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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 9

Welcome back for the Week 9 edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, your matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each NFL Week 9 game profile below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Note: Fantasy points allowed statistics are based off of the Fantasy Sharks default PPR scoring system.

Bye Week Teams: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Philadelphia

Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Bears Bills
Quarterback 19th 27th
Running Back 31st 10th
Wide Receiver 9th 27th
Tight End 21st 24th
Defense/Special Teams 20th 1st
Vegas Line: Bears -10
Vegas Over/Under: 37.5
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  • Jordan Howard – Had his best game since Week 1 with 82 rushing yards and a score last Sunday in what was a positive game script all afternoon for the Bears. With Chicago favored by 10 points here, expect to see a heavy dose of Howard for a second week in a row.
  • Bears D/ST – Derek Anderson (concussion) is out, so the Bills are forced to trot out Nathan Peterman yet again. Across seven total games played, Peterman has a completion percentage of just 45.7 percent with a 3:9 touchdown to interception ratio.
yellow-light
  • Tarik Cohen – Likely another week where Cohen takes a backseat to Howard, though with a run-heavy game script forthcoming, there should plenty of chances for the second-year scat back to pop a big play.
  • Bills D/ST – This unit has actually been quite impressive considering they are getting zero help from the offense. The Bills are just 6th in fewest total yards allowed per contest, and have racked up 21 quarterback sacks through 8 games. The Bears losing RG Kyle Long (foot) to injury won’t help the Bears slow the Bills’ pass rush.
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  • Mitchell Trubisky – The Bills are allowing just the sixth-fewest passing yards per game. With the Bears likely to dominate this contest starting from the opening kickoff, Trubisky figures to spend most of the second half handing the ball off to his running backs.
  • Trey Burton – Buffalo hasn’t allowed a single tight end to eclipse 55 receiving yards all season, and hasn’t given up a score to the position since Week 4.
  • Bears Wide Receivers – Allen Robinson (groin) sat out last Sunday, and hadn’t been playing particularly well prior to getting injured, with just one game of more than 65 receiving yards. After going over 100 receiving yards back-to-back in Weeks 5 and 6, Taylor Gabriel has just 5-78-0 over his prior two contests. Rookie Anthony Miller leads all Bears wideouts with three touchdown receptions, though likely falls back down in the heirarchy if Robinson returns this week. In a contest that doesn’t project to have much passing, all members of the Bears wideout corps are low upside options.
  • All Bills Skill Players – I’m trying to find a silver lining, and just can’t. The Bears have one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, and have yet to allow an opposing running back to score on the ground, which means they should be able to contain LeSean McCoy handily. Nathan Peterman’s presence under center relegates Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Charles Clay to even less desirable plays than they already were coming into this contest.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Buccaneers Panthers
Quarterback 1st 16th
Running Back 9th 24th
Wide Receiver 2nd 24th
Tight End 4th 1st
Defense/Special Teams 11th 24th
Vegas Line: Panthers -6.5
Vegas Over/Under: 
55
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  • Cam Newton – Comes off arguably one of his best games in the season last Sunday in which Newton gashed the generally stout Ravens defense for 271 combined passing/rushing yards and three total touchdowns. The Buccaneers’ defense is completely on the other side of the spectrum from Baltimore’s in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks, so you do the math.
  • Christian McCaffrey – A common theme you will see here is the Bucs can’t stop anybody. They’ve allowed a running back to score at least once in some capacity in every game but one this season (Week 3 against Pittsburgh).
  • Devin Funchess/D.J. Moore – Funchess comes off a quiet Week 8 (3-27-0 on three targets), though given it was against Baltimore he gets a pass. Moore played a season-high 46 snaps in that same contest with Torrey Smith (knee) out, and responded with 129 total yards (90 receiving, 39 rushing) on seven touches. Smith is trending toward another inactive this Sunday, which would keep Moore in the starting lineup.
  • Greg Olsen – He’s now scored in back-to-back games, which puts Olsen halfway to equaling his touchdown total over the prior two seasons (4). Tampa Bay is tops in the NFL with 82 receiving yards per game allowed to opposing tight ends.
  • Mike Evans – Has 83 receiving yards or more in five of seven games played. The Panthers’ under-sized CBs are going to have their hands full with Evans.
  • O.J. Howard – We’re 8 weeks into the season and Howard still has no fewer than 54 receiving yards in any game he’s started and finished. Carolina has been a tight end funnel all season long.
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  • Panthers D/ST – The Buccaneers do score a lot of points (28.7 per game to be exact), but they are also prone to errors, leading the NFL with 19 giveaways and a -13 give/take ratio (tied with San Francisco).
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick – The bearded one is back, as it was confirmed earlier this week Jameis Winston would be benched in favor of Fitzpatrick for Week 9, and likely going forward. Fitzpatrick averaged 410 passing yards and 4 total touchdowns per contest between Weeks 1 and 3 before getting replaced by Winston in Week 4’s blowout loss to the Bears. The Panthers have allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of seven games this season.
  • DeSean Jackson/Chris Godwin – Both secondary Bucs wideouts should be plenty involved as the team spends the afternoon chasing the Panthers on the scoreboard. Jackson and Godwin scored five touchdowns between Weeks 1 and 3 with Ryan Fitzpatrick running the show.
  • Peyton Barber – Playing through an ankle injury, Barber still managed 85 rush yards and a score against the Bengals last week. He’ll have a tougher time against a Panthers defense allowing 8th-fewest rushing yards per contest.
  • Adam Humphries – Amassed just 7-65-0 in Fitzpatrick’s three complete starts, as most of Humphries’ production this year has come with Winston under center.

Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Chiefs Browns
Quarterback 6th 23rd
Running Back 1st 7th
Wide Receiver 12th 8th
Tight End 6th 14th
Defense/Special Teams 32nd 5th
Vegas Line: Kansas City -8.5
Vegas Over/Under: 
51.5
  • Kareem Hunt – Halfway through the season, and Hunt is already three scores away from matching last year’s total of 13. The Browns have the 27th-ranked rush defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and are tied with Arizona for most rushing touchdowns allowed (10).
  • David Njoku – No need to fret over last Sunday’s bagel from Njoku. The Chiefs allow a healthy 74.5 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends.
  • Patrick Mahomes – The Browns have hemorrhaged passing yards this season (7th-most per game), but have actually intercepted more passes (12) than ones they’ve allowed to go for six points (11). The projected game script here doesn’t likely lend itself to a Mahomes bonanza where he’s tossing touchdown on repeat.
  • Tyreek Hill – The apparent groin issue seems to be a non-issue as he’s been practicing in full. More concerning is a potential matchup with rookie CB Denzel Ward, who has been playing lights out all season long.
  • Travis Kelce – Has at least 61 receiving yards or a touchdown in each of his last seven contests. The Browns only give up 55 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends and have allowed just two scores to the position.
  • Sammy Watkins – Finally had his coming out party as Chief with 8-107-2 on 9 targets last Sunday as Watkins comfort level with Mahomes appears to be growing. It’s important to remember, however, that Watkins is the third or sometimes fourth option in the passing game behind Hill, Kelce, and Hunt.
  • Chiefs D/ST – The Browns are implementing a new offensive system after firing their head coach and OC earlier this week, so things won’t likely click immediately. Cleveland also remains the NFL’s most sacked team, giving up 4.1 per contest.
  • Nick Chubb – Nearly half the fantasy points Kansas City has allowed to opposing backfields have come through the passing game, an area where Chubb has yet to demonstrate he excels (just two catches all season). Chubb should put up strong rushing numbers (at least until the score gets out of hand), as the Chiefs have the NFL’s league worst rush defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.
  • Jarvis Landry – The targets are there (Landry is second in the NFL with 94), but he’s turned them into just 528 receiving yards, putting him dead last in yards-per-target among NFL players that have seen at least 60. Volume is still a safe thing to bet on, though the Chiefs have only allowed three no. 1 receivers to go for 76 yards or more against them.
  • Baker Mayfield – His per game passing yards have decreased each week since Mayfield put up 342 in Week 5. The Chiefs have allowed the 4th-most passing yards per contest, however, so Mayfield likely bounces back due to game script, as this matchup projects as fairly one-sided.
  • Duke Johnson – His skill set plays right into this matchup, as the Chiefs allow the most receiving yards per game to opposing running backs. However, it’s not a given the new Browns coaching staff suddenly begins handing Johnson more than the 5.3 touches he’s been averaging per game in 2018.
  • Antonio Callaway – Caught a touchdown last Sunday, but hasn’t eclipsed 55 receiving yards since Week 2.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Jets Dolphins
Quarterback 12th 14th
Running Back 16th 3rd
Wide Receiver 5th 20th
Tight End 27th 13th
Defense/Special Teams 9th 12th
Vegas Line: Dolphins -3
Vegas Over/Under: 
43.5
  • DeVante Parker – Much has been made about 46 of Parker’s 134 Week 8 receiving yards coming off a fluke play where he caught a ball that bounced off a teammate’s helmet. Nevertheless, Parker is the most talented of an injury-depleted receiving corps, and somebody is going to benefit from playing against a Jets defense allowing the seventh-most receiving yardage per game to opposing wideouts.
  • Isaiah Crowell – He’s cobbled together just 94 rushing yards over three games since going for 219 in Week 5. This contests represents a blowup spot, however, as only the Broncos have allowed more rushing yards to opposing backfields over the past four weeks.
  • Kenyan Drake/Frank Gore – Drake continues to do the most with limited touches, and is averaging a robust 4.9 yards-per-carry average despite the sad state of the Dolphins offense. Frank Gore isn’t going to stop pilfering carries any time soon though. In a mediocre matchup, expect the two Miami running backs each to mitigate the other’s upside, though Drake will remain a big play threat.
  • Danny Amendola – He’s caught at least five passes in each of his last three contests, and figures to continue dominating the underneath routes as Miami’s possession receiver.
  • Chris Herndon – The rookie tight end has extended his touchdown streak to three games with another score last weekend. The Jets have allowed three tight end scores over the last three weeks.
  • Sam Darnold – Has a managed at least one touchdown pass in five straight games despite the Jets receiving corps being a hot mess. The Dolphins are averaging 2.8 passing touchdowns against over their last five contests.
  • Jets D/ST – Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler has only committed three turnovers in three starts this season, but that doesn’t mean a meltdown isn’t right around the corner.
  • Mike Gesicki – The second-round rookie has yet to go over 44 receiving yards or score in any game this season.
  • Kenny Stills (groin) – Appears to be doubtful to play after missing practice all week.
  • Jakeem Grant – The pint-sized speedster went just 4-36-0 on 8 targets in Week 8. While he’s always a threat to take any given catch the distance, Grant appears third on line behind Amendola and Parker.
  • Jets Wide Receivers – Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Robby Anderson (ankle) are still not practicing, making them likely to sit again. Jermaine Kearse has been a nonfactor as the Jets default no. 1 wideout the past two weeks, going just 3-30-0 on 15 targets over that span. Newly signed Rishard Matthews played just 19 snaps last week, and was not targeted on any of them. Matthews’ involvement should ramp up in a hurry, but he hasn’t earned any goodwill after being non-factor all season long when playing for the Titans.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Most 2018 Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
Position Steelers Ravens
Quarterback 5th 30th
Running Back 30th 32nd
Wide Receiver 6th 29th
Tight End 2nd 11th
Defense/Special Teams 29th 22nd
Vegas Line: Ravens -3
Vegas Over/Under: 
47.5
  • John Brown – One of Brown’s two 100-yard performances this year came against Pittsburgh in Week 4.  The Steelers have allowed either 100-receiving yards or a score to at least one wideout in every game this season.
  • Antonio Brown – He’s failed to reach the end zone in just one games this season, and leads all NFL players with eight touchdown receptions. However, over his past five visits to M&T Bank Stadium, Brown has averaged just 6-69 and scored once.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster – Has been held to 60 receiving yards or less in three of his last four games played, including a 4-60-0 line against Baltimore in Week 4. In fact, the Ravens have only allowed to opposing wideouts to put up 90 receiving yards or more against them all season, with neither eclipsing 100.
  • Vance McDonald – He’s seemed to have fallen back to even with Jesse James from a usage standpoint, but holds the overall edge over him in targets. The Ravens allow an average of 7.5 tight end targets per game, so look for Pittsburgh to make McDonald a priority given Baltimore’s defensive strength in the pass game lies on the perimeter.
  • Michael Crabtree/Willie Snead – Crabtree has put up 66 receiving yards or less in all but one game this season, while Snead’s yardage production has been even less impressive. However, the duo is averaging 8.6 and 8.4 targets per game respectively over their last five, and Baltimore’s game plan is likely pass heavy.
  • Ravens D/ST – Struggled mightily against Carolina last Sunday, but should be able to redeem themselves somewhat facing “Road Ben” Roethlisberger, who will be playing through some pain, as he’s dealing with a fractured index finger on his non-throwing hand.
  • Ben Roethlisberger (finger) – The injury isn’t expected to hold Roethlisberger out, though the imposing Ravens defense on the road is a much greater concern.
  • James Conner – The Ravens boast the NFL’s stingiest running back defense from a fantasy points allowed perspective. No opposing rusher has gained more than 83 yards on the ground against Baltimore all season.
  • Ravens Tight Ends -The tight end committee in Baltimore was whittled down to three when Maxx Williams was made a healthy inactive last Sunday. First-round rookie Hayden Hurst caught the touchdown pass, but it was third-round rookie Mark Andrews who led the group with 4-31 through the air. Nick Boyle is still around too and just muddies the picture even further. Shame because the Steelers are a great matchup.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.