Check out Collin Hulbert’s Week 9 NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel to help you put together a winning lineup this week.
Welcome to Week 9 and a very special Halloween edition of my picks. As of now, the trade deadline has officially passed and with the departure of a few key players, some real fantasy value has emerged in DFS this week. In many cases, when players are traded, there are issues finding the best fit for the vacated position in that scheme.
A trade deadline and another solid performance
Demaryius Thomas’ departure to Houston does not file into that category. This is as seamless of a trade-fill you’ll see in football. Sutton comps closely to a younger version of Thomas with better ball skills. The Eagles traded for Golden Tate, which doesn’t immediately improve Tate’s stock, nor does it negatively impact anyone on the Lions. Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay would be the primary beneficiaries to the trade, but it will be interesting to see if the formations begin to favor more two-wide receiver sets. Due to the recent success of running back, Kerryon Johnson, it would make sense to give Kerryon the additional run-support. You might see more play-action from the Lions and more tight end involvement in the offense going forward.
As for the Eagles, Tate’s role as a slot receiver should supplant Nelson Agholor in Philadelphia. Expect Agholor to be shuffled outside and utilized more in gadget plays. It’s also possible, though not highly likely, the Eagles shift towards more spread formations, given the lack of success establishing a consistent rushing attack.
Other trades at the deadline shouldn’t have much of an impact on the DFS landscape. The Ty Montgomery move is interesting as the Ravens will likely be searching for creative ways for him to serve their offense. As for the Packers, the move opens a door for Aaron Jones to expand his duties. Jones was splitting snaps evenly as one leg of a trio. Now, Jones should get the majority of snaps between the twenties. For this week, Jones is a value play, as he has yet to be repriced since the trade. If you feel like he might have success against a pretty good Patriots rush defense, he’s only going for $5,800 on Fan Duel.
As for our performance last week, it was another good week, as a whole. Ultimately, it was a tale of boom or bust last week. As a result, last week was the highest variance of lineups I’ve ever had. Due to the nature of selections, a spike in variance was to be expected. As I stated last week, I was going out on a limb in a few places and sticking strong in other areas I felt confident about. Odds are, you probably hit on a few of my picks and whiffed on one or two. Our running backs hit incredibly well last week.
Marlon Mack made his first appearance on my picks and racked up 30 points against the Raiders. I recommended Gurley, as I always do, but avoided featuring him in my picks, for sake of redundancy. Hint: when he’s a bad option, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, it’s never a bad idea to start him as he averages almost two touchdowns per game. James Conner hit another homerun with 36 points on FanDuel. Desean Jackson, a calculated value risk, caught a nice deep touchdown to give him 15 points on the week.
Adam Thielen (19), Travis Kelce (17), Pat Mahomes (27), and the Patriots defense (20) round out our list of top performers. On the flip side, we had some sub-par performances from a few of our flex plays. Jameis Winston is probably done being relevant for the season, and we are going to steer clear of the two tight ends who gave us donuts last week. In the end, we averaged 130 last week, which was good enough to cash in two of our three entries.
A look ahead to Week 9
This week, there are some quality showdowns in the NFL. I realize there are 32 teams in the league, but I’m sticking with the formula again this week. I’m going with the best value picks based on matchups. DFS is about maximizing value, so expect to see a few teams well represented this week. As I mentioned earlier, the trade deadline had a minor impact on the hierarchy for a few teams at the wide receiver and running back positions. There are six teams on bye this week, so our choices for prime matchups are a bit limited. I’m eying the Saints/Rams, Panthers/Bucs, and the Packers/Patriots matchups this week as the potential shootouts.
I failed to mention last week to follow the health status of Mostert, Breida, and Mack. As the week progressed and Breida suddenly re-emerged as healthy, it dampened my expectations for Mostert. It’s important to keep your eyes peeled throughout each week, so you can make the necessary adjustments to your lineup and avoid any nightmare scenarios for Sunday.
Good luck in Week 9 and don’t eat too much free candy.
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Aaron Rodgers (DK-$6,400/FD-$8,600)
Aaron Rodgers is back with an appearance in my picks. With his lower-body health seemingly being less and less concerning, Rodgers is heading to Foxboro as a five-point underdog. The sportsbooks have the over/under in this game is 57, so simple math tells you the expected score should be around 31-26, Patriots. With the Patriots boasting a strong rush defense, it’s shaping up to be the kind of game the Packers were involved in last week in LA. With a healthy Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison on hand, the Packers will be at full strength to exploit the Patriots 27th-ranked passing defense. Expect Rodgers to be the highest floor quarterback this week.
Jared Goff (DK-$6,000/FD-$8,400)
Jared Goff was ranked relatively high last week, despite two sub-par outings in as many weeks. The rationale for starting Goff was simple: the Packers were going to score enough to keep the Rams offense fully engaged throughout the game. Had the game script gone negative for the Packers, Goff may have just let Gurley run away with this one, but the Packers flipped the script and forced Goff into action from the start.
This week, the Rams will be facing the Saints in a game featuring two of the best offenses in football. The over/under is 60 and the Saints have the 28th ranked passing defense. Despite their passing defense showing some cracks, their rushing defense has been great in 2018. The Rams defense, on the contrary, has been susceptible to big plays this season and ranks in the middle of the road in passing and rushing. I anticipate something like what we saw when the Vikings came to LA and both offenses had their way with the opposing defenses. By all metrics, this is going to be an old-fashioned barn-burner, so pick up Goff for some guaranteed heavy usage.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (DK-$5,500/FD-$7,100)
The combination of Winston and Fitzpatrick ranks second in fantasy football this season among all quarterbacks. Yes, you heard that right. But why? Consider how bad the Bucs defense has been this season and factor in their lack of a good running game. Also, consider their talented trio of receivers and it’s all the ingredients necessary for a high-volume passing offense. The Carolina Panthers defense has been spotty this season but seems to do enough when their backs are against the wall. Following a poor performance against the Giants, the Panthers rebounded against the Eagles two weeks later and shut down the Ravens for a good majority of the game last week.
This week, Fitzmagic comes to town. Stopping the Bucs high flying attack has been no easy feat this season. Only the Bears stout defense has quelled this offense thus far, so this game should offer plenty of opportunities for Ryan Fitzpatrick to take to the skies again in Week 9. Expect the pass-heavy scheming to continue this weekend.
Joe Flacco (DK-$5,300/FD-$7,500)
The Steelers fell victim to Flacco earlier this season at home. That night, Joe Flacco produced his highest fantasy total of the season (24). This week, the Ravens return home to host the surging Steelers and their prolific offense. Division rivalry games are hard to predict, but they typically stay close throughout. With the Ravens adding a new weapon in their backfield — Ty Montgomery — to supplant the struggling Buck Allen, Montgomery will give Flacco a more competent and potent passing option out of the backfield. Essentially, Flacco is at home versus the 24th ranked passing defense in the league. The Steelers will score enough to necessitate a lot of passing attempts from Flacco. Of course, if you have reservations about Flacco because he is still Joe Flacco, there are better options this week.
Kareem Hunt (DK-$7,700/FD-$8,500)
Hunt had a decent week against a bad rushing defense in Denver. It was mildly confusing, but less confusing when you realize just how many options Pat Mahomes has on offense. Though 17 points seemed a bit disappointing, given his performances lately, Hunt has a date with the team James Conner just dropped 36 fantasy points on last week. If there’s ever a bad time to lose your head coach and your offensive coordinator, it’s probably the week you face the best offense in the AFC. With a high degree of certainty for a positive game script, Hunt should get a full plate this week. The Browns rank 28th against the run, so there’s little doubt of Hunt’s usage and effectiveness in this matchup.
Christian McCaffrey (DK-$7,800/FD-$7,900)
Christian McCaffrey has been relatively docile as a rusher of late. Since his 184 yards against the Bengals earlier this season, McCaffrey hasn’t sniffed the 100-yard mark for rushing. This week, the league’s worst defense is coming to town, which should serve as a good springboard for McCaffrey to bounce back to relevance. The Bucs struggled against comparable running backs in other matchups this season (Cohen, Kamara). McCaffrey should have a very high floor this week.
Latavius Murray (DK-$5,500/FD-$6,700)
This one is fairly simple: Murray has been very good as of late. Over the past three games, Murray has averaged over 100 yards from scrimmage each game and scored four touchdowns. The bulk of the damage was against a terrible Cardinals defense, but Murray has looked more explosive than he has in a few years. Since the Dalvin Cook injury, Murray has made the most of his chances and looks likely to repeat his recent success against a 31st ranked rushing defense in Detroit. Even if the game flips and pushes the Vikings into a negative game script, the Vikings will still be utilizing Murray. Unless the Vikings trail by a large sum, expect Murray to get 15-25 touches against the Lions. For the price, it’s hard to beat this bargain.
Michael Thomas (DK-$7,600/FD-$8,600)
Michael Thomas is in a rare group of receivers who are matchup-proof. His crisp route-running and awareness is comparable to Keenan Allen and Adam Thielen. The difference is Michael Thomas is 6’3 with great hands and has the most accurate quarterback in the history of the NFL throwing to him. Courtesy of NFL.com next gen stats, Michael Thomas’ catch rate in 2018 currently sits at 90%. To put into perspective how rare that is for a wide receiver, consider the next five on that list sit between 79% and 77%. As mentioned earlier, the scoring line in this game is 60. Given that Davante Adams just went for 133 yards against the Rams in Week 8, Thomas is a no-brainer this week in this expected high scoring affair.
Davante Adams (DK-$8,200/FD-$8,600)
Adams had his way with the Rams a week ago and now has a pretty soft matchup against the 27th ranked passing defense, New England. Adams’ connection with Rodgers the past three games has been amazing. Want to hear a wild stat? Adams has at least 132 yards receiving in each of the past three games. Like Thomas against the Rams this week, this game is scripted to be a shootout. With a scoring line of 57, this is another ripe matchup for a hot receiver in Davante Adams. Roster Davante in this inferno while it’s still scalding.
Desean Jackson (DK-$5,000/FD-$6,600)
We went with Desean last week in a soft matchup against the Bengals and it paid off. With the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 9, a return to the deep ball is in store. Fitzpatrick, despite starting only four games, leads the league in deep completions. His 13:5 touchdown to interception ratio is a big upgrade against Jameis Winston at 6:10 as well. Following a start to the season that included two massive receiving weeks with Fitzpatrick at the helm, the two will look to again light up the scoreboard against a decent Panthers passing defense. Jackson is a great Hail-Mary play again this week, as he is always one deep ball away from giving you a solid week of production.
Greg Olsen (DK-$4,700/FD-$6,200)
The Bucs are 31st in passing defense. Olsen had a nice game last week against a stout Ravens team. This week, the Bucs will have their hands full trying to contain Cam Newton. It’s likely the schemes of the Panthers will include a lot more play action this week. If that’s the case, Olsen is talented and able enough to exploit soft coverages in the Bucs weak secondary. This may very well be the last week Olsen’s price is this low.
Jared Cook (DK-$5,700/FD-$5,900)
Jared Cook has had a roller-coaster of a season in 2018. Despite the ups and downs, Cook managed 74 yards and a touchdown in a shootout against the Colts last week. This week looks to be very favorable against a 20th ranked defense versus tight ends. Doug Martin managed to run effectively last week, somehow. This week, the 49ers will look to force Carr into a lot of third and long situations. This strategy would be very logical, given the absence of a deep threat and facing a quarterback with a notoriously shallow average depth of target. I expect Cook to be very serviceable this week.
OJ Howard (DK-$4,300/FD-$6,000)
OJ Howard has had at least 54 yards receiving in every game he’s played in this season. Howard has the ability to turn moderate gains into big plays, so it’s imperative the Panthers keep tabs on him throughout the game. With a plethora of options, Fitzpatrick has demonstrated the ability to spread it around, so there’s little reason to think Howard won’t get a healthy share in Week 9.
Bears D (DK-$4,100/FD-$5,400)
The Bears are playing Buffalo this week. Buffalo’s backup quarterback, Derek Anderson, may not play. This puts the possibility of a Nathan Peterman start in-play. That should be cause for salivating. Last week, the Bills turned it over a few times and coughed up 20 points to the Patriots defense. The Bears are even better, so I expect this is going to be an ugly one for the Bills.
Cowboys D (DK-$2,900/FD-$4,200)
The Cowboys have been up and down recently. Following the beat down of the Jags in Dallas, the Cowboys crashed back down against the Redskins. With an effective pass rush and a more balanced offense as of late, the matchup against the Titans has “positive game script” written all over it. A few weeks ago, the Titans gave up 11 sacks against another good pass rush, Baltimore. Pressure leads to good things, so expect a roll of the dice on Dallas to pay off in Week 9.
Chiefs D (DK-$2,700/FD-$3,800)
The Chiefs are playing the Browns, fresh off firing their offensive coordinator and their head coach. There is no more ideal perspective on an upcoming game than seeing your opponent leaderless and struggling. The Browns are either going to be rejuvenated from the reset or resemble the walking dead. I’m leaning towards the latter.
Cortland Sutton (DK-$3,900/FD-$5,500)
Demaryius Thomas was averaging seven targets per game in Denver. Sutton had already begun getting more work in the red zone and on the outside. With the departure of Thomas complete, Sutton has the green light to step in and position himself for a solid first game of a heavy target share. Houston has been good against opposing wideouts. Just consider they were burned by the Dolphins just a week ago when you contemplate starting Sutton.
DJ Moore (DK-$4,300/FD-$5,300)
We went over this matchup already in detail. Moore, the first receiver drafted in 2018, stands a good chance at continuing his heavy usage this week against a bad Bucs secondary. The return of Greg Olsen didn’t seem to hinder Moore much, as Moore went for 90 yards against Baltimore’s stellar defense. There’s a lot of yardage to go around the Panthers pass catchers this week. Moore is a fine option at a low price.
Frank Gore (DK-$3,500/FD-$5,400)
Frank Gore just keeps chugging along. He’s steady and dependable and an annoying handcuff to Kenyan Drake fans everywhere. Even at his old age, Frank Gore is still effective. Against a tough Bears defense, Frank Gore churned out 100 yards. This week, the 19th ranked Jets are waiting. At such a low price, Gore has a safe and decent floor. If you’re absolutely desperate for a cheap start, Gore is your guy.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan. Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert