Hey everyone, welcome to the weekend! It’s been a long week (or at least for me), but we are finally here. It’s Saturday. The ‘Bama game will be on soon.
For those that don’t know, I am currently a student, and I’d like to talk about something I’m currently studying. In my Psychology class, we are going over memory processes, which includes mostly recognition and retrieval; fully understanding an event (or series of events) that has just occurred, or remembering an event (or a series). Some of you may already know a little bit about this. Two of the bigger terms we are covering currently is constructive processing and hindsight bias (lightbulb!). Constructive processing refers to the retrieval of memories in which those memories are altered, revised or influenced by newer information. Hindsight bias, on the other hand, is the tendency to falsely believe, through revision of older memories to include newer information, that one could have correctly predicted the outcome of an event. Know the term “Monday Morning Quarterback”? That’s a prime example of hindsight bias.
Fantasy Football is purely based on interpreting data (doesn’t have to be numbers and charts, it could be just injury news, matchups, etc.) and applying this info to our lineups and teams for the week. But sometimes, past events has a great influence over our future moves. Have you ever said to yourself, “Jesus man, why the hell did you not start ____ against the ____?? Stupid!”. Don’t fault yourself, that is a pure example of hindsight bias. We’ll try to eliminate recent events from our thinking, but it’s nearly impossible to do so. This player has been on fire, let’s continue to ride the hot hand. Should we always think this way?
Let me bring this back to the week ahead, by going back to last Sunday night, where the Cowboys mounted a pretty sizable comeback en route to an overtime victory against Philadelphia. Was this shocking, especially the results of Dez after a full comeback from his injury? I say yes. The Eagles had (and still have) arguably a Top-5 pass defense, and against a WR who hadn’t seen the field in a while, all looked good and well for the Eagles to make a strong statement on prime-time TV. But that wasn’t the case, Dak and Dez looked very good together, especially when you consider they hadn’t had a chance to form completely chemistry. So when we consider all the factors, was the result truly surprising? Sure, it was a tough matchup on paper, but Dez has been one of the best offensive weapons in the last couple of years when healthy, with arguably the ROY lead dog at the helm, we should have been all over him. And, we should be on him as a Top-5 wideout rest of season.
Oh, and this week he’ll play the Browns.
Start(s) of the Week: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant
Let’s work with this in three separate parts for these three guys we have here today. First, we have Dak Prescott, arguably the leading Rookie of the Year candidate, and the stats show nothing less. In QB DYAR and DVOA, he ranks third in the NFL, and in total QBR, he’s second in the league behind our good buddy Tom Brady. But there is one problem with Prescott, and that is the fact that this Cowboys offense isn’t as agressive than we’d like. You can’t blame them, they’re freaking 6-1, but the fact of the matter is that Prescott isn’t throwing it as much as we’d like, especially in the redzone, only 35 passing attempts within the 20 all year, and in general, only 9 TD’s on the year thus far. However, there is a reason to feel good about him in Week 9, and that is because they’ll be facing the Browns. Cleveland has seen better days on the defensive front, as on the year, they have allowed 288 yards and 2.4 TD’s on average. Plus, they’ll possibly be without CB Jamar Taylor, who is suffering from a groin injury.
Which leads us to Dez. The Browns have allowed close to 2.4 TD’s per game, and they’re gonna be without their #2 CB. You do the math.
Finally, we have ‘Zeke. You don’t me to tell you that he’s been playing very well so far, as he has scored 5 times on the year, and purely based on running workload, he’s been one of the best, with the best Success Rates in the NFL at 57%. He’ll be squaring off against a Cleveland defense that has given up, on average, 127 yards with 1.3 TD’s per game. You can also make the #NarrativeStreet point that he’ll be returning to Ohio. Either way, you win.
It’s shaping up to be a very nice game from America’s team.
Note: I will be more than happy to answer specific lineup questions below, but I won’t be selecting the “obvious” plays unless I don’t think they are so obvious. Regardless of a great matchup, you won’t see names like Tom Brady, David Johnson or Antonio Brown. Those are no-brainers. Fire ’em up with confidence.
Philip Rivers (vs. TEN)
Rivers has been an absolute stud this year under OC Ken Whisenhunt, and it shows in his highly effective passing (correlates with the high number of passing attempts) and QBR ratings. He’ll get another great matchup against the Tennessee Titnas, a secondary that ranks 24th in the NFL , and is one of the more funnel-y defenses, ranking 9th against the run. It’s a great matchup for Rivers, and Williams, and even Gates this week. Lots of scoring should occur for the Chargers in this matchup.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. NYJ)
Tannehill, believe it or not, actually has a great history against the Jets, averaging 24.0 fpts per game against them in his last two games. Most recently, in Week 12 of the 2015 season, he posted 351/3 TD’s and 1 INT. The Jets secondary is beatable right now, and playing behind of the better offensive lines in the sport today.
Nick Foles (vs. JAX)
Foles has actually had a nice history against the Jags back when he was an Eagle, and under Chip Kelly where he’ll be under now when he takes the field on Sunday. The Jaguars defense has been pretty putrid till this point simply due to the fact that they don’t have enough time to rest because of the offenses’ continuous 3-and-outs. Foles is a nice bye week option for the Brady owners.
Here is what I am going to say. Except for those select few “duh” sits at the position, there aren’t any bad plays at the QB spot for Week 9, kinda like last week. There are a whole bunch of QB’s this week that I look at them and think, well, maybe they aren’t top-5 options, but you aren’t benching them. Matthew Stafford? I’m not crazy about him, and if you have better options I could see him as useful, it’s a bad matchup in theory, but Cutler had some success last week, and Detroit is still a high-powered offense.. Derek Carr? He’s got a tough matchup in theory, but he is so active not only on the basis of passing attempts,the entire Oakland offense is one of the best in the business, and Aqib Talib will miss the day.. See what I mean? Drop a comment below for your specific questions regarding the position and we will tackle the week ahead together.
If Hyde plays, he is a strong candidate to finish in the Top 10 of all backs when it is all said and done. Hyde will get his chance, like so many before him, to square off against the sieve that is the New Orleans Saints rush D. Ranking as the 28th best (per FO) defense against the run, the Saints, on average, yield close to 26 fantasy points per game. Plus, the Saints will most likely be without OLB’s Dannell Ellerbe,Stephone Anthony, ILB James Laurinatitis in this game, which is absolutely perfect for whoever gets the start in this game.
Charcandrick West (vs. JAX)
Both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry had field days last week against Jacksonville, and the way the Jags’ offense has been rolling right now, I wonder if it is a matter of time before Jacksonville fires Gus Bradley. With how bad the Jags’ offense is, other opponents will eventually start to constantly run the ball throughout most of the game. West steps in as the replacement for the time being under Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles, and he gets a great matchup against a Jaguars defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the run.
I’m going make this a short and simple as I can. The Saints rush defenses is brutal as of right now, ranking as the 28th best defense against the run. As we saw earlier in the year where both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman like that? Although Hightower and may be the lead in the RBBC, it’s still an RBBC, and both backs should get theirs.
Matt Forte (@ MIA)
So after what seemed to be a long stretch of some very bad games for Forte after his very good start to the season, we have seen the veteran post some very nice numbers against the Ravens and Browns in back-to-back games over the last two weeks. However, I would strongly suggest you bench him for this week. Not only is it a tough matchup in general (on a fpts per game basis, they’re a top-10 unit against the run), they’ve only allowed 0.3 TD’s per game to the running back position, and only 25 yards receiving. Throw in the fact that LT Ryan Clady and C Nick Mangold will likely miss this game, it really is not looking good.
It’s a pretty murky situation here. As of Friday, McCoy was again limited in practice with his lingering hamstring issues, and he has a chance to play Monday night in Seattle. For the long term, I hope he doesn’t suit up. Then we have Gillislee, who has shown us at times to be a very solid backup plan for the McCoy owners, but can we trust him here against Seattle in Seattle? I’m very hesitant to say yes. Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin have returned to practice after some injury concerns, but the Seahawks shouldn’t have any issues taking care of any aspect of this Bills offense. The Seahawks, like always, have been successful against the run this year, only giving up close to 80 yards on the ground per game. It’s best to stay away.
Latavius Murray (vs. DEN)
First, let’s get the fact that he’s never been quite good against the Broncos out of the way. Over his last 4 games against the team, he has averaged just 2.6 YPC, and has never gotten more than 40 yards on the ground. As a defensive unit this year, the Broncos have been really stout against the run. Although they rank 14th in the NFL against the rush this year (per FO), they have allowed only 93.8 yards per game, with 0.5 TD’s along the way. And, ILB Brandon Marshall should return this week from his hamstring injury. The only good thing for Murray here in this matchup is that the Raiders could be without FB Jamize Olawale, or select to give him less work, which could lead to more redzone work for Murray, but that’s if they even get there.
The Packers secondary has played okay this year, ranking 12th in the NFL against the pass (per FO), yielding 173 yards and 1.4 TD’s per game, on average. However, this is a great spot for both Indy wideouts. The Packers will most likely be down two men in their secondary coverage, CB’s Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, escalating Moncrief and Hilton’s matchups into Top-3 territory. This is a very Indianapolis offense right now, and we saw how good Moncrief did getting back into the gruve, and Luck should have no problem Sunday.
Terrelle Pryor (vs. DAL)
So yes, Josh McCown will not get the starting job for Sunday against the Cowboys, but this is still a very good matchup to go back to the well for Terrelle Pryor. Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne (groin) and S Barry Church (forearm) are both set to miss this game, leaving some mis-matches on the 6’4 wideout. As a unit with Claiborne and Church, this Dallas defense is a middle-of-the-road one at best, but even still they allowed, on average, 167 reception yards and 1.1 TD’s per game. Pryor is unquestionably Cleveland’s #1 offensive weapon, and should have no problems whatsoever against this Dallas secondary.
San Francisco’s secondary is pretty bad, and they are about to show us how bad they really are especially without CB Rashard Robinson. On the year, the Niners secondary yields 142 receiving yards and close to 2.0 TD’s on average. However, over the last 2 weeks, they have given up close to 190 yards and 3.0 TD’s per game. Throughout the entire year, Football Outsiders has ranked them as the absolute worse secondary in the NFL, ranking 32nd in DVOA given to opposing #1’s, and Cooks is in prime positioning (although who isn’t in this offense? All 3 wideouts are Top-20 material tomorrow.
Yes, Aqib Talib will miss this game, so there is some hope, but Wade Phillips knows how to shut down these wideouts. In three straight games against Denver, Crabtree has failed to register more than 10 fantasy points, only catching 4 targets in each game, never topping over close to 55 yards during that span. Meanwhile, for Cooper, he was really silent against them in each of his two games last season, posting 4/47 last year, while registering 0 points in the second meeting. We might be getting to a point where you just cannot bench these two, but it should be known that they do not have a good history against the Broncos, and in general, this is a very tough matchup, as Denver has limited opposing wideouts to less than 100 yards per game. I don’t feel too good about this matchup.
Marvin Jones (@ MIN)
He’s been slipping ever since a few weeks ago when he broke out against Green Bay, and last week against a supposedly easy matchup against the Texans, caught 3 balls on his 7 targets, good for 33 yards, and this week, he’ll still be without a break, as he’ll likely see CB Rhodes in this matchup against a defensive unit that ranks 4th against the pass.
Kyle Rudolph (vs. DET)
As a whole, the Lions rank as the 27th defense against the TE position (per FO), giving up close to 18.25 fpts per game in PPR leagues, and 12.25 fpts per game in standard scoring leagues. This week won’t get any better for the Lions against the position, as again they’ll be without OLB DeAndre Levy with a knee/quad injury. Rudolph also has a nice history against the Lions, catching a TD in both games against the Lions last year. He’s a Top-5 option at the position this week with Gronk on a bye.
Antonio Gates (vs. TEN)
As Hunter Henry will be out this week due to injury, the ol’ man will take the field to teach these young kids to stop hitting the whip and how to start playing football the way it was meant to be played. Or, in other words, go off and score a crap ton of TD’s against a Tennessee defense that if very funnel-y, ranking as the 24th-best D against the pass, but 9th against the run. He’s had some issues with drops, but he is usually active in that offense, and should get even more attention to Gates with Henry out of the lineup.
Julius Thomas (@ KC)
First off, it’s never easy to travel to Arrowhead, and it certainly isn’t easy as a TE traveling to Arrowhead, as the Chiefs rank in the Top-5 of all defenses against TE’s, allowing only 38 yards per game to the position. The Jaguars offense is pretty bad right now, and it shouldn’t get any better in this matchup.
Mason Crosby (vs. IND)
In a game with two weak secondaries facing off against pretty efficient offenses, there should be plenty of points had on both sides. Although he’s only had 6 FG’s in the last 3, Crosby should directly benefit from the high-scoring nature of this game.
Chris Boswell (@ BAL)
Don’t these Pittsburgh-Baltimore games always seem like the stereotypical kicker-type game, with a likely final score of 13-10? Well, although this might be the case, he’s only had 3 FG’s in the past 2 games, and there are safer options tomorrow.
Defense & Special Teams
Miami Dolphins (vs. NYJ)
This Dolphins D/ST is a pretty sneaky option for those streaming or have bye weeks issues. Like I mentioned above, their pass rush and defensive 7 are pretty good thus far into the season, while the Jets, not only starting the inefficient QB under center, they’ll be without LT Ryan Clady and C Nick Mangold. The upside with sacks is pretty real.
New York Giants (vs. PHI)
The Giants are not that bad of a defensive unit, believe it or not. They rank 9th in the NFL against the pass, and 12th against the run (per FO), which is very respectable, but the matchup is average at best, and this Eagle offense is still an efficient one, so there are better options on Sunday.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great ninth week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 10-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.