Strength in Numbers: Actionable Week 9 Stats

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·10 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.



The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

Elijah Moore led all wide receivers in fantasy points in Week 9. Olamide Zaccheaus and Malik Turner both scored two touchdowns and ranked third and fourth among wideouts, respectively.

The NFL fascinates, entertains, and infuriates us with its weekly chaos, but that also makes it difficult to sort through what matters and what doesn't for fantasy purposes. Thankfully, Strength in Numbers is here to break down the most actionable stats from the week in a concise, numbers-filled format. Let's get right to it.

1. In the first five games of his career, Elijah Mitchell had four total targets and four receptions. In Week 9 alone, Mitchell caught five passes. JaMycal Hasty – who has been the 49ers' third-down back when healthy this year – had four targets and three catches in his own right. Jeff Wilson did not play a snap in his 2021 debut.

Mitchell has been a serviceable RB2 in fantasy this season as San Francisco's early-down workhorse, but Hasty and Kyle Juszczyk have basically played all passing downs, eliminating the path for Mitchell to finish as a true stud running back. Week 9 offered a glimmer of hope, as the sixth-round rookie more than doubled his career reception total in a single game.

However, that doesn't mean there was an actual role change. Underdog Fantasy's Hayden Winks pointed out that Mitchell still ceded the majority of third-down and four-minute snaps to Hasty.

Mitchell did run 29 routes on 46 Jimmy Garoppolo dropbacks – a very strong 63.0% rate – but five targets is likely more of a mirage since Hasty evidently still has the pass-catching role locked up.

Mitchell could also lose some of his rushing work to Jeff Wilson as he gets healthier. Wilson didn't play a snap in Week 9 after missing the first eight weeks of the season, but he's been a dependable option in 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's offense in the past. For the time being, Mitchell remains a rock-solid RB2, but don't overreact to his five-target outing against the Cardinals, and keep an eye on whether Wilson gets more involved over the next few weeks.

2. According to Dwain McFarland of Pro Football Focus, Sony Michel has seen an increased role over the past two games. Michel played 31-of-78 snaps (39.7%) in Week 9, while Darrell Henderson got the remaining 47 plays. More interestingly, Michel is getting meaningful snaps. McFarland pointed out that he got half of the long-down-distance work and all of the two-minute work against the Titans.

Henderson was a no-questions-asked workhorse over the first half of the season, but things could be shifting a little as we move into the home stretch. Michel played nearly 40% of snaps on Sunday Night Football against Tennessee after logging a 30% snap rate in Week 8. Early in the year, Henderson was basically an every-snap player outside of garbage time. Regardless of whether the Rams truly want a committee or they're simply keeping Henderson healthy for the playoffs (savvy given Hendo's injury history), this no longer seems like a one-player backfield. Michel mostly played in passing situations, although he did see seven carries to Henderson's 11. It would be a sizable hit to Henderson's value if Michel takes over on third downs and in two-minute situations. Michel remains one of the most valuable insurance backs in fantasy football, and he'd be a top-12 back if Henderson goes down. On the other hand, Hendo falls closer to RB2 territory now that he's not a bellcow anymore.

3. Chase Edmonds played one snap before leaving with an injury, which we now know is a high ankle sprain that is expected to sideline him for around one month. In his absence, James Conner played 54-of-70 snaps (77.1%), ran 21 routes on 30 team dropbacks (70.0%), handled 21 carries (Eno Benjamin had six), and got all five Cardinals running back targets.

In short, it was a one-man backfield without Edmonds. Conner is now in top-12 contention in a presumed three-down role for one of the best offenses in football. The best part is that even if Eno Benjamin plays more next week – which could be the case if the Cardinals don't want to wholly rely on one back, especially someone with as injured-riddled of a past as Conner – there's still room for Conner to be a top-12 running back. His underlying utilization metrics last week were nothing short of elite, particularly as a pass-catcher, which was his primary limitation with Edmonds healthy. A 70% route rate lands the 26-year-old in stellar company, and he could fall a few percentage points from there and still be a high-end asset, especially if Kyler Murray is healthy. Conner is a low-end RB1 as long as Edmonds remains sidelined, and Benjamin is worth picking up too as the next guy in line.

Editor’s Note: NBC Sports Predictor: Play for FREE and win huge jackpots up to $100,000! Download the app today.

4. Jeremy McNichols led Titans running backs in snaps in their first game without Derrick Henry, getting 26 plays to Adrian Peterson's 19 and D'Onta Foreman's 12. McNichols finished second in carries behind Peterson and maintained his pass-catching role by running 12 routes (Peterson ran seven routes and Foreman just three).

It's worth noting that Peterson and Foreman were signed off the street last week, so it's not a good sign for McNichols' longer-term outlook that Peterson immediately came in and took over primary rushing duties. For the most part, McNichols' role didn't even change that much, as he remained in the complementary receiving role he was already in with Henry healthy – he just had to play a little more in Week 9 with the other options being so new to the system. Peterson is probably the guy to roster in this backfield for the foreseeable future, as it speaks volumes that he was able to lead the Titans in carries only days removed from being a free agent. With that being said, McNichols has a firm grasp on the passing-down role – if he was playing third downs over Derrick Henry, he's definitely playing them over 36-year-old Peterson – and Foreman looked surprisingly spry, turning his five carries into 29 yards. This remains a situation worth monitoring to see how much Peterson and Foreman's roles grow as they get more comfortable.

5. With Mark Ingram in town, the Saints no longer have to give Alvin Kamara a Derrick Henry-type rushing workload. Ingram had nine carries in Week 9 to Kamara's 13. Establish The Run's Adam Levitan pointed out that Kamara has a 68% rushing attempts market share over the past two weeks – a strong number but also a far cry from where he was earlier in the season.

In all honesty, this is just a return to normalcy. After Tony Jones went down, the Saints gave Kamara an astronomical share of their running back carries simply because they had no other reliable options. With Ingram in town, Kamara can return to the role he has thrived in for his entire career. Ingram is taking some targets too, but New Orleans knows Kamara is among the most prolific pass-catching weapons in the league, and his receiving volume isn't in question. With Michael Thomas out for the year, Kamara is a high-end RB1 rest-of-season. As usual.

Quick Hits

This section will be used for stats I think are worth mentioning (and for which the takeaway is fairly intuitive) but aren't important enough to write up fully. Let's get to it:

  • With Blake Jarwin on injured reserve, Dalton Schultz played 59-of-62 snaps and ran 39 routes on 43 Dak Prescott dropbacks. That's incredible usage for a tight end, and Schultz is a must-start as long as Jarwin is out.

  • Jake Tribbey of Fantasy Points noted that first-round rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman has been a full-time player over the past two weeks with Sammy Watkins out. The Minnesota product has run a route on 82% of dropbacks and notched an 18% target share. This could all change once Watkins comes back, but Bateman's usage has been encouraging.

  • It's hard to take much away from the Giants' wide receiver usage. All three wideouts – Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney – played exactly 31 or 32 snaps and ran exactly 19 or 20 routes. The Giants ran 56 plays in total. All three guys may have been limited as they get back from various injuries, plus Sterling Shepard was out. This is a situation worth keeping an eye on in the future.

  • Zay Jones played 66-of-69 snaps and ran 46 routes on 48 team dropbacks in the Raiders' first game without Henry Ruggs. He only commanded four targets and won't be viable in fantasy barring multiple injuries, but it's worth pointing out that Jones was the next man up with Ruggs gone.

  • Myles Gaskin had 20 carries on Sunday (Salvon Ahmed had four; Patrick Laird had zero), but he also ran 31 routes on 48 Jacoby Brissett dropbacks. Gaskin's route rate barely moved in Week 8 in his first game without Malcolm Brown, but he was more involved as a receiver in Week 9. Gaskin is in the RB2 mix as long as Brown remains out (a minimum of one more game), but efficiency will be a concern.

  • Dan Arnold ran 23 routes on 35 Trevor Lawrence dropbacks and got six targets. Over his last four games, he is averaging 7.5 targets per game. Arnold is a viable tight end option moving forward.

  • Christian McCaffrey played 29-of-59 snaps in his return, indicating he's still not all the way healthy. He did have 14 carries, but Ameer Abdullah ran more routes, and McCaffrey only had 4-of-10 running back targets. His workload should increase as he gets back to full throttle.

  • Kenneth Gainwell played 11-of-57 snaps. He ran eight routes, the same number as Jordan Howard. It was Howard who led the backfield in Week 9, recording 17 carries to Boston Scott's 10. Gainwell's role has decreased significantly without Miles Sanders – for whatever reason – while Howard is emerging as the main early-down back.

  • Zach Ertz ran 26 routes on 30 Colt McCoy dropbacks, although the Cardinals were hamstrung at wide receiver, which could have led to fewer 4-WR sets. Regardless, Ertz looks like a respectable option in the tight end wasteland.

  • Aaron Jones only ran 17 routes on 39 Jordan Love dropbacks, while A.J. Dillon ran 12. That's a much closer gap than it was earlier in the season, and Dillon has performed efficiently on limited work lately. This is trending toward more of a committee than it used to be.

  • Marcedes Lewis only ran four routes in Week 9. Dominique Dafney ran eight and Josiah Deguara ran six. The Packers are using a stable of tight ends to fill in for Robert Tonyan, and none of these guys are even close to the fantasy radar right now.

  • Trey Sermon was inactive with Jeff Wilson back, indicating he's the RB5 for the 49ers right now. Drop if you haven't already.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for the Week 10 edition of Strength in Numbers!