The Bucs wanted a course correction after an uninspiring Monday night victory over the Giants. What they got instead was Tom Brady’s first three-interception performance in 3,333 days. Sept. 25, 2011 was the last time Brady was picked off more than twice. Sunday was just the third time in Brady’s career he threw that many interceptions without at least one touchdown. His last zero-score, three-plus INT effort was Nov. 5, 2006.
Brady now has seven interceptions on the year, just one fewer than he threw in all of 2019. What exactly is going on here? Brady’s overall numbers remain solid, but why was he so desperate to add Antonio Brown? Why can’t the greatest of all time get Mike Evans or Chris Godwin going? Why has Brady gotten swept by his chief division rival — the first time any division foe has swept him in 19 years — lost to the Bears and almost lost to Daniel Jones? Brady is sporting a 3:6 TD:INT total through three NFC South contests. Is there truly enough left in the tank here?
Brady’s overall numbers remain strong. He’s on pace for 36 passing touchdowns, his most since 2015. His 95.1 quarterback rating is 16th in the league. His 6.9 YPA and 65.3 completion percentage remain ahead of his 2019 marks. It’s just hard not to feel like something is off. When you watch 2020 Tom Brady, does this look like a quarterback about to guide his team to 2-3 playoff victories and reach the Super Bowl? Brady, of course, has been written off before, almost annually at this point. He hasn’t had a supporting cast this good since George W. Bush was president. We simply need to see more. Fantasy managers should expect more in Week 10 vs. a Panthers pass defense taking on significant water in recent weeks.
Five Week 9 Storylines
Dalvin Cook continues to destroy everything in his path. Cook’s fewest rushing yards in his past four healthy appearances? 130. Cook is averaging 170 yards rushing in that timespan, and is up to 478 yards from scrimmage over his past two starts, division wins over the Packers and Lions. Perhaps we are finally getting Mike Zimmer’s picture when it comes to establishing his all-world back. Cook’s current hot streak blows his early 2019 stretch out of the water. Of course, he followed up last year’s sensational start with a labored stretch run, where his massive early workloads seemed to catch up with him. It goes without saying that must be avoided this time around for a Vikings team that is 3-5 with only one really bad loss (the Falcons). The ingredients for 6-5 are there in a three-game slate of @CHI, vs. DAL, vs. CAR. No matter who he’s facing, Cook is fantasy’s RB1 right now.
Christian McCaffrey returns to every-down role, injures shoulder late. Predictably, there was no “committee.” Matt Rhule’s “Mike Davis will remain involved” talk was some of the most transparent coachspeak in recent memory. CMC played 60-of-83 snaps, handling a ridiculous 28 touches and turning them into 151 yards and two scores. This being 2020, there wasn’t a happy ending, as McCaffrey could be seen clearly favoring his shoulder on the game’s final drive. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports CMC is now “very much in doubt” for Week 10 against the Bucs. It was correct process to drop Davis. The result will be that you need to re-bid on him in FAAB auctions over the next 72 hours. We might not get our first concrete McCaffrey update until Wednesday’s injury report.
Jerry Jeudy finally comes to life vs. Falcons. Mired in an underwhelming rookie season thanks in large part to injuries all around him on offense, Jeudy took a good matchup and ran with it, turning a whopping 14 looks into 7/125/1 (and one bad drop). Emerging as Drew Lock’s clear-cut No. 1 threat, Jeudy has drawn 24 targets over his past two games after managing all of 22 across his previous four. This is important because it not only makes the Broncos’ offense better/more watchable, but gives Lock real weapons to work with. This means he can actually be evaluated as the Broncos’ “quarterback of the future.” Jeudy has a plus Week 10 matchup in the Raiders before a rough Week 11 date with the Dolphins.
Chiefs continue to not have backfield following Le’Veon Bell’s addition. Bell and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have combined for 46 total touches in three weeks since Bell landed in Kansas City. This, after CEH handled the ball 30 times in the game before Bell’s arrival. What is going on here? For starters, the Chiefs are raining endless fire through the air, overawing lesser teams with Patrick Mahomes’ pyrotechnics. Beyond that, neither player has been making big plays. That might finally change following the Chiefs’ Week 10 bye vs. the Raiders, though Vegas famously had Kansas City’s number four weeks ago. That’s probably not going to happen again. The problem is, we don’t know much of anything that is going to happen in this backfield. CEH has a slight overall lead, especially on passing downs. Is that really enough for every-week RB2 value? In this offense in this running back landscape, probably.
Kyle Allen suffers gruesome ankle injury vs. Giants. Allen got leg whipped by Jabrill Peppers and his leg did various things it is not supposed to. It happened near the two year anniversary of Alex Smith’s similarly awful injury, in nearly the same spot. It was a dark, cruel irony that it was Smith who replaced Allen. Unlike his Week 5 cameo, 36-year-old Smith looked a little more prepared to still be an NFL quarterback, though he still seemed to be an exaggerated version of his early career self. There is conservative, and then there is 2020 Alex Smith. Sadly, 2020 Alex Smith seems to turn the ball over more than his early-career self, undermining the main appeal of his brand of play. The results should be better when Smith gets to actually prepare as starter, but it would be in Washington’s best interest to give Dwayne Haskins one final chance. Since we know that’s not happening, fantasy managers can ponder Smith as a potential QB2 for a soft opening slate of @DET, vs. CIN and @DAL.
Five More Week 9 Storylines
Justin Jackson gets hurt before first touch, Kalen Ballage leads Bolts’ backfield. Well that’s a new one. Jackson twisted up his knee on an RPO on the Bolts’ opening drive and was never heard from again. With Troymaine Pope (concussion) out and Joshua Kelley in the doghouse, we got a hero that only 2020 could provide. Promoted from the practice squad just 24 hours prior, Adam Gase’s Rosebud, Kalen Ballage, had the second best game of his career, taking the rock 15 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. He added 2/15 as a receiver. That was enough for an RB4 half PPR finish in an astoundingly bad week for the running back position. Despite the strong day, there is so much uncertainty, injury or otherwise, in the Chargers’ backfield that Ballage is a low-upside flier for his Week 10 revenge game against the Dolphins. Brian Flores’ defense erased Chase Edmonds for 20/75 on Sunday.
D.J. Chark finally has breakout game in Jake Luton’s NFL debut. Chark needed a hug entering Week 9, and preferably a new quarterback. That wasn’t our opinion, but Chark’s as he openly begged for a change under center. He got it, and it resulted in a 73-yard touchdown on the Jags’ third play from scrimmage. When the dust settled, Chark was sitting on 7/146/1 on 12 targets. The yards tied for the second most of his career while the targets tied for third. It was in a glorious matchup, but those weren’t something Minshew was taking much advantage of. There’s a strong chance Luton ultimately proves to be an even more limited Minshew, but he’s at least returned Chark to the WR2 periphery ahead of a potential Week 10 date with Jaire Alexander and the Packers. “Potential” because Alexander is battling a concussion. If Alexander plays, Chark will probably best be treated as a WR3. The Week 11 road does not ease up in the Steelers.
Struggling David Montgomery suffers concussion vs. Titans. Facing one of the league’s worst defenses, one missing Jadeveon Clowney, Montgomery turned 17 touches into 42 yards. Just awful. In the words of our Rotoworld game blurb, Montgomery “got stuffed up the gut on multiple 3rd-and-short tries” and “failed to shed any amount of tackles on his handful of targets near the line of scrimmage.” It just is not happening for the second-year pro, whose formula — have his athletic whole exceed the sum of its parts — was always risky. Even if Montgomery gets cleared for Week 10 — he has an extra day since the Bears play on Monday night, which, HOW — the Bears need to think long and hard about changing things up in their backfield.
David Johnson concussed vs. Jaguars. Johnson has not quite struggled to Montgomery’s level, but he is doing everything he can to come close. Gifted a smash spot against the Jaguars, Johnson handled the ball only twice before departing. In his absence, Duke Johnson did little with his long-dreamed every-down cameo, turning 20 touches into 73 yards, with 4/32 of that coming through the air. If David plays against the Browns in Week 10, he will be doing so as a back who has cleared 70 yards rushing one time since the opener. There is just zero upside here. The Texans would be well served by giving Duke a bigger role down the stretch and settling the debate of whether he can handle more carries once and for all.
Preston Williams scores touchdown, gets injured by teammate during celebration. One of 2020’s bigger disappointments, Williams was having a huge day before going down, securing 4-of-5 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown in the game’s first 20 minutes. Then Christian Wilkins stepped on his foot celebrating his nine-yard score and the next thing you know, Williams’ shoe is off and he’s being carted to the locker room. It has been that kind of year for the talented second-year pro. Williams’ loss comes one week after the Dolphins traded slot man Isaiah Ford, so Tua Tagovailoa suddenly finds himself short on weapons. No one behind DeVante Parker on the depth chart is worth a flier in fantasy. We should find out by Monday if Williams is dealing with a season-ending injury.
1. Do the Chargers ever plan on … not this?
2. The Seahawks know that even though they opened up their offense they can still play defense, right?
3. So starting Ben DiNucci probably wasn’t the best decision, huh?
Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Philip Rivers (@TEN), Teddy Bridgewater (vs. TB), Drew Lock (@LV), Tua Tagovailoa (vs. LAC), Kirk Cousins (@CHI), Baker Mayfield (vs. HOU), Jake Luton (@GB), Alex Smith (@DET)
RB: Duke Johnson, Lamical Perine, DeAndre Washington, Kalen Ballage, J.D. McKissic, Matt Breida, Tony Pollard, Jordan Howard, Wayne Gallman, Sony Michel, Tevin Coleman, Carlos Hyde,
WR: Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Curtis Samuel, Tim Patrick, Michael Pittman, Kendrick Bourne, Darnell Mooney, KJ Hamler, Jakobi Meyers, Anthony Miller, Danny Amendola
TE: Austin Hooper, Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, Dalton Schultz, Logan Thomas, Jordan Reed, Irv Smith, Harrison Bryant
DEF: Dolphins (vs. LAC, but more for beyond), Saints (vs. SF), Eagles (@NYG), Packers (vs. JAX), Lions (vs. WFT)
Stats of the Week
The Bills attempted 28 passes to three runs in the first half (and smashed the Seahawks in the process). Is the future here?
Travis Kelce has 53.5 more half PPR points than any other tight end.
MLive’s Kyle Meinke outlines all the times Matt Patricia’s “defense” has been caught with only 10 men on the field: “The Lions played defense with 10 men for a two-point conversion last week. That's bad. Then they did it again. That's really bad. Then they did it again this week, and Dalvin Cook torched them for a 70-yard TD. This is just really, really bad football.”
Tweet of the Week, from Alistair Corp: Seahawks coverage vs Josh Allen's accuracy is a wonderful matchup of movable object vs stoppable force.
The That’s Hard To Do Award: Richie James’ 9/184/1 performance not even being worth a second look on the waiver wire.
Best Out of Context Stat Award, from Steve Palazzolo: Barkevious Mingo is the leading rusher on the Bears with 11 yards.
Makes You Think Award, from C.D. Carter: When will the first fantasy football playing president be elected? the work continues.