Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City
Patrick Mahomes has continued to produce at a record-breaking pace and has solidified himself as one of the premier real-life and fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL. His unparalleled instincts, athleticism, arm-strength and many other qualities have boosted him into the elite fantasy quarterback category for this season and the foreseeable future. Mahomes has thrown at least 300 passing yards in every game since Week 2. The only game where he’s thrown less than 300 passing yards was way back in Week 1 when he threw for 256 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers in his season debut. He has thrown at least four touchdown passes in each of his last four games. He has totaled at least 24 fantasy points in six of seven games and his 230.1 total fantasy points through eight weeks ranks first in the NFL among quarterbacks. He is averaging an absurd 28.8 fantasy points per game through eight games, which is astounding when you think about it. The last time we saw a quarterback put up these types of numbers was back in 2013 when Peyton Manning broke the single-season passing yards record (5,477 passing yards) and single-season passing touchdowns record (55 passing touchdowns).
Heading into Week 9, Mahomes is on pace to throw 52 passing touchdowns this season. Which, for all intents and purposes, means he has a chance at breaking Manning’s 55 passing touchdowns thrown in 2013. As a die-hard New England Patriots fan, I am incredibly nervous about potentially going into Arrowhead Stadium for a playoff game in January. However, as a football fan, I had to take the time to recognize, respect and admire what Mahomes is doing this year. It’s quite incredible.
Mahomes and Kansas City are traveling to Cleveland in Week 9 to take on a Cleveland defense that has allowed an average of 313 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks in the last five games. Cleveland has allowed an average of 28.7 points per reception (PPR) league fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL through eight weeks. Cleveland hasn’t been able to stop a nose-bleed on the defensive side of the ball, so expect another high-end QB1 fantasy performance out of Mahomes in Week 9.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Russell Wilson has been a much more productive quarterback over the last three games. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes and has totaled at least 19 fantasy points in each of the previous three weeks. He has also thrown just one interception in the last five games, which tells me he’s making all the right decisions when he does pass the ball. His fantasy owners would like to see him throw for more passing yards and run for more rushing yards, but let’s take it one step at a time and appreciate that Wilson has turned it around as of late. With a couple more weeks of stellar play, he’ll start to creep back into mid-level QB1 territory. Wilson is a quarterback who has finished as a Top-9 fantasy quarterback in each of the last five seasons. Don’t write him off just yet, because the best is yet to come. He’s always been a more proficient quarterback in the second half of a season than the first half of a season.
In a perfect world, Doug Baldwin will return back to his old self and become the primary target for Wilson in the passing game. If Wilson wants to accumulate more passing yards on a weekly basis, Baldwin needs to be more involved and targeted more often than he has been the last four games. A semi-tough matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers looms in Week 9, but Wilson should easily tally 19-plus fantasy points for the fourth-straight week. Keep him locked into your starting quarterback spot and consider him a low-end QB1 with mid-level QB1 upside over the second half of the season.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati
Joe Mixon is on a bye this week, but he had his best fantasy performance of the season in Cincinnati’s nail-biting 37-34 win over Tampa Bay in Week 8. Mixon ran for 123 yards on 21 carries (5.9 yards per carry), had two rushing touchdowns and chipped in with three receptions (on four targets) for 15 receiving yards. He finished with 30.8 PPR fantasy points on the day and is locked in as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 as the primary ball-carrier for an above-average Cincinnati offense. A couple of tough matchups are on the horizon in Weeks 10 and 11 (New Orleans, Baltimore), but two home games against Cleveland (Week 12) and Denver (Week 13) are highly favorable matchups for the second-year player out of Oklahoma.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington
Adrian Peterson has found the fountain of youth in his 12th season in the NFL; he’s been fantastic through Washington’s first seven games of the 2018 season. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down and is clearly comfortable (and thriving!) in his “workhorse” role in the Washington offense. Peterson has logged at least 17 carries in five of seven games. In those five games, he’s accumulated at least 96 rushing yards and has averaged 5 yards per carry on 112 rushing attempts. Think about that. He’s found the end zone five times (four rushing, one receiving) in seven games and enters Week 9 with 112.8 total PPR fantasy points, which ranks 15th in the NFL among running backs. He doesn’t offer much as a receiver (nine receptions on 13 targets, 151 receiving yards, one touchdown), but that was never his strong suit, anyway. He is tied for third in the NFL with 21 red zone rushing attempts, which tells me there will always be opportunities for him to score a touchdown.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I know this is not the Adrian Peterson who was an elite fantasy running back for years and years. I know that. But Peterson plays on a team that has made it a priority to attack teams on the ground (and prevent teams from running on them). It’s an old-school, smash mouth brand of football that will feature Peterson early and often so long as the game-script is Washington’s favor. Game flow cannot be ignored, of course, because if Washington falls behind early, Peterson will be game-scripted out of action. However, factoring in how well the Washington defense has been playing this season and how well Peterson has performed, you have to view him as a mid-level RB2 with high-end RB2 upside for the remainder of the season. Especially against a below-average Atlanta defense in Week 9. Atlanta has allowed a whopping average of 32.1 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, which ranks 31st in the NFL heading into Week 9. In a home game against a team that is known for not playing as well on the road, you can bet your bottom dollar Washington is going to attempt to run it down Atlanta’s throat to keep their high-powered offense off the field. For the DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) enthusiasts out there, Peterson makes for a sneaky-good high-upside play at his current $6,000 price tag on DraftKings.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver
Saquon Barkley, who? I’m kidding. But, there’s been another rookie running back who has played remarkably well in his first season in the NFL. His name is Phillip Lindsay. Undrafted out of the University of Colorado-Boulder, Lindsay has seized full control of the Denver backfield (sorry, Royce Freeman truthers) and has been producing at a high-level RB2 pace through the first eight games of his rookie season.
He’s tallied at least 14 PPR fantasy points in six of eight games. He had his two best fantasy performances of the season in the last two weeks, totaling 19 points in Week 7 against Arizona and 20.2 points this past week against Kansas City. He’s averaging an incredibly efficient 5.7 yards per carry on 93 rushing attempts, which, in case you didn’t know, is more efficient than Barkley’s 4.7 yards per carry on 111 rushing attempts. Averaging 66.7 rushing yards per game, Lindsay has been much more involved as a pass-catcher lately compared to earlier in the year. From Weeks 1-4, Lindsay logged five receptions (on eight targets) for 45 receiving yards and a touchdown. From Weeks 5-8, he’s recorded 13 receptions (on 15 targets) for 91 receiving yards. If he continues to see targets out of the backfield throughout the second half of the season, it will unequivocally bolster his fantasy value going forward. He’s right there with James Conner when it comes to incredible return on investments, considering he was likely picked in the last few rounds of your fantasy draft or picked up as a free agent after your draft.
A Week 9 matchup against a Houston defense that has allowed an average of 3.3 yards per carry on 157 rushing attempts and just one rushing touchdown all season to opposing running backs is a semi-tough matchup for Lindsay and Denver. However, Houston has also allowed four receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs through seven games, which is tied for most in the NFL heading into Week 9. With the way Lindsay has been playing this year, you have to view him as a high-end RB2 with low-end RB1 upside for the rest of the season.