterback facing a potent offense on the other side of the field and the Los Angeles Rams certainly fit that description. They haven’t been particularly generous to opposing quarterbacks this season but they have shown cracks at times, giving up 322 yards and two scores to Case Keenum as recently as Week 6. New Orleans is slight favorites at home with a 31-point implied total. With an over/under that has risen to 60, Brees could prove to be a somewhat low option this week and it could be the difference maker in your GPP’s.
1. Christian McCaffrey RB, Carolina (DraftKings $7,800 FanDuel $7,900)
Carolina comes into this game against Tampa Bay as heavy home favorites. Carolina is projected to score just more than 30 points in this contest that boasts a healthy 55-point over/under. Home favorites against a Bottom 10 rush defense is usually a good combination for any running back but it could mean a huge blow-up spot for a player as dynamic as Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is really carrying the load for this offense too, having been on the field for at least 85 percent of the plays in every single contest this year. Tampa Bay just got smashed by Joe Mixon to the tune of 31.8 points last week and it’s about to happen again in Week 9.
2. Kareem Hunt RB, Kansas City (DraftKings $7,700 FanDuel $8,500)
Hunt has been about as consistent as any back in the league. Yet, week in and week out, he comes at a relative discount compared to the top tier among running backs. Make no mistake, in this offense, Kareem Hunt needs to be considered a Tier 1 running back but enjoy the discounts while they last! Once again, he draws a juicy matchup against a Bottom 10 rush defense in terms of points allowed to opposing backs. He’s averaging more than 27 points per game over his last five and Kansas City is favored by 8.5 in this contest. There is the risk that it’s a blowout and he loses work late but as soft as this defense is, I don’t think that will matter when its all said and done.
3. Alvin Kamara RB, New Orleans (DraftKings $7,300 FanDuel $8,000)
This $7,000 range looks like it might be a sweet spot this week at running back and Kamara at this price looks like a steal. The matchup isn’t great on paper against the Los Angeles Rams, who are averaging the 10th-fewest points allowed per game to enemy backs. Kamara is as matchup-proof as Todd Gurley; neither player needs a good match up to perform well. I like Brees this week too but I don’t know if I saw him throw a single pass more than 12 yards, which, of course bodes well for running back production in the passing game, an area where Kamara often makes his hay. He has 63 targets on the year, including eight last week alone. Only WR1 Michael Thomas is used more in the passing game for this offense and with the Rams coming to town, New Orleans will need to pull out all the stops to eke out the win. Kamara should go nuts and way outperform his price.
4. Adrian Peterson RB, Washington (DraftKings $6,000 FanDuel $7,500)
It brings me great joy to see this old warhorse still putting up nice games. He’s no spring chicken but he’s still fast enough and very powerful – a back like this needs to be fed! Judging by the 50 carries he’s received the past two weeks it would seem the Washington coaching staff might have come to this realization as well, even if it was only due to Chris Thompson being limited of late with an injury. Nevertheless, this game stacks up well for Peterson as Atlanta comes to town allowing the second-most points per game to opposing backs. Washington is a slight home favorite in this one and the matchup is nice. Coming off a big game in Week 8, Peterson should stay hot and provide nice return on investment in Week 9.
5. Matt Breida RB, San Fransisco (DraftKings $5,200 FanDuel $5,900)
He’s been a bit banged up lately but he handled 16 carries last week and is practicing in a limited capacity this week, likely just resting for the Thursday night tilt. Breida has a big yellow Q (questionable) next to his name on DraftKings this week, which should help keep his ownership moderate despite the cake matchup at home against Oakland’s seventh-friendliest defense for opposing running backs. The offense as a whole will likely take a bit of a hit if C.J. Beathard doesn’t play (I can’t believe I typed that …) but that could mean more work for Breida anyway. I think Breida is a little sneaky this week but his potential could round out your Week 9 FLEX spot nicely for the price.
6. Latavius Murray RB, Minnesota (DraftKings $5,100 FanDuel $6,700)
With Dalvin Cook on the shelf, Murray is averaging 22.8 DraftKings points over the last three contests. Facing Detroit and its sixth-friendliest defense for opposing running backs in Week 9, I see no reason Murray’s streak of 20-plus point outings won’t continue. Since Week 4 Murray has owned this backfield, averaging 81 percent of the snaps each game over that span so despite the ancillary players getting a carry or two don’t fear them cutting into the bulk of his workload. Minnesota is favored by five at home against a Detroit team that just traded its top receiving option so there’s a good chance Murray could be in line for a second-half clock killing workload too, which is always nice! All signs point to Murray having a nice Week 9 in which he should deliver four times his return on investment.