Thumbs Up of the Week: Josh Allen (v SEA)
Some have wondered whether Allen remains a must-start after his quiet stretch continued last week against New England, but I’d say he does, and a potential shootout on Sunday should get the Buffalo offense back on track. Through eight weeks, Seattle is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, including monster performances to dual-threats Cam Newton (34.5 fantasy points), Dak Prescott (27.4), and Kyler Murray (37.1). Allen is a high-end QB1 for me.
Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (v NO)
The addition of Antonio Brown combined with the emergence of Rob Gronkowski gives Brady a loaded supporting cast whether or not Chris Godwin (finger) can return on Sunday night, and he should be a clear top-five option for a possible shootout against the Saints. Over the past six games, Brady is on pace for 4,621 yards and a 45:3 touchdown-interception ratio—while New Orleans has allowed multiple touchdown passes in every game this year.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (@ LAC)
Wind clearly impacted the Las Vegas passing attack in Week 8, but that won’t be a problem at SoFi Stadium, and Carr played well last season in two wins over the Chargers (77.0% completion percentage and 254.5 yards per game with zero turnovers). This year, the upgraded receiving corps will have a clear advantage over a banged-up secondary that just traded away former All-Pro Desmond King, so Carr can be viewed as a borderline QB1/QB2 in another game with high potential for a shootout.
Thumbs Up: Drew Lock (@ ATL)
Lock entered the fourth quarter of last week’s victory with one touchdown and five interceptions on the season, but he caught fire with three scores in the final 12 minutes—including the game-winner to K.J. Hamler as time expired. Now, he gets a great opponent to try stay hot against, as the Falcons have allowed 313+ passing yards in seven-of-eight games this year, and they will likely have a difficult time defending all the young talent on Denver’s offense. Lock is an upside QB2.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Drew Brees (@ TB)
The game plan for the Tampa Bay defense on Monday night—with the cornerbacks routinely sitting on routes—almost seemed like a preview of what we might see against the Saints, and it’s tough to feel confident about Brees because he simply hasn’t pushed the ball downfield in 2020. Overall, I think Sean Payton will want to have a run-heavy approach, and even Michael Thomas (hamstring/ankle) returning wouldn’t be enough for make Brees a top-15 option.
Thumbs Down: Philip Rivers (v BAL)
This could change if multiple Baltimore defenders other than Marlon Humphrey (already ruled out) are forced to sit due to COVID-19, but at this point, Rivers is someone to avoid—especially with T.Y. Hilton (groin) injured. Before a couple of soft matchups in back-to-back weeks, Rivers had thrown for just four touchdowns over his first five games, and fantasy owners can’t expect a big outing on Sunday for a game that could be more low-scoring than anticipated.
Thumbs Down: Cam Newton (@ NYJ)
Newton picked up the rushing production in last week’s loss (nine carries for 54 yards and a touchdown), but the passing attack continued to struggle, and I could see Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams emphasizing strong run defense against the former NFL MVP. If so, the ceiling would take a huge hit for Newton, who is averaging just 11.8 fantasy points per game over his past four appearances. I’d rather start “Thumbs Up” option Derek Carr or Drew Lock.
Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (v CHI)
Tannehill unfortunately slowed down in each of the past two weeks just when he appeared to be a stable QB1 option, and more modest production could be on the horizon based on the upcoming schedule (v CHI, v IND, @ BAL). To date, the Bears are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and they have yet to allow a 20-point performance to the position. You’ll probably need a rushing score—or for one of the big-play weapons to have a long touchdown—if Tannehill is going to return top-eight value in Week 9.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chase Edmonds (v MIA)
This is an obvious one, but Edmonds should be started everywhere with Kenyan Drake (ankle) week-to-week, and he’s a prime DFS play against a Miami defense that has struggled to contain running backs both on the ground (5.0 yards per carry allowed) and through the air (5.4 receptions allowed per game). Edmonds—who thrived in the lead role last year—is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and should have a huge day this weekend.
Thumbs Up: JaMycal Hasty (v GB)
Dalvin Cook’s career day was more evidence that Green Bay hasn’t fixed their issuing defending opposing runners since being shredded by San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, and you can be sure that Kyle Shanahan is going to lean on the run tomorrow night in an attempt to control the game and escape with a win. Hasty found scored his first career touchdown last week and should handle the bulk of early-down work, so fantasy owners can rely on him as an upside RB2.
Thumbs Up: Matt Breida (@ ARI)
Breida only has 44 touches in seven games, but he’s now the projected lead back with Myles Gaskin (knee) out, and Arizona has allowed 90+ rushing yards to enemy runners in every game so far this year. While the goal-line work that Gaskin had might not be there with Jordan Howard likely active, Breida should have a floor of at least 12-15 touches, and it’s worth noting that he rushed 15 times for 78 yards (5.2 YPC) last October versus the Cardinals. [Update: with Breida (hamstring) now unlikely to play, Jordan Howard becomes a low-end RB2/FLEX option]
Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (@ TB)
As stated, I believe the Saints will try to establish the run this Sunday night, and Murray should be an important piece of the game plan (he had 15 carries against Tampa Bay in the opener). Last year, there were definite concerns about Latavius having an unpredictable workload from week-to-week, but that hasn’t really been the case in 2020 with at least double-digit touches in all but one game. Murray is a solid FLEX option.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jonathan Taylor (v BAL)
I am definitely not giving up on Jonathan Taylor as an RB1 this year (especially when you consider his second-half schedule), but the matchup combined with questionable usage makes him more of a low-end RB2/FLEX play for Week 9. When you throw an ankle injury and Trey Burton vultures into the mix, Taylor’s ceiling will take a significant hit, so fantasy owners hoping for immediate dividends may again be frustrated this week.
Thumbs Down: Ronald Jones II (v NO)
Jones II essentially getting benched for a questionable fumble on Monday night brings about serious concerns regarding his rest-of-season outlook, and the trigger was so quick that it seems like Tampa Bay may have been looking for any excuse to give Leonard Fournette more work. Even if the third-year back ends up starting this week and handling the bulk of the carries, the matchup isn’t great against a New Orleans defense that has allowed 109 rushing yards in two games since their bye.
Thumbs Down: Wayne Gallman (@ WAS)
He found the end zone last week, but Gallman (12 carries) had a surprisingly close split with veteran Alfred Morris (eight carries), and Washington should pose a very difficult challenge up front this week. In the previous matchup, Devonta Freeman averaged 3.4 yards per carry on 18 attempts, so there may not be a ton of running room for Gallman, who is averaging just 4.1 yards per touch with extended work over the past two weeks. I have the former Clemson standout as a low-floor FLEX.
Thumbs Down: Ezekiel Elliott (v PIT)
Elliott is a player you almost certainly need to start, but the days of clear RB1 value appear to be over (for this year), and not getting Andy Dalton (COVID-19) back under center will allow Pittsburgh to focus even more on the running game. In three games without Dak Prescott (ankle), Zeke has rushed 43 times for 157 scoreless yards (3.7 YPC), and the receiving usage—two receptions in each of the past two games—isn’t enough to boost him into the top 12 at the position.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Antonio Brown (v NO)
From what I’ve seen, the consensus is calling Brown a risky WR4 option in his Tampa Bay debut, but do people really think he won’t immediately have a big role? Aside from Saints-Buccaneers being a huge game that could decide the NFC South, Brown is said to be a phenomenal shape, already has some chemistry with Tom Brady, and has even been living at TB12’s mansion. I’m wouldn’t waste any time getting AB in lineups as a high-upside WR2.
Thumbs Up: Marvin Jones (@ MIN)
Everyone surely remembers the four-touchdown performance by Jones last year, and with Kenny Golladay (hip) out of the lineup, he is positioned to have another big day as Mike Zimmer’s defense continues to deal with a young, banged-up secondary. Against the best perimeter wideouts they’ve faced this season, Minnesota has been shredded by Davante Adams (14/156/2), Will Fuller (6/108/1), D.K. Metcalf (6/93/2), Julio Jones (8/137/2), and Adams again (7/53/3).
Thumbs Up: Diontae Johnson (@ DAL)
Johnson has been a disappointment in three of his past four appearances (combined four receiving yards on six targets), but the other was a 9/80/2 line just two weeks ago, and the Cowboys feel like a defense that he can do serious damage against based on how they’ve played on the backend this year. Despite usually being lower on the second-year wideout, I have him as a top-20 play with the hopes Pittsburgh keeps their foot on the gas in terms of airing it out.
Thumbs Up: Brandin Cooks (@ JAX)
The breakout showing for Cooks came back in Week 5 when he went for an 8/161/1 line against the Jaguars, and it led to him becoming a more consistent factor by catching 16-of-18 targets for 128 yards and a score in the two games since then. Assuming rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson spends a fair amount of time on Will Fuller, Cooks should keep up his strong play as a WR2/FLEX coming out of the bye.
Others: John Brown (v SEA), K.J. Hamler (@ ATL)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (v NO)
He was able to save his day with a two-yard touchdown, but Evans was limited to one reception against the Saints in their first meeting, and he should again be given plenty of attention from Marshon Lattimore in a matchup that New Orleans has (rightfully) felt good about over the years. All the weapons Tom Brady now has at his disposal will only lower the floor for Evans, who should at best be considered a volatile, low-end WR2.
Thumbs Down: DeVante Parker (@ ARI)
I would expect the Cardinals to defend Parker similar to how they’ve contained D.K. Metcalf over the past two years (by putting Patrick Peterson on him), and the chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa isn’t at the point where fantasy owners should be confident in getting the former first-round pick in lineups as a top-24 option. Last week, Parker caught Tagovailoa’s first career touchdown, but that was his only reception of the game, and we shouldn’t count on a possible shootout to boost him.
Thumbs Down: Will Fuller (@ JAX)
The previous Texans-Jaguars game didn’t give us a Fuller versus C.J. Henderson matchup because the No. 9 overall pick was inactive, but we should get it this week, and Deshaun Watson has the weapons to not force the ball to his top weapon if he doesn’t need to. Plus, the game isn’t expected to be a back-and-forth affair with sixth-round pick Jake Luton making his first career start for Jacksonville, so the general upside for Houston’s passing attacked is a bit limited.
Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper (v PIT)
Cooper had excellent chemistry with Dak Prescott, but it sounds like he will be catching passes from his fourth quarterback this season (Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush is reportedly going to get the starting nod), and the boom-or-bust nature of his game could again slant towards the negative side after recording just one catch last week. While the Steelers have ceded points to opposing wideouts, I’m not optimistic about Cooper being one of them.
Others: Robby Anderson (@ KC), Emmanuel Sanders (@ TB)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Noah Fant (@ ATL)
The explosive plays haven’t really been there for Fant since early in the season, but he’s seen a healthy 8.0 targets per game over his past four outings, and the Falcons—allowing a league-high 15.7 fantasy points per game to the position—are the opponent to have the upside kick in against. I have Fant as my No. 4 tight end for Week 9.
Thumbs Up: Jordan Reed (v GB)
Reed (knee) still needs to be activated from IR, but assuming that happens ahead of tomorrow night’s game, the veteran will be an instant TE1 option in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. In his lone game with a substantial role (over 25% snaps played), Reed caught seven-of-eight targets for 50 yards and two touchdowns; now is the time to add him if still available.
Thumbs Up: Will Dissly (@ BUF)
This is basically a gut call, but tight end is a mess right now, and I think it’s worth taking a gamble on Dissly and his touchdown upside with Sean McDermott’s defense perhaps sending extra attention towards D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Last week, Dissly saw a season-high in snap rate (63%)—which was more than Greg Olsen (54%).
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mark Andrews (@ IND)
I had Andrews here last week, but another tough matchup makes him at least worth fading in DFS play. Overall, the Pro Bowl tight end has quietly become a very touchdown-dependent option with fewer than 58 receiving yards in every game this season, and Indy has allowed zero scores to the position in 2020.
Thumbs Down: Greg Olsen (@ BUF)
Olsen didn’t haul in any of his four targets last week, and over the past three games, he’s caught just three passes with decreasing playing time in each game. If we see Dissly have a solid game as I expect, it would come at the expense of Olsen, and Seattle won’t be messing around in a huge spot against the 6-2 Bills.
Thumbs Down: Cameron Brate (v NO)
The Saints have been a very favorable matchup for opposing tight ends, but Brate has played just 12 snaps in back-to-back weeks, and the addition of Antonio Brown further clouds his outlook behind Rob Gronkowski. I would prefer Albert Okwuegbunam if you need to dig deep for a backup tight end for whatever reason.