Fantasy Football Week 9: Biggest Takeaways from Sunday
Week 9 of the fantasy football season is wrapping up, which means we are about to hit the homestretch before the fantasy playoffs start in Week 14. We’ll go over some of the key takeaways from Sunday’s Week 9 action to prep you for it.
For the second straight week, the leading story is out of Pittsburgh. And for the second straight week, it’s not good news.
Last week, we led with the season-ending injury suffered by Le’Veon Bell. This week, the lead story is Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a left foot injury and was carted off the field, per NFL Network. Inside, we’ll go over the impact Big Ben’s injury will have on the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, namely Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and DeAngelo Williams.
New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis also suffered an injury in Week 9. It appears Lewis will miss at least a few games, so what should you expect from LeGarrette Blount?
Some unsung heroes continued to perform well this week, including Derek Carr, Delanie Walker and Allen Hurns. Find out how you should view these three players inside. We also have more on two players trending in the wrong direction.
We’ll go over all of these takeaways and more, starting with the fantasy fallout of Roethlisberger's injury.
Roethlisberger Injury: Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams Remain Top Options
The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t catch a break.
One week after losing star running back Le’Veon Bell for the rest of the season, another one of their star players—quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—went down with an injury. As of this writing, the belief is that Roethlisberger will be back within a few weeks.
“Sounds like Ben Roethlisberger misses next Sunday's game vs. Browns, takes bye week to rest, then likely to return Week 12 at Seattle,” tweeted ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Aside from the obvious impact (Roethlisberger owners now searching for another quarterback), Antonio Brown is likely the player impacted the most. He was a noticeably different player without Roethlisberger earlier this season.
Brown had a three-game stretch this season with 11 receptions for 111 yards and no scores without Big Ben. That’s more like an average game for Brown. However, Michael Vick was in at quarterback during those games, and for some reason, Vick rarely looked Brown’s way.
Obviously, having Roethlisberger throwing the ball is the best-case scenario for Brown, but with the 33-year-old missing time, Brown owners can rest (relatively) easy knowing it will be Landry Jones, not Michael Vick, filling in.
While filling in for Roethlisberger earlier this season, Jones was much better at getting the ball to Pittsburgh’s playmakers—including Brown—than Michael Vick was. This bodes well for Martavis Bryant as well.
Brown remains a tail-end WR1 while Roethlisberger is out. For his part, Bryant remains a boom-or-bust flex player.
At running back, DeAngelo Williams should still be considered a tail-end RB1 for the rest of the season with or without Roethlisberger.
He was a stud in Week 9, carrying the ball 27 times for 170 yards and scoring twice while adding 55 yards on two receptions through the air, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be the team’s workhorse moving forward. His touchdown opportunities will likely drop while Roethlisberger heals up (assuming Pittsburgh’s offense will be less efficient), but Williams remains a must-start.
LeGarrette Blount Steps into RB1 Territory
New England Patriots running back and receiving specialist Dion Lewis suffered an injury on Sunday, with CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reporting after the game the “Pats won’t know full extent of Dion Lewis injury until his MRI, but the hope is it’s an MCL sprain and not more severe after early checks.”
This would obviously be good news for the New England Patriots, and it’s potentially good news for fantasy owners. It means Lewis has a chance to be back by the fantasy playoffs (although we must wait for official word on a timetable, like La Canfora reported).
To be sure, as of Sunday night (this writing), it's still a fluid, unclear situation. Adam Schefter reported that Lewis will undergo an MRI and there is "no swelling yet" (a good sign, he says) but that his "ACL [is] loose, a bad sign."
With Lewis likely slated to miss some time either way, LeGarrette Blount steps into a bigger role for the Patriots. He carried the ball an impressive 29 times on Sunday for 129 yards and a score.
That was the most carries Blount has had in a game since the 30 carries he had in last season’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts (which resulted in 148 yards and three scores). It was also the most carries he’s ever had in a regular-season game.
We shouldn’t expect 29 carries every game, but 18-24 seem like a given with Lewis out. That’s enough volume in a high-scoring offense to move Blount into tail-end RB1 territory. At the very least, he’s a strong RB2 and should be in all starting lineups.
Derek Carr a Tail-End QB1 Option
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has put together three straight impressive games against some fairly stout defenses. He has won over some fantasy fans in the process.
Over the past three weeks, Carr has thrown for an average of 308 yards per game with three-plus scores in every game (and four scores in two of the games) to go along with just one interception. And that came in games against the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers—none of which are walkovers.
Carr has built incredible rapport with rookie wideout Amari Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree. He targeted those two players a combined 25 times on Sunday. The remaining 19 passes he threw were directed at seven others.
It’s clear where Carr’s priorities are—and that’s not a bad thing. The trio of C's—Carr-Cooper-Crabtree—is rolling, and Carr is a legitimate tail-end QB1 option for the rest of the season as a result.
He has a favorable schedule as well. His next opponents include the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.
Carr does, however, have a Week 14 matchup against the Denver Broncos. That’s a matchup you will want to avoid, which is tough because it comes in the middle of the fantasy playoffs.
But if that’s the worst thing we can say about Carr at this point, it means he’s doing all right for himself.
Allen Hurns a Bona Fide WR2 Rest of Season
Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns simply won’t fall back down to earth, which leaves us with only one conclusion: He’s a legitimate WR2. Get used to it.
Hurns now has a receiving touchdown in six straight games—six straight! He is the 10th player since the 2000 season to achieve six straight games with at least one receiving touchdown and 30 yards.
The other names on the list are pretty impressive (listed from most recent to oldest): Randall Cobb, Wes Welker, Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Terrell Owens, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens (again). That’s according to Pro-Football-Reference.com's database.
Hurns has proved his staying power, and the fact Blake Bortles excels in garbage time only helps the receiver's appeal.
Delanie Walker an Elite TE1
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker was a magician on Sunday, catching seven passes for 95 yards and two scores. He tacked on a two-point conversion for good measure.
Why was he a magician? Because he did most of his damage off of tipped passes.
While that’s obviously not a recipe for sustained success, it does speak to Walker’s athleticism and ability to make something out of nothing.
Walker now has at least six receptions and 50-plus yards in four straight games, and he has reached those marks in five of seven games this season. His two scores in Week 9 were his first since Week 1, but it bodes well for his future value that he was targeted in the end zone (and on the two-point conversion).
Additionally, playing with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota seems to boost Walker’s value, and with Mariota now back under center, Walker becomes a top-flight fantasy tight end.
Jordan Cameron Is Droppable in Redraft Leagues
We haven’t heard much from tight end Jordan Cameron this season, and unfortunately, that’s not because we’re overlooking him.
He’s simply been forgettable.
After starting the season off on a relatively strong note by catching four passes for 73 yards in Week 1 followed by a 62-yard effort in Week 2, Cameron has all but vanished from the Miami Dolphins offense.
He has recorded no more than three receptions in a game since Week 1, and he hasn’t topped 35 yards in a game in that span either. He did find the end zone once (in Week 6), but one random touchdown is nothing to get excited about.
Cameron officially bottomed out in Week 9, however, catching just one pass for six yards en route to as measly of a fantasy performance as it gets. He is currently owned in 57.8 percent of ESPN.com fantasy football leagues—down nearly 10 percent from last week—but that number should be much lower this time next week.
There’s no reason to own Cameron in redraft leagues anymore.
Eddie Lacy Now a Weak RB2, Falling into Flex Territory
That headline was weird to type considering the fact that Eddie Lacy went first overall in some fantasy drafts this season.
Nobody saw this coming.
Lacy carried the ball just five times in Week 9—gaining only 10 yards—and he fumbled as well. It was the most disappointing performance of his disappointing season. The 25-year-old has not carried the ball over 20 times in any game this year—which is a nice (although admittedly arbitrary) milestone for RB1 prospects to reach. That's a bad sign.
It’s time to completely give up on the notion of Lacy as an RB1—and probably even as an RB2. He’s a flex player at this point in the season, especially considering the fact he is not only splitting time with James Starks, but he’s not playing as well as Starks and is losing ground to him in terms of playing time on a weekly basis.
Everything is trending in the wrong direction for Lacy, including his fantasy value.
Andrew Luck Is the Best-Buy Low Candidate Out There
Andrew Luck has played some poor football this season, and that has translated to some subpar fantasy outings. But it also means his perceived value is lower than his actual value.
Luck should have no problem being a top-five fantasy quarterback from here on out, which means you should be looking to buy low now before the fantasy playoffs roll around.
He was solid in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos, a team that put the clamps on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers just one week ago. Luck threw for a respectable but not insane 252 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, good for the eighth-highest quarterback score of the week (as of this writing). He has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but one game this season.
After going on a bye next week—which may actually be good for Luck given that he’s been dealing with injuries—he returns to play the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Weeks 11 and 12 before playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13. Those games should lead to plenty of points.
And then Luck’s fantasy playoff schedule is to die for: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Miami. That will win fantasy championships.