Week 9 is officially among us! It lacks the heavyweight games on the slate but gives us more reason to fully dissect it for DFS purposes. There is not an abundance of projected shootouts we have seen in past slates, but we do have good value with players in elite matchups or others getting a boost due to injury.
If you are new to this article, this will be a source for you to get all the necessary information that you might not recognize quickly looking through the slate early in the week. The goal of this first look is to help leave no stone unturned before the week kicks off. Being able to project for different potential outcomes of players and games is a crucial trait to have as a DFS player. Here is my first look and deep dive on the Week 9 slate:
Game Script Targets
Bills +3 (vs. SEA)
QB Josh Allen
WR Stefon Diggs
WR John Brown
The Bills passing offense desperately needed a get right game. They couldn't have asked for a better matchup than against the pass funnel that is the Seahawks defense. Seahawks rank as the 8th toughest schedule adjusted matchup for RBs but are allowing most schedule adjusted FPTS/game to QBs and WRs. With the Seahawks also dominating teams through the air, it makes for perfect game environments. Teams are running the 3rd fastest pace in neutral game scripts against Seahawks. Vegas puts a stamp of approval on the game with the highest over/under on the slate (55 points). A big part of Stefon Diggs and John Brown’s game is on deep passes (15+ air yards). The Seahawks are allowing the most FPTS/game on deep passes (15+ air yards). Diggs has had elite usage this year ranking 4th in air yards (837.4) + 5th in target share (29%). John Brown has been quiet recently but has big upside if he can connect with Allen on his high aDOT of 13.7 yards. Allen’s 41 designed runs (4th among QBs) gives him one of the biggest weekly ceilings at QB.
Vikings -4 (vs. DET)
WR Marvin Jones (DET, @ MIN)
RB Dalvin Cook (MIN, vs. DET)
Kenny Golladay is expected to be out. An obvious benefactor will be Marvin Jones who has been underutilized this year with just a 15.8% target share. In the two games without Golladay we saw Jones get more looks with 14 targets. They had tougher matchups against GB and CHI. However this week he gets the Vikings who allow the 2nd most FPTS/game to outside WRs (28.2). It projects to be a positive game script for Jones as 4-point underdogs.
On the other side of the game script will be “The Chef” Dalvin Cook. So far in the two games the Vikings have won, Cook has seen 29 and 32 touches. When Cook has been on the field, no one has been more productive. He is #1 in FPTS/snap (0.63). When paying up for RBs, you are banking on them scoring touchdowns plain and simple. When the Vikings get in close, they are feeding Dalvin. He has 10 carries inside the 5 (4th most) and 43% of the team touchdowns on the season. It is a matchup for Cook to expose as well as the Lions allow the 5th most schedule adjusted FPTS/game to RBs. Judging purely off his play on the field Cook has been one of the most impressive running backs this year. Despite missing the second half against the Seahawks and missing the next game, Cook leads the NFL in avoided tackles (29).
Bears +5.5 (@ TEN)
WR Allen Robinson (CHI, @ TEN)
When talking about the Bears offense being in comeback mode as 5.5-point underdogs, we should be thinking Allen Robinson. He leads the team in targets by a healthy margin and is 2nd in targets in the NFL (77) + 5th in air yards (816.2). It will be an upgraded game environment for the Bear offense with the Titans playing the 3rd fastest neutral game script pace. The positive game script is a boost for Robinson’s target opportunity as the Bears have a 71% pass rate when trailing by 5+ this season.
The matchup is one that favors Robinson as well. When the Titans go with man to man coverage, expect Robinson to win his matchups. The Titans are allowing the most FP/A when in man coverage (0.86). They also have given up the 4th most schedule adjusted FPTS/game to WRs.
WR Jerry Jeudy (DEN, @ ATL)
Jerry Jeudy appears to be trending in the right direction. He is coming off a season-high 10 targets and led all wide receivers in air yards (162) in Week 8. He has been a player that has underperformed looking at his XFP and is a nice spot to buy low on him against the Falcons. He is averaging 9.3 FPTS/game compared to 11.4 XFP on a per game basis. The game projects as one of the best game environments with both the Broncos and Falcons being Top 10 in neutral game script pace.
RB Chase Edmonds (ARI, vs. MIA)
The Kenyan Drake injury finally lets Chase Edmonds free. Just watching the Cardinals offense it has been no secret that Edmonds has looked like the better back this year. Edmonds has the 2nd most FPTS/touch among RBs w/ 25%+ snaps (1.52). In comparison, Drake has 0.68 FPTS/touch. He already had been just behind Drake in routes run (Drake 127 | Edmonds 119) however much more involved in the passing game with 21 more targets. His 31 targets rank 8th among RBs. I expect the Dolphins defense to become a more obvious run funnel type defense over the course of the season due to their quietly elite cornerback duo in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. Cardinals should rely on the running game and continue to involve Edmonds as a receiver this week. No other RB on the Cardinals roster has gotten a snap or carry outside of Edmonds and Drake. Bell cow usage will be in store for Edmonds without Drake.
RB James Conner (PIT, @ DAL)
Conner is in a great spot to get fed with touches this week. He faces a Cowboys team that allows teams to get more plays on offense due to their above-average pace. The Eagles were able to run 82 plays against the Cowboys last week (68 plays average). It offers another great chance for Conner to see over 15 touches. He has seen 18+ touches in every game since Week 1 injury. Conner should have no trouble being productive with those touches as the Cowboys are allowing the most rushing yards to RBs and 3rd most rushing YPC (4.97). The Steelers sit as the 3rd highest team total (27.5). With 9 carries inside the 5 (5th most), Conner should get plenty of more scoring chances against Cowboys.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, vs. PIT)
The Cowboys offense without Dak Prescott has been a night and day difference. What was carrying Elliott’s production in those games at the beginning of the season was his ability to score TDs due to how much success they had moving the ball. In the first 5 games with Dak, Zeke had 22 red zone carries. In his past 3 games without Dak, just 3 red zone carries and zero TDs. The Steelers are a very tough matchup for Zeke as well. They have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to RBs this year.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (ARI, vs. MIA)
As mentioned with reasoning for loving Chase Edmonds this week, Hopkins is in for challenging matchups on the outside this week. He is expected to see Byron Jones who has allowed 125 yards in 5 games. Through Jones’ career, he has been especially impressive limiting bigger frame wide receivers which Hopkins uses to his advantage often. It projects as a worse game environment for Hopkins with the Dolphins running a slow pace (4th slowest neutral pace) and the Cardinals 5-point favorites.
WR D.J. Chark (JAX, vs. HOU)
Do you trust Jake Luton giving Chark enough fantasy impactful targets this week? I don’t. It is already a tough matchup against Bradley Roby who has been the Texans’ best cover corner. In the first game between these teams, Chark was limited to five yards on three targets against Roby. Chark has had less than 5 targets in half of his games this year.
Pace of Play
Dolphins (@ ARI) - Dolphins 4th slowest neutral game script pace -> Cardinals fastest
Bears (@ TEN) - Bears 15th slowest neutral game pace -> Titans 3rd fastest
Raiders (@ LAC) - Raiders 3rd slowest neutral game pace -> Chargers 9th fastest
Texans (@ JAX) - Jaguars 2nd slowest neutral game pace
Cardinals (vs. MIA) - Cardinals fastest neutral pace -> Dolphins 4th slowest
Projected Fast Pace Game:
Falcons vs Broncos - Both teams Top 10 in neutral game script pace (Over/Under of 50)