DFS Early Look: Week 9


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DFS Early Look: Week 9

Week 8 of the NFL regular season just wrapped up, and that means Week 9 is just around the corner. As my readers likely know, DFS is the best version of fantasy football, and since DraftKings and FanDuel have released their Week 8 prices, it’s time to track down the obvious values and best plays.

Here are the plays that jump out to me for Week 9 DFS:

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (@ ATL)

DraftKings: $7,200 (QB3) | Fanduel: $7,800 (QB6)

Herbert hasn’t exactly been the fantasy juggernaut that many hoped he would be entering the year, but this week’s matchup against Atlanta is arguably the perfect spot to right the ship.

The Falcons are giving up the third most FPG to opposing QBs (25.3), the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+7.1), the most passing YPG (306.9), the 3rd-most yards per pass attempt (7.7), and the 6th-most passing TDs per game (1.8).

Not only that, but the Falcons offer PFF’s 6th-worst graded coverage unit (57.1 team coverage grade) and PFF’s worst-graded pass rush (57.3 team pass rush grade).

And this has led to Atlanta being one of the NFL’s premier pass funnels, ranking 2nd in pass rate over expectation allowed (+6.4%). So, Herbert will have all day to throw against one of the league’s worst secondaries, and his pass volume should be bolstered as a result.

It’s also good news the Chargers are favored in this contest (LAC has a 61% implied win probability), as he averages 27.7 FPG in his 19 career wins, a mark that rivals 2019 Lamar Jackson (27.7 FPG) for the greatest fantasy season of all time, if it were sustained for a full season. Everything is suggesting a huge game for Herbert is on the horizon, and I’d expect him to be one of the more popular QBs of Week 9 as a result.

Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (VS. MIA)

DraftKings: $5,300 (QB14) | Fanduel: $7,400 (QB8)

Justin Fields is playing like a mid-range QB1 over the last month, and it’s been largely thanks to his rushing ability. Fields has seven games of 8 carries or more this season, the most among all QBs – and he’s exceeded at least 60 rushing yards in each of his last three games.

And Miami has been a solid matchup for opposing QBs this season, allowing the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+2.7), and the 10th-most schedule-adjusted rushing FPG (+0.7).

So, it’s easy to argue that Fields is glaringly underpriced on DraftKings this week, given his high-end fantasy outputs over the last month combined with the plus matchup.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (@ DET)

DraftKings: $7,400 (RB4) | Fanduel: $7,800 (RB7)

The Green Bay offense has struggled to score points, averaging 18.1 PPG this season (7th-worst) on their way to a meager 3-5 record.

But Green Bay is anticipated to score more points in Week 9, as they offer a 26.5 implied team total in the highest-total game of the week (50.0) as 3.0-point favorites against Detroit.

Aaron Jones has been extremely sensitive to winning and losing in his career, averaging 19.5 FPG in wins, but just 11.0 FPG in losses since 2019. So Green Bay’s 61% win probability this week should help usher him toward a big day.

Detroit is a fantastic matchup for opposing RBs, allowing the 4th-most FPG (27.7), the 2nd-highest percentage of explosive plays (8.1%), the highest TD rate (6.5%), and the 5th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+3.2).

And while Jones may not project as an incredible value this week, we can’t forget the upside. He’s one of just three RBs since 2019 to have multiple games of 40.0 or more fantasy points. It may not reflect in his median projection, but Jones has as good of a chance at breaking the Week 9 slate as any RB, especially in an elite matchup with Detroit.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (@ JAX)

DraftKings: $7,300 (RB5) | Fanduel: $8,800 (RB2)

Jacobs saw poor usage in the Raiders' blowout loss to New Orleans, recording a 55% snap share and a season-low 10 carries, earning just 7.4 fantasy points.

Still, Week 8 was truly the worst-case scenario for Jacobs – the Raiders were beaten so badly that backup QB Jarrett Stidham played on 14 snaps, and the offense generated a total of 0 points.

And we can’t forget just how good Jacobs’ workload was in the three weeks before their Week 8 loss. He had averaged 22.0 XFP/G (1st), while massively exceeding that expectation and scoring 33.8 FPG. He was playing out of his mind, and the Raiders will surely want to get back to feeding Jacobs as the focal point of their offense in Week 9.

If we assume the Raiders manage to avoid complete offensive ineptitude this week – something that appears likely given they are favored by 1.5-points – then it’s easy to see Jacobs returning to his highest-end bell cow role that he had in Weeks 4, 5, and 7. And if that happens, Jacobs is still underpriced at just $7,300 on DraftKings, which should translate to significant ownership for him in Week 9.

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (VS. LV)

DraftKings: $6,300 (RB9) | Fanduel: $7,600 (RB8)

In Week 7, Etienne played on a season-high 80% of the team’s snaps, up from a prior high of just 53%. He received 88% of the carries out of the backfield while also compiling a 12% target share. That’s rare usage – there have only been 8 instances of a RB this season hitting at least 80% of the team’s snaps, 80% of the team’s RB carries, and 10% of the team’s targets in a single game. And those RBs combine to average 20.6 FPG in those 8 games.

Week 8 was more of the same, as Etienne earned 79% of snaps and logged 79% of backfield opportunities, which translated to 27 total touches.

And Etienne has been incredibly productive on the opportunities he’s been given, tying for first in YPC (6.2) while posting a ridiculously impressive 90.3 PFF rushing grade (4th-best).

Las Vegas is a perfectly neutral matchup for opposing RBs by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+0.0), while this game total (46.5) ranks as the 5th-best of the slate, so it’s incredibly difficult to find a reason to be down on Etienne in Week 9. He’s still about $1,000 too cheap on DraftKings, which should lead to him being chalk at the RB position.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (@ WAS)

DraftKings: $8,600 (WR2) | Fanduel: $9,000 (WR1)

Jefferson has been dominant this season, earning 21.2 FPG (5th-best) on a truly elite 20.3 XFP/G workload (4th-best). But what makes him stand out in Week 9 is his incredible matchup with Washington.

The Commanders have allowed the 9th-most FPG to opposing WRs this season (36.7), but if we schedule-adjust that metric, they jump to the 2nd-best matchup for opposing WRs, allowing +8.9 FPG above their opponent's average per game. And they have struggled heavily against WR1s, allowing 19.6 DraftKings FPG this season – the 5th-worst mark in the NFL.

Jefferson is in play every week, but it feels nearly impossible to pass him up in an elite matchup in Week 9.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (VS. GB)

DraftKings: $6,600 (WR14) | Fanduel: $7,100 (WR15)

St. Brown had a brutal run of injury luck, and his first healthy game since Week 2 didn’t exactly result in a slate-breaking performance, as St. Brown logged 13.9 fantasy points on the back of 10 targets. But if we take a step back, we can note that he’s averaging 11.2 targets per game and 24.9 FPG over his last nine fully healthy games.

For perspective, that’s just 0.3 fewer targets per game and just 0.5 fewer FPG than Cooper Kupp averaged since the start of 2021. And if St. Brown is 98% of the fantasy asset that Cooper Kupp is, why should he be 74% of Kupp’s DraftKings price? Well, the answer is that he shouldn’t be and that he’s a screaming value on both DFS sites playing in the highest-total game of the Week 9 main slate (50.0).

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals (VS. SEA)

DraftKings: $5,200 (WR27) | Fanduel: $5,900 (WR25)

Moore earned impressive usage in Week 8, running a route on 98% of Kyler Murray’s dropbacks (52% slot share), while ranking 2nd on the team in both targets (8) and receiving yards (92).

And it’s easy to see another week of strong usage ahead for Moore, as Seattle appears to be a slot funnel, defensively. Seattle ranks as the 3rd-toughest matchup for opposing outside WRs by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-6.4), but as a perfectly neutral matchup for opposing slots. Assuming this holds, Week 9 could see serious volume for Moore, who has averaged 16.1 FPG in his four career games with 6 or more targets.

I would expect him to get pushed as a WR value this week, which should mean he’s popular on both DFS sites, priced as a high-end WR3.

Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams (@ TB)

DraftKings: $3,700 (TE8) | Fanduel: $6,100 (TE4)

Among TEs, Higbee ranks 3rd in targets per game (7.7) and 4th in XFP/G (12.1), but he hasn’t produced as of late, failing to exceed 4.0 fantasy points in either of his last two games. The result? A massive DraftKings price drop for Higbee, who has fallen to his lowest DK salary ($3,700) of the season – the cheapest he’s been overall since Week 17 of the 2020 season (667 days ago).

Tampa Bay is a largely neutral matchup for opposing TEs, ranking 13th-worst by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+0.5). But, far more important than this matchup is the health of Cooper Kupp – who is likely to play in Week 9 but may not be 100% after suffering a low ankle sprain in Week 8. Given Kupp and Higbee have combined to earn a 55% target share this season, any reduction in Kupp’s effectiveness would likely lead to a volume bump for Higbee. And Higbee is already clearly underpriced relative to the volume he’s earned in 2021.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.