Targeting Games for DFS Week 9 Matchups

by Chase Vernon · Strategy

Talk about an incredible opportunity. The DFS Week 9 matchups could turn out even better than Week 8—and Week 8 was fire.

We discussed how A.J. Brown could see high levels of efficiency and would be my highest rostered player while Jonathan Taylor would be my most rostered running back. Although Taylor has struggled against the Titans in the past, this game had his name all over it. Michael Pittman was another player we were touting if he could improve his catch rate in the red zone, and he did just that, converting his three targets into two touchdowns. He sure did blow up the slate as predicted.

Devante Parker, at $4,900, finished as the WR18, and while Jaylen Waddle saw 12 (!) targets, he couldn’t convert them. So overall, the Bills-Dolphins DFS Week 8 matchup would have been better off fading. 

Another fade was Kenny Gainwell, who has brought me much pain, in addition to D’Andre Swift. This entire matchup just seemed backward with Jordan Howard activated off the practice squad to play a primary role. Meanwhile, Boston Scott hasn’t seen an offensive snap until Miles Sanders went down assumed an equally important role. Gainwell rotted away on the bench until 12 of his 13 carries came while trying to run down the clock. 

Swift didn’t look like his usual dominant self as I expected him to have a day quite the opposite, with Jamaal Williams out. Instead, Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson saw seven targets for 63 yards. As for T.J. Hockenson, he finished as the TE1 on the week with Anthony Harris out, so significant win there. 

Chris Godwin was another correct call as the Saints always struggle against the slot, but enough about last week. Let’s jump into the DFS Week 9 Matchups. We only have one game predicted to hit 50 points, so there are plenty of opportunities for sneaky plays.

Games to Target in DFS Week 9 Matchups

I will start this out by saying, if you don’t follow the DOCE Score, you should. Lead Analyst at the Rotounderworld Jakob Sanderson has recently started and now predicted two straight weeks in a row of high-level production from pass-catching backs. Week 8 was Myles Gaskin and Week 9 was Michael Carter. Since it launched in Week 4, it has had an 80-percent success rate in four of the five weeks at identifying pass-catchers against optimal matchups. 

Packers @ Chiefs

Weather: 67f Slight Wind

Over/Under: 51

Fact to Know: 36.4-percent of the main slate games in Week 9 projects to be spreads of at least a touchdown. Of those teams who are projected to lose by seven or more, 75-percent have pass-catching backs who graded out positively. However, only one of those teams projected to win gives up a poor DOCE Score: The Chiefs at 10.24 (No. 26)

Players to Attack in DFS Week 9 Matchup

Aaron Jones $7,200
Tyreek Hill $7,900
Davante Adams $8,200
Travis Kelce $7,000
A.J. Dillon $4,600
Patrick Mahomes $7,800
Jordan Love $4,400
Allen Lazard $4,600
Marquez Valdes-Scantling $3,700

The Chiefs have been attacking one position relentlessly so far in 2021. Four of the six receivers to see a target have seen at least 50-percent of their looks come from the slot. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce has 120 (No. 4) slot snaps himself. As Eric Stokes continues to improve and Kevin King returns from injury, the weakest link in the secondary is Chandon Sullivan

At first glance, Sullivan hasn’t been terrible compared to other slot corners. However, it becomes concerning when you consider Aaron Rodgers has been able to control the clock. The Packers have only allowed their opponents 60.8 (No. 7) plays per game, and the Chiefs are running 68.9 (No.3), with 61.8-percent coming in the air.

So the issue becomes, who plays the slot?

Tyreek Hill is the obvious answer, but Mecole Hardman is the sneaky play. Hardman is sitting just behind Hill with 231 (No.6) yards after the catch and seven (No.24) red-zone targets with 43 (!) fewer targets overall. He has only mustered one touchdown reception on the year but should see plenty of opportunities in this DFS Week 9 matchup.

As for the other side, Aaron Jones should see significantly high roster levels if Davante Adams misses another matchup, and rightfully so. His 11 targets in Week 8 were second-most, and slough only netted 51 yards, which still pushed him to double-digit fantasy points in the air. The volume was vital as the Cardinals only allowed over four receptions and 30 yards per game to the running back. The Chiefs are much more porous.

Keep an eye on A.J. Dillon as well. Rodgers is one of the best – if not the best – at finding open receivers downfield, yet Dillon still has a 22.6-percent target rate on routes run. With Jordan Love at the helm, Dillon just needs four or five to get in the end zone and return value.

Broncos @ Cowboys

Weather: 66f Clear

Over/Under: 49

Fact to Know: From 2017 to 2020, Ezekiel Elliott has played a dominant percentage of snaps throughout his first seven games of each season. He only saw 75-percent or less in five of the 28 contests. So far in 2021, Elliott has only had two of his seven go for more than 75-percent. He has averaged four top-15 finishes throughout those four seasons, while this year, he already has five. A reduced workload could help him sustain production. Throughout all five years, he has had six touchdowns to start the season in four.  

Players to Attack in DFS Week 9 Matchup

Ezekiel Elliott $7,000

Jerry Jeudy $5,000

Amari Cooper $5,700

Teddy Bridgewater $5,300

Albert Okwuegbunam $2,600

Melvin Gordon $5,200

Javonte Williams $4,800

CeeDee Lamb $7,200

The Broncos started the season only allowing 128 yards on the ground to the running back with 41 in the air. But, it has been the polar opposite with 570—over a 70-yard difference per game over the past five games since. But why has the difference occurred? Improved secondary? Injuries to the linebackers? Game Script? Scheduling?
It’s a combination of everything listed. 

The Broncos have a tremendous young secondary with Ronald Darby returning from injury a few weeks ago. However, they also lost multiple linebackers as the season progressed, forcing them to start players featured on special teams. They have tried to sure up the linebacking core by adding Kenny Young, but they traded away Von Miller a few days later. 

As for the Broncos schedule and Game Script: While starting 3-0, the most narrow win margin was ten. They faced a recovering Saquon Barkley, the clueless Jaguars, and a juvenile Jets team. Then, in four of the next five games, the injuries crushed the Broncos. They lost four straight while playing some of the most dominant run offenses and players in the league. Ravens, Browns, and Washington are towards the top of the league in rushing yards per game, while Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs are two premier young running backs.

The Broncos seem to be getting healthier, but their offense might not be explosive enough to keep up with the Cowboys, especially considering the ten-point spread. Because of the Cowboys dominant offense and the Broncos dominant pass defense, along with the injury to CeeDee Lamb, Elliott is a lock in DFS. He is even more so a lock if Jerry Jeudy comes out ready to play. 

“Bridgewater is a solid game manager, and although the points don’t show it, his advanced stats from PlayerProfiler show tendencies of a great fantasy quarterback. Seventh most red zone attempts with the sixth-highest completion percentage inside the 20. 55.8-percent pressured completion rate is the sixth-highest as well. He has 8.8 (No. 6) air yards per attempt and targets receivers the fifth most downfield with 37 such passes. His eight red zone carries are also the sixth most. However, his receivers haven’t helped him after the catch, and the Broncos are average just 61.4 (No. 24) plays per game.” – Chase Vernon – TrophySmack

We need everything to come together in this one for this stack to work, and Teddy Bridgewater has done his part. In an article I wrote for TrophySmack earlier in the week, I discussed how he’s actually been ideal for fantasy, but his receivers haven’t given him enough. If Jeudy can step into the slot role against Jourdan Lewis, he could show us why we loved him prior to the season starting.

If this game turns into somewhat of a shootout, look for Dak Prescott to be a contrarian play, as most people will be fading this contest. Stacking him with Elliott and Amari Cooper could net you two of the top options on the slate. Running it back with the aforementioned Jeudy or one of the running backs could be interesting as a dart throw. I know these running backs are more expensive than most dart throws, but trying to guess which one will be utilized is just that; a dart throw. 

The secret to this matchup is pending Noah Fant’s COVID test and Albert Okwuegbunam‘s health.

Play whichever TE is starting because teams see production from the tight end when facing Dallas.


Other Sneaky Game Stacks

Brandin Cooks $6,100

Salvon Ahmed $4,000

Mike Gesicki $4,900 

Brevin Jordan $2,500

Tyrod Taylor $5,000

Nico Collins $3,600

The Dolphins-Texans game just feels gross across the board. Talk about a game filled with dart throws; this one has many. However, the Texans have allowed every opposing team to put up at least 21 points against them in every game, and the Dolphins have allowed at least 23 in all but one—Mac Jones‘s first game in the NFL. 

With Tyrod Taylor returning from injury, Brandin Cooks’ stock goes up as Tyrod can extend the play, allowing Cooks to get behind defenders. Cooks lines up all over the field, so he should see matchups against Nik Needham – who we’ve been targeting all season, and Byron Jones. I expect a big outing from him. 

As for the tight end, DFS Week 9 matchups allow for plenty of opportunities to play top-end tight ends without worrying too much about chalk.

There are nine tight ends to choose from, which hasn’t been the case for the main slate this entire season. However, if you want to play double tight end so you can pay up for other players, Brevin Jordan might be the answer. 

On Jordan’s ten routes run, he saw a 40-percent Target Share with a target and touchdown coming in the red zone. A player who I compared to Delanie Walker now has an opportunity to make a case to be the starting tight end for the Texans if he can piece together a solid outing. Aside from the Buccaneers and Bills, every team has targeted the tight end against the Dolphins at least eight times. Much more a receiver than a blocker; Jordan could see a handful of opportunities against this weak defense. 

The Texans are just as bad against the tight end, if not worse, than the Dolphins. They have given up five touchdowns in just as many games, and Gesicki has been a TE1 in five of the past six weeks. The Texans have a 5.17 (No. 2) DOCE Score while playing 13 backs who qualified in just eight games, limiting Myles Gaskin and opening more opportunities for Gesicki. 

Attribute the success of the DOCE Score to how bad the Texans secondary has been and Game Script. If the Dolphins wide receivers can’t beat the coverage due to their starters being out could alter the score. However, if it holds firm, Gaskin might not see the work in the passing game. Salvon Ahmed could see the workload if they start to fade Gaskin as he has seen a jump in snaps over the past three games. 

Good Luck in Your DFS Week 9 matchups!