Well, won’t you look at that? There’s never a bad time to have our best week of the season. Last week had the honor of earning that distinction after our 10-4 record in Week 8. We’re still below .500, sadly, but we’re close to getting back to neutral with a 54-59-2 record on the season. This is the closest we’ve been since the beginning of the season. Let’s get over .500 for the first time this season after this week! This is Betting the Spread – NFL Week 9!
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) vs Detroit Lions
Pick ATS: Green Bay Packers
Remember last week when I hyped up Mike Gesicki and talked about how good a matchup the Lions are for tight ends? If you don’t, here’s a refresher. The Lions have conceded a touchdown and/or allowed at least 49 receiving yards to a tight end in every game except against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. Sure enough, Mike Gesicki found the end zone last week. Enter Robert Tonyan. Tonyan’s usage has been spotty this season, but it also has been ramping up lately.
Tonyan didn’t play more than 50-percent of the team’s snaps in any game but one through the Packers’ first five weeks. He’s exceeded that mark in each of the last three weeks. He ran only 86 routes in Weeks 1-5; he’s run 79 in the last three weeks. Tonyan had 22 targets in the last three weeks; he had 20 through Weeks 1-5. Tonyan ranks No. 8 among tight ends in target rate (25.5-percent), No. 11 in yards per route run (1.73), and No. 12 in red zone targets (5). With how decimated the Packers are at wide receiver (and didn’t bring any help at the trade deadline), Tonyan is a great start this week.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) vs Atlanta Falcons
Pick ATS: Los Angeles Chargers
Remember last week when I told you all to stash Josh Palmer if he was available? I hope you listened because this week is a fantastic matchup for him. Neither A.J. Terrell nor Casey Hayward is healthy as they tend to hamstring injuries, and their absences were glaring last week as P.J. Walker chucked it for 317 yards. If D.J. Moore can rack up 152 yards against this secondary then anybody can!
I kid, but the point is the Falcons give up the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and the Chargers’ target void is growing with Keenan Allen‘s aggravation of his hamstring injury. The law of conservation of targets dictates that *somebody* other than Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett has to rack up targets. Neither Josh Palmer nor DeAndre Carter is flashy, but if you stashed Palmer or Carter last week or got them on waivers this week, you can start them.
Miami Dolphins (-4.5) vs Chicago Bears
Pick ATS: Miami Dolphins
TRADES! The Dolphins made two of them and the Bears made one. Let’s start with the Bears. Hopefully, the addition of Chase Claypool signifies a commitment to letting Justin Fields cook more, but we’ll have to wait and see there. Claypool’s addition should free up Darnell Mooney to get some more advantageous looks too. However, Mooney’s target share ranks No. 11 in the NFL at 28.4-percent. He also ranks No. 14 in target rate (28.8-percent) and No. 10 in air yards share (38.7-percent).
I expect Mooney to stay as Fields’ favorite in Chicago, but Claypool should command more looks than the likes of Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis. It’s very possible Chicago throws more, which would buoy both Mooney and Claypool, but Claypool should eat enough to cancel each other out if the volume stays the same. This is great news for Fields, though. He’s a QB1 rest of the season.
As for the Dolphins, they not only acquired Bradley Chubb but also traded for Jeff Wilson. Additionally, they sent Chase Edmonds to Denver. Time is a flat circle in He Who Remains’ multiverse. Jeff Wilson will likely be Raheem Mostert‘s back up and get some spot carriers here and there, but Mostert has dealt with nagging injuries the last few weeks. Wilson once again becomes a high-priority handcuff with a real chance of taking Mostert’s gig (again).
Tyrion Davis-Price becomes Christian McCaffrey‘s backup in San Francisco as Elijah Mitchell continues to be on IR and must be rostered in all leagues. Chase Edmonds inherits Mike Boone‘s third-down role and is sadly a J.D. McKissic-esque satellite back on the lowly Broncos offense. I don’t think we’re going to hear much from Edmonds in 2022.
Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots (-5)
Pick ATS: New England Patriots
Jonathan Taylor is out. They traded Nyheim Hines to the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday. That means Deon Jackson time again, right? Yes, if Taylor misses this week’s game, but I wish I could get more excited about his situation. A lot of things have changed in Indianapolis even since Jackson’s glorious breakout game in Week 6. The Colts have constantly shuffled their offensive line. They’ve traded away Nyheim Hines and brought back Zack Moss. They fired their offensive coordinator. The team switched from Matt Ryan to Sam Ehlinger at quarterback. Does this sound like a recipe for success?
I do expect Zack Moss to have a role right away, but he’s also not very good. My biggest concern comes from the quarterback change. Remember, Deon Jackson had 10 targets in Week 6. Sam Ehlinger only threw it 23 times last week in total. Mobile quarterbacks sap away running back target share. Ehlinger (6-3 222-pounds) is a big guy too and can vulture the few red zone chances the Colts could possibly get. Deon Jackson has the size, athleticism, and talent to be a major fantasy contributor. In these circumstances, however, I think he’d merely be a flex option if Taylor can’t go.
Buffalo Bills (-11.5) vs New York Jets
Pick ATS: Buffalo Bills
The New York Jets are great at holding wide receivers hostage. What do we have to do to free Elijah Moore? The fantasy community needs to put their heads together to pull off a full-blown kidnapping at this point because things are sadly bleak for Mr. Moore. He only played 10 snaps last week after being a healthy scratch the week prior. The worst part is that Corey Davis missed last week’s game with a knee injury and Moore still was an afterthought.
The takeaway here is that Garrett Wilson is set up to be a major target hog for the rest of the season. He put together a 7-6-115 line last week. Wilson’s 26.7-percent target rate ranks No. 20 among wide receivers according to playerprofiler.com. He played a career-high 88-percent of the Jets’ snaps. Moore is in the dog house. Wilson is the only Jet pass catcher you can start with confidence, and even he is more of a flex option with how underwhelming Zach Wilson has been since returning from a knee injury.
Minnesota Vikings vs Washington Commanders (+3.5)
Pick ATS: Washington Commanders
All we needed for Terry McLaurin was Taylor Heinicke. Thank the Lord! McLaurin and Heinicke played two games together in 2022. Let’s just say that McLaurin and Heinicke have a better connection than McLaurin did with Carson Wentz.
Terry McLaurin target share with Carson Wentz this season: 15.9%
Terry McLaurin target share with Taylor Heinicke this season: 25.0%
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 31, 2022
Terry McLaurin has two games with at least eight targets or at least five receptions in Heinicke’s two games under center. He had two such games in either category in six games with Wentz at quarterback. Minnesota has the No. 11-worst pass defense according to Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric. Washington’s is No. 28. I think this game goes way over 43.5, and that will work wonders for McLaurin. McLaurin is a WR1 play this week.
Las Vegas Raiders vs Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5)
Pick ATS: Jacksonville Jaguars
Do you know who’s been solid for the Jaguars? Evan Engram, that’s who! Engram finally found the end zone for the first time this season, but he’s still been a solid fantasy play all year. He’s scored at least nine points in PPR scoring in all but three games so far this season and has averaged 12 PPR points per game in his last four. He ranks No. 6 among tight ends in air yards (349), No. 7 in targets (45), No. 14 in target share (16.9-percent) and yards per target (7.3), and No. 9 in expected points (+15.8). The Raiders are not quite the Cardinals when it comes to feeding tight ends points, but they are a good matchup in their own right.
Carolina Panthers (+7) vs Cincinnati Bengals
Pick ATS: Carolina Panthers
Hey, remember when the Panthers drafted Terrace Marshall in the second round of the 2021 draft and then proceeded to never play him? Well, it turns out the talented receiver they drafted in the second round is pretty good! Marshall has not lit the world on fire, but he has played well after Robbie Anderson‘s trade cleared playing time for Marshall. Marshall has averaged 59 yards (1,003 yards over a 17-game pace) in the last two games, 78.5 air yards, a 20.5-percent target share, and a target rate north of 24-percent, a healthy number.
He’s got the size at 6-2, 205-pounds and an 86th-percentile speed score. A 65th-percentile dominator rating and 84th-percentile breakout age while playing alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase can’t hurt either. Marshall is talented and is finally getting playing time. The Panthers’ offense won’t score 34 points every week, but Marshall (owned in only 10-percent of Sleeper leagues) needs to be added, especially in deep leagues, as another potential flex option at the end of your bench with a non-zero chance of a second-half breakout.
Seattle Seahawks (+2) vs Arizona Cardinals
Pick ATS: Seattle Seahawks
Speaking of the Cardinals, they’re still an absolute funnel for tight ends. If you don’t believe me, then check these numbers out via Scott Barrett of Fantasy Points.
TE Leaders by Fantasy Points per Game
1. Travis Kelce (20.7)
2. Mark Andrews (15.2)
3. TE1s vs. Arizona (14.4)
4. Greg Dulcich (12.1)
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 3, 2022
Basically, streaming starting tight ends against the Cardinals has worked out really well for fantasy. Arizona has allowed a touchdown and/or at least four receptions and 45 yards to every starting tight end this season with the exception of Irv Smith Jr. last week who notched only 28 yards on four receptions. But, he got hurt in that game and Johnny Mundt ended the game with a one-yard score. Noah Fant is banged up with a hamstring injury, but he has 17 more routes run on the year than Will Dissly and finished with a 7-6-45 line against these Cardinals in Week 6. If Fant goes, I think both Fant and Dissly are worthwhile streams. Dissly would be a top-12 option if Fant is out.
Los Angeles Rams (+3) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick ATS: Los Angeles Rams
The last two Super Bowl champions look like shells of themselves, and this is in large part because of the disintegration of their offensive lines. The Rams rank No. 25 in ESPN’s pass block win rate; the Bucs rank No. 26. I like the under in this game and don’t really love any option for fantasy outside of Cooper Kupp and Chris Godwin. I especially don’t like the Rams’ backfield situation. It gets grosser by the day.
A Rams running back has exceeded 10 PPR points in a game without scoring a touchdown once all season. Darrell Henderson pulled it off in Week 1. You can’t trust anybody in this backfield with a start in your lineup at the moment. The offense isn’t good enough for it, and it’s a total mess as to who actually gets the ball.
If I had to bet on one to emerge in this backfield, it’s Kyren Williams. Cam Akers nor the Rams seem to trust each other. Darrell Henderson has proven he is not a primary back. Ronnie Rivers and Williams do have eerily similar profiles, but the Rams actually drafted Williams. Williams was a workhorse at Notre Dame and hauled in 77 balls in his two seasons there. He was an early declare while Rivers went undrafted as a fifth-year senior. It could be that there is no running back you want for this year’s Rams team, but Williams is the best bet to become that guy.
Tennessee Titans vs Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)
Pick ATS: Kansas City Chiefs
Are you in byemaggedon and need a fill-in running back? This matchup has plenty of options. Isiah Pacheco was named the Chiefs’ starter before their game against the 49ers. Remember that? He only registered eight carries for 43 yards, and a few of those came in garbage time. However, he’s the starting running back for the Chiefs. He is also much more explosive and better than Clyde Edwards-Helaire (even though Clyde exceeds him in yards created by touch and EPA; I don’t care!) and could easily get the cheap touchdowns that Edwards-Helaire kept falling into.
Admittedly, I’m not rushing Pacheco into my lineup against the number one team in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA metric, but the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes and should be leading big if Vegas is any indication. He may be more a dart throw than a surefire starter, but he could easily stamp his case for the latter with a big game this week. Jerick McKinnon is a dart throw as well, but he still leads the team in snaps and could very well be the man that Mahomes gets into the end zone.
Dontrell Hilliard might be a better play than either of them this week. Hilliard has played in six games this season and has scored at least ten points in three of them. If the Titans are trailing, which Vegas thinks they will, Hilliard would likely see the field more often than normal. When he is on the field, he’s been really good. He ranks No. 1(!) among running backs in fantasy points per opportunity (1.82) and No. 2 in yards per route run (2.82). Sure, it’s a small sample size. He only has 31 opportunities in six games, but that’s still darn impressive. You can do much worse looking for desperation dart throws.
Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) vs New Orleans Saints
Pick ATS: Baltimore Ravens
Rashod Bateman has been ruled out for the rest of the season after a nagging foot injury ended up requiring surgery. I’ve already ranted about this on Twitter, but it’s just so disappointing that Baltimore rushed a talented player like Bateman back too soon and that injuries have really cost him two seasons of what looks like a very promising career. Bateman ranks No. 10 in the NFL among wide receivers in yards per route run (2.59) and No. 15 in yards per target (10.2). Down-bad dynasty teams everywhere should be persistent about buying Bateman.
Devin Duvernay gets the biggest bump in wake of this news. But I’m most intrigued if Baltimore looks to Isaiah Likely more. Likely balled out last week with a 7-6-77-1 line on Thursday Night filling in for an injured Mark Andrews. He ranks No. 9 among tight ends in slot snaps with 83 of them. He ranks No. 15 in target rate (22.3-percent), No. 16 in yards per route run (1.62), and yards per target (7.2). He’s probably the second-best pass-catching option on the team outside of Mark Andrews.
Yet, he hasn’t been featured much when Andrews has been out there, and we might not know until kickoff if Andrews will even play. (It is worth noting that the Ravens have a bye next week.) Regardless, Likely needs to be rostered. He’s clearly good, and the Ravens need someone else to catch the ball. Likely is a top-ten play if Andrews sits and maybe already higher. If we get word Andrews will play, I wouldn’t start Likely. But it is also possible he seizes a role even when Andrews is healthy. Likely could be the rare tight-end handcuff that has both standalone value and contingent upside. Sounds fun, huh?
BYE WEEKS: Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers
This is the largest number of teams on a bye week that we’ve had this season. That means, there could be more options for waivers this week. Let’s take a look at some stashes for this week to get ahead of next week’s waivers.
Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos (40-percent rostered in Sleeper leagues)
Rookie tight ends aren’t normally great fantasy producers, but Dulcich, who was regarded by many as the best receiving tight-end prospect in this year’s class, could be an exception. He’s played in three games this season and has 11+ PPR points in all of them. Only three tight ends have done that in three consecutive weeks this year: Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert, and George Kittle. Dulcich has played only three games, yet is tied for No. 14 in air yards among tight ends with 226. He’s tied with Kittle who has played twice as many games as Dulcich. Dulcich ranks No. 5 among tight ends in yards per route run (2.33) and No. 1 in yards per target (10.7). One of these games was with Brett Rypien at QB too. I could keep going, but the point is Dulcich is already a top-12 tight end. He needs to be rostered everywhere.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (37-percent):
What does Peoples-Jones have to do to get some love around here? He now has three consecutive games with at least 71 yards receiving and has hit that mark in four of his last five games. He’s No. 36 in yards per route run (1.97) and No. 30 in yards per target (9.1). Deshaun Watson is slated to miss only three more weeks. He’s already a flex option and could see more downfield work once Watson is back. Add him!
Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants (48-percent):
Wan’Dale Robinson barely meets the 50-percent rostered threshold. I’m not sure what happened last week, but Robinson is still the number-one receiver on this team. Stay patient. He could be this year’s Amon-Ra St. Brown and explode during the back half of the season.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants (11-percent):
I still like Wan’Dale over Slayton, but Slayton does have at least 58 yards in three of his last four games and is the most-tenured receiver on that team. He sneakily ranks No. 21 in yards per route run and No. 25 in yards per target among receivers. He’s flex-worthy.
Noah Brown, Dallas Cowboys (10-percent):
Brown has faded a little bit and missed last week’s game against the Bears, but he’s still been productive. Michael Gallup hasn’t gone over 50 yards in a game since returning from his torn ACL. Brown has done it twice. Brown has failed to see at least five targets twice in seven games this season. He’s got some flex appeal, and we’ve already seen his contingent value if Gallup (or Lamb) misses time.
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers (11-percent):
Warren has been straight-up better than Najee Harris this season. We’re at the time of year when you want to start stashing handcuffs. Warren is one of the better ones.
Tyrion Davis-Price, San Francisco 49ers (8-percent):
Davis-Price fits that bill too, but the 49ers are expecting Elijah Mitchell to return in Week 10. He’s available in some leagues (63-percent) too, but he nor Christian McCaffrey are the sturdiest backs out there. Snag Mitchell if he’s out there, but Davis-Price is worth a flier in deeper leagues.
Isaiah Hodgins, New York Giants (0-percent):
Who? We’re going hella deep with this one, but Isaiah Hodgins has some things going for him. He’s an early declare with an 85th-percentile college dominator rating and 66th-percentile breakout age. Hodgins was drafted by the Buffalo Bills but couldn’t find playing time, through no fault of his own. He recently was waived by the Bills and claimed by the Giants. Brian Daboll (Head Coach) and Joe Schoen (GM) were with Hodgins in Buffalo. There is plenty of playing time available especially after the Giants traded Kadarius Toney. In deep and dynasty leagues, he could be worth a shot.
Good luck in Week 9 everyone!