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9 Interesting NFL Fantasy Stats for Week Nine

JuJu Smith Schuster Steelers

NFL Fantasy Football Stats

Fantasy StatsWe’ve hit the midway point of the NFL season and time is just flying by. It was a pretty quiet week in fantasy other than the Seattle/Houston game. If you drew the bad luck of playing against those players, odds are you had a bad week. This is especially true if you had to face a lineup with say, DeAndre Hopkins and JuJu Smith-Schuster in it. Rain and winds wreaked havoc with fantasy this week and hopefully, we have a more normal scoring week on tap in Week 9.

1. The Seattle Seahawks have a new offense

QB Russell Wilson and the passing game went crazy this past Sunday, totaling over 400 yards and 4 TDs through the air. While the totals might be the highest they’ll be all season, this is firmly a passing offense now. Perhaps fantasy players have known that for some time, but it’s striking just how much the Seahawks are throwing the ball.

Nobody has been starting any running back from Seattle at any point this year and it’s not hard to figure out why.

They flat out can’t run the ball. The offensive line can’t get any push-up front to create and Seattle doesn’t have a running back that can create much for themselves. If the Seahawks want to move the ball in the second half of the season, it will be on the strength of Russell Wilson. This should help fantasy players in deploying pieces of the passing game with confidence. Players like Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett should be owned in everything but very shallow formats. The floor should be there and we all saw the ceiling this past week.

2. So does New Orleans

The Saints have recovered from their 0-2 start and now sit atop the NFC South after reeling off five straight victories. Most casual fans will probably just assume the QB Drew Brees is working his magic and dragging the offense every week to make things work. That’s really not close to the truth, however. The Saints defense has improved and they are now one of the more balanced offensive units in the NFL.

In fact, the last three games for the Saints have seen them call a pass play only 49% of the time. This is a seismic shift in what we expected from the New Orleans offense in 2017. Maybe we should have seen this coming. The Saints spent the offseason trading WR Brandin Cooks and not bringing in a reasonable replacement. I’m not sorry, Ted Ginn. It almost certainly has nothing to do with playing you instead of Travis Benjamin Week 1 cost me about $20,000. The Saints then signed Adrian Peterson AND traded up to draft Alvin Kamara. Even though Peterson was a poor fit, it was a clear signal the Saints wanted to beef up their run game and take some of the offense off Brees.

As Brees gets older, that makes sense. It also has translated to victories on the field, which means it’s not likely to change. The Saints have found a way to consistently win. It will lower ceiling of players like Michael Thomas but I’d be doing a lot to get Alvin Kamara on my roster right now. Mark Ingram has a history of injury and just fumbled twice. If the door opens for Kamara, he might charge right through it.

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3. All aboard with #TeamJuJu?

JuJu Smith-Schuster put up a crazy performance on Sunday night. He took a simple pass 97 yards to the house and has quickly endeared himself to the hearts of Steeler fans and fantasy players alike. He’s easy to like, as the 20-year-old rookie has handled a bad situation with teammate Martavis Bryant extraordinarily well. While Bryant has chirped and bellyached about his role, JuJu has turned the other cheek at every turn. He then went out and was a monster part of a big road win when Bryant got benched.

The Steelers are now on a bye and have indicated to Bryant he will be part of their gameplan in Week 10. If that’s true, Smith-Schuster will have a difficult time retaining a lot of fantasy value. Make no mistake, the Pittsburgh offense runs through RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. If JuJu and Bryant are both fighting for scraps after that point, they will just cannibalize each other. I wouldn’t drop Smith-Schuster at all, it’s just important to recognize what his role could potentially be moving forward.

4. Devonta Freeman is having a similar season to 2016

I can hear Freeman owners yelling at me already. He finished last year as a top 6 running back in both PPR and standard formats. This season, he’s 10th in standard and just 15th in PPR. There seems to be a pretty simple explanation for this.

Freeman has not been near as involved in the passing game as he was last season. There has also been some inexplicable usage since the Falcons have had their bye week.

Maybe the Falcons are covering for an injury that we don’t know about. It seems weird that they signed him to a huge extension this offseason only to dial back his involvement. The Falcons offense was definitely a prime regression candidate coming into this season. It’s still surprising to see how much they’ve taken a step back in 2017. Freeman and Julio Jones should be the NFC version of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Sometimes it’s as easy as get the ball to your good players, no matter what.

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5. Trade for Demaryius Thomas

In case you missed it, the Denver Broncos are making a change at the QB position. The legendary Brock Osweiler will be under center this week for Denver and something interesting caught my eye once the news came out.

Since Osweiler didn’t play the entire season, let’s put some context to those numbers. He entered into a game versus Kansas City in the 9th game of Denver’s season. From that point on, Thomas racked up 84 targets, 44 receptions, 559 yards and 5 TDs. Those stats actually include a weird stinker of a game against New England when Thomas turned a whopping 13 targets into 1 reception for 36 yards. That’s pretty difficult to pull off. Thomas is going to be dirt cheap right now. He’s been very quiet through the whole season and owner are going to roll their eyes at the Osweiler news. Don’t expect the second coming of Antonio Brown. Just make a shrewd move to acquire a low-end WR2.

6. The Chargers offense is a fantasy nightmare

QB Philip Rivers actually sits fifth in the NFL in passing yards and is a back-end QB1 in fantasy to this point. However, they’re 22nd in points per game and there’s a lot of mouths to feed with so few points to go around.

There are no fewer than eight skill players involved in this offense and that just kills everyone’s floor each game.  Rivers is averaging roughly 36 attempts a game, which translates to 4.5 targets per player. Obviously, the offense is spread out exactly evenly. That still doesn’t mean this offense can be trusted as far as playing any pass-catcher. Even normal target hogs like WR Keenan Allen have been hurt by having so many mouths. He sits as the WR13 in PPR leagues but that comes largely from the strength of just two big games. He’s been a liability otherwise and has seen his target share dip in three straight weeks. Let someone else deal with this offense.

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7. Until Week 15 versus the Jaguars

There’s been a lot of noise about the Texans and their schedule in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. They get the stout Pittsburgh defense in Houston Week 16. That one doesn’t worry me all that much. We just saw Lions QB Matthew Stafford pass for 400+ yards last week. Watson can get it done at home versus the Steelers. It’s the Week 15 game in Jacksonville that owners should worry about.

Fantasy players know how good the Jags are versus the pass, but it’s truly amazing to see how little they’re giving up right now. Nobody wanted any part of Denver last year and Jacksonville is running laps around them. We’ll all see how the season progresses until Week 15. If you own parts of the Houston offense, just keep it in mind.

8. You got game, but can’t score

Dez Bryant and Christian McCaffrey seem like they’re long overdue to find the endzone. This might be the week where you should add them to your Daily Fantasy lineups. However, at the same time, how many opportunities can a team devote to their star player before they start to look elsewhere? The touchdowns need to start appearing, or the targets inside the 10-yard line will start disappearing.

9. Stop trying to make Joe Mixon happen

Almost every single week analysts claim this is the week that Mixon breaks out. This past week he faced a Colts defense that can’t stop a high school team. Even Jaguars QB Blake Bortles had his way with them. The tandem of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon was effective which led people to believe Mixon would finally pay off. They got rewarded with 11 carries for 18 yards. 18!! That’s not even two yards a carry! The only productive thing Mixon was able to do was to break off a long 60+ yard reception. Of his 109 total yards, 67 came on one play. Mixon also went scoreless yet again. He’s getting the work, but he’s not doing nearly enough with it to warrant a start every week.

If you read the whole thread, Graham does a good job highlighting the difficulties Mixon faces behind a bad offensive line. Don’t keep falling for “It’s the Joe Mixon week!” because it’s not.

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